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Discussion Starter #1
As our kids have grown and moved out, our house projects have evolved from continuous construction to occasional maintenance, and my horse hauling needs have dropped off, I'm looking to replace my aging F150 Ext cab long box.

We each have Accords as commuter vehicles, so the F150 sits much of the time now, but it gets used for landscaping loads, reno work, moving kids from place to place, and to pull our tent trailer on holidays.

I was pretty much decided on a Gen 1 Ridgeline, but after looking at a couple, my wife is suggesting we might be better off with a Pilot instead. I have a 5'x10' utility trailer, so all the "dirty" jobs would still be covered.

I'm very familiar with Accords (just bought our 7th) and the Ridgeline, but less familiar with the Pilot. If I'm looking for a good used Pilot from the 2005-2010 timeframe, what are the key things to watch out for? Are there any "common" problems like the early Odyssey transmissions, Cyl 4 issues, or the SMOD rads that affected certain years of Pilots that I should be aware of or research before going shopping?

I'm still leaning towards the Ridgeline, but I see where she is coming from. We're planning to check out both and decide from there.

I know many on here have owned / driven both.
Thanks in advance.
 

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You may want to check out the Piloteers Forum

My son has a 2008 with 200k on it he bought last October. He likes my '06 ridge better, but but the Pilot really fits his needs right now.

Although they are both 4x4/AWD the pilot has a slightly differrent drive train. I'm sure someone will have more specifics or you could d a search here as well.

Personally I prefer the Ridgeline for what I need.
 

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If I were between a Pilot and a RL, I would go with the RL. I know the covered seating and hauling area is nice, but there are times when an SUV just simply can't do what a truck can. I would almost encourage the purchase of a RL and get a cap for it. That way, you can take the cap off for the times you need it for truck duty and have the giant covered hauling area most of the time. Keep in mind you still would have the use of the lockable trunk in the bed, too. I find the RL is a "tougher" vehicle in general. Plus, if you never have the need to have more than 4-5 people in the vehicle at once, you'll never truly NEED a Pilot anyways. The previous gen Pilot is a wonderful vehicle, but the RL can do more.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
One more piece of info that I should have included. We also have a reg cab F150 my son drives to college each day so for the rare occasion I need to tow something heavy, I'm covered.

I too am leaning towards the Ridgeline, but I'm keeping an open mind.

From what I have read so far, Pilots are also at risk of SMOD, and pre-2006 are afflicted with the same tranny issues our Odyssey had.
Keep the input coming
Thanks



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One more piece of info that I should have included. We also have a reg cab F150 my son drives to college each day so for the rare occasion I need to tow something heavy, I'm covered.

I too am leaning towards the Ridgeline, but I'm keeping an open mind.

From what I have read so far, Pilots are also at risk of SMOD, and pre-2006 are afflicted with the same tranny issues our Odyssey had.
Keep the input coming
Thanks

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As I have learned thru the experience and observations by forum members here, and further investigation of various designs across the automotive industry, the risk of SMOD exists in *most* plastic tank radiators employing an oil-to-water heat exchanger. The issue is a cost of production series of trade-offs made in the design phase by OEM's and suppliers to the industry. To best of personal knowledge, designs are pretty much limited to an heat exchanger - sunk in engine coolant which are mechanically attached to a portion of the radiator by compression.

The inner & outer seals responsible for isolating trans from engine coolant fluids are compressed into service by external fluid ports clamping the heat exchanger to the radiator tank. The cause of eventual failure remains a topic of discussion however the most likely is: a combination of heat cycles/vibration/corrosive electrolysis and owner/mechanic ignorance of aging components and/or not following recommended service intervals.

AFAIK: SMOD has occurred in vehicles with as few as 50K on the clock - with some lasting well over 150K with no issue. Failures are known to occur with no outwardly visible evidence of a pending event, others failing when compression spreading washers are significantly corroded.

The "cure" to SMOD is owner/mechanic awareness, knowledge of vehicle service history AND pre-emptive service. For owners handy with a wrench, comfortable under the hood and appropriate bank account balance, establishing a base line (replacing a radiator) is the safest mechanism to avoid SMOD. Even then, failures have been known to occur in new radiators - which could be attributed to initial manufacturing defects and/or a questionable installation.

IMO: the issue is widely variable and therefore should be relegated to one of the pitfalls with modern vehicle ownership.

When purchasing a new-to-you used vehicle, physical inspection of the fluid passage ports is just as important as reviewing the vehicles service history. In other words - critical to buyer confidence.
 

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As OhSix said, the SMOD condition is not limited to RL's or even Honda for that matter. If you're buying an older RL that has the original radiator, replacing it as a precaution is a very good thing to do. I bought an aftermarket radiator online for $150 and had a dealership install it for $250. I likely could have done it myself, but wanted documentation of a proper install should it ever become a recall item.

