While some of our contestants were busy stretching the precepts of the SUV like taffy on a hot August day, a photo of the all-new 2009 Honda Pilot could be printed next to the SUV's dictionary definition.
The Pilot's got all the telltale SUV visual cues-boxyness, copious ground clearance, and rough-and ready-looking rolling stock. Which in today's SUV-fleeing marketplace, basically amounts to three strikes against it. For numerous other manufacturers, three strikes might mean you're out, but, remember, we're talking about Honda here, which, almost as a self-imposed rule, never, ever, produces inefficient or one-dimensional vehicles. Think of the Ridgeline among its truck peers. Or the defunct NSX against its supercar brethren. Just because the Pilot matches the characteristic template for SUVs, don't jump to conclusions.
For instance, compared with its predecessor, the 3.5-liter V-6 under the hood has gained six hp and 13 lb-ft of torque, while simultaneously improving its mileage by one mpg in the city, and either one or two on the highway, depending on the number of driven wheels. How? The Honda touch: Among other tweaks, its cylinder-deactivation protocol has added a four-cylinder mode to its previous three-cylinder option.
And that better mileage is despite a bigger footprint on the road; it is 2.9 in. longer and an inch wider and taller, providing respectable room for eight inside. However, being a Honda, its weight is virtually unchanged, despite gaining the effective ACE body structure and reductions in chassis flex. How? Again the Honda touch: Its hood is now formed of aluminum, and a considerable percentage of the rest of it is high-strength steel. Among the new Pilot's most notable new features are its rear glass, which can be separately lifted from the hatch, hill-start assist, and humidity control built into the A/C system.
Do you think the 2009 Honda Pilot has what it takes to take home the title of 2009 Motor Trend Sport/Utility of the Year? Find out who the winner is at midnight eastern time on Oct. 16.
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