Test Driving the Honda Pilot

Test Driving the Honda Pilot
February 21, 2011 by Connie Wilson

With 77% of Modern Dog readers taking their dogs with them when they travel and 76% telling us that having a dog affects their vehicle purchasing decisions, I thought I'd share my experience test-driving a 2011 Honda Pilot through some of the toughest winter road conditions I'd yet to experience. My recent road-trip to BC's interior took me through some extremely diverse driving conditions, starting with west coast torrential rains on crowded, high-speed freeways then twisting high-elevation mountainous passes with roads treacherously covered with ice. As we climbed further upward, we met with a heavy blanket of snow that fell so quickly the Highways' ploughs couldn't clear it fast enough. 

Our Honda Pilot was fully loaded with four people, three dogs, and all our gear, yet we still had room to spare and could relax and enjoy the luxurious interior with features such as an awesome sound system, movie screen, tri-zone temperature control, and my personal favourite, heated seats. With the weather turning from bad to worse, we were glad that we started out early enough so that we wouldn't have to negotiate the high altitude part of the trip in the dark. Anyone who's driven the Coquihalla and Connector during a winter storm can tell you that it can be hair-raising, indeed (it's not uncommon to see multiple accidents with cars off the road or pulled over to the side, simply unable to climb the slick roads).

Despite the treacherous conditions, the Pilot got us safely to our destination, and in both style and comfort. Not only did it provide amazing visibility (so important when there's fog and snow), but we didn't slip once due to its incredible four-wheel drive system that kept us safely on the road.

Here are some of the features I particularly enjoyed:

The seating is versatile (with the 60/40 split-folding second and third row seats, there are sixteen different seating configurations!); eight people, a lot of gear, or any combination thereof can comfortably fit inside. My group of four doesn't travel light and even with our three dogs and all their travel accessories we had plenty of room to spare.

The traction was incredible due to Honda's Variable Torque Management® 4-wheel drive system (VTM-4®) that automatically transfers power to the rear wheels when the system detects loss of front-wheel drive traction. This is something you'll really appreciate when driving on slippery winter roads.

There was plenty of power to spare (every Pilot is powered by a 3.5-liter i_VTEc VFuel efficiency - Variable Cylinder ManagementTM (VCM®), but despite the powerful engine, it was still great on gas (the VCM increases mileage and lower emissions by automatically deactivating and reactivating multiple cylinders, depending on the driver's needs).

If you've ever noticed that some vehicles easily fog-up when it's cold outside, especially when there's a warm group of people inside, you won't have this problem in a Pilot which they tell me is due to a Tri-Zone Automatic Climate Control System with Air Filtration (EX and above). This system also gives passengers the ability to choose the exact temperature they want, so everyone's comfortable and happy.

With the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation SystemTM with Voice Recognition, Off-Road Tracking and Rearview Camera you will never have to stop for directions again.

Call Hands Free - the Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® with Navigation[1] is a huge convenience. It lets me make and receive calls on my iPhone while my hands stayed on the wheel and my eyes on the road.

Here we are starting our ascent up into the mountains... 

You won't need to stop and ask for directions with this handy and easy-to-use navigation system. The screen also allows you to see what's behind you when you put the vehicle into reverse. All and all, a great ride, especially for those of us with dogs, gear, friends and family, and places to get to! 


This vehicle's traction won't disappoint!

A luxurious and roomy interior... even the third row of seats has ample leg room.

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