The transmission in the RL is a very stout 5-speed unit. It does require regular fluid maintenance (more than typical trannies from other manufacturers) but it will provide you many years of good service if maintained properly. I'm at a little over 153k on my '07 and the tranny still functions wonderfully. I've done regular fluid drains and fills and did a complete changeover from the older Z-1 fluid to the newer full-synthetic DW-1 fluid at 95k miles or so. DW-1 became the factory fill in 2011, I believe.
 

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With 127k+ on the 2006 Pilot and 100K on the 2008 RL, my experience is they are both very reliable and capable family vehicles. The Pilot wins on vacation trips due to the enclosed cabin/baggage area. The RL wins when it's time to haul mulch or other home owner supplies... or move furniture, etc.

Maintenance is pretty much identical between the two for fluids and oil filters and transfer assemblies and rear diffs. The cabin and engine air filters differ. The RL cabin filter (horizontal orientation) is much easier to change than the Pilot (vertical orientation).

Same J35A9 engine (with some tweaking differences), same VTM-4 system, similar 5AT, etc.

16 inch wheels on the Pilot. 17 inch wheels on the RL. If you tow, the RL might be a better choice as I think it is better setup for towing with the standard external tranny cooler.

If you decide to go with a Pilot (gen 1), get a 2006-2008 as it comes with the 3 shaft tranny, side curtain airbags, and separates the transfer assembly from the transmission. Pre-2006 Pilots use transmission fluid to lube the TA. 2006 and up use hypoid gear oil just like the RL.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
If you decide to go with a Pilot (gen 1), get a 2006-2008 as it comes with the 3 shaft tranny, side curtain airbags, and separates the transfer assembly from the transmission. Pre-2006 Pilots use transmission fluid to lube the TA. 2006 and up use hypoid gear oil just like the RL.
Good Info - thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #9
My wife and I went down to a local used car vendor and had a look at a 2006 Pilot and a 2010 Ridgeline that they had on their lot. Took 2 of the boys with us for a real life test. I'd talked to the salesperson on Friday and told him we were "not looking to buy right now" but were just interested in checking them out to decide what we wanted. He was more than happy to let us take them for a spin anyway.

She really liked the Pilot. It reminded her a lot of her Odyssey which was well loved. Everything was where it belonged, well laid out and comfortable. We went for a short test drive and the kids said the back seats were as comfortable as the van had been. We jammed our 15yo & 19yo into the very back row for a bit and they said it was tolerable, but not for long. Not that I expect we would ever use the back row anyway, but good to know. With the back seat up though, there isn't much room behind the seats for gear and even with it down, I'm not convinced I could cram in as much stuff and I'd like.

We then sat in the Ridgeline for a while. The kids loved the back seat. "It seems bigger back here than it is up there". However I couldn't convince my wife of the benefits of the Ridgeline. This was the first time she'd checked one out up close, and being used to my F150 long box, was having a big concern with the "tiny box". She was very impressed with the trunk size. She knew it was there but had no idea it was as big as it was. And the swinging tailgate. My wife found the front seat to be higher and more upright, and the non-adjustable headrests on the model we tested were just wrong in where they hit the back of the head. Is that common?? We didn't take it for a drive, but I know from experience it would have been very Honda-like, and not truck-like a la F150.

Still looking and researching. We're in no particular hurry, so taking the time to check them all out. The salesperson did suggest "if you find either a Pilot or a Ridgeline that you like, act fast, as they don't last". Interestingly, in the used market around here, Pilots on average seem to be $2-4K lower priced than comparable Ridgelines.

Keep the inputs coming and I'll keep you informed of our research. I'm keeping a log now every time I put something in the bed of my truck of what it was and why. It will be interesting to see the results after a few months.
 

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You really should take a test drive in the RL if you haven't yet. I think the headrests are like that by design/law, but I can't quote anything on that without doing some research. I don't know if the law changed between 2006 and 2010 or not.

Also, see if that Pilot can squeeze in 25 bags of mulch in the rear with the 3rd row folded down. I don't think you'll want to go there. OTOH, the Pilot will be a better vacation vehicle with 4 people, unless you plan to get a cover for the RL bed so you can safely and securely store baggage in the bed.
 

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The headrests only go up and down. You can't adjust them forward and backward. I did notice this when I first test drove a RL way back in the day, but I quickly got used to it. My wife has never complained of this, though. The Pilot is a wonderful vehicle, but if you ever need to haul mulch, lumber, bags of concrete/gravel/sand, or anything else that is even slightly "messy", you will wish you had the RL. The trunk is wonderful for storing luggage for vacations and longer trips. We can easily fit our bags and whatnot in there without having to worry about it getting wet or dirty. I typically keep my golf clubs back there because they're out of the way and safe. I do have a tonneau cover on mine. It's not completely sealed from the weather, but it does a great job of keeping most things out of sight and safe from the weather.

I'm still saying that if you'll never have anyone in that third row of the Pilot, a Ridgeline will serve you better. There is ALWAYS a way to keep your stuff clean and dry. Plus, it's much better to have a truck and not need the bed all the time rather than having an SUV for the few times you REALLY need a truck.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The headrests only go up and down. You can't adjust them forward and backward. I did notice this when I first test drove a RL way back in the day, but I quickly got used to it.

