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Honda Pilot Real World MPG



  • I'm looking for suggestions from anyone about improving mileage. Considering what I've read here, I guess I was really lucky before. I bought my 2004 Pilot when it had only 21,000 miles on it. I regularly got 23 to 25 mpg here in town. (small city, Shreveport) When it dropped down to 21 I realized pretty quickly the culprit was the cheap gas with ethanol. I switched to only Chevron and it jumped right back up to 25 mpg. On a trip from Louisiana to Wyoming in 2008, I even got 28 mpg on two of the tanks of gas! I was ecstatic.

    I now have 106,000 miles on the car. It has been running fantastic since I bought it in 2007. This summer I had the transmission serviced with no noticeable changes. But the last time I had the oil changed, there was a dramatic drop in mpg. I mean A LOT. I now am getting 16 to 19 mpg. It was sudden - from one tank to the next, not a gradual drop.

    I brought it back to TimeIt Lube, where they said the fuel system was due to be cleaned out, and they guaranteed that would improve the mileage. It didn't. So they said I needed spark plugs - got that done at Firestone. Still terrible mileage.

    Is it possible it has the wrong kind of oil in it? Would that mess up the engine, or just cause a drop in performance?

    Any feedback would be helpful.
  • kipkkipk Posts: 1,576
    edited December 2010
    >"Any feedback would be helpful."


    Some of this post may seem like I'm preaching, or a "know it all", but maybe it will help! I had an '03 Pilot that got great mileage for it's size. So good that many didn't believe it. Your 04 is pretty much the same vehicle. So here are some helpful tips.

    FWIW I traded the Pilot for an '09 Ridgeline that gets within a mile or two per gallon of the Pilot in small town driving, and 2-3 mpg less on the road. Not great but still better than my neighbors RL and most of the post I've seen on forums.

    25 MPG in any type of local driving seems pretty high, unless there were a lot of straight shots from here to there with no traffic lights, stop signs and so forth, and involved at least 10+ miles each way.

    Cold weather and the addition of just 1 or 2 forced stops can seriously affect mileage for short trips. With all that in mind here are some tips.

    1. Do an ILP. For info on that, go to page 11 and post 201, of this thread for the information. As you will learn I got a lot of static concerning the ILP. But I was getting great mileage and the non believers were not! If your battery has been disconnected, replaced or discharged for any reason, the ILP should be done.
    kipk, "Honda Pilot Real World MPG" #200, 27 Dec 2006 7:15 am

    2. If you have "Climate Control" the AC compressor runs all the time and simply adds more or less warm air to control the temperature. Be sure the AC compressor is turned off if you don't need to cool.

    3. Many of those quickie oil change places think that 10W-30W oil is good for everything. Not true! Honda requires 5W-20W for the early Pilots. Check your owners manual. Also the filter is important. Me thinks Honda knows more about the requirements of their engines than anyone else, Therefore I use their "HONDA" Brand oil filters. Realizing there are likely other filters that are just as good or better but Honda brand we can be sure of. If your engine is not lubricating properly, mileage will drop and engine damage will be done. Oil and the way it flows are the life blood of your engine, so do it correctly.

    4. Transmission should have been serviced a couple of times by now. If your Pilot is 4WD the rear axle should be services also. Use Honda lubricants.
    This is important. Old fluids and incorrect ones can cause real problems.

    5. It is nearing time for a timing belt replacement. Get it done.

    6. Use top tier gas, as it has considerably more cleaners than the government requires. Shell, Chevron, Texaco, ant QT are just a few. Cheap gas is cheap gas.
    Read everything in this link to better understand the importance as well as who sells it. .

    7. We can spend fortunes trying to "Fix" things that went wrong because we tried to save a few bucks on oil changes and such.

    Check your odometer against a Scan Gauge ll, a GPS, or Highway mile markers.

    Hope this helps. :)

  • I use chevron 87. my 2010 pilot 4wd still have break in oil. 8000 miles. 20% oil life left. average 22.3 mpg.
  • kipkkipk Posts: 1,576
    edited December 2010
    You might want to change the oil, just due to it's age.

    My understanding is that "Dino" oil in an engine tends to develop acids over time that are not particularly good for the engine. And that synthetic oil is more forgiving. :)

    Is that 22+ mpg the average for all the miles you have put on the Pilot? Or is that for highway driving only.

