Should You Take the 2011 Honda Pilot Off Road?

The 2011 Honda Pilot boasts a sporty V6 engine and optional four-wheel drive, making it a fine off-road SUV.
Written by Nathan Porceng
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
The 2011
Honda Pilot
has a good off-road rating. Key features include a sporty V6 engine, optional four-wheel drive, and ample ground clearance.
The sun is out, the weekend is coming, and the woods are calling your name. You look out your window at your 2011 Honda. SUVs are supposed to be tough. Surely your Pilot could handle a bit of off-road fun, right?
You are correct! The 2011 Honda Pilot is a solid off-road vehicle. Read on to find out why. 
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, the
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comparison tool and
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, has created a guide to the specs that make the 2011 Honda Pilot good off road, plus a couple of traits that keep it from being great. 

Can the 2011 Honda Pilot go off road?

Yes, you can take the 2011 Honda Pilot off road. The Pilot is one of the rare vehicles that perform well on city streets and in muddy woods.
Used 2011 Pilots typically range from $15,000 to $20,000. Considering that 2011 was over a decade ago, that price is a testament to the Pilot’s quality, versatility, and reliability.
So, what makes the 2011 Honda Pilot a good off-road vehicle? Let’s find out!

Ground clearance

A boulder tearing into your undercarriage will end your off-road adventure before it even begins. Then, you’ll have to figure out how to get your busted vehicle out of the woods.
That’s why it’s so important that you check your vehicle’s ground clearance before taking it off-roading. The 2011 Honda Pilot has 8 inches of ground clearance. That’s pretty good! 
To be clear, ground clearance is the distance between the lowest point on your vehicle’s chassis and the ground.
Experts recommend that you have at least 6 to 8 inches of ground clearance if you plan to go off road. And if you want to ditch the established trails and go over-landing, you really should have 8.8 to 10.8 inches of ground clearance.
Stick to established trails, and your Pilot’s undercarriage should be just fine. However, if you want to go over-landing, you will probably need to buy a lift kit.


When off-roading, you need a lot of torque at low RPMs. This is known as low-end torque.
Unfortunately, low-end torque is one area in which the 2011 Honda Pilot falls short. The Pilot’s engine produces just 253 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm. While that’s not awful, it’s not great either. 
If your Pilot gets stuck, you may not have the torque required to break free. 


The 2011 Honda Pilot uses P245/65R17 tires. These are solid and affordable. Be sure to opt for
all-terrain tires
over all-seasons for better off-road traction
All-terrain (A/T) tires feature slotted shoulders for improved corner performance and circumferential ribs that reduce wear and will improve your Pilot’s stability. There’s ample water clearance between the tires’ grooves too, which reduces the risk of hydroplaning. And sipes around the tire improve braking on water, ice, and snow.


You need four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive if you’re going off-roading. The 2011 Honda Pilot comes standard with front-wheel drive
Fortunately, four-wheel drive was an optional add-on
Make sure your used Pilot has four-wheel drive before taking it off-roading. If it just has front-wheel drive, you should probably stick to paved roads. 
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Drivetrain, torque, tires, ground clearance… all are fairly obvious specs to check out before taking your Pilot off-roading. Two you may have not considered are approach angle and departure angle
The approach angle is the maximum angle your pilot can climb without interference. The departure angle is the maximum angle your Pilot can descend.
To go off road without scraping up your front or back end, 25 to 30 degrees is a solid approach angle and 20 to 25 degrees is a decent departure angle. The higher the numbers, the better. 
The 2011 Honda Pilot has an approach angle of 19.7 degrees and a departure angle of 20.8 degrees. These are okay but nothing to brag about. 
Basically, your Pilot won’t have much difficulty descending steep inclines, but it may have a tough time ascending them. Keep that in mind when planning your off-road adventure, and try to stick to less intense terrain.

Off-road rating: Rough and Ready

We know we just threw a ton of numbers at you. For those who like keeping things simple, here’s the 2011 Honda Pilot’s off-road rating according to
DIRT classification system.
The Pilot is rated R—Rough and Ready. This rating assumes your Pilot has four-wheel drive. Learn more about each classification below.
Don’t Try It
Vehicles designed for paved roads and nothing more
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can go off road if they need to but really shouldn’t
Rough and Ready
Vehicles capable of handling well-groomed trails
Trail Boss
Off-road vehicles ready to tackle all terrains
Essentially, the Pilot is a good but not great off-road vehicle. While it comes with excellent tires and ample ground clearance, its engine doesn’t generate much low-end torque, and it has a shallow approach angle.

The best off-road alternatives to the 2011 Honda Pilot

The 2011 Pilot is a perfectly fine off-road SUV. However, as we discussed above, it does have its flaws. 
If you want to upgrade to a more serious off-road SUV, or simply want to weigh your options before committing to a used Pilot, a quick look at the competition can be helpful. Below is an overview of some of the Pilot’s top competitors:
Best for family off-roading
2022 Chevrolet Traverse
The 2022 Chevrolet Traverse has a comfortable, spacious interior, intuitive tech features, and a punchy V6 engine ready for anything life throws at you.
Best for serious off-roading
2022 Ford Explorer
The 2022 Ford Explorer comes standard with a roaring 300-horsepower, 4-cylinder engine. If you wish, you can upgrade to a 400-horsepower, 3.0-liter turbocharged V6.
Most reliable alternative
2022 Toyota 4Runner
Keep up with your 4Runner’s routine maintenance, and it will take you wherever you need to go for years to come.
MORE:Cheap off-road trucks
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