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I remember some concerns with towing and the 9-speed transmission when it was first available. Has that been fixed for the newest model years? I'd be towing a travel trailer, about 4200lbs loaded I think.
 

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I remember some concerns with towing and the 9-speed transmission when it was first available. Has that been fixed for the newest model years? I'd be towing a travel trailer, about 4200lbs loaded I think.
People are always scared of new things... complaints about the 9 speed dropped dramatically with the facelift and software/hardware updates.

Make sure you get the transmission cooler, either the OEM option or an aftermarket one.

I'd suggest disabling the VCM as well, there are a bunch of threads on it and videos online, but I wouldn't want VCM active while towing.

Lastly, 4,200 is getting a little uncomfortably close to the limits of the Pilot. What will your GCWR be once the Pilot and the trailer are loaded? If you really don't want to go to a body on frame SUV, a Durango and Explorer both have higher rated towing capacities. The new Pathfinder will be 6,000 as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
People are always scared of new things... complaints about the 9 speed dropped dramatically with the facelift and software/hardware updates.

Make sure you get the transmission cooler, either the OEM option or an aftermarket one.

I'd suggest disabling the VCM as well, there are a bunch of threads on it and videos online, but I wouldn't want VCM active while towing.

Lastly, 4,200 is getting a little uncomfortably close to the limits of the Pilot. What will your GCWR be once the Pilot and the trailer are loaded? If you really don't want to go to a body on frame SUV, a Durango and Explorer both have higher rated towing capacities. The new Pathfinder will be 6,000 as well.
I've got a 2016 right now with the 5 6-speed transmission and cooler, it does quite well with the trailer. I'm considering a trade to get the various new features.
 

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I've got a 2016 right now with the 5-speed transmission and cooler, it does quite well with the trailer. I'm considering a trade to get the various new features.
The 2015 was the last year for the 2nd gen (body style) and also the last year for the 5 speed. The '16 and up (3rd gen) had the 6 speed auto on EX-L and below and the 9 speed on Touring and Elite.
 

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If you're looking for specifics, check out the Towing subforum. Here is at least one thread discussing towing with the 9-speed transmission. As discussed here, the transmission is much improved after some early software updates. Towing should be no issue.

 

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We have a 2016 Pilot Touring AWD (9spd) and it seems to do quite well with a similar tow weight as yours. I suspect our trailer weight is closer to 3800-4000lb though. I really appreciate the 1st gear on the 9spd when towing, that is probably your biggest upgrade from the 6spd.

Overall, when there are no desert winds it is such a pleasure to tow. Sometimes even 6th gear at 65-70mph if I recall when there are no winds. Thing is, in Vegas area I am always in some sort of wind or slight incline w/wind so I tend to be in 4th or 5th gear between 55mph-65mph. I also have a taller than original tire which will effect that a hair (265/60/18 vs the original 20" setup).

Really since you already own a 2016, all I can say is the 1st gear on the 9spd is SO good. I have about 93k miles now so we'll see how tough the 9spd is. Wikipedia on the trans says it is rated for 450lb-ft of torque so I hope it handles towing well. Probably have about 1500miles towing so far since Oct 2020 including our old lighter 2600lb trailer. Of that, about 600miles with the newer heavier trailer. Most of our trips are in the 100-200mile one way distance.

In the end, with the frequency we get headwinds, I wish the Pilot had an extra 100hp/100lb-ft tq but otherwise the trans does well enough.
 

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I remember some concerns with towing and the 9-speed transmission when it was first available. Has that been fixed for the newest model years? I'd be towing a travel trailer, about 4200lbs loaded I think.
When it comes to vehicles like the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, or other SUV's in the class, there is always a concern with transmission issues when towing. Generally not from a problem with the transmission itself, rather it is usually with the driver/owner/tower.

You state you THINK the trailer you plan to tow is about 4200 pounds. Keep in mind you Pilot weighs about 4200 pounds, so you are asking your 280 hp 6 cylinder engine and attached transmission to propel not one vehicle but the equivalent of two vehicles. That puts a lot of stress on a transmission as well as an engine.

How you tow is a big factor. No one likes to be behind that slow vehicle, but the people towing trailers at 55 - 60 mph, vs 70-75 mph are doing their tow vehicle a big favor. Stepping down a gear or two when towing will be beneficial to you vehicle. Remember you will be using a 6 cylinder gas powered, 280 hp engine, not a Cummins Diesel equipped vehicle.