Not sure what trim level this one was but the headrests were fixed and did not raise or lower. First Honda I've seen like that.

I don't disagree on the dirty loads and I carry a fair number of those. Will be interesting to see what ends up in the log. My Accord is the daily driver so I only use the F 150 when I have a load to carry. Every trip in the F150 will result in some kind of entry.


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I have not seen any fixed headrests (vertically) in the RL. Or Pilot for that matter. Of course I haven't looked at every trim line, but still...
 

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I have not seen any fixed headrests (vertically) in the RL. Or Pilot for that matter. Of course I haven't looked at every trim line, but still...
The head rests on the '06 & '07 adjust vertically, no lateral(horizontal) adjustment. IIRC, Accord drivers & front passengers head rests fit, not sure but seem to remember they have multiple adjustment angles in the horizontal in addition to the vertical.
 

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Not sure what trim level this one was but the headrests were fixed and did not raise or lower. First Honda I've seen like that.

I don't disagree on the dirty loads and I carry a fair number of those. Will be interesting to see what ends up in the log. My Accord is the daily driver so I only use the F 150 when I have a load to carry. Every trip in the F150 will result in some kind of entry.


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There is a little button on the one side of the headrest bar that you have to push in before it will adjust. It's pretty easy to miss. I think it's like this on most other Honda models, too. Rest assured, the headrests in the RL do adjust up and down.

Just as a question, are you keeping your Accord as your commuter vehicle and simply looking to replace your F150 or are you looking to trade in the Accord AND the F150 and replace both with one vehicle?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
This Ridgeline did not seem to have the usual button at the side of the headrest posts. The headrests were still mounted on the usual 2 posts and looked like they should adjust, but the button was absent. We didn't spend too much time messing with it at the time while we got a feel for the rest of the cabin.

I currently have 3 Accords and 2 F150s. Our son at University keeps one of the Accords and my 19yo at home drives "his" F150. I recently picked up the latest Accord for my wife. I commute in her cast-off Accord instead of my F150 which is now only used when a car won't do. My intention is to upgrade my F150 to a Honda - either a Pilot or Ridgeline - and continue to use the Accord for daily commuting. I've done the math, and the fuel savings with the Accord far exceed the insurance premiums, registration and maintenance costs of keeping an additional vehicle in the fleet. (Until my 15yo gets his license - then insurance premiums will force me to remove a vehicle.)

I'm looking for a replacement for the F150 only for non-commuting use. It needs to comfortably seat 5 for longer trips, tow a minimum of 3500lbs, and handle all the weekend chores. I have a 5x8 utility trailer, a 16' flatbed and another 8'box F150 available if needed. We're in no particular hurry as my F150 is solid and reliable and owes us nothing. However, it's an extended cab, not a super cab, and it now fails the "comfortably seat 5 for longer trips" criteria. (Clearly demonstrated last fall during a 5 hour whine tour with 3 boys in the back.) I know I could just pick up a newer F150 Super Cab and solve my problem, but I prefer the Hondas.
 

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Every post I've read offers excellent info and opinion.

I offer only three comments:

1. Odyssey will tow 3500 pounds unless you load it up with cargo, you may want to add it to your consideration. Lots of used ones to choose from relative to Pilot and Ridgeline.
2. Keeping wife happy may be more important than which vehicle you choose. Just sayin.
3. Ridgelines, nearly all of them, may be tied up in the Takata airbag thing for awhile.
 

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Judging by your situation, I honestly think the Pilot may be a better choice now. You don't particularly NEED a truck. If you absolutely do, you have another one in the fleet. It sounds like the most important thing is the comfort on longer trips. For that purpose, the Pilot would fit better. Whereas the RL is comfortable for sure, 5 people is a little snug. At least, with the Pilot, you could throw one kid in the 3rd row while the other two could comfortably take up the 2nd row. Room for luggage and other stuff may be a little tight, but it would be better than having three kids in the back of a RL. You could likely use your trailer for heavier or larger loads of "dirty" stuff most of the time. And, as I said earlier, a truck is readily available should you absolutely need it. An Odyssey would certainly give you more than enough space, but they are only FWD. Not nearly as capable in those Canadian winters as the Pilot or RL would be. It's a worthy option to consider, though.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Every post I've read offers excellent info and opinion.

I offer only three comments:

1. Odyssey will tow 3500 pounds unless you load it up with cargo, you may want to add it to your consideration. Lots of used ones to choose from relative to Pilot and Ridgeline.
2. Keeping wife happy may be more important than which vehicle you choose. Just sayin.
3. Ridgelines, nearly all of them, may be tied up in the Takata airbag thing for awhile.
1) We had a 1999 Odyssey from birth to death (15 yrs, 290K, 2 transmissions) It was well loved and was perfect for a family with 4 boys while they were younger. However, we're not looking for an Odyssey now.
2) Absolutely
3) Unfortunately true - but I sure see a lot of them on the road every day.
 
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