Skip to Content

Types Of Gas A Honda Pilot Takes (Explained)

Types Of Gas A Honda Pilot Takes (Explained)

Writing about Honda is almost a daily practice on this blog. Today we will look at what type of gas is best suited for the American-made Honda Pilot. The Pilot was launched in 2003 and has been a relative success. However, it has several engines, and therefore it can be confusing what type of gas it needs. Here’s a quick answer:

Since its debut in 2003, all generations of the Honda Pilot have been designed to run efficiently on regular unleaded gasoline with a minimum octane rating of 87. There is no requirement for premium fuel in any year of the Honda Pilot.

This is typically for most Hondas and we see similar octane requirements in the Accord, Odyssey, Fit, and more.

However, this doesn’t tell us the whole story. The article below will discuss what kind of gasoline is used for what type of engine. Furthermore, we’ll discuss different additives that can and can’t be used, what percentage of ethanol is acceptable, and the gas tank size of the different Pilot generations. Read on!

Want to save money on gasoline? earn up to $0.25/gallon every time you fill up? GetUpside is a free-to-use cashback app for US gas stations. Use coupon code THEDRIVERADVISER25and earn an additional $0.25/gallon the first time! Click here to download the app for Android or iOS.

Infographic explaining the different fuel types for a Honda Pilot.

Should You Use Premium Gasoline For The Pilot?

Honda doesn’t recommend premium gasoline for the Pilot. This also means that there’s no use in opting for premium gasoline when refilling.

This is because the engine and the fuel system aren’t designed for premium gasoline, which means they also won’t derive any benefits, either performance-wise or durability-wise, from its use. While there are plenty of other fluids you should spend extra on (like your transmission fluid), your fuel isn’t one of them.

Instead, you’ll pay more for the same effect, so you can stick with 87 octane for the Pilot.

What Types Of Gasoline Can And Can’t Be Used?

Reformulated Gasoline

First, we need to discuss the use of reformulated and non-reformulated gasoline. Reformulated gasoline is the gasoline that is designed to burn cleaner than non-reformulated gasoline. For this reason, it has become widely popular in many regions of the United States. It has even become mandatory in many states to use this kind of fuel.

Therefore, it’s good to know that all engine configurations in the Honda Pilot are designed to take both reformulated and non-reformulated gasoline. Consequently, you don’t have to worry about what kind of gasoline you put in your engine (at least not for this criteria).

However, we have to say that Honda recommends using reformulated gasoline whenever possible including other models like the Honda CR-V, among many others. Like other carmakers, Honda realizes that using this type of gasoline is better for the environment. Furthermore, this type of gasoline doesn’t diminish the performance of your engine in any way, shape, or form, and it also carries the same price as non-reformulated gasoline.

Gasoline/Oxygenated Blends Or E-85

Secondly, we need to talk about using oxygenated blends of gasoline. Oxygenated blends of gasoline typically contain ethanol or methanol. Especially in the United States, ethanol is a widely used oxygenate. This is because ethanol and methanol are made from biomass (such as corn), which makes burning them much cleaner than regular gasoline.

Honda Pilot manufactured between 2003 – 2013 can take gasoline with a maximum of 10% ethanol, whereas Pilot manufactured from 2014 onwards can take gasoline with a maximum of 15% ethanol. In the United States, 10% ethanol is indicated as E10, whereas 15% is E15.

This also means that popular blends such as E30 and E85 (also known as FlexFuel) are not suitable for the Honda Pilot. Using these percentages of ethanol will damage the fuel system. The same goes for methanol; the Honda Pilot cannot take gasoline with methanol in any way, shape, or form.

Gasoline With Added Materials

Thirdly, there’s the use of additives in gasoline which is a common question for car owners: should or shouldn’t you use aftermarket additives? These additives are often marketed as octane boosters (helping your engine reach peak performance) or cleaning detergents (to keep the engine in optimal condition).

However, it’s good to know that Honda (and practically all carmakers) recommend against aftermarket additives. This is because many of these additives contain some form of silicone or metallic parts, which will harm the engine instead of helping it perform. Also, using an octane booster is useless since you can buy high-octane gasoline at the gas station.

Instead, Honda recommends buying gasoline from TOP TIER retailers ( TOP TIER retailers are qualified retailers from which the auto industry has decided that their fuels meet specific standards. It’s been scientifically proven that these kinds of gasoline keep your engine’s internals clean while providing the proper octane levels.

What If I Hear A Knocking Noise From The Engine After Refilling?

Hearing a slight knocking coming from the engine is an entirely regular occurrence. Especially when the car is performing at peak levels, such as when you’re towing with your Honda Pilot, a slight knocking can be heard. However, if this knocking sound becomes very audible and happens right after refilling, you may have more significant problems.

First off, in this case, it’s very likely you’re using gasoline with a lower than recommended octane rating. For example, in the Honda Pilot, we would be talking about gasoline with an octane rating lower than 87. This will almost always result in an engine knock.

This knocking noise tells you the engine is misfiring because it can’t handle the octane level used. It’s best to stop your car immediately and call your dealer or garage. Your car will need to be drained from its fuel, and the fuel filter will need to be replaced. Continuing to drive will result in severe engine damage.

What’s The Fuel Economy Of The Honda Pilot?

We need to understand the fuel economy of the Honda Pilot to fully understand the relationship this car has with the gasoline it uses. In the table below, we’ve compiled the fuel economy data of different generations of the Honda Pilot.

What becomes clear here is that the Pilot has always had one type of engine (a 3.5L V6) that has achieved similar fuel economy ratings throughout its life. Of course, the earlier generations were less fuel-efficient, but the current generation is still not an excellent example of saving gasoline.

If you’re looking for a car that achieves excellent fuel economy, the Honda Pilot is definitely not the car for you. However, you can only expect so much from an SUV of this size and while it doesn’t have a great MPG rating, it does have relatively few big problems according to most owners.

3.5L (’03-’08)171520
3.5L (’09-’14)191723
3.5L FWD (’16-present)232027
3.5L AWD (’16-present)221926

You can also check out a real-world MPG test of the 2018 Honda Pilot below. The 2018 is one of the most popular (and the one I see the most on the road) so that’s why I’ve included it here:

What’s The Gas Tank Size Of The Honda Pilot?

  • Honda Pilot manufactured between 2003 – 2005 have a fuel tank capacity of 19.3 gallons or 70 liters.
  • Honda Pilot manufactured between 2006 – 2008 have a fuel tank capacity of 20.34 gallons or 77 liters.
  • The second generation of Honda Pilot, manufactured between 2009 – 2015, has a fuel tank capacity of 21 gallons or 79.5 liters.
  • The third generation of Honda Pilot, manufactured from 2016 onwards, has a fuel tank capacity of 19.5 gallons or 73.8 liters.

Closing Thoughts

Wrapping up, you should know that every Honda Pilot, no matter the year or engine, runs just fine on regular unleaded gasoline with an octane rating of 87. Regular ol’ octane 87 will keep your Pilot well into the 200k mile range, assuming you keep up with everything else.

So, when you’re at the pump, there’s no need to spend extra on premium fuel – your Pilot doesn’t need it.


Have More Questions? Join Our Facebook Group!

Do you have any more questions that weren´t answered in this blog post? Join our free Facebook group and ask your question there. We promise you you´ll get an answer from one of our team members. Join the group here!