- The Washington Times - Friday, March 19, 2010

TORRANCE, Calif. | The Honda Pilot earned its reputation as one of the original innovators in the crossover SUV segment, raising the prominence of on-road driving sophistication, three-row passenger capability and higher fuel efficiency compared to conventional sport utility designs.

In its second generation, the Pilot continues to represent the refined, comfortable and family-oriented vehicle choice, with space for eight passengers and a wide variety of useful capabilities and premium features. New for 2011, the availability of the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System, previously exclusive to the top-level Pilot Touring model, expands to the Pilot EX-L model.

“The Honda Pilot excels at providing the capabilities that people desire most from a family-oriented SUV,” said Vicki Poponi, assistant vice president of product planning for American Honda Motor Co. Inc. “The Pilot emphasizes safety, versatile cargo areas and comfortable space for adults and children, while also providing a smart balance between all-weather capabilities, refined driving dynamics and overall fuel efficiency.”

The 250-horsepower V-6 engine provides both performance and enhanced efficiency with Variable Cylinder Management, a technology that can deactivate up to three of the engine’s six cylinders to save fuel when cruising or lightly accelerating.

The available Variable Torque Management 4-Wheel-Drive (VTM-4) directs power to the wheels with the most traction in rain, snow and slippery terrain. All models are equipped with a standard towing-hitch receiver and a maximum tow rating of 4,500 pounds on four-wheel-drive models and 3,500 pounds on two-wheel-drive models.

Consistent with contemporary SUV styling, the exterior conveys a bold and substantial approach that also helps maximize interior space, yet the Pilot still maintains a garage-friendly exterior length of less than 16 feet. The interior emphasizes an expansive feel with an efficient and modern design that supplies 152.7 cubic feet of passenger space within three rows of seats. Adjustable storage compartments in the center console can accommodate items large and small, from handbags to mobile phones. The instrument panel’s wide center stack intelligently groups similar controls for the audio system, climate controls and the available Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System and Honda DVD Entertainment System (if equipped). All models provide an auxiliary audio input jack for digital music players, and navigation-equipped models also include Bluetooth HandsFreeLink and a USB audio interface.

The first row provides a commanding view of the road for the driver and the passenger. The 60-40-split second-row bench seat accommodates three passengers and slides forward for increased ease of access to the third row. The third-row bench seat, also split 60-40, is designed to offer sufficient knee room for an average-size adult. There are four Lower Anchor and Tether for Children (Latch) attachment positions, which provide options for three child seats in the second row and one in the third row.

The 18 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row matches or exceeds the trunk space of a typical large sedan and can accommodate items as large as a midsize cooler or a folded stroller. The cargo area has a hidden storage well that provides 2.8 cubic feet of space and can combine with the above floor storage area by securing the hinged cover against the seat back. The Pilot Touring provides a load-supporting cargo net (20 pounds maximum weight) to further subdivide the rear cargo area. For maximum cargo space, the second and third rows fold flat into the floor to create 87 cubic feet of storage capacity while also providing sufficient width for 4-foot-wide items. The tailgate features a lift-up glass hatch for access to the cargo area.

Safety technology includes the Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, which helps redirect crash energy around the passenger cabin and can enhance frontal collision compatibility. Additional safety equipment includes Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), commonly referred to as Electronic Stability Control; three-row side curtain air bags with a rollover sensor; driver’s and front passenger’s side air bags with passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS); active front-seat head restraints; and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist.

The Pilot is powered by an advanced 24-valve i-VTEC engine with “intelligent” Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (i-VTEC) technology. As part of the Pilot’s i-VTEC technology, Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) allows the V-6 engine to operate in six-cylinder mode for power and four- or three-cylinder modes for efficiency. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated city/highway/combined 17/23/19 mpg on two-wheel-drive models and 16/22/18 mpg on four-wheel-drive models. A 21-gallon fuel tank can comfortably provide a driving range of more than 400 miles on the highway. The Pilot has a California Air Resources Board emissions rating of ULEV-2 and a Federal Tier 2, Bin 5 rating.

The five-speed automatic transmission features Grade Logic Control to help maintain the most appropriate gear when going uphill or downhill, thereby avoiding gear “hunting.” The VTM-4 system (available) adds fully automatic four-wheel-drive capability. VTM-4 delivers seamless, “decision-free” application of four-wheel drive when needed, a key benefit compared to conventional systems. The system also provides a “lock mode” - available when in first or second gears (up to 18 mph) and activated by a button on the instrument panel - that can deliver the maximum-possible torque transfer to the rear wheels to aid in extraction from extremely low-traction or stuck conditions.

The unit-body construction makes extensive use of high-strength steel (52 percent) to minimize weight. The suspension is a fully independent system with front MacPherson strut and rear multilink with trailing arm designs that contribute to responsive driving characteristics for an SUV. The 109.2-inch wheelbase facilitates a smooth ride, and standard 17-inch wheels with P245 65 R17 all-season tires combine both on- and off-road performance. A turning diameter of 38.6 feet aids maneuverability in tight parking situations.

The Pilot is available in four model choices (LX, EX, EX-L and Touring); each is offered in either a two-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive configuration. Standard comfort and convenience features on the Pilot LX include a front and rear air-conditioning system with air-filtration system, keyless entry, tilt and telescope steering column, cruise control, power windows with auto-up/down driver’s and passenger’s windows, power-door and tailgate locks, AM/FM/CD stereo system with seven speakers, including subwoofer and Radio Data System (RDS), trip computer, digital compass, auto on/off headlights, heat-rejecting tinted glass, integrated Class III towing receiver and more.

The Pilot EX adds a trizone automatic climate-control system with humidity control and air filtration, a power driver’s seat with 10-way power adjustment with lumbar support, six-disc in-dash CD changer, security system, XM radio, body-colored side mirrors and door handles, alloy wheels, roof rails, fog lights, exterior temperature indicator, HomeLink Remote System, and more.

The Pilot EX-L adds leather-trimmed seating surfaces, heated front seats, four-way power front passenger’s seat, one-touch power moonroof, acoustic windshield glass, automatic-dimming rearview mirror with rearview camera display (EX-L-exclusive), and the availability of either the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with rearview camera (navigation display replaces backup monitor in EX-L rearview mirror) or the Honda DVD Rear Entertainment System with a 9-inch screen. The addition of either the navigation or the entertainment system also upgrades to the Premium Audio System with 10 speakers, including subwoofer, and adds a 115-volt power outlet.

The top-of-the-line Pilot Touring comes standard with the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with rearview camera, Premium Audio System, Bluetooth HandsFreeLink, USB Audio Interface, the Honda DVD Rear Entertainment System, Multi-Information Display, two-position memory seats, corner and backup sensors, exclusive alloy wheels, power tailgate, side-mirror integrated turn indicators, and more.

The Pilot is assembled from domestic and globally sourced parts at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama LLC in Lincoln, Ala. Honda R&D; Americas Inc. designed and developed the Pilot in Raymond, Ohio, and Torrance, Calif. Additional consumer information is available at www.honda.com. Additional media information is available at www.hondanews.com.

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