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Old 01 Sep 2010, 09:00 am
Join Date: Aug 2007
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Default Pilot: 2009 Honda Pilot: Body


The Honda Pilot is built on a crossover SUV platform that combines the safety, packaging and handling advantages of a car-based unit body design while still delivering the rugged versatility that mainstream consumers most frequently use in a SUV. The Pilot's highly-rigid platform with isolated front and rear subframes provides the foundation for many of its refined attributes, including its outstanding handling agility, exceptional ride comfort, world-class safety performance and packaging efficiency. The Pilot's SUV ruggedness is supported with confidence-inspiring traction in rain and snow, medium duty off-road capabilities from 8.0 inches of ground clearance and a maximum tow rating of 4,500 pounds (4WD models).

For 2009, the Pilot's body integrates the Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE®) body structure for enhanced frontal crash safety with vehicles of different bumper heights, along with the most extensive use of high strength steel in any Honda automotive product to date. A bolder styling direction embraces a clean and functional approach with crisp, three-dimensional lines that create a dynamic shape with strength and solidity.

Body Summary

  • Unit body platform with fully-independent suspension

  • Increased exterior dimensions (length +2.9 inches, width +1.0 inches, height +1.0 inches)

  • Extensive use of high-strength steel (52 percent total)

  • Bending rigidity up 25 percent, torsional rigidity up 7 percent

  • Aerodynamics improved by 2 percent

  • Front and rear doors open wider for easier access

  • Available moonroof larger by 26 percent

Exterior Key Dimensions, 2009 Pilot vs. 2008 Pilot

2009 Pilot 2008 Pilot Change from 2008
Wheelbase (in.) 109.2 106.3 +2.9
LxWxH (in.) EX 4WD 190.9 x 78.5 x 72.7 188.0 x 77.5 x 71.7 +2.9 x +1.0 x +1.0
Ground Clearance Max. (in.) 8.0 8.0 (4WD) Same
Approach/Rampover/ Departure Angle (degrees) 27.8 / 15.7 / 24.5 28.8 / 21.6 / 23.1 -1.0 / -5.9 / +1.4

New Body Features

  • ACE body structure

  • Tailgate with lift-up glass hatch

  • Integrated tow hitch (standard)

  • Aluminum hood

Exterior Styling

With its wide and solid stance, classic SUV proportions and clean design treatment, the Pilot is designed to communicate traditional SUV character traits including strength, durability, utility and off-road confidence. Honda designers used the three-dimensionally beveled lines of an ultra-rugged laptop computer as inspiration to convey an active and intelligent vehicle design theme. The concept provided the basis for the Pilot's unique blend of sporty, functional and rugged design elements. A bold six-sided grille framed by large headlights creates a unique appearance that is easily identifiable as both a Honda and as a light truck. The Pilot also communicates a higher level of refinement than most of its competitors with modern details and tight body gaps with outstanding fit and finish. From the profile, the doors utilize a more truck-like full-frame design instead of more car-like roll-form sash doors. Pilot Touring models add side mirror integrated turn signal indicators and bright chrome-appearance side trim.


The Pilot body is aerodynamically optimized with under-vehicle aerodynamic aids. A wide chin spoiler and splash shield direct air under the front subframe. Additional strakes are positioned ahead of the front and rear wheels, plus two additional rear mudguard-style deflectors that smooth airflow exiting the rear of the vehicle. Overall, the aerodynamic coefficient of drag (Cd) has improved by 2 percent compared to the 2008 model.

Body Construction

The 2009 Pilot is constructed of 52 percent high strength steel (340 grade or above) to create a larger and lighter body with increased rigidity and enhanced safety. An aluminum hood further reduces vehicle weight to enhance the vehicle's overall efficiency. The 2009 hood weighs 15.9 pounds and is 19.2 pounds lighter than the previous generation's steel hood. A four-ring safety shell connects the floor, body side and roof for enhanced occupant protection. The ACE Body structure further enhances frontal collision compatibility between vehicles with different bumper heights. The Maximum Efficiency Floor (MEF) design is comprised of a network of longitudinal rails, floor cross-members and pillar reinforcements that carry heavy loads to enhance crash safety, handling and packaging efficiency.

