The 2011 Honda Pilots are smaller SUVs, but they pack a punch when it comes to their overall towing capacity. I conducted all of my research through literature I found online and compiled all the information into this one article and tried to make it as easy to read as possible. I hope it helps somebody out there and let me know if you have any suggestions in the comments below.
Always read through your owner's manual to get familiar with your vehicle and to make sure you adhere to Honda's recommendations when it comes to towing or anything else regarding your vehicle.
2011 Pilot Overview
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Overall Towing Capacity: The overall towing capacity for the 2011 Honda Pilots range from 0-4,500 lbs., depending on how many occupants you had in the vehicle and whether you had a two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive model.
If you only had two people in the vehicle, then you had either a 3,500 or 4,500 lb. rating, but if you had eight people in the vehicle, you gave up all of your available capacity.
Engine Options: There was only one engine option available for these model year SUVs and that was a 3.5 L engine. This was quite surprising, considering that the four-wheel drive models had about a thousand pounds more capacity over the two wheel drive models.
Trim Levels: Four different trim levels were offered for the 2011 models and these were the: LX, EX, EX-L and Touring models. The trim level you had equipped on your SUV did not a fact the maximum trailer weight ratings in the charts though.
Assumed Weight: Since Honda listed the maximum trailer weight ratings with the number of occupants in the vehicle, there was no need for any assumed weight rating by the driver because they were specified in the charts.
I do assume though, if there is only one occupant in the vehicle, aka the driver, then the maximum trailer weight ratings are still the same as if you had two occupants in the vehicle.
There we're two different charts listed for the 2011 Honda Pilots and they were organized according to the drivetrain configuration. As you can see below, they were listed according to whether they were a two-wheel drive model or a four-wheel drive model.
The charts also had the maximum trailer weight ratings listed according to the number of occupants in the vehicle, with eight people in the vehicle being the maximum limit and with that many people in the vehicle, you were not able to tow anything.
If you only had two people in the vehicle, you had either a 3,500 lb. capacity, if you had a two-wheel drive model or a 4,500 lb. capacity if you had a four-wheel drive model.
Tongue Weight Rating:
The tongue weight rating was listed in the charts above, coming in at 10% of the maximum trailer weight, which is easier to do the math on, but I found an image below (in the owner's manual) that states that you can have anywhere from 5 to 10% of the total trailer weight on the tongue for boat trailers and 8 to 15% for all other types of trailers.
Trailer brakes were required by Honda if your trailer weighed 1,000 lbs. or more, which is quite low considering that most other vehicle manufacturers usually require trailer brakes at around two thousand pounds and up.
You will want to check with your local laws though, as they can differ from Honda's recommendations and if they do, you'll want to adhere to whatever those are instead.
There we're four different trim levels available for the 2011 Pilots and these were listed as the: LX, EX, EX-L and Touring models. In the brochure, it mentions that all trim levels have the ability to have the capacity numbers listed in the charts, you will just have to find out which drivetrain configuration you have equipped, so you can get an accurate figure.
Some of you out there may be wondering how to tell what trim level you have and if you are confused about what trim level you have, then I would suggest grabbing your VIN and plugging it into a website like this one that will tell you what trim level you have on your vehicle, along with a lot of other helpful information.
GVWR, GCWR and GAWR Figures:
GCWR: The gross combined weight ratings for these SUVs were listed in the owner's manuals, and I have attached an image below for quick reference. There were two different weight ratings specified, one for four-wheel drive models which was set at a maximum of 6,096 lbs. and one for two-wheel drive models that was set at 5,952 lbs.
GAWRs: The gross axle weight ratings were also listed in the owner's manual and were a little bit more complex than the gross vehicle weight rating specs. If we look at the image below, we can see that for four-wheel drive models the front axle weight rating was set at a maximum of 2,921 lbs. and their rear axle weight ratings ranged from 3,251-3,362 lbs.
If we look at the two-wheel drive models, we can see that the front axle had that same 2,921 pound rating, but a little bit last for the rear axle, coming in at 3,196 lbs.
GCWRs: The gross combined weight ratings were also listed in the manual, and these were set at 9,579 lbs. for four-wheel drive models and 8,466 lbs. for two-wheel drive models.
It is important to note that if you are planning on traveling somewhere high in the mountains, per se, and you will be going through an elevation change, you must reduce the gross combined weight rating by 2% for every thousand feet of elevation.
The specifications for the vehicle are set at sea level, so you would have to minus that 2% for the first thousand feet and then keep going from there.
Other Notes I Found:
As I dove deeper into the owner's manual, I was able to find other little bits of information that I wanted to post in the article to make it a more complete type of resource. The first note I found talks about pulling a trailer off-road, which you will want to look at because the maximum trailer weight rating is substantially less, but they do not have the number of occupants in the vehicle listed, so I'm not sure how that affects the numbers.
The second screenshot I have posted below, talks about how using a weight distributing hitch is not recommended for this model year Pilot. Finally, the third image I found talks a little bit about the octane rating of the gasoline you're using if you are pulling more than 3,500 lbs., which is especially important if the temperatures are hotter outside or when climbing steep grades, etc.
The two main resources I used for the research in this article came from the owner's manual and the brochure. I wanted to provide quick links for those of you out there that may want to look into some of the specs for yourself or just to take a look at the manual or the brochure.
The owner's manual came directly from Honda's website, but the brochure was not available and I had to use a third-party source instead. The resource proved to be viable though, and it seems to be the exact same literature that came from the dealership back in 2011.