Image credits: © Honda.

2012 Honda Pilot

2012 Honda Pilot Debuts with Sleek New Look, Improved Fuel Economy and Upgraded Interior Features

2012 Honda Pilot
25 mpg Pilot 2WD achieves top highway EPA rating for an eight-passenger SÚV2012 Honda Pilot
The Honda Pilot eight-passenger SÚV receives a wide range of upgrades for 2012 with a sleeker front-end design, enhanced interior features and an EPA highway fuel economy rating of 25 mpg on two-wheel-drive models, an increase of 2 mpg compared to 2011 models.

The new styling for the front fascia, with its three-bar chrome-style grille, conveys a more sophisticated crossover SÚV appearance. Interior styling changes focus on instrument panel refinement and a more intuitive button layout. For 2012, audio system upgrades on Pilot EX and EX-L models include a 2 GB CD-Library (CD-L) and Bluetooth® Audio Streaming, along with the addition of Bluetooth HandsFreeLink® to those trim levels.

Feature upgrades on the Pilot EX-L include the addition of a full-color 8-inch intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID) for audio and vehicle information. Models equipped with the available Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System for 2012 receive subscription-free FM Traffic, 15 GB audio hard disk drive memory (HDD), and a higher-resolution display.

The fuel economy gains for 2012 result from combined improvements to the powertrain, chassis and vehicle aerodynamics. The 250 horsepower i-VTEC V-6 engine includes additional measures for friction reduction and improved efficiency. The 2012 Pilot becomes quieter with additional noise insulation and other enhancements throughout the vehicle.

The 2012 Pilot's new grille and front fascia replace the prior model's six-sided grille insert with a distinctive three-bar horizontal design. Reconfigured multi-reflector halogen headlights and turn signals contribute to the new look with a layout that relocates the turn signal from an outboard position to an inboard position within the headlight housing. A new front air dam and optimized strakes (the rectangular air deflector in front of the wheels) help reduce frontal area and unwanted air turbulence, both of which impact fuel economy. Rounding out the exterior design changes, Pilot EX and above models receive an all-new five-spoke, 18-inch aluminum alloy wheel design (plus 1-inch compared to the previous model). Pilot Touring alloy wheels feature an exclusive six-spoke design with a high-contrast machined surface. Pilot LX models are equipped with 17-inch styled-steel wheels.

Exterior dimensions for 2012 are similar to 2011 with identical measurements for width (78.5 inches), height (71.0 inches for Pilot LX and 72.7 inches for Pilot EX, EX-L and Touring) wheelbase (109.2 inches) and track (front 67.7 / rear 67.5 inches). Overall length increases 0.5 inches to 191.4 inches as a result of the front styling changes. Ground clearance is basically the same at 7.97 inches, down slightly from 8.00 inches in the previous model.

Interior styling changes are designed to increase refinement throughout the cabin while also enhancing the intuitive nature of the controls. The instrument panel uses a more unified color theme with less contrast between panels. A glossy black center panel for audio controls replaces the high-contrast silver panel of the previous model. Speedometer and tachometer gauge faces incorporate a new look with distinct segments surrounding each meter's perimeter, along with white background illumination for nighttime driving instead of the previous model's aqua-blue background illumination. The redesigned center stack adds a subtle Ú-shaped character line and different textures to create a layered effect on the panel. Ideal for phones and audio players, a larger center storage pocket is 0.4-inches taller. A simplified layout for the climate controls replaces some of the buttons with dials for a more intuitive, easy-to-use overall design.

The top of the center stack on each Pilot model contains a unique display that varies by model. Pilot LX and EX models contain a three-line display. Pilot EX-L models for 2012 (without navigation) receive the new i-MID, which provides a convenient platform for integration of vehicle information and compatible personal electronics through a color LCD screen and intuitive steering wheel controls. The Pilot EX-L rearview camera display appears in the i-MID and includes guidelines for judging parking distance. The i-MID also shows HandsFreeLink® operation, user-loaded wallpaper such as photos, a fuel-economy display and an audio interface.

