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2009 Honda Pilot

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2009 Honda Pilot Review

A great midsize crossover SUV with a stylish look.

Reviewed by Automotive on


Honda certainly became one of the leading car manufacturers over recent decades. Most people think of Honda first when making decisions on buying a new car. It has definitely earned this reputation by creating durable vehicles with unique styles at very affordable prices. The Honda Pilot embraces all of these Honda-related traditions. When originally released, the Pilot's creative appearance and drive qualities caught everyone's attention. It is even considered to be the inspiration for the sport utility vehicle (SUV) crossover trend.

The 2009 Honda Pilot is the second generation of this unique midsize crossover vehicle. Fully redesigned, the 2009 Pilot offers new features and new styling while trying to maintain the feel and trendsetting ability that made it so popular in the first place. It keeps its rugged exterior look while making the interior more usable than the previous models. However, this 2009 makeover mostly applies to the overall appearance of the SUV crossover, because it doesn’t include multiple upgrades on the actual hardware in terms of performance and handling.

The Range

Body Style: SUV
Engines: 3.5-liter V-6
Transmission: five-speed automatic
Models: Honda Pilot LX, Honda Pilot EX, Honda Pilot EX-L, and Honda Pilot Touring

What's New

Wanting to keep things as fresh as possible, the 2009 Pilot was completely redesigned. The midsize crossover sees an altered exterior to make it appear more rugged and linked to its SUV roots. The interior is restyled to have a different look, which carries over to the rugged exterior in the form of a roughly textured dash. Smaller buttons are put in a limited area to make sure the dash is kept open and unencumbered; yet, the most vital of all the changes is the addition of a much more spacious third-row seat. Most adults will now be able to fit comfortably in this rear seat without feeling uncomfortable. Consumers enjoy improved fuel efficiency due to Honda's Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system that shuts down half of the cylinders of the V-6 engine when they are not needed.


The first-generation Honda Pilot was definitely considered to be a style trendsetter, particularly for its exterior. The 2009 Pilot is designed to maintain the idea of being unique enough to stand out. Rather than keeping to the smooth and sleek curves of the original, the 2009 moved toward a more angular design. The appearance reaches into the foundation of SUV roots of this kind of crossover because it's styled almost like a Jeep. The distinctive style is by no means generic and can easily catch anyone’s attention.


The interior of the 2009 Pilot receives a massive overhaul. To keep the dash and console as open and free as possible, the buttons for audio and climate control systems were moved more closely together. Some people might enjoy the new technology-based array of buttons, while others might find it confusing when compared to the simple style of the first-generation Pilot vehicles. The gauges are clear to read and very handy for even the novice driver. Also, the included navigation system is certainly one of the best in the entire car industry. The third row was made more spacious after many complaints that only children can fit comfortably in the back. While the actual numbers only account for an extra 1.8 inches of legroom, it's more comfortable for the average adult.

Performance & Handling

All 2009 Honda Pilots are powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine, which can generate 250 horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque. This brings an increase of six horsepower and 13 lb-ft of torque over the previous year's model. The only available transmission is the five-speed automatic. In terms of powertrain, front-wheel drive is standard on all the 2009 Pilot models. An option for an all-wheel drive, which automatically apportions power to the rear wheels when front slippage occurs, is available. The only real drawback is that the V-6 for the 2009 Pilot is a bit sluggish. It took 9.7 seconds to get from zero to 60 mph, which is a rather leisurely pace.


Like all Honda vehicles, the 2009 Pilot places a very high priority on safety. Standard equipment includes anti-lock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags, and full-length side curtain airbags. The Pilot performed flawlessly in government crash tests, earning a perfect five-star rating for both frontal and side impacts.

EPA Fuel Economy

Honda Pilot, front-wheel drive: 17/23 mpg city/highway
Honda Pilot, all-wheel drive: 16/22 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Exterior appearance
  • Comfortable ride
  • Redefined powertrain

You Won't Like

  • Poor braking distances
  • Low-power V-6 engine

Sum Up

A great midsize crossover SUV with a stylish look.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Toyota Highlander
  • Nissan Murano
  • Hyundai Veracruz

See the New 2015 Pilot.

Front & Driver Side View