Honda includes stop-start system in new 2016 Honda Pilot for improved fuel economy, new 9-speed (updated w/ VCM info)
Honda gave the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot SUV its global premiere at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. The 2016 Pilot, launching at Honda dealerships nationwide this summer, is the third generation of Honda’s three-row midsize SUV to be designed, developed and manufactured in the US.
The 2016 Pilot features a new 3.5-liter, direct-injected i-VTEC V-6 engine with new two-stage Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) cylinder deactivation technology. For improved fuel efficiency, the 2016 Pilot will also include a stop start feature—Honda’s first non-hybrid application of this technology.
Honda VCM deactivates the cylinder by using its VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) technology to keep the intake and exhaust valves in the closed position to halt fuel supply. To deactivate a cylinder, the pin is moved hydraulically to disengage the rocker arm that pushes down the valves. In this mode, even though the cam pushes up the rocker arm, it has no effect and the valves remain closed.
Honda says that cylinder deactivation is effective in reducing fuel consumption for three main reasons:
Eliminates pumping losses in the deactivated cylinders. Keeping the valves closed in the cylinder to stop fuel supply also prevents aspiration in that cylinder. This eliminates pumping loss—the air resistance incurred when the pistons pump intake and exhaust gases through the cylinder—which is the greatest source of resistance in engine operation. This is the main reason why deactivating the cylinders contributes to improved fuel economy.
Reducing pumping losses in active cylinders. In 3-cylinder operation, the throttle is open wider. This makes intake easier for the active cylinders, reducing intake pumping losses for improved fuel economy.
Reduced loss from valve operation. Because the valves are deactivated, losses are largely reduced, allowing the engine to operate more efficiently. This contributes to improved fuel economy.
Honda, which first introduced a VCM system on the 2003 Inspire (an luxury Accord derivative introduced in Japan), first applied a VCM system to the Pilot in MY 2009. These earlier generation Pilots with V-6 VCM had two cylinder deactivation modes: 3-cylinder and 4-cylinder. Under low load, the engine would switch off three cylinders; as load increased, the VCM system would reduce that to two. In other words, four cylinders would be in operation. Honda called this three-stage VCM—6, 4 or 3 cylinders in operation.
However, said Marc Ernst, Chief Engineer for Pilot, the new DI engine combined with th 6AT or 9AT can create enough torque so that it only needs a 3-cylinder mode—i.e., two-stage VCM.
[In 2013, Honda settled a class-action lawsuit brought against it for engine misfiring issues in vehicles equipped with V-6 with VCM powerplants (Accord, Odyssey, Pilot, Crosstour.)]
In the Pilot, the new engine is mated to one of two advanced new transmissions—a Pilot-first 6-speed automatic transmission, or on upper trims, a Honda-first 9-speed automatic transmission—both delivering refined, responsive and fuel-efficient performance. The new Pilot will be available in front-wheel and all-wheel-drive configurations and will feature a completely new Honda all-wheel-drive system. More details and specifications on the powertrain will come later.
The new Pilot is also almost 300 pounds (136 kg) lighter than the outgoing model.
The new Pilot will feature what Honda says it the most comprehensive set of advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies ever offered on a Honda vehicle. Together these technologies make up Honda Sensing, a suite of technologies designed to expand the driver’s situational awareness while sensing and responding to potential road hazards, including other vehicles, road obstacles and even pedestrians, mitigating the possibility or severity of a collision.
It includes Honda’s popular LaneWatch display, Blind Spot Indicators, a standard Multi-Angle Rear View Camera, and available Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Rear Cross Traffic Monitor, Adaptive Cruise Control and a Honda-first Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) system.
Honda expects the new Pilot to deliver the highest safety ratings in its class and is targeting a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and a TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), including a GOOD rating in all crash modes.
The new Pilot incorporates Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, designed to more efficiently absorb and disperse the energy from a frontal collision, along with a new ultra-high-strength door ring designed to help better protect occupants. The 2016 Pilot also incorporates an all-new 3-bone platform while also utilizing high and ultra-high strength body materials, which together reduce noise, vibration and harness (NVH), improve handling, increase rigidity and reduce weight.
Standard safety and driver-assistive features include four-channel anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Brake Assist and Hill Start Assist; Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with Traction Control; an Expanded View Driver’s Mirror; dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags, driver and front passenger SmartVent side airbags and side-curtain airbags for all outboard seating positions; and a new Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) with real-time display of individual tire pressures.
The new Pilot offers five USB ports, four that provide better recharging with 2.5-amp output, to charge iPads or smartphones while in use. Additional ports and plugs include an auxiliary jack for nearly any audio player, an HDMI port for a gaming console, two headphone jacks, two 12-volt power outlets and a 115-volt outlet.
The new Pilot also incorporates an upsized 8-inch capacitive touchscreen Display Audio telematics interface powered by a new Android-based operating system and more powerful processor, along with an available all-new embedded Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System. The new navigation system features improved graphics and new capabilities, including 3D renderings of terrain, buildings and road signs, improved lane guidance, live search function, 911 emergency services and more.
The Pilot’s Display Audio system enables simplified smartphone connectivity making for easier access to all the features and connectivity options of the HondaLink connected-car system.
All three generations of the Honda Pilot have been designed and developed in America by Honda R&D Americas, Inc. at its Los Angeles design studio and Raymond, Ohio, vehicle development center. The Pilot and its engine are manufactured at Honda’s Lincoln, Alabama auto plant.