  • yes. break in oil is 1 year and 2 months old. I should change asap. i have coupon for only $10. I am gonna go with castrol gtx or castrol syntec.

    during 8,000 miles. i average 20 mpg. mostly driven in the snow.

    22.3 mpg is 300 miles driven. no snow. 60-65 mph. 99 % highway. didn't use cruise control.

    after 8,000 miles, honda engine is better and stronger, more responsive. today I drove 100 mph for 10 seconds..

    I have been use chevron 87 for last 5 fuel up.
  • Hi Kip,
    I finally change oil on my pilot 4wd. total cost $29 for the castrol syn blend oil change and rotate tires. I told them to set tire pressure to 34 psi.

    so whats your opinion on the psi? what psi give you better handling in the snow ??

    maybe I am thinking 34 in the front, 32 in the rear?

    I think I need to buy tire pressure guage ASAP. so I can monitor.
    after 8900 miles. my tires are 10/32 and 7/32. maybe I was driving 26-30 psi all the time..

  • hi kip,
    i finally bought tire pressure guage from sears. craftsman digital $14.99 plus tax. dealer set the pressure at 34 psi. I measured cold. it show 36 psi. I will set it to 34 psi.

    so far so good with the guage.
  • I check the 2009 toyota matrix AWD owner manual. they recommend 35 PSI Front, 32 PSI Rear..

    So I am thinking 34 PSI Front/ 32 PSI Rear for the Pilot 4wd. so thats way it will have perfect even tire wear.
  • I'm amazed at the mileage you guys are getting on your Pilots. I have a 2010 EX-L AWD, used mostly for city (local) driving -- trips to the market, running the kids around, etc. -- with an occasional highway trip thrown in. We have about 12,000 miles on the car and we consistently get around 16 MPG combined, sometimes more like 15 or even 14. We are by no means "leadfoot" drivers and we use top-tier 87 octane gas.

    The car is just not very aerodynamic and the "ECO" cylinder deactivation doesn't seem to make a huge difference. Even on a long highway trip using the cruise set at 70 MPH (65 speed limit), we only averaged just over 20 MPG.
  • poodog13poodog13 Posts: 320
    If it makes you feel any better, my experience is much more like yours on our 2009 than like the others on this thread. We actually average just under 13 MPG for mostly trips to the grocery store and the like. We live in a fairly dense suburban area in Western PA (very hilly) and so my mileage is almost always going to be on the low end.
  • short trips and local driving will give 13-15 mpg.

    in the last 3 days, I have been driving in the snow ( mostly highway). I average about 20.9 mpg.. Speed is between 30-45 mph.
  • Great advice! I only wish I'd seen it earlier. I could kick myself for not continuing to use the Honda dealership for oil changes - the cost was the same, but when they switched from letting us just drive up and get service to needing an appointment, I got lazy.

    I moved from the country into the city during this time - and when I lived in the country, it was 12 miles home, no lights, no stop signs. Guess that's why I was getting such great mileage - trip averaged 50 mph straight shot home.

    I was thinking of switching to synthetic but after reading up on it, I think I'll be better off just going back to the Honda dealership for service and let them put in what they think is appropriate. I am way past my warranty now, but I hated that every time I went in for an oil change - right on schedule - they had three to five hundred dollars worth of service they recommended in addition to the oil change. I imagine since I haven't been in for so long, it will be worse now. I don't think I had the timing belt changed, so I will have that done.

    I'm off on a driving trip right now, and again, I could kick myself for having brought the car to time it lube for service only a few days ago. An example of their knowledge: the guy brought me out to look under the hood to show me what they'd done, and he told me my transmission fluid looked like dirty water and that I needed my transmission serviced. I reminded him that they had serviced my transmission only six months ago. Then he realized that he was looking at my new oil, not my transmission fluid. Ugh!

    Live and learn. And when I get home I want to try that ILP you posted. My automatic driver side window won't go up automatically anymore and I hope that will fix it.

    Thanks again!
  • kipkkipk Posts: 1,576
    On my 03 Pilot, if the key had been turned off, then I activated the "Auto" window feature it would work fine However, if I opened the door before it stopped on it's own the "auto" feature would become disabled.

    I was intelligent enough to do that about once a week for 7 years. Recon some folks just never learn. :cry:

    To "fix" it. Turn the key back on. ..Push and hold the down button until the window reaches the bottom, and continue holding the button down for a couple of seconds.