Available on Pilot EX-L and standard on Touring, the 2012 Pilot adopts the latest version of the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System™2. Now with 60 GB of total system memory (includes 15 GB allocated for user media) and voice recognition for three languages, this system uses multiple global positioning satellites covering all of the Ú.S. including Alaska and Hawaii, as well as Canada and Puerto Rico. Its new FM Traffic feature provides free, continuous updates on traffic and incidents, helping drivers avoid gridlock. The hard drive can store thousands of minutes of music, which is accessible by simple voice commands using the Song By Voice™ feature. Additionally, 2012 Pilot models with navigation feature a multi-view rear camera (wide view, normal view and top-down view), with the image displayed on the navigation screen for convenient parking help when in Reverse.

Adding to the comfort level of the 2012 Pilot is a reduction in noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). Enhanced body seam sealing around the unit-body connection points, and re-tuned rear suspension sub-frame mounts, result in lower noise levels in the passenger cabin. Other specific NVH countermeasures include body-seam sealants to reduce air leaks, enhanced pillar separators, revised insulation materials and acoustic windshield glass on all models.

The tailgate features a lift-up glass hatch for convenient access to the rearmost cargo area. The model's 18.0 cubic-feet of cargo space behind the third row matches or exceeds the trunk space of a typical large sedan and can accommodate items as large as a mid-size cooler or a folded stroller. For maximum cargo space, the second and third rows fold flat into the floor to create 87.0 cubic feet of storage capacity, while also providing sufficient width for 4-foot-wide items.

The cargo area has a hidden storage well that provides 2.8 cu-ft. of additional space and can combine with the above floor storage area by securing the hinged cover against the seatback. The Pilot Touring also provides a load-supporting cargo net (20 lbs. maximum weight) to further subdivide the rear cargo area.

Key interior dimensions are identical to the previous Pilot model, including front headroom (40.0 in. for Pilot LX and EX, 39.3 in. for moonroof-equipped Pilot EX-L and Touring), second-row headroom (39.8 in.) and rear headroom (38.2 in.), legroom (front 41.4 in., second-row 38.5 in., and third-row 32.1 in.). Passenger volumes are likewise identical (153.7 cu-ft. for Pilot LX and EX, 152.7 cu-ft. for Pilot EX-L and Touring), as are cargo volumes (87.0 cu-ft. total, 47.7 cu-ft. behind second-row seats, and 18.0 cu-ft. behind third-row seats).

Safety technology includes the Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure that helps reduce the amount of crash energy reaching the passenger compartment and can enhance frontal collision compatibility. Additional safety equipment includes three-row side curtain airbags with a rollover sensor, driver's and front passenger's side airbags with passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS), active front seat head restraints and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist. Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®), commonly referred to as Electronic Stability Control, is standard on all models. The 2012 Pilot also meets new federal regulations with taller rear head restraints.

Honda has targeted the new Pilot to achieve best-in-class safety ratings, including a NHTSA 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score, and a TOP SAFETY PICK designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reflecting the institute's new procedures for Front Offset, Side Impact Collision Evaluation (SICE), Roof Crush and Head Restraint tests.

Power comes from an advanced 24-valve, all-aluminum engine with 'intelligent' Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (i-VTEC) technology with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM). The VCM system allows the V-6 engine to operate in six-cylinder mode for power and four- or three-cylinder modes for efficiency. Fuel economy improves for 2012 with an EPA-estimated1 city/highway/combined fuel economy of 17/24/20 mpg on 4-wheel-drive models and 18/25/21 mpg on 2-wheel-drive models. Representing a 1-mpg increase in City, a 2-mpg increase in Highway and a 2-mpg increase in Combined, this gives the 2012 Pilot 2WD the highest fuel economy of any 8-passenger SÚV and the Pilot 4WD the highest fuel economy for any mid-size 4WD SÚV.

Fuel-efficiency enhancements include the application of engine friction-reduction technologies including a plateau-honed engine block, low-friction piston treatments, ion-plated oil rings and a load-variable alternator. The use of dual-electrode spark plugs, 0W-20 low-friction oil and low-friction automatic transmission fluid contribute to higher efficiency. The VCM operation range has also been expanded.

