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Roomy Eight Seater: 2008 Honda Pilot 4WD

This Honda Pilot has legitimate seating for eight, but it’s not so large that it hogs up the entire driveway, writes Sally Miller Wyatt.

(Above): Exterior view of the 2008 Honda Pilot 4WD.

While there’s no shortage of selection among five- or six-passenger sedans, it’s a different story for vehicles that can accommodate seven or eight passengers. And that’s a woeful reality for larger families who need those extra seatbelts for the times when the kids bring their friends or other family members come along for the ride. So I was especially happy to see the Honda Pilot arrive for a test drive recently. This sport utility vehicle has legitimate seating for eight here, not unlike some who say they can accommodate eight but the rear seat is so small only the Taco Bell dog would fit back there. Plus, it’s a larger SUV but not so large that it hogs up the entire driveway.

For 2008, Honda adds a couple of packages to the Pilot, including a Value Package. This very appropriately named package includes rear privacy glass, alloy wheels, XM Satellite Radio, an upgraded audio system with six-disc CD changer and extra speakers, steering wheel mounted controls, and roof rails — all nice things to have added to the Pilot’s already adequate list of standard options.

All Honda Pilots are available in either two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Our test car was a four-wheel version with a 3.5-liter i-VTEC V-6 engine and Variable Cylinder Management. This system helps boost fuel efficiency, by deactivating three of the six cylinders when you are cruising or decelerating. You’ll know you’re in this mode when the words “ECO” flash on the dashboard.

All Pilots are also equipped with such standard safety features as anti-lock brakes, Vehicle Stability Assist (electronic stability control), brake assist, advanced air bags, front side air bags with passenger side Occupant Position Detection System, and side curtain air bags for all three rows of passengers.

(Above): Exterior (top) and interior (bottom) views of the 2008 Honda Pilot 4WD.

As for those standard comfort features, they include tri-zone air conditioning (so they won’t complain all the way in the back), tilting steering wheel, power windows and door locks, cruise control, keyless entry, and 60/40 split seats in both the second and third rows.

Our test car was additionally equipped with the DVD Rear Entertainment System with a nine-inch display and wireless headphones, front and rear parking sensors, and a power rear tail gate that opened on command from the keyless remote. This is especially nice to have when your hands are full of kids and packages.

On the road, I found the Honda Pilot to offer a firm yet commanding ride. Road noise at freeway speed is non-existent and visibility is great. There is plenty of room for passengers in all three rows, and that’s appreciated by those growing teenagers. The XM Satellite Radio is a terrific feature to have if you spend a lot of time in the car commuting or traveling long distances.

The rear cargo area is large when the third row of seats is folded down, and yet still big enough to handle all the flotsam and jetsam that comes with a typical family.

The only complaint I could register about the Honda Pilot is the location of the gear shifter. It is on the lower part of the dashboard, just below the climate and radio controls, and I inadvertently put the car in neutral twice, just as I was reaching to change the radio station.

Overall, you’ll find the Honda Pilot is a very accommodating SUV, with lots of seats for families of any size.

Sally Miller Wyatt is a freelance writer who writes family-oriented auto reviews for newspapers, magazines and the Web.


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