    Then pull up and hold the button until the window reaches the top, and continue to hold it up for a couple of seconds.

    That should "fix" the auto feature.

  • I manage to get 24.85 miles/gallon hwy with my Pilot
  • hi mr mbarrajon

    can you tell us whats year is your pilot ? AWD ? motor oil ? fuel brand ?
  • bobncbobnc Posts: 12
    This past week i drove to Florida from Western North Carolina and back, 1,054 miles, at the posted speed ( 65-70) and the computer showed 23.6 MPG.
    2009 Honda Pilot Touring 4x4
  • kingfans1kingfans1 Posts: 137
    I believe you. Today I drove 101.9 miles. 4 short stop. I didn't use cruise control. according to the trip meter, I got 23.6 mpg.

    it is 2010 honda pilot ex-l AWD
    11,000 miles on odo.
    castrol synblend 5w20
    chevron 87 octane
    33 PSI ( cold )
    one driver.
    outside temp. ( 40 - 48 F )
    speed ( 60-65 mph)
    straight highway

    so we can make a conclusion, pilot awd can get 23-25 mpg. I am impressed with this pilot.. if I drive 60-65 mph, I can get 24 mpg easy..

    good luck to all the pilots owner.
  • kipkkipk Posts: 1,576
    With both the '03 Pilot and the '09 Ridgeline ( both 4WD) 62 mph with the Cruise control on, seems to yield excellent mileage.

    A 1000+ mile trip in the pilot yielded 27+ mpg, without using cruise most of the time. But with the cruise activated, it got about the same. The best I've gotten with the Ridgeline is 26+ with Cruise activated.
    These figures were calculated at the gas pump although the Ridgeline's dash meter is usually off one way or the other about 1 mpg.

  • I'm planning on purchasing a Honda Pilot. I've owned an Accord and a Passport before. I'm looking for used. Can anyone suggest a good year and features? Thank you.
  • skyskierskyskier Posts: 1
    I have 52k miles on my 2009 Touring AWD. My average mileage since purchase is 20.1. I keep the tire pressure at 40psig.
    Highway at 65-70 is typically 21mpg
    Highway at 60-65 is typically 24mpg
    City mileage runs between 17 and 19. I definitely had to change my driving behavior to get the City mileage up to this range, the first month of ownership I was at 15mpg and was wishing I had my old Suburban back.
    No problems with the Pilot, the electronics are pretty nice.
  • Hey thanks man.
  • Anyone out there shocked at how terrible the mileage is on the new Pilot? I regularly drive on the highway and after 1,650 miles total I've averaged only 17 mpg!
    This is atrocious. This guzzler is completely killing our budget.
    The sticker is completely misleading. It's not even close. :mad:
    I have a 2012 Honda Pilot EX-L 2WD. I live in FL (flat terrain like a pancake) and don't drag race. I have the drive computer on and notice that at the slightest touch to the accelerator, the MPG does a nose dive. This is the case even on the highway. In city driving I will regularly see MPG go down to 12-14mpg.
    Anyone have any advice? Thanks in advance!
  • kipkkipk Posts: 1,576
    It is possible that you have a mechanical problem with your Pilot. This is something that needs to be checked out by your dealer.

    However, it is just as likely that traffic conditions and/or driving style are the culprits. And most folks don't like to admit that the driver may be the primary cause for poor mileage. FWIW I record every drop of fuel going into my vehicle, and do the calculations at the pump.

    A while back we took a trip from Atlanta Ga, to Myrtle beach in our AWD '03 Pilot. 4 people and luggage. Fuel mileage "Going" was 18 MPG. The return trip, the next day, yielded 26+ MPG.

    NOTE: We have been making that trip since the late '60s. First one was in a 67 GTO. Over the years, there have been a lot (20+) of vehicles involved. With few to no exceptions we always get better mileage going than returning.

    So what happened with the Pilot? Why the vast difference in going and returning mileage? And why the reversal, from norm, in which direction yielded the best mileage?

    During the "Going" trip I drove 10-15MPH over the speed limit, which was 80+ MPH on the XWAY and 65-70 on the secondary roads. It was pouring rain, and the AC was on the entire time.

    The return trip, I was driving the speed limit on the secondary roads and a maximum of 62 on the Xways. It was still overcast but not raining, so the AC was not necessary to keep the windows clear. Ambient temperature was the same in both directions, about 68 degrees.

