The 2008 Honda Pilots had similar towing capacities to other model years, mainly because they use the same engine, paired with identical or similar transmissions. You were able to pull a pretty respectable weight, up to 4,500 lbs., if you had the right equipment installed on the vehicle and were pulling a boat trailer behind you.
There were a couple of variables that affected the capacity numbers a little bit and other variables that impacted the numbers quite substantially, which I cover in this article. I hope it helps somebody out there, and let me know if you have any suggestions or if I left anything out.
Be sure you read through your owner's manual yourself to get familiar with your vehicle and that you follow all of Honda's recommendations and requirements.
2008 Pilot Overview
Overall Towing Capacity: The overall towing capacity for the 2008 Honda Pilots ranged from 0-4,500 lbs. And was primarily dependent upon how many occupants you had in the vehicle, along with what type of trailer you were pulling behind you.
Engine Options: There were no engine options for this model year, just like most other model year Pilots, in fact there was only one engine that was used and this was the 3.5 L engine that is used in most other model years as well. This is why the charts were so simple and the only variables that were listed were the number of occupants in the vehicle and what type of trailer you were pulling.
Trim Levels: I was able to find in the brochure that there were four different trim levels available for the 2008 model year, but it had no impact whatsoever on the maximum trailer weight ratings that were specified in the charts. Other factors determined how much you were able to haul.
Assumed Weight: Honda did have an assumed weight for each occupant in the vehicle, which you can find in the chart at the bottom of the image I have posted, in very small print. Honda specifies that each occupant in the vehicle weighs approximately 150 lbs. And has 15 lbs. of luggage in the back of the vehicle, giving you a grand total of 165 pounds per occupant.
The chart for the 2008 Honda Pilots were divided up into two different charts, one that specified weight ratings if you were pulling a boat trailer behind you and the other one was for all other types of trailers, as there were different capacities listed as well.
If you look at the chart below, you can also see that Honda lists the number of occupants in the vehicle and then gives a specified trailer weight rating, along with a maximum tongue load weight rating.
The number of occupants in the vehicle seem to be the main determining factor for the amount of weight you can pull behind you. Notice that if you had eight occupants in the vehicle, then you had no capacity whatsoever.
Tongue Weight Rating:
I already mentioned that the maximum tongue weight rating were specified in the chart above, but I was also able to find other information in the owner's manual that I posted a screenshot of below and it states that you can have 5-10% of the trailer's weight on the tongue if you are pulling a boat trailer and 8-15% for all other types of trailers.
So don't be confused with the maximum tongue weight rating and what the ideal tongue weight rating is. If you can help it, try to shoot for 10%, as it is much easier to do the math for that kind of figure.
You will also have to use trailer brakes if your trailer weighs more than 1,000 lbs., which is typical for all model year Pilots and the specification is the same no matter if you have a newer version or an older version.
You will want to be sure to check with your local state and county laws to make sure that they do not require any other equipment and to verify that Honda's 1,000 lb. limit matches what's your local enforcement agency requires.
There were four different trim levels available for the 2008 models, which I was able to find in the brochure and they were listed as the: VP, EX, SE and EX-L models. It did not make any difference (when it came to the maximum trailer weight ratings that were specified) what trim level you had equipped on your vehicle, as far as the maximum trailer weight ratings were concerned, other factors determined how much weight you could haul.
All trim levels still share the same chart and were capable of having the weight ratings that were specified in the chart, as long as they had the right equipment.
GCWR, GVWR and GAWR Figures:
The gross combined weight ratings, along with the gross vehicle weight rating and gross axle weight rating were listed in the manuals, which is always helpful, especially if you need to make more complex calculations with your load.
GCWR: The Gross combined weight rating was listed at 9700 pounds for all models and includes the weight of the hitch, along with any fluid coolers that might be needed in order to achieve those ratings.
There was a special little note that I found, that mentions that for every 1,000 feet of elevation you have to reduce the overall gross combined weight rating by 2%. So that means your gross combined weight rating would be reduced by 2% at 1,000 ft, 4% at 2,000 ft, 6% 3,000 ft and so on. Keep this in mind if you were planning on traveling to higher elevation areas.
GVWR: The gross vehicle weight rating was listed a little bit differently than the gross combined weight rating was and was specified for four-wheel drive models, along with two-wheel drive models. If you had a four-wheel drive model your gross vehicle weight rating was listed at 5,950 lbs. maximum and for two-wheel drive models that was listed at 5,840 lbs.
GAWRs: The gross axle weight ratings were also listed in the manual and these were divided up into four-wheel drive and two-wheel drive models, like we saw it would be gross vehicle weight rating.
For four-wheel drive models, you had a listed limit of 2,865 lbs. for the front axle and 3,155 lbs. for the rear axle. If you had a two-wheel drive model, you have the same rating for the front axle, set at 2865 lbs. And a slightly lower 3,085 pound rating for the rear axle.
Do I Have A Transmission & Power Steering Cooler?
If you look closely at the chart, at the top in smaller print, you will see that in order to achieve the weight ratings, you will have to have a transmission and power steering cooler installed.
I couldn't find any information in the manual or the brochure that states what trim levels or models would have these coolers equipped standard, so you will have to either check for these things yourself or take it into a dealership that can verify whether you have these installed on your vehicle or not.
If you did not have these installed on your vehicle, then you did not have the capacity to haul any weight, according to Honda. I found some information on this in the owner's manual and posted a screenshot of what I found below.
It also states that these were only available from your dealer, so more than likely the weight ratings that were listed in the charts would not be applicable to aftermarket parts, or at least Honda would not warranty the vehicle if aftermarket parts were used.
Other Notes I Found:
There were three other bits of information I found in the owner's manual that I wanted to post here, to have as thorough of an article as possible and I thought they were good bits of information that you should know about anyways.
The first image I found talks about how you can actually tow a trailer off road, but you will have to really limit the amount of weight in the trailer to 1000 lb or less, having a tongue weight rating of around 10%. There are other helpful bits of information as well for driving off-road when you're pulling a trailer.
The other two things talk about how your performance when hauling additional weight behind you can be affected by things like higher outside temperatures, higher altitudes and even steep grades oh, so Honda recommends using 91 octane fuel or higher oh, if you think you might experience these types of conditions.
The other tidbit of information talks about a weight distributing hitch and how it is not recommended for your vehicle and can cause potential problems.
The owner's manual and the 2008 Pilot brochure were the two main sources I used in the research for this article and is where I gathered all of my information, including the images that I posted. I provided quick links to these resources for those of you out there that may want to check them out further, as there is a ton of information in them about your vehicle.