The 5-speed automatic transmission features Grade Logic Control to help maintain the most appropriate gear when going uphill or downhill, thereby avoiding gear 'hunting.' The available VTM-4 system on Pilot 4WD models adds fully automatic 4-wheel-drive capability. VTM-4 delivers seamless, 'decision-free' application of 4-wheel-drive when needed, a key benefit compared to conventional systems. The system also provides a 'lock mode' – available when in first or second gears up to 18 mph and activated by a button on the instrument panel – that can deliver the maximum-possible torque transfer to the rear wheels to aid in extraction from extremely low traction or stuck conditions.

The suspension is a fully independent system with front MacPherson strut and rear multi-link with trailing arm designs that contribute to responsive driving characteristics for an SÚV. The 109.2-inch wheelbase facilitates a smooth ride. A tight turning diameter of 37.9 feet aids maneuverability in tight parking situations.

Chassis improvements that directly improve fuel economy include a variable-displacement power steering pump, low-rolling-resistance tires, and low-drag front ventilated and rear disc brakes. Improved aerodynamics, the front strakes, splash shields and inner fenders, and reduced frontal area also contribute to improved fuel economy.

Models and Features
As with the prior model year, the 2012 Pilot is available in four model choices (Pilot LX, EX, EX-L and Touring), and each is offered in either 2-wheel-drive or 4-wheel-drive configuration.

Pilot LX
Standard comfort and convenience features on the Pilot LX include a front and rear air conditioning system with air-filtration system, keyless entry with simplified operation, tilt and telescope steering column, cruise control, power windows with auto-up/down driver's and passenger's window, power door and tailgate locks, AM/FM/CD stereo system with seven speakers including a subwoofer and Radio Data System (RDS), trip computer, heat-rejecting tinted glass, integrated Class III towing receiver, and more. For 2012, the Pilot LX adds AAC audio file playback capability from data discs to the CD player.

Pilot EX
The Pilot EX adds a tri-zone automatic climate control system with humidity control and air filtration, a power driver's seat with 10-way power adjustment with lumbar support, security system, XM Radio®5, body-colored side mirrors and door handles, alloy wheels, roof rails, fog lights, exterior temperature indicator, HomeLink® Remote System, and more. For 2012, the Pilot EX now also features Bluetooth HandsFreeLink (previously exclusive to EX-L with Navi and above models), Bluetooth audio streaming and a new 2 GB CD Library (CD-L) replaces the previous 6-disc CD changer.

Pilot EX-L
Additional Pilot EX-L features include leather-trimmed seating surfaces, heated front seats, 4-way power front passenger's seat, one-touch power moonroof, an automatic-dimming rearview mirror and the availability of either the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System™2 or the Honda DVD Rear Entertainment System with a 9-inch screen. The addition of either the navigation or the entertainment system also adds a 115-volt power outlet. New for 2012 is the addition of a power tailgate to the Pilot EX-L, a ÚSB Audio Interface, and an intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID) with QVGA resolution. The i-MID includes a rearview camera display, iPod album artwork display and a user-loadable wallpaper function.

Pilot EX-L with Navigation
The Pilot EX-L with Navigation adds an upgraded navigation system with higher VGA resolution replacing the previous QVGA display and an internal hard drive that replaces the previous model's DVD-based system. New features include FM Traffic, Song by Voice™, rearview camera with a 3-mode display and a Multi-Information Display in the center of the gauge cluster.

Pilot Touring
The top-of-the-line Pilot Touring includes the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System™2 with rearview camera, a Premium Audio System with 10 speakers, Bluetooth HandsFreeLink4 and Audio Streaming (with selected phones), the Honda DVD Rear Entertainment System, two-position memory seats, roof rails, corner and backup sensors, side-mirror integrated turn indicators and more.

Colors available for 2012 include Alabaster Silver Metallic, Bali Blue Pearl, Crystal Black Pearl, Dark Cherry Pearl, Polished Metal Metallic, Taffeta White, White Diamond Pearl, new Dark Amber Metallic (replaces Mocha Metallic) and new Glacier White (Pilot Touring). Fabric and leather interior color choices, which are matched to selected exterior colors, include beige, black or gray.

