Honda introduced the second generation of its popular Pilot sport-utility vehicle in 2008 as a 2009 model. With available third-row seating and class-competitive power and amenities, the Pilot ranks as a capable entry in the midsize “crossover” sport-utility category.
Unlike with many Honda models, the Pilot is available in four trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L and Touring. Base LX models start at $27,895; EX models start at $30,745; EX-L models start at $33,845; and top-of-the-line Touring models start at $37,045. Honda’s Variable Torque Management 4-Wheel Drive System (VTM-4) is a $1,600 option on all models.
All Pilot models are powered by the same 3.5L 24-valve SOHC V6 engine/five-speed automatic transmission combination. The 3.5L V6 generates 250 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque and features Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management function, which can shut down some of the engine’s cylinders during low-power highway operation. Thanks to this, the two-wheel-drive Pilot models are rated at 17 miles per gallon city and 23 highway, while four-wheel-drive models are rated 16/22, respectively. All Pilot models ride on 17-inch wheels (steel on LX models; alloy on EX, EX-L and Touring models) wearing P245/65R17 tires.
While all Pilot models come standard with features like front and rear climate control, Hill Start Assist, etc., EX models add a tri-zone climate function, fog light, power driver’s seat and XM satellite radio. EX-L models include a rearview camera, moonroof, heated front seats, leather seating surfaces and something Honda calls an “Acoustic Windshield” designed to minimize noise. Touring models offer a Multi-Information Display (MID), backup parking sensor, steering wheel-mounted navigation/cell phone controls, Bluetooth cellular phone integration, a satellite-linked navigation system and a power tailgate. (A DVD-based rear entertainment system is a $1,600 option on EX-L and Touring models.) Fully loaded, a four-wheel-drive Honda Pilot Touring with DVD entertainment and chrome wheels (a $1,980 option) will set a buyer back some $42,935 (though Honda offers a long list of accessories that could easily push that total past the $50,000 mark).
Servicing the Pilot
Like most Honda vehicles, the Pilot is equipped with Honda’s Maintenance Minder system, which displays engine oil life and maintenance service items on the information display or MID, depending on model, to show drivers when they need to have service performed. Engine oil life is displayed in 10 percent increments down to 20 percent, whereupon it scales down to 5 percent increments. To see the vehicle’s current engine oil life, turn the ignition switch to the ON position and press the select/reset knob repeatedly until the oil life display appears. When the engine oil life remaining dips below 15 percent, the maintenance minder indicator (a wrench icon) will come on every time the vehicle is turned on; also displayed will be the engine oil life remaining and the maintenance item code(s) for other scheduled maintenance items needing service. (These codes indicate any other maintenance needs the vehicle may have.) When the engine oil life remaining dips below 6 percent, drivers will see a “SERVICE” message, along with the service maintenance item codes. The message can be extinguished by switching the information display.
When the remaining engine oil life is 0 percent, the engine oil life indicator will blink and the maintenance minder “wrench” icon will come on and remain on in the instrument panel until the system has been reset. If the required maintenance is not performed and the system is not reset, negative distance travelled will be displayed and begin to blink after the vehicle has been driven more than 10 miles.
(Note: On Touring models, the current engine oil life can be accessed by pushing the INFO button on the steering wheel. Touring models will also display the “wrench” icon and the oil life remaining message in the MID, which is located beneath the speedometer in the instrument cluster. When oil life drops below 15 percent, drivers will also be alerted with a beeper and the system message indicator, an “i”, will blink on the instrument panel.)
Honda’s Maintenance Minder system displays the vehicle’s maintenance needs in a series of codes. The coded string will begin with the letter “A” or “B” to indicate the maintenance main item, followed by one or more of the numerals “1” through “6” to indicate the maintenance sub items.
Maintenance Main Items
Maintenance main item “A” indicates the vehicle requires an oil change (though Honda does not require an oil filter change at every “A” service). Maintenance main item “B” indicates the vehicle requires the following services:
- Replace engine oil and filter.
- Inspect front and rear brakes.
- Check parking brake adjustment.
- Inspect tie-rod ends, steering gear box and boots.
- Inspect suspension components.
- Inspect driveshaft boots.
- Inspect brake hoses and lines.
- Inspect all fluid levels and condition of fluids.
- Inspect exhaust system.
- Inspect fuel lines and connections.
Honda does note that engine oil should be changed every 12 months even if the SERVICE message has not appeared.
Maintenance Sub Items
Honda uses the following numerals to indicate the following services are required.
- Rotate tires.
- Replace air cleaner element. (Note: Honda recommends replacing element every 15,000 miles or 24,000 km if the vehicle is driven in dusty conditions.)
- Replace dust and pollen filter. (Note: Honda recommends replacing filter every 15,000 miles or 24,000 km if the vehicle is driven in urban areas with high concentrations of soot from industry and diesel vehicles.)
- Inspect drive belt.
- Replace transmission and transfer case fluid.
- Replace spark plugs.
- Replace timing belt and inspect water pump. (Note: Honda recommends replacing timing belt every 60,000 miles or 100,000 km if the vehicle is regularly driven in very high temperatures above 110° F/43° C or very low temperatures below minus-20° F/minus-29° C, or towing a trailer.)
- Inspect valve clearance.
- Replace engine coolant.
- Replace rear differential fluid. (Note: Honda recommends changing the rear differential fluid at 7,500 miles/12,000 km then every 15,000 miles/24,000 km if the vehicle is driven in mountainous areas at very low speeds or used to tow a trailer.)
- Honda recommends replacing brake fluid every three years, regardless of mileage or maintenance messages in the information display.
- Inspect idle speed every 160,000 miles/256,000 km.
Fluids and Capacities
Motor oil — SAE 5W-20. Capacity (with filter) is 4.5 quarts (4.3 liters). (Note: The oil drain bolt should be tightened to 29 pound-feet (39 N-m) of torque.)
Coolant — Honda Long-life Antifreeze/Coolant Type 2 or equivalent; 50/50 mixture with water. Capacity (coolant change only) is 1.98 gallons (7.5 liters). Capacity (full system) is 2.48 gallons (9.4 liters).
Automatic transmission fluid — Honda ATF-Z1. Capacity (change only) is 3.6 quarts (3.4 liters). Capacity (full system) is 8.6 quarts (8.1 liters).
Rear differential fluid — Honda VTM-4 differential fluid. Capacity is 2.96 quarts (2.8 liters).
Transfer case fluid (four-wheel-drive models only) — SAE 90 or 80W-90 gear oil meeting GL4 or GL5 standards. Capacity is 0.45 quarts (0.43 liters).
Brake fluid — DOT3 brake fluid. (Note: DOT4 may be used as a temporary replacement.)
Power steering fluid — Honda Power Steering Fluid or equivalent.