    The GOING trip involved crashing through heavy rain at high speed, a much greater air resistance, pushing through water on the road, and operating the AC compressor. Not so on the return trip.

    Here are some things to keep in mind.
    There are two major differences in Highway and local driving.

    1. A body in motion tends to remain in motion. A body at rest tends to stay at rest. Every time we use our brakes, we have either just wasted gas and/or are about too. The more often we brake and the harder we brake, the more fuel we waste.

    Coasting to stops rather than waiting to the last minute to remove the foot from the throttle and onto the brakes saves fuel . Timing the traffics lights so we don't come to a full stop. When a stop sign has several folks waiting, try to get there when the last car has gone through so we only have to stop and start once. Tailgating results in too much brake and throttle and isn't going to get us there any quicker. Use the brakes as little as possible and come to full stops as little as possible.

    A store we frequent is 2.2 miles from our house. Starting with a cold engine in say 40 degree weather, the Pilot got 13 +/- mpg. The return trip would average more like 16 mpg. Driving a 12 mile round trip to another store would average more in the 18 mpg range according to the dash gauge. Biggest difference is a cold or warm engine. So combine trips. and keep the engine warm.

    2. On the highways drive at or slightly below the posted speed limits. Don't "Accelerate" up hills. Keep a steady foot. I've maximized mileage by not using the Cruise control and increased mileage by about 1 mpg over all. But that takes too much concentration for me anymore. So now I just set the Cruise on 62-65 enjoy the ride and let the cruise do the work.

    Our '09 Ridgeline is EPA rated 15/20. I consistantly average 18-19 mpg in local driving and 24-26 mpg on the road. My wife averages 22+/- MPG in her 09 RAV4, local driving. 28 mpg on the road. I can better both by 3+ mpg. She has a lead foot, I don't.

  • I am getting horrible mileage with my new Honda Pilot. I confess, I am a little confused
    about the ECO drive, the light seems to go on randomly..
    Does the heated seats and high heat really make that big of difference? I am only getting
    12 MPG around town and 16 on the road.
  • gbygby Posts: 5
    I had a 2008 acura mdx and loved it despite the bad gas mileage which was 12-15 in the city and 19-25.7 on the highway . Also, you had to use premium, But the power of the engine made the premium worth while. My wife and I decided to buy a touring honda pilot 4x4 and we thought the extra room and the 1 mpg would be the next move. And if all has proven correct I would do better than the mdx. Well, wrong .We have been getting 7.9 -12.5 in the city average with an extremely light foot on the accelerator and cars blowing the horn yelling move it or step on the gas ( nyc with very little traffic on weekends) and the best on the highway has been 22.2 coasting downhills (lol). Brought the truck in and did a bunch of tests and was told everything is fine and not to expect more then 11 mpg on average in new york city. We feel as we been ripped off . At least the acura mdx had a little muscle in its veins and handled like on rails which made it fun to drive and worth the gas mileage. Its just not exceptable to be put into this situation by honda and just except it thinking you've got one of the most fuel efficient suv's in its class. The kicker is the thinking that honda cares by having a cylinder cutoff to improve your mileage. The mdx had none of this ,only guts and much nicer looks and still got you better fuel economy.

    Unfortunately, the vehicle is 1 year old with 6,000 miles and as much as I would like to dump it I can't because money is hard to come by in these hard times. Only honda is laughing all the way to the bank.

  • kipkkipk Posts: 1,576
    Yep, bad mileage can ruin a persons day for sure.

    Go back a few dozen pages and you will see that some folks get reasonable mileage and others do not.

    I've posted mileages that many folks just refuse to believe, but others have posted even better. I've been driving for over 50 years, so am familiar with correctly calculating fuel mileage at the pump. For instance, I consistantly get 10mpg on our old 78 Chevy G20 van. The AWD '09 Ridgeline consistantly gives 18-20 in the same type "LOCAL" driving. My wifes '03 CR-V resulted in 22 mpg and her '09 Rav-4 does 23 with her driving and 25 with me driving.

    At 60 mph the Ridgeline consistantly delivers 25-28 MPG depending on terrain and driving conditions. At 70 it drops to 20 mpg if using the AC.

    At 60 the wifes Rav4 delivers 35 mpg on a good day, and at 70 it drops to
    30 if using the air. She gets 2-3 mpg less under similar conditions.