Awards and Accolades
From building initial quality impressions to providing fun-to-drive character with lasting durability and reliability, the Pilot carries forward the essential DNA that defines all Honda vehicles. These traits have previously earned the Pilot multiple awards, including 'Best Value of the Year' from IntelliChoice,'s 'Most Wanted SÚV,' and it was named one of Kelley Blue Book's 'Top 50 Most Popular Cars.' The Honda brand has also won the 'Best Retained Value Award' for Non-Luxury Brands.

The Pilot is assembled from domestic and globally sourced parts at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Lincoln, Alabama. Honda R&D Americas designed and developed the Pilot in Raymond, Ohio, and Torrance, California. The 2012 model became available for sale on August 31.

Source - Honda
Debuted in 2003, the Honda Pilot is a full-size crossover SUV that replaced the Honda Passport. Attempting to establish itself in the SUV market segment for its own line of cars, Honda had created the Passport, which was basically a rebadged Isuzu Rodeo. The compact CR-V, loosely based on the Civic was the only other SUV. With its roomy cabin and impressive three rows of seating that could hold up to eight passengers, the larger Pilot found a nice niche for itself in the automotive market. One of the first crossover SUV's to offer three rows, the Pilot helped to define a new segment aimed at buyers wanting plenty of seating and cargo options without buying a minivan or top-heavy SUV. With Honda's exceptional reputation for reliability and quality along with an efficient V6 engine, the Pilot quickly rose popularity and more than 100,000 models were sold by its second year on the market.

Mostly aimed at the North American market, the Pilots are currently manufactured in Lincoln, Alabama and produced in Alliston, Ontario, Canada until April 2007. In Japan and Australia, the Pilots relative, the MDX was sold instead. The Pilot is sold as the Honda MR-V in the Middle East. Russia and Ukraine have received the second generation Pilot.

When designing the Pilot, Honda took styling cues from the Accord sedan and the Acura MDX which itself was based on the Odyssey minivan. Perfect for light off-road use and towing the Pilot was a comfortable ride with excellent handling. Currently the Pilot is in its second generation and comes in base LX, midlevel EX, upper-class EX-L, and the top of the line Touring trims. All of these models come with a standard front-wheel-drive configuration, though four-wheel drive at each trim level could be added as an option. All of the trims featured power from a 250-hp, 3.6-liter V6 mated with a five-speed automatic transmission.

At the time, many other SUVs sat on truck platforms while the Pilot rode on a platform borrowed from the Odyssey, Accord and the MDX. This platform featured a comfortable car-like feel thanks to a unibody design and a suspension tuned to provide responsive handling. The original Pilot came on a 106.3 inch wheelbase and had an overall length of 188 inches. Though convenient for numerous passengers, the third row seat didn't leave much legroom for the average adult while the second row did provide abundant legroom for all but the tallest of adults. Able to fit cargo within excess of up to four feet wide, the Pilot rear seat split 60/40 and both rows could be folded flat to expand that cargo space. The seats in the Pilot are configured as stadium seating.

Originally the Pilot was available in LX and EX trim levels. Both levels were nicely equipped with numerous standard features like a climate-control system with rear vents, cruise control and power windows and locks. The EX also came with automatic climate control, keyless entry, multifunction steering wheel and a power-adjustable driver's seat.
Driver's that opted for the EX-L trim received a leather upholstery package to the EX trim level and had the option of navigation and DVD entertainment system.

Borrowing the engine from the Acura MDX, the first generation Pilot featured a 3.5-liter aluminum V6 engine that produced 240 hp and was mated to a five-speed automatic. It was able to achieve 0-6mph in just 7.6 second and managed a competent 16/22 mph for FWD trims and 15/20 for 4WD trims. With a towing capacity of 4,500 pounds, the Pilot featured an optional Variable Torque Management 4WD system that sent torque to all four wheels when a slippage was detected, but defaulted to front-wheel-driver operation during normal driving conditions. The system had a dashboard switch that locks both rear half-shafts to get the driver unstuck. It operates in first, second and reverse gears and unlocks at 18 mph.

Safety features included antilock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, rack-and-pinion steering and dual-stage front airbags. It also features 282° of outward visibility. A highly rigid unibody the Pilot foundation features reinforcing structures and energy absorbing crush zones and is designed to dorm progressively in front, side and rear end collisions. Receiving a top score of Good from the IIHS the Pilot also received from five out of five stars in both front and side crash tests conducted by the NHTSA.

