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STYLING | 7 out of 10
“Bluff and hearty”
“Big, ugly grille”
“More muscular caricature of its predecessor”
The 2009 Honda Pilot has a thicker body with a much more prominent--and controversial, according to reviews from across the Web--grille.
The 2009 Honda Pilot, Automobile reports, “looks like a more muscular caricature of its predecessor, with enormous headlights, a menacing grille, and thick C-pillars.” The transformation from the previous Pilot is complete; while the 2008 model looked lean and vanlike, the 2009 Honda Pilot “tries hard to look more like a utility and less like a minivan,” Edmunds says. They call the look “bluff and hearty, like an American wearing a simple white T-shirt,” but point out its “self-consciously truck-style grille that strikes the same note of authenticity as a sumo wrestler wearing a belt buckle from the Salinas Rodeo.”
The grille on the 2009 Honda Pilot is a lightning rod for critics. USAToday thinks the Pilot is “not swoopy and sexy like the CX-9, nor graceful like the GM's GMC/Saturn models,” in part because of its “big, ugly grille—a visual sore point.” They also refer to the Pilot’s proportions as “off a bit,” though Cars.com thinks there are some “interesting angles in the liftgate near the taillamps.” Car and Driver says, “there are more right angles on the thing than you’ll find in a T-square factory.”
In the end, most reviewers found the Pilot “boxy-looking (and, to my eye, stodgy),” BusinessWeek reports. “The new model looks more friendly than tough,” the Detroit News adds. “None of its edges are sharp; instead, it's soft and curvy.”
The 2009 Honda Pilot’s interior is radically changed from the previous car as well, and it’s not entirely successful. “The interior is the biggest upgrade for the 2009 Pilot,” Automobile says. “The instrument cluster is especially cool, with black numbers floating on a transparent surface and orange needles below.” Motor Trend thinks its “3D-look analog gauges” are “highly legible,” but its “center stack layout [is] a trifle busy, especially in Touring trim.” Cars.com notes the “new dash” and its “white-faced gauges and translucent turquoise trim,” and thinks “the design works well.” The Detroit News observes that the “center stack, when the navigation system is included, becomes a confusing mess of buttons, switches and knobs.”
The 2009 Honda Pilot takes a new direction in styling, with a cumbersome grille and a dash with too many buttons.