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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
A smooth and stable cruiser...and perfect ergonomics
Car and Driver
strong and confident
Panic stops generate copious nosedive
impressive highway response
Kelley Blue Book
The 2008 Honda Pilot is a powerful, responsive, good-handling SUV crossover with a pleasant ride and solid fuel efficiency.
The Honda Pilot's standard engine is a 244-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine, teamed with a five-speed automatic. This is a sweet V-6 whose VTEC variable valve timing system works elegantly, and it's wed to a delectable and poised five-speed automatic. Car and Driver likes the Honda's "strong acceleration for its class" and calls the powertrain “slick,” while Cars.com says, “Performance is strong and confident, if not exactly blistering. Response is quick, easy and seamless from the engine and automatic transmission.” Edmunds labels it “strong yet efficient.”
In 2WD Pilots, the engine employs Variable Cylinder Management to disable three cylinders in low-load situations, such as cruising or slowing, to conserve fuel. The engine is designed to run on cheaper, regular-grade gasoline. The EPA says the Pilot gets 16/22 mpg with front-wheel drive, and 15/20 mpg with all-wheel drive.
In the four-wheel-drive models of the 2008 Pilot, Honda uses what it calls Variable Torque Management (VTM-4) to send power to the rear wheels as needed. Though it does not have a two-speed transfer case, it does feature a locking mechanism to keep all four wheels powered, useful when in deep snow or on a boat ramp. Although the Honda Pilot is a unibody crossover (unlike a truck-based SUV), it is rated to tow up to a 4,500-pound boat trailer, “about 1,000 pounds greater than many crossover rivals, but well below the ratings for traditional truck-based SUVs like the Ford Explorer or Dodge Durango,” Edmunds adds.
Since it's a front-driver in most situations, the 2008 Honda Pilot behaves like a front-driver in most situations; the nose will plow in corners, and the cornering limits themselves are modest. The steering feels a bit numb, but it isn't imprecise. The 2008 Pilot sports a fully independent rear suspension that Kelley Blue Book says "delivers an impressively smooth ride and agile handling." Car and Driver praises its "carlike handling." ConsumerGuide Auto feels that the 2008 Pilot's handling is "strong and stable" except for "copious nosedive," but it "never loses its composure." Cars.com remarks "it seems a trifle uncertain through some demanding turns." However, Mother Proof’s resident mom considers the Pilot’s ride "smooth and comfortable, and the handling gives a feeling of security,” and Car and Driver calls its steering “accurate.”
The 2008 Honda Pilot is a reasonably powerful, smooth-riding, and fairly capable family hauler.