For 2004 heated front seats were added as a standard feature for EX-L trims. The following year power was boosted for the Pilot's 3.5-liter V6 engine to 255 hp.

The Pilot underwent a halfway through generation refresh that included a variety of exterior updates. The front fascia and grille was updated and the headlights received halogen projector headlights while the taillights received clear lenses. On the inside a brand-new center console and instrument cluster were debuted. The 4WD system was updated to be more fuel-efficient and now featured variable valve management added to the V6 engine which shut down three of the six cylinders when cruising to improve the fuel economy. The updated V6 engine was now rated 18/24 by the EPA. The original EX wheels were moved to the LX trim while the EX trim level received newly redesigned wheels. Side airbags were now provided in the C pillar further protecting rear passengers. The center console now sported chrome trim; the gauge cluster was updated along with the storage compartments and cup holders.

In 2008 the second-generation of the Pilot was introduced. It featured a much more rugged appearance which was met with mixed reviews since some desired the boxier, bulkier look while others missed the smoother, rounded lines from the previous generation.

On the outside of the Pilot updates includes a tall oversize grille, bigger 17-inch wheels and a higher hood line. The headlights returned to standard halogen reflectors. On the inside numerous changes were made, as a new tri-zone automatic climate control system was introduced and new two-position memory settings for the drivers. Other updates included a new power tailgate and the relocation of the gearshift from the steering column to the center console between the front captain's chairs. The Touring trim now featured a new Satellite-Linked Honda Navigation System and a new 120-volt power outlet. The wheelbase was increased to 109.2 inches and the overall length spread to 190.9 inches. Thankfully this generation added more interior space by growing in length and now featured more legroom in the rear seat.

This generation was assembled at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Lincoln, Alabama. This year also brought with it a brand new top-of-the-line Touring trim and a new 250-hp, 3.5-liter i-VTEC V6 borrowed from the Accord. Transforming to more SUV and less sedan-like the Honda reduced the Pilots turning ratio to improve maneuverability in tight spaces like parking lots, and strengthened the Pilot's body to increase rigidity. According to the EPA, fuel economy is 17 mph city and 23 mph highway for front wheel drive transmission and 16 mph city and 22 mph highway for the 4-wheel drive transmission. Both of these transmissions are five-speed automatics. The Pilot was awarded the Best Resale Value Award in the Full-Size Utility Vehicle category in 2010 by Kelley Blue Book.

The Pilot was updated for 2012 and received a newly revamped front fascia. Other updates included all new alloy wheels, interior updates and changes to the bumper. The following year a host of great extras were introduced as standard on all Pilots and included a rearview backup camera, USB connector, Bluetooth hands-free calling and wireless audio streaming, tri-zone climate control and i-MID central dashboard 8-inch WQVGA LCD screen. The Pilot now uses Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering front bracket.

The Pilot features a proficient off-road system that included three individual systems: Hill Start Assist Control system, Grade Logic Control system and the Variable Torque Management four-wheel drive system with locking differential. When the system senses a loss of traction the Variable Torque Management all-wheel-drive system automatically engages. The driver can engage the system with its manually locking rear differential and the system will continue to stay engaged up to 18 mph, or is moved from first, second, or reverse gears, then unlocks and goes back to the automatic engaging. The Hill Start Assist system keep brake pressure when the brake pedal is released which gives the driver time to engage the accelerator. The Grade Logic Systems holds the engine in a lower gear when on steep incline for better hill-climbing torque and increased engine braking when traversing steep inclines. The Pilot's AWD system allows it to wade through 19 inches of water.

From 2003 through 2008 the Honda Pilot was awarded Best Large SUV by Car and Driver magazine. Intellichoice called it 'Best Value of the Year' while claimed it was 'Most Wanted SUV'. AMI Auto World dubbed it the 'World Family Vehicle of the Year'.

The Pilots biggest competition comes from category contenders like the Nissan Murano, Ford Flex, Mazda CX-9, Toyota Highlander, Buick Enclave and Chevy Traverse.


By Jessica Donaldson
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