2009 Honda Pilot Review
2009 Honda Pilot Review
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Used Pilot for sale
Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- Comfortable ride, ample cargo capacity, refined powertrain, adult-ready third-row seat, innovative interior storage.
- Poor braking distances, not enough power, fuel economy should be better, button-happy stereo and climate controls.
The fully redesigned 2009 Honda Pilot midsize crossover SUV sports more rugged exterior and interior styling along with a more usable third-row seat.
The 2009 Honda Pilot looks tougher than its predecessor and offers more room for third-row passengers, but the stereo and climate controls are less than intuitive, and some interior plastics feel cheap.
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2009 Honda Pilot EX-L 4dr SUV 4WD (3.5L 6cyl 5A) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $4.64 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
Avg. Midsize SUV
The first-generation Honda Pilot was a trendsetter, spearheading the initial wave of carlike SUVs that gave rise to the crossover SUV craze. The redesigned 2009 Honda Pilot seems designed to set a trend as well -- namely, a trend toward angular, Jeep-like styling in the midsize crossover SUV segment. We're not sure whether it will catch on, but no one will call the Pilot's new look generic. The real question, though, is whether the virtues of the first-generation Pilot -- one of our favorite midsize crossover SUVs -- have been retained.
The answer is yes and no. On the bright side, Honda has made a point of enlarging third-row accommodations so that actual adults can fit back there, in part by adding an extra inch of width and 3 inches of length. Traditional Pilot traits like a well-cushioned ride, a smooth powertrain and optional four-wheel drive are also present and accounted for. However, the 3.5-liter V6, which receives only mild revisions for second-generation duty, feels sluggish compared to other V6s in this segment. Despite this lack of power, fuel economy is about equal to more muscular competitors. More distressing, though, were the long stopping distances we observed at our test track -- this alone makes it difficult to recommend the Pilot.
Another departure from the past that's not entirely welcome is the 2009 Pilot's befuddling array of buttons for operating the audio and climate control systems, as opposed to the no-brainer layout in last year's model. But those attracted to the new Pilot's distinctive styling may be willing to forgive such idiosyncrasies. Maximum cargo volume remains essentially the same at 87 cubic feet, which should satisfy all but the most haul-happy families. Fuel economy, while still nothing to write home about, has improved a smidge.
Competition is stiff in the midsize crossover SUV segment. GM offers the impressive Buick Enclave/Chevrolet Traverse/GMC Acadia/Saturn Outlook quadruplets, while the Ford Flex, Hyundai Veracruz, Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Highlander are equally viable contenders. If we had our way, Honda would have done a little more to distinguish the 2009 Pilot from both the competition and its likable but aged predecessor. It's certainly still worthy of consideration, but unless you're smitten with the new Pilot's tough-guy styling, we'd recommend giving other midsize crossover SUVs a thorough look as well.
Performance & mpg
The 2009 Honda Pilot is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that generates 250 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque -- increases of 6 hp and 13 lb-ft over last year's model. A five-speed automatic is the only available transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all Pilot models are available with an all-wheel-drive system that automatically apportions power to the rear wheels -- up to 70 percent -- when front slippage occurs. This system also has a driver-selectable "lock" feature that routes the maximum 70 percent of torque to the rear wheels at speeds below 19 mph.
Having gained a few horsepower as well as a few pounds, the 2009 Pilot was projected to be about as fleet-footed as its forebear. Imagine our surprise, then, when our test vehicle loped from zero to 60 mph in a leisurely 9.7 seconds -- that's roughly a half-second slower than the previous-generation model despite similar gear ratios. At least fuel economy has increased slightly thanks to Honda's Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system, which shuts down half of the V6's cylinders when they're not needed. According to the EPA, 2WD models should achieve 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined, while AWD models come in at 16/22/18.
Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. In government crash tests, the Pilot performed flawlessly, scoring a perfect five stars in frontal and side-impact testing.
With an even 8 inches of ground clearance -- up 0.2 inch from the previous model -- the 2009 Pilot should make quick work of light-duty off-road tasks when equipped with all-wheel drive. But most Pilot owners are about as likely to leave the pavement as the Pilot is to receive an official "trail rating." Around town, the 3.5-liter V6's relative lack of low-end torque makes it feel rather flat-footed off the line. Passing power isn't much better, as Honda's VTEC technology uncharacteristically fails to bring the V6 to life at higher rpm. And although the feel of the brake pedal instills confidence, the Pilot turned in an unacceptable braking performance at our test track, requiring almost 150 feet to stop from 60 mph. That's nearly 20 feet longer than some competing crossovers.
