KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
The 2008 Honda Pilot, the company's largest SUV offering, has earned a reputation for reliability, comfort and performance. Sharing a chassis with the Acura MDX has its benefits, and the Pilot sails into 2008 leading its class in just about every category. Although it offers seating for eight passengers, the Pilot is not nearly as bulky or cumbersome as most full-size SUVs and its silky-smooth V6 engine delivers strong performance coupled with superb fuel economy. The Pilot's uni-body construction permits the use of a sophisticated rear suspension that delivers an impressively smooth ride and agile handling. On the downside, this design limits the Pilot's tow rating to 4,500 pounds for boat trailers and 3,500 pounds for all others.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you need the seating capacity of a bigger SUV, but not the usually bulky body and so-so handling that comes with it, check out the Pilot. Interior room is as outstanding as the power output of the V6 engine. And if you desire four-wheel drive, Honda's innovative VTM-4 system offers automatic engagement when needed and a manual locking function for dealing with those tougher situations.
You May Not Like This Car If...
The Pilot's strong popularity makes it difficult to bargain on what is already a relatively steep price. Honda's "one package fits all" approach may turn off buyers who like to pick and choose their options. Those who need to tow more than 3,500 pounds will need to look elsewhere.
What's Significant About This Car?
The LX trim becomes the Value Package (VP) trim and the addition of popular features to the EX creates a new Special Edition trim.
In addition to its other attributes, the Pilot delivers an exceptional combination of road feel, steering feedback and ride comfort. Over practically any road surface, the Pilot maintains its composure with ease, riding quietly over smooth pavement with stability and poise. Performance is another Pilot strength, and the Pilot's V6 is capable of producing ample low-end torque along with impressive highway response. Honda's VTM-4 four-wheel-drive system distributes power between the front and rear wheels as needed, but its lack of a two-speed transfer case could inhibit true off-road adventuring. The system does, however, feature a locking mechanism that can be manually engaged at low speeds, ideal for low-traction situations such as mud or deep snow.
Honda's VTM-4 four-wheel drive lets the Pilot go where most big SUVs wouldn't dare.
The Pilot's optional navigation unit features a rear back-up camera.
The Pilot's interior may make you feel you're in an Acura, as the optional perforated leather seats, navigation system or DVD entertainment package and a host of other creature comforts are all wrapped in quality materials. The Pilot's third-row seat is a bit cramped for adults, but should suit the little ones just fine. With the third-row seat folded, the Pilot gains a huge amount of usable cargo room. The built-in rear back-up camera is a great safety and convenience feature, but is limited to upper-end models equipped with navigation. On the flip side, we applaud Honda for making front side-impact and three-row head-curtain airbags standard on every model.
In profile, the Honda Pilot mirrors much of the styling of the previous generation CR-V. A boxy greenhouse tempered by rounded corners, big side glass and a short hood create the Pilot's silhouette. The Pilot's front fenders, grille, headlamp and taillight treatment mimic the look established by Honda's pickup, the Ridgeline. Big flush-mounted headlamps flank an equally large grille and you'll find the Pilot's overall fit and finish is flawless. Built-in crumple zones helped the Pilot perform extremely well in its crash tests.
Notable Standard Equipment
As with all Hondas, the Pilot offers its optional equipment packaged within each trim level. The base VP features a 244-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, five-speed automatic transmission, manual front and rear air conditioning, remote keyless entry, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), seven cup holders, dual power mirrors, XM Satellite Radio, AM/FM stereo with six-disc CD changer, front side-impact airbags, three-row side-curtain airbags, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, power windows, power locks, rear defroster, steering wheel-mounted controls, rear wiper/washer, Vehicle Stability Assist and machine-finished alloy wheels. The EX trim level adds automatic air conditioning, auto-off headlamps, heated side mirrors and an eight-way power driver's seat. The SE adds DVD rear entertainment, power moonroof and a 115-volt outlet.
Notable Optional Equipment
Other than four-wheel drive, options are limited to the EX trim and are offered in a variety of packages. You can order the EX with leather, or with leather and rear-seat DVD player, or with leather and navigation, but you can't order a Pilot with navigation and the rear-seat DVD.
Under the Hood
Honda's more-than-competent 3.5-liter V6 fits the Pilot like a well-tailored suit. Powerful enough to climb hills, dart across busy intersections and pass with confidence, yet fairly easy on fuel, this engine is all about efficiency and quiet operation. An excellent repair history adds piece of mind.
244 horsepower @ 5750 rpm (2WD), 244 horsepower @ 5600 rpm (4WD)
240 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22 (2WD), 15/20 (4WD)
Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) for the Pilot range from around $28,000 for the two-wheel drive VP to more than $36,000 for a loaded all-wheel drive EX-L with navigation. The Pilot continues to sell well, which explains the high figures found on the Fair Purchase Price page, which shows what others have paid for their Pilots. With newer competitors, such as the Saturn Outlook, offering room, comfort and performance, plus little details such as the ability to order both navigation and rear-seat DVD entertainment systems, the Pilot faces formidable challenges. Over time, the Pilot is expected to retain residual and resale values better than the Ford Explorer, Chevrolet TrailBlazer and Dodge Durango and slightly higher than the new Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia.