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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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