Honda Automobiles: 2016 Honda Pilot

The Pilot’s modern, sophisticated and aerodynamic body design is at once sleek and purposeful, using a wide array of advanced materials such as ultra-high-strength hot-stamped steel, aluminum and magnesium to minimize weight while adding strength and enhancing rigidity and collision safety performance. The Pilot also has significantly less frontal area, a lower coefficient of drag and greater torsional rigidity than the previous model, helping to improve fuel efficiency, interior quietness, and ride and handling. Interior quietness and overall noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) is further improved by the use of acoustic windshield glass and thicker front door window glass on EX-L trims with the addition of acoustic front door windows on the Touring and Elite trims.

Key Body Features

  • Improved aerodynamics
  • Next-Generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) Body Structure*
  • “3-Bone” safety structure*
  • Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) enhancements
  • Acoustic windshield (EX-L and above)
  • Acoustic front door  windows (Touring and Elite)
  • Available panoramic glass roof*^ (see Interior section)
  • Power tailgate (see Exterior section)
  • Available low-profile silver finish roof rails* (see Exterior section)

* First for Pilot
^ First for Honda

Exterior Dimensions
Compared to the previous Pilot, the new 2016 Pilot’s wheelbase is 1.8 inches longer for improved ride comfort, better second-and third-row seating roominess as well as better third-row ingress and egress space. The overall length is up 3.5 inches, improving interior roominess as well as cargo storage capacity. A one-inch longer front overhang helps to improve crash safety performance, while a 0.8-inch longer rear overhang incrementally adds to storage capacity. Aerodynamics and fuel efficiency are both improved due to a one-inch lower overall vehicle height and a subtly narrower overall vehicle width.

2016 Pilot vs. 2015 Pilot Exterior Dimensions

Key Body Specifications

Advanced Aerodynamics
Starting with the overall body dimensions and shape, continuing with exterior features such as the sculptured side mirrors and rear spoiler, and extending to numerous under-body details such as air strakes and covers, the new 2016 Pilot is the most aerodynamically efficient Pilot to date.

Airflow around the vehicle body and through the engine compartment has been thoroughly optimized using sophisticated Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) modeling and extensive testing and tuning in the 40-percent-scale wind tunnel at the Raymond, Ohio vehicle development center of Honda RD Americas, Inc.

Overall, the new Pilot’s comprehensive aero-overhaul pays dividends in virtually every part of the driving experience, from fuel efficiency gains (and lower emissions) to dynamic stability on the highway, to reduced interior noise levels that directly contribute to a calmer and more enjoyable ride.

Compared to the previous Pilot model, specific aerodynamic improvements include a 1.93-percent reduction in frontal area and a 10-percent reduction in the coefficient of drag (CdA), as determined by CFD simulations.

In front, a full-width air dam sweeps air around the vehicle sides, while additional guides direct air through the bumper and grille openings to the air-conditioning condenser and engine radiator, reducing air recirculation and drag. Inside the engine compartment, the airflow is then channeled to merge smoothly with air flowing under the Pilot. While beneath the vehicle a full-width front undercover, an aluminum engine undercover, and a mid-floor cover further aid in reducing turbulence and smoothing airflow in these areas. Strakes located ahead of the rear tires likewise redirect airflow around the tires for additional efficiency gains.

Special aerodynamic details that are readily visible on the body include virtually all of the sheet metal, the headlight lenses, side mirrors, windshield wipers (shape and placement), the door handles, the rear spoiler and even the taillight lenses. Also, the new windshield design sits flush with the upper section of the cowl (at the base of the windshield), further reducing turbulence and wind noise.

Next-Generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) Body Structure
The 2016 Pilot’s enhanced Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure is the second generation of Honda’s proprietary ACE structural design. ACE is an exclusive body design that enhances occupant protection and crash compatibility in frontal crashes. It uses a network of connected structural elements to distribute crash energy more evenly throughout the front of the vehicle, helping to reduce the forces transferred to the passenger compartment. It can help to more evenly disperse the forces transferred to other vehicles in a crash as well. ACE also helps reduce the chances that one vehicle will override or underride another, improving crash compatibility of vehicles that differ in size. ACE goes further by offering additional strength and protection in small overlap frontal collisions, which are among the most severe. Multiple material grades, including ultra-high-strength steel, are used in the Pilot’s body construction to help optimize safety performance.

Body Construction
Utilizing Honda’s new Global Light Truck Platform structure, the 2016 Pilot’s curb weight is reduced by nearly 300 pounds compared to the previous model. Even so, it has 25-percent more torsional rigidity and is more tightly sealed than before, helping to provide class-leading dynamic performance along with a new level of cabin quietness befitting its status as a premium family SUV. These improvements benefit safety as well, helping the new Pilot target the highest possible crash ratings, including a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and a TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). See the Safety and Driver Assistance section for further information.

“3-Bone” Structure
Located under the front floor of the Pilot is a new “3-Bone” structure that improves impact load management, directing energy around the passenger cabin in the event of a frontal collision. The structure creates three different load pathways, or “backbones,” that channel collision energy. One channels collision forces from the front of the vehicle directly underneath the passenger cabin; the other two channel collision forces under the vehicle’s left and right side frames. The result is an improved capability to safely channel energy during a frontal crash. The structure also saves 61 lbs. in weight.

Optimized Material Grades
Multiple material grades are used in the Pilot’s body construction to achieve excellent overall vehicle dynamics, optimize safety performance, and lower NVH. Materials range from seven different grades of steel, including premium high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel used in the unit-body; an aluminum hood and front bumper-reinforcement beam; and a cast-magnesium steering hanger beam. All were chosen to achieve the best combination of strength, rigidity, dynamic performance and light weight. Fully 61.5 percent of the body structure is composed of advanced materials, including the application of ultra-high-strength steel to 21.3 percent of the body.