A big factor is KNOWING exactly what you towing, not just guessing what you are towing when it comes to the weight. I have found over the years that most people underestimate the weight they are towing, kind of like the your weight that you tell the drivers license bureau when you renew your license or the age a woman over 29 will admit too. 😆

Pushing or exceeding the max tow capacity is going to put a lot of strain on a vehicle. I never tow more than 80 - 85 percent of the max tow capacity of my vehicle. That means that with a Honda rated at 5000 max tow capacity I would only tow no more than 4250 lbs which is 85% of the max capacity.

To use a CAT scale at a truck stop will cost you a few dollars to weigh your setup. To replace a transmission, or engine will cost you a few thousand dollars.

Add to the fact that a lot of people don't bother to follow the heavy duty use maintenance schedule for their vehicle that they tow with. A good rule of thumb is you can cut in half the recommended oil change, ATF fluid change, rear differential fluid change, PS fluid change times as well as replacing some components sooner such as shocks especially rear shocks.

For the last 21 years my tower has been a 3/4 ton cummins diesel equipped PU. Its max tow capacity is almost six times that of the Pilot.

Now if Honda would ever equip the Pilot, Passport or Ridgeline with a diesel engine, then that would be a different ball game, assuming they equipped the vehicle with a suitably more rugged transmission. But I don't see Honda going to body on frame construction any time soon either.
 

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When it comes to vehicles like the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, or other SUV's in the class, there is always a concern with transmission issues when towing. Generally not from a problem with the transmission itself, rather it is usually with the driver/owner/tower.

You state you THINK the trailer you plan to tow is about 4200 pounds. Keep in mind you Pilot weighs about 4200 pounds, so you are asking your 280 hp 6 cylinder engine and attached transmission to propel not one vehicle but the equivalent of two vehicles. That puts a lot of stress on a transmission as well as an engine.

How you tow is a big factor. No one likes to be behind that slow vehicle, but the people towing trailers at 55 - 60 mph, vs 70-75 mph are doing their tow vehicle a big favor. Stepping down a gear or two when towing will be beneficial to you vehicle. Remember you will be using a 6 cylinder gas powered, 280 hp engine, not a Cummins Diesel equipped vehicle.

A big factor is KNOWING exactly what you towing, not just guessing what you are towing when it comes to the weight. I have found over the years that most people underestimate the weight they are towing, kind of like the your weight that you tell the drivers license bureau when you renew your license or the age a woman over 29 will admit too. 😆

Pushing or exceeding the max tow capacity is going to put a lot of strain on a vehicle. I never tow more than 80 - 85 percent of the max tow capacity of my vehicle. That means that with a Honda rated at 5000 max tow capacity I would only tow no more than 4250 lbs which is 85% of the max capacity.

To use a CAT scale at a truck stop will cost you a few dollars to weigh your setup. To replace a transmission, or engine will cost you a few thousand dollars.

Add to the fact that a lot of people don't bother to follow the heavy duty use maintenance schedule for their vehicle that they tow with. A good rule of thumb is you can cut in half the recommended oil change, ATF fluid change, rear differential fluid change, PS fluid change times as well as replacing some components sooner such as shocks especially rear shocks.

For the last 21 years my tower has been a 3/4 ton cummins diesel equipped PU. Its max tow capacity is almost six times that of the Pilot.

Now if Honda would ever equip the Pilot, Passport or Ridgeline with a diesel engine, then that would be a different ball game, assuming they equipped the vehicle with a suitably more rugged transmission. But I don't see Honda going to body on frame construction any time soon either.
I need to show this post to my wife. She basically looks at me as if I just want a shiny new truck rather than we kinda NEED it. My dry weight is 3200lbs, but loaded I am probably around that 4000-4200lbs mark (yes CAT scale is in the cards but I did weigh the tongue at aprox 450lbs by weighsafe scale).

Now, If we towed only a handful of times a year sure, the Pilot is fine but we are on track to two twice a month. In the Vegas area that means often 15-30mph winds, sometimes possibly more. I think this last weekend we must have had over 30+mph because I had to slow to 45mph and big rigs slowed too. The Pilot "gets the job done" but under those conditions, just barely. No winds, easy np but the limited range from the small tank still sucks, even when driving 65mph at 10.8mpg (calculated).
 