Reinforced steel stiffeners located inside the doors at the vehicle's beltline make a continuous horizontal connection between the first three pillars. High tensile strength steel tubular beams inside the door structure provide additional intrusion resistance. A roof-mounted reinforcement is provided to secure the center passengers' upper-shoulder belt.

Attaining a high level of dynamic body rigidity is essential for precise handling, ride quality and quietness inside the cabin. By researching the body's dynamic response to chassis loads resulting from everyday driving events, engineers considered the unit body's "dynamic stiffness" as an entire system. Compared to the first generation Pilot, bending rigidity has increased by 25 percent and torsional rigidity has increased by 7 percent. Instrumented testing revealed that the "tailgate ring" - the open area surrounding the tailgate - is particularly important for handling, stability and ride. In the second generation Pilot, this area has been markedly stiffened, providing the rear suspension with a more solid mounting and resulting in a more precise handling feel. In addition, the floor frames are wider for improved packaging and rigidity.

The increases in rigidity represent a significant achievement considering that body dimensions have increased and the body's relative weight has been reduced. Ultimately, the increased rigidity enables enhanced vehicle dynamics, ride comfort, and driving quietness.

Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE®) Body Structure

The Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure is a pioneering Honda unit-body construction technology. Introduced to the Pilot for the first time in the 2009 model, it maximizes the body's ability to disperse crash energy in a frontal collision and is designed to deliver top safety ratings. (See Safety tab for more information.)

Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) Reduction Features

The Pilot is designed to drive exceptionally smooth and with minimal noise intrusion into the cabin. To accomplish this, the Pilot approaches NVH reduction from three primary directions - traditional insulation in the floor, doors and firewall; active systems that work with the engine and audio system to cancel unwanted engine noise; and front hydraulic lower suspension arm bushings that minimize the transmission of road noise into the cabin.

All Pilots use a dual door-seal system to minimize the possibility of wind noise or rain intrusion. To further reduce operating noise, an audio system-based Active Noise Control (ANC) system is used along with an engine cradle-based Active Control Engine Mount (ACM) system (see chassis section for more information).

Exterior Lighting

The integrated multi-reflector headlight design houses the halogen low beams, halogen high beams, turn signals and side marker lamps in chrome-appearance trapezoidal-shaped enclosures. Relative to the 2008 model, the low beams achieve 33.5 percent more output with a 9.5 percent longer beam reach and 15.7 percent beam width. Auto on/off headlights and daytime running lamps are standard equipment. The auto on/off headlights are activated by a light sensor located at the top center of the instrument panel near the base of the windshield. The headlight switch, located on the turn signal stalk, provides a setting for auto on/off headlights. Alternatively, the driver can operate the headlights manually. Fog lights are standard equipment on EX and above models.

Taillights have a high-tech design with a clean and bright appearance. The ruby-like inner lenses appear to be suspended in the arched housings. The reverse lamps feature a white lens and polished reflector. Pilot Touring models provide a side marker lamp integrated into the side mirrors.

The Center High Mount Stop Lamp (CHMSL) located at the top of the tailgate features a single array of five LEDs. An LED CHMSL was selected for its high-tech appearance and ability to produce brightness while retaining slender physical dimensions.

Glass and Visibility

The Pilot was designed to provide excellent outward visibility, improving the comfort and safety for all occupants. The Pilot features a large greenhouse with 273-degrees of outward visibility. Deeply tinted privacy glass is used in the rear side doors, rear quarter windows and rear tailgate. Heat rejecting glass is used in the front windshield to reduce heat from solar loading for improved comfort and air conditioning performance. Pilot EX-L and Touring models have acoustic windshield glass that helps to reduce interior noise levels. The rear side glass houses the vehicle's amplified stereo antenna.

