The 2015 Honda Pilots had a respectable towing capacity rating, having the ability to haul up to 4,500 lbs. but you had to have the proper equipment and the proper drivetrain in order to achieve those higher-capacity ratings.
On the other end of the spectrum, if your vehicle was too overloaded then you lost all of your capacity, so it is quite the balancing act and you do need to know a couple of things before you hit the road ready to go with your loaded trailer.
I go into all of the variables in this article so you know what to expect and how to go about figuring out your maximum trailer weight rating for your specific vehicle.
Be sure you read through your owner's manual and heed all of Honda's recommendations and requirements when it comes to your vehicle.
2015 Pilot Overview
Overall Towing Capacity: The overall towing capacity for the 2015 Honda Pilots ranged from 0-4,500 lbs. and was dependent upon three main factors which were the number of occupants in the vehicle, whether you had a 4-wheel drive or two-wheel drive model and whether you have the optional ATF cooler installed on your vehicle.
Engine Options: There were no engine options for these model-year SUVs, just like all the other model year Pilots and in fact, you only had one engine that was available for all the model years that this SUV was made. The option was a 3.5 L engine that was available as a V6 type of configuration.
Trim Levels: These 2015 SUVs came in a choice of five different trim levels, which did not impact the maximum trailer weight ratings at all, in fact other elements were solely responsible for how much you could pull, not your trim level. All trim levels had the ability to tow.
Assumed Weight: Since we can see that Honda specified specific trailer weight ratings, depending on the number of occupants in the vehicle, then we have to have an assumed weight for each occupant. At the bottom of the chart I have posted in this article, we can see that Honda specifies that each occupant weighs approximately 150 lbs. and they also grant each occupant 15 lbs. of luggage, which gives us a grand total of 165 pounds per occupant.
The 2015 Honda Pilots had a maximum trailer weight rating of 4500 lb for the four-wheel drive models, but it really ranged when it came to the two-wheel drive models, depending on whether your two-wheel drive model had an ATF cooler installed. If you did not have one of these coolers installed then you could only achieve a 2,000 pound rating, but if you had one installed and you can achieve a much higher 3,500 lb. rating.
The number of occupants is also listed in the chart, on the left-hand column and the more occupants you had in the vehicle, the less you could actually pull behind you, which is typical for all Honda Pilots but again, if you had the two-wheel drive model without the ATF cooler than you were pretty limited when it came to the amount of occupants you could have in the vehicle and still maintain some sort of trailer weight rating.
Tongue Weight Rating:
The tongue weight ratings were also listed in a chart that I was able to find in the owner's manual and, as you can see from the image below, the maximum tongue weight ratings were listed at 10% of the maximum trailer weight ratings.
If you did not plan on pulling the maximum weight that was specified in the chart, then you would have to figure out the appropriate tongue weight rating which Honda lays out as 5-10% of the trailer's total weight, if you are pulling a boat trailer behind you. All other types of trailers should have an 8-15% of the trailer's weight on the hitch of the vehicle.
Honda also specified a weight requirement for your trailer if it weighed over 1,000 lb, then it would have to have its own braking system installed that was independent of your vehicle's braking system. I attached a screenshot below of what I found in the owner's manual.
I do want to let you know that your local vehicle codes may require that you have trailer brakes on your trailer if it weighs less than 1,000 lbs. but it's something you are going to have to check out and confirm for yourself and if so, you will have to make the necessary adjustments to meet those requirements.
There we're five different trim levels available for the 2015 models, but they did not affect how much you could pull with your vehicle, as they held no weight when it came to the maximum trailer weight ratings that were listed in the chart.
The five different trim levels were listed as the: EX, EX-L, LX, SE and Touring models, which I was able to find in the brochure.
GVWR, GCWR and GAWR Figures:
I was also able to find some very important weight metrics for these 2015 SUVs in the owner's manual and these were the gross vehicle weight rating, the gross combined weight rating and both of the gross axle weight rating figures, which always come in handy when planning on making more intricate calculations for your loads.
GVWR: We can see that the gross vehicle weight rating was listed for two-wheel drive models at 5,952 lbs., while the four-wheel drive models were listed at 6,096 lbs. I did notice that the gross vehicle weight rating was only listed as the "gross vehicle" in the chart that I have posted above.
GCWR: The gross combined weight rating was also shortened in the table above and it was listed as just "gross combined", but if we look at the figures, we can see that the two-wheel drive models had a rating of 8,466 pounds, while the four-wheel drive models were listed at 9,579 lbs.
GAWRs: The gross axle weight ratings were listed for the front and rear axle, separately, which is normal and if we look at the data we can see that the front axle weight rating was listed at 2,921 pounds for both two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive models.
The rear axle weight rating was listed at 3,196 lbs. for two-wheel drive models and ranged from 3,252-3,362 lbs. for the four-wheel drive models and there was a special weight rating just for the LX models, while the other models shared the other weight specification.
Notes On The Transmission Cooler...
In the chart, it specifies that in order to achieve the highest ratings, you have to have the AC up cooler installed on your vehicle, which was a standard option on the four-wheel drive models but was an accessory option for the two-wheel drive models and not all of the models had these equipped.
Checking to see if you have one of these installed on your vehicle can be difficult, especially if you're not mechanically inclined, but what you could do is climb under your vehicle to check and see if you have any lines that come off of your transmission that go either to the radiator itself or to an auxiliary cooler located somewhere around the radiator, usually in front of it.
If you're hesitant about checking to see if you have an ATF cooler installed yourself, then I would recommend taking it into a dealership to see if they can verify if you have one installed on the vehicle.
Other Notes I Found:
There were a couple of other little notes that I found in the owner's manual that I think we're worth mentioning. The first one talks about how Honda recommends a 91 or higher octane gasoline when planning on pulling more than 3,500 lbs.
Another side note talks about how certain aspects of driving like higher altitude areas, higher outside temperatures or steep uphill grades can affect not only the vehicle's performance but the towing performance of the vehicle itself. If you encounter these types of scenarios, especially at the same time, you will want to take it very easy on your vehicle, keep your RPMs low and watch your temperature gauge.
The last note I found talks about the use of weight distribution hitches and for the 2015 model year Pilots, Honda does not recommend using one of these hitches as it could cause handling and stability issues, along with brake performance issues.
I gathered all of the research for this article from a couple of different references, which I linked to below, for those of you out there that want a quick way to check out my resources. I'll be honest, the owner's manual is where I pulled most of the information from and is where all the images came from, and I grabbed that directly from Honda's website.
The brochure came in handy when it came to the trim levels and other aspects, as I like to have all the data I can and then compile that data into a single article.