    Here is an interesting experiment. In our '03 4WD Pilot with 4 People aboard we took a trip to Myrtle Beach SC from Atlanta. It was raining, the AC was on the whole time, and the speed was 10 mph over the posted speed limits, So that would be 80mph on the express way. Fuel mileage was 18+ mpg.

    On the return trip, I ran the posted speed limit, and a maximum of 60 on the expressway. It was not raining and AC was used very little. 27 mpg!

    I don't know what kind of speeds you run or how you are loaded . But the newer Pilots are a lot bigger than the earlier Pilots and MDX models.

    You may already be aware of this. If you have Climate control the AC compressor runs constantly unless you turn off the AC button.

    Chances are good that you don't want to hear about the ways to improve mileage, so I won't bother.

    Good luck! :)

  • gbygby Posts: 5
    I appreciate all of the knowledge you have given me , But I think that the real issues are with the posted mileage expectations on the sticker of the cars at the dealerships. Many people are led to believe that they will get these numbers and trust the agency that comes up with these results. Why don't they list real world mileage based on your city and let people know the hard truth of real world mileage. We own three vehicles , 2011 Pilot, a 2010 scion xb and a 2009 honda accord v6. My uncle has a 2011 toyota avalon which I drive in the same manner as all of my others cars and come up constantly with an average 20.1 in the city and 32.5 on the highway. The accord v6 gives me in the same conditions 16.5 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway. The accord has only 9750 miles on it tires inflated to 34 cold psi with no ac on and 1 driver. I rented a lexus suv in florida and achieved an average mpg of 26.5 mpg and drove it at 75 to 80 . This only leads me to believe that toyota has really worked on there technology and honda has not ,still offering things like 5 speed trannys instead of stepping up to the plate. Honda has been losing ground over the years .They seem to be living on there past reputation of reliability to long and must realize there are new sheriffs in town. By the way the scion gets us about 18 around town and a whopping 35 on the highway with a 4 speed auto tranny.

    The bottom line is the auto industry has to be more honest with mpg figures and not hipe mileage numbers under controlled conditions....

    thanks again ....
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    edited December 2011
    The EPA lets people plug their own mpg numbers in at so a potential owner could go there and compare notes (the EPA numbers are listed right next to real world numbers).

    The numbers for a few vehicles I checked seem higher than the EPA ratings. Mabye that's one of those self-selecting factors and simply indicates that people who really care about their mpg also know how to drive economically?

    And doesn't everyone carry a browser enabled smartphone or tablet with them now when they go to the dealer so they can crosscheck claims made on the Monroney sticker or those made by the salesperson? :shades:
  • okaniokani Posts: 20
    NYC again, I also live in NYC - mpg indicated by manufacturer never work in NYC :sick: Driving in NYC you won't get City MPG, take a look on fueleconomy dot gov what do they mean under City MPG, it is a different story - we have 10 times more stops & go's, my mechanic told me that he gets 8mpg in Brooklyn on his BMW 5series. You have to drive outside the city limits to see your cars real world MPG. Suburbs in NJ will give you City MPG and I-95 in Florida will get you Highway MPG. This is Brooklyn, Brooklyn - NY :mad: It takes 30 seconds for you to walk one block, now imagine your car driving that distance to stop on a red light and then go again + traffic. Go upstate, poconos, etc and see your mileage. I also blamed my car first, now I see what is it that makes my mpg horrible.
  • kipkkipk Posts: 1,576
    edited December 2011
    Well said!

    Here are/is a couple of other examples of what conditions can do to mileage.

    A store we frequent is about 2 1/2 miles from the house. On a cold day the Pilot/Ridgeline get about 12-13 mpg going to the store. The return trip is more in the 18-19 mpg range.

    Leaving work, instantly involves a steep long hill. At the top is a traffic light that seems to have it out for me. Generally speaking the gauge will show we got about 8 mpg for that first 1.5 miles. If required to sit there for the entire length of the light the gauge wil drop to around 6 mpg, before we get moving again. If I manage to catch the rest of the lights green the entire trip home will net around 17 mpg. If I catch all red lights, the mpg will be more in the 13-14 mpg range. If I don't have to stop for any of the lights, the mileage will be more like 18-19 mpg.

    Point is, that the constant stop and go destroys mileage.
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