On the Road
Honda’s big ‘twins’ have so much to offerBy Aida Sevilla Mendoza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Honda Pilot and the Honda Odyssey may not look like twins since the Pilot is an SUV and the Odyssey is a minivan, but they are twins in the sense that they have the same engine, the same suspension system, same gearbox, same eight-passenger seating capacity, same interior amenities, same audio system and the same safety features. Small wonder, then, that the “twins,” Honda’s biggest offerings in this country to date, were re-launched together last June, many years after they disappeared from the Honda Cars Philippines Inc. (HCPI) line-up of imported CBUs [completely built units]. The question is: Will HCPI sell more twins this time around to sustain their market viability?
If marketability were to be based on looks alone, the 2012 Pilot, with its plain, boxy exterior, certainly wouldn’t win. But despite its truck-like appearance, the Pilot’s ride quality is as comfortable and as composed as a car’s, cruising smoothly at 128 kph and maneuvering almost nimbly in low-speed city driving. Increased sound deadening materials generally muffle road noise at highway speeds. The Pilot’s tallness and high center of gravity translate into some body lean in sharp turns, plus your having to step high to enter the vehicle.
Roomy. On the other hand, the Pilot’s height, width and cube-shaped structure make for a roomy cabin for eight adults, including the driver. The front and second-row seats are supportive and spacious while the third-row seat can comfortably accommodate two average-sized adults on short trips. Up front, the dash-mounted gear shift lever, 8-inch high-resolution multi-information display and audio, cruise control and hands-free Bluetooth link buttons on the steering wheel give the driver full control. However, the center stack has so many buttons that they become confusing unless you take some time to learn which to push for what function.
All leather seats, a power sunroof, USB connectivity, rear controls for the tri-zone air conditioning, rear back-up camera with backing sensors, front and rear corner sensors plus other conveniences add value to the Pilot. But the best thing about the Pilot is its easy-loading, large cargo area with second- and third-row backseats that drop easily to form a flat deck. Even with the third-row seat in place, two golf bags or a folded stroller can fit in the back. Moreover, the tailgate’s glass window lifts up easily and there are plenty of bins and cubbyholes to store small items together with a versatile front console.
Aside from its practicality and versatility, the Pilot enjoys a reputation for safety and reliability. It was named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and earned a 4-Star Over-All Crash-Test Rating from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration due to its outstanding safety features including side curtain airbags with rollover sensor for all three seat rows, hill-start assist and a 4WD system activated by Variable Torque Management.
Efficiency. Despite its size, weight (2.5 tons) and 5-speed automatic transmission, the fuel efficiency of the 2012 Pilot has improved, averaging 8.42 km per liter in combined highway and city driving. The 3.5-liter, i-VTEC, 24-valve V6 engine (250 hp and 35.4 kg-m max torque) it shares with the Odyssey has Variable Cylinder Management technology that automatically deactivates 2 or 3 of its 6 cylinders under low speed and load conditions in order to save fuel.
Since the Pilot is a “twin” of the Odyssey, it’s a smart choice for someone who needs a vehicle that can comfortably seat eight, but does not want to be seen driving a mom mobile, a.k.a. an uncool minivan. Yet in the minivan universe, the 2012 Odyssey is rated really cool because of its stylish “lightning bolt” silhouette, fuel efficiency, family-friendly features, reliability, safety and high resale value. For many years, the eight-seater Odyssey has been the best-selling minivan in the United States, for which market it was conceived and designed.
The Odyssey is pleasant and easy to drive despite its length and width, producing competent engine power and more than enough torque to move around smoothly. It is as smooth and stable as a sedan on the road and can hold its own on twisty roads, exhibiting only moderate body lean in fast turns. Unlike the 4WD Pilot, the Odyssey is a front-drive vehicle but like the Pilot, its suspension system consists of MacPherson strut up front and multilink double wishbone at the rear. The Odyssey has the same safety features as the Pilot with ventilated disc front brakes and drum-in-disc rear brakes on 17-inch alloy wheels.
Interior space. The cockpit and cabin of the Odyssey resemble the Pilot’s with the 8-inch multi-information display, dash-mounted gearshift lever and “busy” center stack. Honda made the most of the Odyssey’s interior space, high-quality materials are used, craftsmanship is excellent and the seats are comfy and versatile. There are up to 15 cupholders, or at least one cupholder for every occupant.
Between the two front seats, on top of the large, roomy console box, there is a flat space for a purse, attaché case, diaper bag, cell phones or an iPad. Aside from cupholders, trays and storage bins of various sizes abound, plus a “cool box” in the lower dashboard to keep drinks cold.
The most attractive features of the Odyssey are its power sliding doors and power tailgate that you can open and close with one touch of a button on a remote control fob. The doors and tailgate can also be controlled via buttons in the dashboard. In addition, the third-row 60/40 split Magic Seats can be tucked away completely or partially into the floor to increase flat cargo space to 93.1 cubic feet. All you have to do is pull a strap behind each seat. The second-row seats are captain seats that can be folded to further expand flat cargo space to 148.6 cubic feet.
Summing up, Honda’s big twins are not exciting or that much fun to drive, but they are unequalled in their respective market segments terms of safety, reliability, comfort, roominess, fuel efficiency and family-friendly features. At P2.6 million for the Pilot and P2.8 million for the Odyssey, the twins should sell this time around.
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