Dynamically, the 2009 Honda Pilot feels every bit as big as it looks. There's bountiful body roll, and brake dive is significant even at low speeds. The reasonably precise steering is extraordinarily slow but nicely weighted, and the soft suspension affords a comfortable ride over rough roads and on the highway. The latter traits should endear the Pilot to family-minded buyers.
The 2009 Honda Pilot's interior layout is attractive in the same rugged way as the exterior, but it drew split opinions among our staff in regards to whether it maintains Honda's traditional combination of intuitive controls and high-quality materials. The center stack is littered with small buttons that are difficult to decipher at a glance, but some found they become intuitive with repeated use. The main information screen/navigation system's central control knob and related buttons are located at knee level, requiring a potentially unsafe downward glance, but some liked that they fell right at hand level and could be operated by feel. The new Pilot's dash consists of roughly textured hard plastic: Some of our editors appreciated the low-sheen rugged look, while others thought they looked cheap and preferred the richer-feeling materials found in competitors such as the Hyundai Veracruz. Gauges are clear and pretty nifty-looking to boot, while the navigation system is one of the best in the business once you've got it up and running. The sound quality of the uplevel 10-speaker stereo is also top-notch.
The ace up the 2009 Pilot's sleeve in this category is its appreciably roomier third-row seat. There are 1.8 extra inches of legroom back there relative to the previous Pilot, and Honda claims that a "95th-percentile adult male" can now ride in the third row without issue. We're not sure how happy that guy's going to be about it, but it's true that the new Pilot's third row isn't the penalty box it used to be. Both the second and third rows are plagued by low cushions, though, which means that even moderately long-legged passengers will be forced to adopt a knees-in-the-air riding style. Overall, rival crossovers like the Flex and GM's Acadia/Enclave/Outlook/Traverse foursome offer superior third-row accommodations.
2009 Honda Pilot models
The 2009 Honda Pilot is a midsize crossover SUV offered in four trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L and Touring. Each is offered in front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The LX comes standard with 17-inch steel wheels, an integrated trailer hitch, power side mirrors, keyless entry, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, full power accessories, cruise control, 60/40-split second- and third-row seats and a seven-speaker CD/MP3 audio system with an auxiliary input jack. The EX adds foglights, 17-inch alloy wheels, a power driver seat, an in-dash six-CD changer, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, tri-zone automatic climate control and satellite radio. The EX-L upgrades to leather upholstery, heated front seats, a sunroof and a rearview mirror-mounted back-up camera. The high-end Touring model includes a 10-speaker audio system, a navigation system with voice recognition and an integrated back-up camera, Bluetooth, a power liftgate and a USB audio interface.
There are no available options on LX or EX models. Optional on the EX-L is a DVD rear entertainment system that's packaged with a 10-speaker audio system. The DVD system is the only option on Touring models, which come standard with the 10-speaker stereo.
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
2 out of 5 stars
No Honda Reliability
EX-L 4dr SUV 4WD (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
This car has a lot going for it, it's comfortable, has tons of interior storage, seats eight comfortably, etc.... BUT, we have had a lack of reliability including a transmission sensor and now the engine. Look into the Honda VCM V6 problems. The cylinder shut off system ends of fouling the plugs leading to a million warning lights and a trip to the dealer. The "fix" is to replace … your plugs or short block depending on how bad things got. There doesn't seem to be a fix, just a band-aid. Now I'm going to have to trade her in way before I planned because once the extended warranty is up I don't want to pay the maintenance. Update 9/30/2016. I kept the car and the problem has not come back. I think this is only because the car is never in eco mode for long. If you drive a lot of hwy miles you may have more problems. Sold it after second major engine surgery requiring new piston rings.
4.75 out of 5 stars
45,000 miles and still no problems
Touring 4dr SUV w/Nav, Rear Entertainment (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
I'm not sure why the magazine writers do not get it with this SUV. Everyone that rides in my Pilot wants one. It is actually my work car, and I put over 30k on it a year. I'm averaging about 23 mpg with a mix of city and road driving. It is the most versatile, comfortable vehicle that I have ever owned. I grew up on many car lots and I have driven a lot of vehicles. This is the … best SUV on the road. Honda stepped out with a design that people originally thought was ugly, but now is seen as boxy cool.
4 out of 5 stars
"It's suppose to burn that much oil!"
