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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking for a some suggestions from the group. I'm looking to buy a Pilot (my first) to leave at my house in Cabo San Lucas. The plan is to leave a car there to use when I'm visiting. The roads are pretty rough - mostly dirt/sand, big ruts/potholes. I'd like to be able to drive out on the beach also. I'm learning a lift kit wont really lift much - just the body and could cause some trouble with the axel. That being said - open to ideas/suggestions on how to modify a pilot for my use.

thanks everyone!
 

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2020 Honda Passport Touring AWD Metallic Steel
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Lift kits on a Pilot is a frame lift, not a body lift. That is the nature of unibody vehicles (Pilots) over body on frames vehicles(Jeep Wrangle). The upside is you raise the ground clearance with a frame lift. The downside with a frame lift is a degradation in stability. The higher you raise the frame the higher the center of gravity of the vehicle making more likely to roll over. That is where the driver has to be aware and take it easy in certain situations. A frame lift also can cause problems with axels due to the angles they end up at.

A body lift is when the only the vehicle body is lifted while the frame/motor/transmission are not lifted.

Frankly if it were me and the vehicle were not going to be used that much I would look for a good used vehicle maybe a later Gen 1 or Gen 2. A lift kit would give you more ground clearance if that is your worry. A good portable air compressor is a must, since driving on sand the tire pressure needs to be lowered. You will want to pressure up the tires for the rough roads.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Lift kits on a Pilot is a frame lift, not a body lift. That is the nature of unibody vehicles (Pilots) over body on frames vehicles(Jeep Wrangle). The upside is you raise the ground clearance with a frame lift. The downside with a frame lift is a degradation in stability. The higher you raise the frame the higher the center of gravity of the vehicle making more likely to roll over. That is where the driver has to be aware and take it easy in certain situations. A frame lift also can cause problems with axels due to the angles they end up at.

A body lift is when the only the vehicle body is lifted while the frame/motor/transmission are not lifted.

Frankly if it were me and the vehicle were not going to be used that much I would look for a good used vehicle maybe a later Gen 1 or Gen 2. A lift kit would give you more ground clearance if that is your worry. A good portable air compressor is a must, since driving on sand the tire pressure needs to be lowered. You will want to pressure up the tires for the rough roads.
Thanks for your thoughts. I’m mostly concerned about driving in the sand - so not sure I’ll go with a lift. Also bcs I’m driving the car down from San Francisco (1500 miles) I don’t really want to change the driving dynamics too much. Any recommendations on what model years to look for? I’m thinking something around 2010-2014 to keep me under $15,000.

any thoughts on good tires for sand?
I think a skid plate would be a good investment if I’m not going to lift it.
Thanks again.
 

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Since I don't live in ocean country the only sand I drive on is dry sand. Either way, the width of the tire isn't all that important. The important thing is lowering the tire pressure to around 20 pounds. I have been to the little Sahara and found that 20 psi front and 18 psi rear worked well with 20" rims. Sand driving is more about low tire pressure which lengthens/increases the tread contact with the sand.

I am however moving to an 18" rim for other off road purposes with a AT rated tire. I'm not looking at rock crawler tires. Probably going with the WildPeak by Falken at this point. I want more sidewall for off road, rough road.

If you are going to be doing a lot of beach/sand driving you might want to look at installing a vehicle air compressor and make sure to buy a full sized spare. The donut spare is worthless off road or in the sand. It's pretty much useless anyway.

Also driving in/on sand is tougher on the transmission so I would install an ATF auxiliary cooler, if the vehicle you buy does not have one.

A skid plate would probably be a good investment. It may be hard to find though for those years. I have one on my 2020 Passport touring for off road, as well as a Cat theft deterrent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Since I don't live in ocean country the only sand I drive on is dry sand. Either way, the width of the tire isn't all that important. The important thing is lowering the tire pressure to around 20 pounds. I have been to the little Sahara and found that 20 psi front and 18 psi rear worked well with 20" rims. Sand driving is more about low tire pressure which lengthens/increases the tread contact with the sand.

I am however moving to an 18" rim for other off road purposes with a AT rated tire. I'm not looking at rock crawler tires. Probably going with the WildPeak by Falken at this point. I want more sidewall for off road, rough road.

If you are going to be doing a lot of beach/sand driving you might want to look at installing a vehicle air compressor and make sure to buy a full sized spare. The donut spare is worthless off road or in the sand. It's pretty much useless anyway.

Also driving in/on sand is tougher on the transmission so I would install an ATF auxiliary cooler, if the vehicle you buy does not have one.

A skid plate would probably be a good investment. It may be hard to find though for those years. I have one on my 2020 Passport touring for off road, as well as a Cat theft deterrent.
Thank you! Great idea on the transmission cooler - I’ll definitely do that because it’s hot and humid in that part of Mexico. Any thoughts on which gear pilot or buy or stay away from?
 