Tailgate with Lift-Up Glass Hatch

The Pilot's top-hinged tailgate design improves for 2009 with the addition of lift-up glass hatch for improved access to the cargo area. The glass hatch can be opened via the remote key fob (on the Pilot LX, EX, EX-L), a button on the top right side of the license plate garnish, or a button inside the vehicle located on the lower part of the driver's door. The tailgate glass incorporates an electric defogger system, activated by a button on the dash, along with an intermittent rear wiper and washer nozzle.

Power Tailgate with Lift-Up Glass Hatch (Touring)

Pilot Touring models receive a power tailgate design. The power tailgate can be operated via the remote key fob, from a button on the driver's door panel, or from a button located inside the tailgate (for closing). The location of the motor in the Pilot's D-pillar (instead of in the roof) allows excellent headroom for the third-row seats. The tailgate can also be operated manually.

Integrated Class III Trailer Hitch

New for 2009, every Pilot includes an integrated trailer hitch as standard equipment. The Class III hitch supports a maximum tow rating of 4,500 pounds on four-wheel-drive models and 3,500 pounds on two-wheel-drive models. To supplement the Pilot's towing capability, standard cooling equipment includes a high-capacity radiator with dual high-power fans, transmission cooler and power steering cooler. The Pilot 4WD's 4,500-pound rating is calculated to include up to four passengers and their cargo. A pre-wired for trailer harness is included for trailer lighting and an electric brake controller. Pilot Touring models are equipped with a 7-pin trailer unit and harness.

One-Touch Power Moonroof with Tilt Feature

A moonroof is standard equipment on the Pilot EX-L and Touring models. The opening measures 33.0 x 13.0 inches, a 26 percent improvement of 4.7 x 1.0 inches compared to the 2008 Pilot. In addition to being larger, the available moonroof on the 2009 Pilot also improves operational convenience. To tilt or slide the moonroof the driver or front passenger needs only to fully press the ceiling-mounted switch once (instead of pressing and holding it for several seconds). The moonroof fully opens or closes automatically. However if the operator wishes to only partially open or close the moonroof (such as to achieve partial ventilation), a lighter touch yields fully manual control. The moonroof can also tilt to provide ventilation. A pinch protection feature is built in, helping to ensure that the moonroof will not forcefully close if someone's hand or arm is positioned in the path of the moonroof. If an obstruction is detected, the moonroof mechanism will reopen the moonroof.

Windshield Wipers

For the front windshield, single-piece wiper arms are used. For cleaning, windshield washer sprayers with large openings are employed to maximize the coverage area and to reduce the chance of clogging or freezing. The intermittent rear wiper allows the driver to match wiper speed to various levels of precipitation. The rear wiper arm is a one-piece design with a clean, integrated appearance. A jet-type washer nozzle located on the upper edge of the tailgate (inside the center high-mount stop light) provides quicker and more thorough distribution of washer fluid. Fluid is delivered almost the instant the wash button is touched thanks to use of a check valve in the delivery line.

Remote Key Fob

All Pilots come standard with two remote-controlled key fobs for remote vehicle locking and alarm functions. The fob of the Pilot has three buttons: at the top, there's a large round concave button (with raised nibs for tactile identification) to command the lock function. A round convex-shaped button near the base of the key controls the unlock function. Depressing this button once unlocks just the driver's door. A second push unlocks all four doors and the rear tailgate. To the right of the unlock button is a round (smooth) convex-shaped button that unlatches the rear lift-up tailgate glass on LX, EX and EX-L models. On Pilot Touring models, this button controls the power tailgate. Additionally, each of the Pilot Touring's two key fobs can be linked to individual memory settings for the 8-way power driver's seat position and various configurable items within the Multi Information Display. A recessed "panic" button at the bottom of the fob will cause the vehicle's horn to sound and exterior lights to blink intermittently in the event of an emergency.

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