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I need to show this post to my wife. She basically looks at me as if I just want a shiny new truck rather than we kinda NEED it. My dry weight is 3200lbs, but loaded I am probably around that 4000-4200lbs mark (yes CAT scale is in the cards but I did weigh the tongue at aprox 450lbs by weighsafe scale).

Now, If we towed only a handful of times a year sure, the Pilot is fine but we are on track to two twice a month. In the Vegas area that means often 15-30mph winds, sometimes possibly more. I think this last weekend we must have had over 30+mph because I had to slow to 45mph and big rigs slowed too. The Pilot "gets the job done" but under those conditions, just barely. No winds, easy np but the limited range from the small tank still sucks, even when driving 65mph at 10.8mpg (calculated).
Personally i would not choose a typical SUV For what you are describing. If my wife insisted on a Pilot type vehicle for towing I would explain to her that her clothes budget just took 90% hit so to be able pay for the semi annual transmission replacements. Ideally you never want to tow more than 80 to 85 percent of the Max Tow weight. With a second generation pilot that is between 3630 and 3800 pounds.

It’s your choice however I would offer this piece of advice, when the transmission is being replaced the first time do not say to the wife “I told you so. “😆
 

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The Pilot CAN do it but I wouldn't want to do it in those conditions. I know it sounds so obvious but towing with a vehicle that will be at half its rated capacity will be so much more comfortable. Less strain on the engine, trans, brakes. Sway will be greatly minimized due to the frame and suspension being better designed to handle it. I've white knuckled before, I prefer not to.
 
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The Pilot CAN do it but I wouldn't want to do it in those conditions. I know it sounds so obvious but towing with a vehicle that will be at half its rated capacity will be so much more comfortable. Less strain on the engine, trans, brakes. Sway will be greatly minimized due to the frame and suspension being better designed to handle it. I've white knuckled before, I prefer not to.
Personally i would not choose a typical SUV For what you are describing. If my wife insisted on a Pilot type vehicle for towing I would explain to her that her clothes budget just took 90% hit so to be able pay for the semi annual transmission replacements. Ideally you never want to tow more than 80 to 85 percent of the Max Tow weight. With a second generation pilot that is between 3630 and 3800 pounds.

It’s your choice however I would offer this piece of advice, when the transmission is being replaced the first time do not say to the wife “I told you so. “😆
Yeah, I do not disagree. I felt the sweet spot for towing was when we had our Nobo 10.6 travel trailer which was easily 1000lbs lighter than what we have now. If we lived in an area with usually no winds rather than usually winds, then I may call it a toss up but man, I hate getting beat up by the winds. On our last trip to Willow Beach, AZ the wind gust were so sudden and sharp I had to slow down to 45mph for about a mile. I am suspicious what the speeds were, the Windy app said the area was in the 30-34mph winds but I have never had to slow down that much before. I think they might have been closer to 40mph. Even the big rigs were slowing down and usually they are the ones passing me lol. All that to say, the Pilot has to work so much harder in these winds.

The Pilot will be paid off about the time her lease is up on her little commuter in 2022. I would not want to buy before then anyway so I hope the Pilot can make it alive through the 100F+ summer temps. I will be monitoring the scan gauge closely as usual.
 

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Yeah, I do not disagree. I felt the sweet spot for towing was when we had our Nobo 10.6 travel trailer which was easily 1000lbs lighter than what we have now. If we lived in an area with usually no winds rather than usually winds, then I may call it a toss up but man, I hate getting beat up by the winds. On our last trip to Willow Beach, AZ the wind gust were so sudden and sharp I had to slow down to 45mph for about a mile. I am suspicious what the speeds were, the Windy app said the area was in the 30-34mph winds but I have never had to slow down that much before. I think they might have been closer to 40mph. Even the big rigs were slowing down and usually they are the ones passing me lol. All that to say, the Pilot has to work so much harder in these winds.

The Pilot will be paid off about the time her lease is up on her little commuter in 2022. I would not want to buy before then anyway so I hope the Pilot can make it alive through the 100F+ summer temps. I will be monitoring the scan gauge closely as usual.
Well it sounds like you use your head while towing and SLOW DOWN when you start to get uncomfortable. Good to hear and this will definitely make the experience more comfortable as long as you don't start getting anxious about getting passed by everyone.
 
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