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I'm looking for a some suggestions from the group. I'm looking to buy a Pilot (my first) to leave at my house in Cabo San Lucas. The plan is to leave a car there to use when I'm visiting. The roads are pretty rough - mostly dirt/sand, big ruts/potholes. I'd like to be able to drive out on the beach also. I'm learning a lift kit wont really lift much - just the body and could cause some trouble with the axel. That being said - open to ideas/suggestions on how to modify a pilot for my use.

thanks everyone!
I live in Guatemala and I have a 2003 Pilot. It has been pretty good but not great. If I had it to do over again, I would probably buy a Toyota Land Cruiser. They are just plain tougher for off road use. I've been driving Hondas for years and have never been let down by them. For the US of A, they are great, but if you're going to be serious about off road use, (and no offense to my fellow Pilot drivers) you might want to look at a Toyota. I don't know if they sell them much in Mexico but the current generation Hilux pickup is an ace - not too big and very resilient. They are the most popular thing down here and you can get them with an extended cab. I still have my Pilot at 250K miles and I can't really complain, but for the rough stuff, Toyota is the best....again, no offense.
 

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'12-'15 Pilot is ideal - if you look underneath Honda went to great lengths on the 2nd gens more than any other to tuck things up and keep them out of danger for soft roading.

  1. Change all of the drivetrain fluid right away since you will be using the AWD system more and thus putting more stress on the fluid.
  2. Good tires. I'm not a beach driving expert so I don't know which tires do best in sand - an off road forum may have better info.
  3. All AWD 2nd gens come standard with an ATF cooler. Up to you if you install a larger one but transmission overheating on 2nd gens is a nonexistent complaint, even from those who tow.
  4. A lift is a blessing a curse. More ground clearance is good. Preloaded springs means less down travel is available and the ride will be stiffer off road.
  5. Skid plates are a good idea for sure.
If you aren't too hard on it and maintain it well, the Pilot should serve you well. It will not hold up as well as a 4Runner, Wrangler or other frame based vehicle with solid axles but these do quite well with skilled drivers at the wheel.
 
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'12-'15 Pilot is ideal - if you look underneath Honda went to great lengths on the 2nd gens more than any other to tuck things up and keep them out of danger for soft roading.

  1. Change all of the drivetrain fluid right away since you will be using the AWD system more and thus putting more stress on the fluid.
  2. Good tires. I'm not a beach driving expert so I don't know which tires do best in sand - an off road forum may have better info.
  3. All AWD 2nd gens come standard with an ATF cooler. Up to you if you install a larger one but transmission overheating on 2nd gens is a nonexistent complaint, even from those who tow.
  4. A lift is a blessing a curse. More ground clearance is good. Preloaded springs means less down travel is available and the ride will be stiffer off road.
  5. Skid plates are a good idea for sure.
If you aren't too hard on it and maintain it well, the Pilot should serve you well. It will not hold up as well as a 4Runner, Wrangler or other frame based vehicle with solid axles but these do quite well with skilled drivers at the wheel.
For the generation one - mine is a 2003 - there are not many accessories to improve off-road capabilities. Nobody but KYB makes improved shocks and struts and I find them to be inadequate, not nearly as good as Koni or Bilstein. I have not found a skid plate online but I could probably get a body shop to fabricate one for me. The ATF cooler is probably a good idea; also I understand the models after mine came with an actual transfer case. Mine just has the button on the dash which engages the VTM-4.
 

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For the generation one - mine is a 2003 - there are not many accessories to improve off-road capabilities. Nobody but KYB makes improved shocks and struts and I find them to be inadequate, not nearly as good as Koni or Bilstein. I have not found a skid plate online but I could probably get a body shop to fabricate one for me. The ATF cooler is probably a good idea; also I understand the models after mine came with an actual transfer case. Mine just has the button on the dash which engages the VTM-4.
Check out Flatout Suspension for upgraded struts. Check out NO-LO Designs for skid plates. Everything else you may have to improvise…. Musical instrument Rectangle Gas Font Metal
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2019 Pilot EX-L AWD, 265-60-18 Defender LTX M/S
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@bwk94510 any updates? Just the 3 original posts and nothing else? Do you need a 3rd row SUV? Better choices with more clearance and off road ability if just 2 row. Also consider maintenance down there. Will you fix or do regular maintenance? trusted mechanic or dealer? Fuel costs? Maybe a diesel option in other areas like Cabo that are not available in USA.

I use Michelin Defender LTX M/S in 265-60-18 on my '19 EX-L. Great for highway, rain, quiet. My wife and daughter take it on the beach, I take it to hunting cabin through light mud, ruts, gravel. My J-Sport skid plate has some good scratches in it from the trips. I have Staun Deflators that take tires down to about 18psi. They are real easy. I have a Viair 88P portable compressor that works well. It clamps on to battery posts not into power outlet. I did a ground mod to give me a better ground point. Search ground bolt mod for the easy one bolt add on.

I have no experience on the 2nd gen. For the 3rd gen get EX or higher so you have the transmission mode button for Sand Mode. Myself I would have preferred an EX over my EX-L for the cloth seats and no sunroof. We don't use it, hate the glare, more possible issues. Wife wanted power passenger seat, Honda makes that only available on higher trims. Black leather in summer has serious disadvantages of burning skin, sliding etc. easier to clean yes but I still prefer cloth.

They always carry the recovery bag with extra recovery straps, shackles, gloves and we have some boards and better jack. Good collapsible shovel is always in truck as well as some recovery gear. Be prepared and hopefully you wont need it.
 
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