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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
even more surefooted demeanor
“engine can run on either three, four, or all six cylinders”
“ample power and fine throttle response”
“transmission never made a harsh shift”
The 2010 Honda Pilot performs well—indeed, much better than its tall, boxy silhouette might indicate.
The 250-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 and five-speed automatic transmission that come in all Pilots deliver just enough power, according to most reviewers, though the Pilot isn't quick. “With as much as 4,600 pounds to motivate," Automobile says, “Honda figures you'll need something useful from under the hood.” However, the Pilot’s “power arrives a little farther around the tachometer dial than you'd like, and since there are only five speeds in the transmission with which to find it, you have to work the throttle pedal kind of hard to get there.” Motor Trend agrees that power “peaks at a somewhat heady 4800 rpm.”
ConsumerGuide goes against the grain here, reporting that the engine “has ample power and fine throttle response in both city and highway driving.” USA Today thinks the “engine sounds sweet when spurred and has a jump-and-run persona.”
Automobile points out that the Pilot’s V-6 has “VCM (variable cylinder management),” which means “the engine can run on either three, four, or all six cylinders, depending on how much power is needed,” although TheCarConnection.com notes that even as such, the 2010 Pilot is rated at just 16 mpg city, 22 highway with 4WD. USA Today “managed only about 15 to 19 miles per gallon in various uses — typical but not exceptional for midsize crossover SUVs.”
Nearly everyone considers the transmission smooth and responsive. The Detroit News feels that the five-speed automatic transmission “seemed to find its gears smoothly under heavy acceleration,” while Cars.com reports that “during the entirety of my drive, the transmission never made a harsh shift and always seemed to be in the right gear.” USA Today notes that “the only hiccup was a jolt when it shifted simultaneously with cylinders shutting off or kicking in.” ConsumerGuide calls it “smooth and responsive,” adding that it “occasionally hunts for the ideal gear.”
By nearly all accounts, the 2010 Honda Pilot handles well. The Pilot “never loses its composure,” ConsumerGuide reports, while USA Today says its “steering stayed on-center nicely and was properly responsive upon command.” However, the paper remarks that the Pilot’s “ride was an odd mix of accommodating smoothness on most surfaces but jerky harshness on slow bumps.” Cars.com asserts that the “Pilot managed to impress on the ride and handling front,” though “steering feel is a little vague when turning the wheel left or right from the straight-ahead position.”
USA Today adds that “the handling that's important to most people most of the time—maneuvering in tight spots and parking in crowded lots—was excellent because of a compact turning circle and good visibility.”
Few reviewers had much to say about the available all-wheel-drive system, which Honda designates as 4WD. It doesn’t have a low range, but there's a Lock mode for use at low speeds. It can “impart a more confident feel in rain or snow conditions,” notes Edmunds, contending that it's “exquisitely simple and completely affordable, if not exactly trail-rated.”
The 2010 Honda Pilot doesn't handle with any feeling of sportiness, but its powertrain is reasonably responsive and smooth.