Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Buying used: Homely SUV stands the test of time

2010 Honda Pilot


Like its upscale brethren – the Acura MDX – the 2010 edition of the Honda Pilot may have been a candidate for one of the homeliest models in the SUV market.

Offered in four trim levels, it bore a strong resemblance to the Ridgeline pickup, and featured a chunky body style with one of the least appealing front grilles in the industry.

Nice engine, though. Power was delivered by a 3.5-litre V-6 that featured Honda's variable valve timing feature as well as a variable cylinder management program. On the highway, for example, the system deactivates up to three cylinders depending upon load and speed, and the whole thing is unobtrusive. A small "eco" light on the dash let the driver know when the engine was running at maximum efficiency.

Story continues below advertisement

Other manufacturers had similar systems in 2010, but Honda's may have been the most seamless and it enabled the Pilot to claim a Tier 2/Bin 5 – or ultra low emissions vehicle – rating from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

There was one transmission choice: a five-speed automatic with a manual shift mode, and most trim levels of the Pilot came with a full-time all-wheel-drive system that featured a 4WD locking mode, accessed via a button to the right of the ignition switch.

The base LX model was front-drive only, and the AWD system had a front-drive bias. All AWD versions also came with a hill start assist feature that prevents the vehicle from rolling backward when stopped on an incline. For the market it was aimed at and the duty it was intended for, this AWD system was more than adequate.

One note here: when Honda re-did the Pilot the year before, one area it worked on was body structure and NVH reduction. Among other things, it received redesigned engine mounts, and body rigidity was up a purported 40 per cent. It worked, and this iteration of the Pilot is quieter in operation than the ones that came before it.

In terms of storage and carrying capacity, it had the customary fold-down second- and third-row seats, and, with everything laid flat, boasted 589 litres of cargo space. Everything works simply and is easy to get at, and the second-row seats feature a separate lever for third-row seat access.

Two safety recalls to report from Transport Canada and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. One involves a possibly flawed driver's-side airbag that may not deploy properly in a crash, and the other concerns the driver and passenger front seat belts, which may have manufacturing flaws that could cause them to detach from their anchors in the event of a crash. Both glitches are easily repaired by the dealer and the former problem could also be an issue with the same vintage of Honda Odyssey.

NHTSA also has six technical service bulletins out there for the 2010 Pilot. These range from a glitchy power sunroof that may open/close at random and draw power from the battery even when it's closed, to a problem with the oil level indicator, to a tendency for some models to pull to the right during highway driving, to spark plugs fouling themselves.

Story continues below advertisement

Some complaints from owners: "Faulty spark plug(s)," "Since the day we bought the car, the door locks squeal upon locking and unlocking," "I have had multiple problems with the vehicle starting/cranking" and "Hit a bump in the road and the ABS and VSA [vehicle stability assist] wires were severed." Eighteen complaints in all here for this vintage of the Pilot.

Consumer Reports likes this one and gives the 2010 Pilot a "good bet" designation. There are some problems areas, notably the electrical system, brakes and body hardware, but it still garners a "better than average" grade from C.R. Comments from owners: "Has great power, even when towing," "Best vehicle I've owned," "Not wild about the styling" and "May not be uber sexy, [but] wonderfully competent, safe and comfortable."

Market research firm J.D. Power is lukewarm here, awarding the '10 Pilot "about average" grades for overall dependability and predicted reliability.

Still, like most Hondas, the 2010 pilot has stood the test of time. Depending upon the model, it's selling in the low $20,000 range up to the low $30,000s. The top-of-the-line Touring is valued substantially higher than the base LX 2WD.

Tech specs

2010 Honda Pilot

Story continues below advertisement

Original Base Price: $36,820; Black Book: $23,550-$31,400; Red Book: $21,575-$20,550

Engine: 3.5-litre V-6

Horsepower/Torque: 250 hp/253 lb-ft

Transmission: Five-speed automatic

Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 13.1 city/9.1 highway (AWD); regular gas

Alternatives: Hyundai Veracruz, Chevrolet Traverse, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Kia Sorento, Mazda CX-9, Mercedes GLK 350, Nissan Murano, Saturn Outlook, Subaru Tribeca, Toyota Highlander

Please send your automotive maintenance and repair questions to

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this resolved by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to