Vehicle Type: Crossover SUV

History/Description: Honda phased out and replaced their first-generation Pilot for model-year 2009 with a new model that packed updated styling, technology, feature content and an even bigger body. Longer, wider and taller than the original machine, the new-for-2009 eight-passenger Pilot received a welcome makeover to help it stand out in a market jammed with increasingly fierce competitors, including comparable machines from Toyota, Nissan, Chevrolet and Ford.

Just like the last generation, power comes from a 3.5L V6 engine. Horsepower was modestly increased to 250, a gain of six ponies. Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) function and i-VTEC (Valve Timing Electronic Control) system were on board to keep the mill running as economically as possible. Most models in the used market will be AWD or 4WD, featuring Honda’s self-activating four-wheel drive system with available locking mode for enhanced traction. Some units were front-wheel drive. All models got an automatic transmission.

LX and SE models were more basic in terms of feature content, with the Pilot EX-L and Touring models taking a place at the top of the range.

What Owners Like: Pilot owners tend to rate a multitude of characteristics highly, including seat comfort, abundant storage facilities, overall flexibility, a great driving position, confident all-surface traction and an overall blend of go-anywhere, anytime size, flexibility and capability.

What Owners Dislike: Gripes include a learning curve to the voice commanded systems (if equipped), cramped third-row seats, and rougher and louder-than-expected ride in some models.

Here’s a look at what some owners are saying on

Common Issues: Some owner complaints have surfaced online regarding the durability of the Pilot’s leather seating, especially in the rear rows. Shoppers are advised to check for signs of cracking, ripping or abrasion in the leather, if equipped, where the seat bottom meets the seatback, as some owners have reported damaged caused by folding the seats down and placing cargo on top, which compresses the leather and may cause issues. Here’s a little more reading.

Other durability complaints centre around the brakes, with numerous owners reporting much shorter-than-expected life to brake system components. Be sure to feel for a throbbing pulsation in the brake pedal during light to moderate stops in the Pilot you’re considering, which is a sign that the rotors are warped and that the braking system is in need of attention. If in doubt, ask a mechanic to take a closer look.

While the Pilot is on your mechanic’s hoist, ask for an inspection for signs of leaks, especially around the radiator, transmission cooler lines, transmission and rear differential. Any of these should be relatively easy to spot on a pre-purchase inspection. The Pilot’s suspension should also be inspected, especially for signs of excessive wear to the lower front control arm bushings. If these are cracked or appear to be leaking, they’ll need to be replaced. Here’s some more information.

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