Weekend Athlete: 2009 Honda Pilot

Normally, three-row crossovers like the Honda Pilot breeze through Weekend Athlete tests with such ease that I don’t always bend over backward to test them. But, with a slow week and a new 2009 Honda Pilot in the office, I gave it a shot and found a few surprises.

For starters, the Pilot is taller than I expected. It’s not obscenely high or anything, I was just expecting something shorter.

As you’d expect, then, I offer my usual counsel for shorter athletes to check out the height of the load floor. I didn’t have an issue with the load floor, but you folk who only have eyes for racks to carry stuff should opt for a rear rack unless you have a pet elephant to help you load the roof.

The second-row seats are easy to flop down, and the third row can be flipped down from the rear, which is nice. The third row is folded via a lever in the rear of the seat, but bear in mind that because the rear cargo area is large, you’ll have to stretch to reach the lever from the back of the car and will probably touch the bumper with your pant leg. (Note: Keep the Pilot clean or face a big dry-cleaning bill.) The easiest way to avoid this issue is to fold the seats from the passenger-side doorway.

As you can see from the pictures, everything fits in pretty easily. I had the Pilot for an extended loan and used it for grocery-getting, trips to the bike store, etc. Despite the Pilot’s large size, it’s fairly easy to handle around town, with the exception of parking it in narrow spots. It feels extremely wide, and that led to some hesitation and passing up of slim spots.

For more in-depth analysis of the Pilot, check out our longer review here.

Weekend Athlete Scores (out of 10)

Ease of loading gear – 6: Better than average, but I’d hesitate to recommend it to everyone because of its height.

Ease of seat operation – 5: Nothing fancy, which is nice, but it’s a stretch to reach the handle for the third-row seats from the rear.

Bike hauling – 7: No wheels were removed in the testing of this vehicle, which is nice.

Locker-room cred – 5: It’s not bad; it’s average for the field.

All-around - 6.5: There’s not much (other than its height) to recommend against buying the Pilot, but there’s no whiz-bang, gotta-have Weekend Athlete features, either.


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