Honda Pilot

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Posted by Bill Blanton on 2013-08-23 08:47:34 in reply to Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, or Subaru Outback? posted by Richard on 2013-08-22 19:44:46

I don't know anything about the Toyota or Subaru, but I have a 2005 Honda Pilot AWD that I bought new and have used for a tow vehicle for the past eight years. With the exception of one problem, which I'll detail in a minute, it's performed really well. It now has about 176,000 miles on it, many of them towing my Maverick flats skiff. The Pilot is rated for 4,500 pounds tow weight

My skiff and trailer weigh about 2,000 pounds, and I do a lot of towing. Most of my charters and fishing trips are in Everglades National Park out of Chokoloskee, and that's a 160-mile round trip from my house. About 3/4 of that trip is on the interstate, and the Pilot tows my rig effortlessly at 75 mph. The V-6 has plenty of power and torque.

The AWD works seamlessly. My only gripe about it is, you can't tell when it's on or off. The transmission transfers power from front to rear wheels under acceleration or when sensors in the wheels detect slippage. There is also a switch that will let you lock the wheels in 4WD, with 55 percent of power going to the rear. That's only for straight-line driving and short distances under 18 mph. In other words, it's an emergency feature.

I used to engage the lock mechanism whenever I pulled the boat off a steep ramp, but I stopped doing that because the auto transfer into AWD worked so well it wasn't necessary.

The Pilot comes with a built-in transmission cooler.

Now the problem: At 150,000 miles, I had to replace the transmission. The local Honda dealership installed a rebuilt one with a 36,000 miles warranty for about $4,500.

I'm sure towing took a toll on the original transmission, and I've had the same problem in other tow vehicles, including a Jeep Grand Cherokee with conventional 4WD and a V-8 engine.

Since the installation of the new transmission, I've started driving in D3, a transmission mode that cuts out the top two gears, whenever I'm driving anywhere but the interstate. That prevents unnecessary shifting and keeps engine revs over 2,000 rpm at low speeds. Also, I change transmission and rear differential fluids every 30,000 miles.

Despite the need for a new transmission, I'm quite satisfied with the Pilot. The last Honda I owned made it to 287,000 miles. I'm hoping to get at least 250,000 out of this one.

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