Body Materials

Key Engineering Features
The 2016 Pilot features several unique advancements in body design and materials that significantly improve overall rigidity, while reducing weight. This directly helps improve overall vehicle dynamics, crash safety performance, interior quietness, and long-term durability.

Ultra-High-Strength Door Rings
The new Pilot has 1300-megapascals (MPa) ultra-high-strength steel door reinforcement beams and ultra-high-strength front door outer stiffener rings made of 1500-MPa hot-stamped steel. Laser welded and significantly stronger than ordinary steel, the ultra-high-strength steel reinforcements are designed to help better protect occupants in a frontal or side impact. Their increased strength allows the components to be made lighter, by 2.8 lbs., which also reduces overall vehicle weight for improved fuel efficiency.

Rigid Tailgate Opening Ring 
The strength of the “tailgate ring” (the circular metal structure surrounding the tailgate) is vitally important for good vehicle handling, stability and ride quality. The tailgate ring on the 2016 Pilot contributes to the new model’s 25-percent gain in torsional rigidity, benefiting ride, handling and NVH. In addition, the tailgate ring connects structurally to the rear suspension fitting points, further improving overall body stiffness and providing the rear suspension with a more solid mounting structure.

Structural Foam
Pilot body stiffness and therefore safety and NVH is further enhanced through the use of structural foam inserts in key locations. These include the left and right B-pillar stiffeners, left and right inside tailgate openings and inside a bracket that connects the left and right side center frames under the front floor.

Cast Magnesium Steering Hanger Beam
Located behind the instrument panel, the Pilot’s cast magnesium steering hanger beam replaces the multi-part steel unit in the previous Pilot. Its purpose is as a structural attachment point for the steering column, pedals and instrument panel, as well as a structural element that helps the passenger cabin retain its shape in certain collisions.
The cast magnesium steering hanger beam offers several advantages compared to the previous steel unit:

  • Simpler construction — created from a single casting instead of multiple different extrusions and stampings, the new magnesium steering hanger beam offers more precise construction.
  • Lighter weight — the magnesium steering hanger beam saves 7.5 pounds compared to a comparable steel component, contributing to improved ride and handling, fuel efficiency and lower emissions.
  • Better fit and finish — the exacting tolerances of the magnesium steering hanger beam allow for more precise location of the instrument panel for improved fit and finish.

Composite Materials
The Pilot body structure also utilizes composite materials to further reduce weight while enhancing rigidity and noise dampening. One example is inside the hollow B-pillars, where composite stiffeners, together with the structural foam mentioned earlier, help improve body rigidity with reducing weight by 3 lbs. Another example is the base that supports the Pilot’s battery. Created from a single composite casting, it holds the battery securely while adding minimal weight to the overall body structure, saving 4.6 lbs.

Aluminum Front Bumper Beam
The aluminum front bumper beam saves 2.2 lbs. while enhancing structural integrity.

Overall visibility is improved courtesy of narrower A- and B-pillars, increasing total outward visibility for the driver from 271.4 degrees on the previous model to 283.5 degrees on the 2016 Pilot. The driver’s situational awareness is further enhanced by features such as the standard Expanded View Driver’s Mirror and Multi-Angle Rearview Camera, and available Honda LaneWatch™ display, blind sport information system (BSI) and Rear Cross Traffic Monitor. See Safety and Driver Assistance section for more details.

Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) Countermeasures
The new Pilot takes noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) countermeasures to the next level, positioning it at the top of its competitive set. All Pilot trims feature strategically placed body sealants, while the Touring and Elite trims add foam front and rear door acoustic barriers for additional sound attenuation. Additional NVH enhancements on all models include acoustic separators applied to the lower front portion of the doorframe, upper inside and upper outside portions of the A-pillar, the lower portion of the B-pillar, the rear portion of the rear doorframe, and the upper portion of the C-pillar. Thicker, sound-insulating acoustic glass (see below) further aids overall cabin quietness that is now among the best in class.

Acoustic Glass
Special acoustic laminated glass is used on the Pilot EX-L and above trims to help reduce noise entering the cabin. Tuned specifically to attenuate wind-noise frequencies, the windshield glass uses an outer layer of 2.0mm safety glass, a 0.7mm thick middle layer of acoustic polyvinyl butyral (PVB) and a 1.8mm inner layer for a total thickness of 4.5mm. This helps the Pilot place at the top of its class in wind-noise performance. The windshield also incorporates UV light-absorbing technology. The LX and EX trims utilize 4.7mm thick laminated glass with 2.0mm outer and inner layers and a 0.7mm regular PVB middle layer.

In addition, Pilot LX, EX and EX-L trims have 5.0mm tempered front door glass and 4.0mm tempered rear door glass, while the Touring and Elite trims are further advanced with acoustic 4.8mm laminated front door glass and 5.0mm tempered rear door glass. All 2016 Pilot trims have 3.1mm thick tailgate glass. The EX-L, Touring and Elite’s front power moonroof uses 3.5mm glass, and the Pilot Elite’s fixed panoramic glass roof uses 5.0mm laminated glass. See the Interior section for more information.

Fuel System
The 19.5-gallon fuel tank is molded of high-density polyethylene for low weight, freedom from corrosion and for impact resistance. It is positioned ahead of the rear wheels (and over the propeller shaft in AWD models) to help guard against collision damage. The shape of the tank is designed to diminish the likelihood of sloshing-fuel noise. The polyethylene filler pipe and fuel lines are lightweight, and resistant to corrosion and fuel vapor losses. A high-efficiency fuel pump is housed inside the fuel tank, and the fuel filter is a lifetime design that never needs replacement.

Body Features

* First for Pilot
^ First for Honda

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