Touring 4dr SUV 4WD w/Nav (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
Well, I have had my pilot since 09. I have enjoyed it so far, with a few exceptions. Around 80,000 miles my engine started misfiring. And I got a check engine light that came on. I took it to autozone were they pulled a code. The code confirmed my thoughts, it was a missfire in two of my spark plugs. I decided to save a little money and replace them myself. Figured how much trouble … could it be. I pulled the plugs and two of the plugs seem to have been worn excessively. I started to do some research online only to find out that a lawsuit against Honda about this problem. Apparently the piston rings would shift and allow oil to enter the piston chamber, causing pre mature wear on the plugs and excessive oil consumption. Honda knows of the problem and is supposed to fix it. I brought this to the attention of dealership I frequently visit. I was told because I replaced the plugs and code was cleared I just had to wait until it happens again. Since that incident both catalic converters have failed, why you ask well because they have been coated with oil. By the way that will be a $1400 job please. Also, my Honda pilot if it sits running while parked for over a minute , and then I press the accelerator it blows out a large amount of smoke. I have since brought that up to the dealership. The mechanic told me I needed a new engine! Well, I brought up the leaking piston rings, the lawsuit etc. I was then told " That now I need to do an oil consumption test". Apparently burning three quarts of oil between oil changes is "normal" according to Gunn Honda. I haven't changed the catalic converters on my pilot yet because I figured it would be a waste of money if they are going to get covered with oil and go out again ;I may want to wait. By not changing them keeps my fuel management system from working properly. For those who need further explanation if you see the green "ECO" light on! You are running on three cylinders and not six, which is "supposed" to be increasing your gas mileage. So if you are thinking of buying a used one understand this might be what you are getting. I will say other than that problem I have really enjoyed the ride and comfort of the pilot. If the new ones didn't look like the Honda Odyssey so much I might have upgraded.
4 out of 5 stars
EX-L 4dr SUV 4WD (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
I have 57000 miles on the exl pilot.This SUV is the smoothest running vehicle I've ever owned.I use it as a work car mostly.It has 4wheel drive.I really wish we would get a lot of snow so I can see how well this works.The amount of snow in central Ohio is very limited.I bought the extended warranty at the dealer and wouldn't do it again.I replaced the battery and replaced the heating … element in both front seats.I paid $1300 for extended warranty and have not broke even yet.I have heard these pilots can easily reach 200,000 miles.If you don't drive a lot of miles I wouldn't purchase it.The pilot has the 3 set of airbags on driver and passenger side.It will seat 8 and both seats in back will fold flat on the floor.I would buy this vehicle again.No remorse.
Features & Specs
NHTSA Overall Rating
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverallNot RatedDriver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverallNot Rated
- Side Barrier RatingOverallNot RatedDriver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront SeatNot RatedBack SeatNot Rated
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of RolloverNot Rated
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Side Impact TestGood
- Roof Strength TestMarginal
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintNot Tested
- IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front TestGood
More about the 2009 Honda Pilot
Used 2009 Honda Pilot Overview
The Used 2009 Honda Pilot is offered in the following submodels: Pilot SUV. Available styles include EX-L 4dr SUV 4WD (3.5L 6cyl 5A), Touring 4dr SUV 4WD w/Nav (3.5L 6cyl 5A), LX 4dr SUV 4WD (3.5L 6cyl 5A), EX-L 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A), Touring 4dr SUV 4WD w/Nav, Rear Entertainment (3.5L 6cyl 5A), LX 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A), Touring 4dr SUV w/Nav (3.5L 6cyl 5A), Touring 4dr SUV w/Nav, Rear Entertainment (3.5L 6cyl 5A), EX-L 4dr SUV 4WD w/Rear Entertainment (3.5L 6cyl 5A), EX 4dr SUV 4WD (3.5L 6cyl 5A), EX-L 4dr SUV w/Rear Entertainment (3.5L 6cyl 5A), and EX 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A). Pre-owned Honda Pilot models are available with a 3.5 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 250 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2009 Honda Pilot comes with four wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed automatic.
What's a good price on a Used 2009 Honda Pilot?
Price comparisons for Used 2009 Honda Pilot trim styles:
- The Used 2009 Honda Pilot EX-L is priced between $8,850 and$18,000 with odometer readings between 66743 and175832 miles.
- The Used 2009 Honda Pilot Touring is priced between $12,599 and$16,990 with odometer readings between 95706 and134874 miles.
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Which used 2009 Honda Pilots are available in my area?
Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2009 Honda Pilot for sale near. There are currently 9 used and CPO 2009 Pilots listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $8,850 and mileage as low as 66743 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2009 Honda Pilot.
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Should I lease or buy a 2009 Honda Pilot?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.