The Honda Pilot is classified as a mid-crossover SUV, built by Honda and introduced in 2002. This vehicle was primarily targeted towards the North American market and is the largest SUV to ever come from Honda, featuring three-row seating. These vehicles are currently manufactured in Lincoln, Alabama, and it was produced in Alliston, Ontario, Canada up until April of 2007. The first generation of this vehicle was initially released in June of 2002 as the 2003 model. The pilot shares many of its underpinnings as well as its powertrain with the Acura MDX luxury SUV, and the platforms they use can be found in the Odyssey minivan as well as the Accord sedan.
The unibody construction as well as the independent suspension that the Pilot uses is designed to provide the handling of a car and it is fortified with integrated perimeter frame rails to provide additional support for towing and off-road use, though only to a certain extent. Before the Pilot was initially introduced, only one compact crossover SUV was available from Honda, the Passport, which uses a truck-based design. The pilot is currently the largest SUV from Honda and the only one with a three-row seating design, though the 2010 Crosstour is ultimately longer than the Pilot.
The Pilot is sold in North America, while Japan and Australia received the Honda MDX instead. In the Middle East, this vehicle is sold as the Honda MR-V. The second generation Pilot is also sold in Russia, Ukraine, the Caribbean, and Dominican Republic. This vehicle has experienced a great deal of success, both critically and commercially. There were a total of 100,000 Pilots sold in 2004 alone, which was a significant increase from the previous year.
Similar to the first generation MDX, the Pilot uses an aluminum alloy 3.5 liter SOHC 24-valve VTEC V6 engine with timing belt driven camshafts. This engine is capable of producing up to 240 horsepower at 5400 rpm and 242 pound-feet of torque at 4500 rpm. The engine that the first generation Pilot used is mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission, allowing for a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 7.6 seconds. The 2006 model Pilot received a slight power increase to 244 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 240 pound-feet of torque 4500 rpm. The 2005 model Pilots use a drive-by-wire throttle. The Pilot weighs just over 4,400 lb and has an EPA estimated gas mileage of 16 mpg for 2007.
The design work for the pilot was done by Rick Hsu, a Honda designer, through 1999. This vehicle can transport up to eight passengers, though third row legroom is a bit limited. This vehicle was marketed towards families because of the ample space and ideal travel conditions. Not unlike the Honda Odyssey, the rear seats in the Pilot can be folded in for completely flat surfaces so as to allow for more cargo space if necessary. This vehicle uses a stadium seating configuration and some of the optional features include a powered moonroof, navigation system, and DVD entertainment system.
The second and most recent generation of the Pilot was launched in 2009 and is available in four different trim levels, including the LX, ED, EX-L, and Touring. This vehicle is manufactured at Honda’s Lincoln plant in Alabama and received a new 3.5 liter V6 VTEC engine which is capable of producing up to 250 horsepower at 5700 rpm and 253 pound-feet of torque at 4800 rpm. The second generation Pilot also received a new grille shape and the halogen headlight projectors on the previous model were changed to standard halogen reflectors. The Pilot has been a very popular vehicle since its launch and continues to maintain healthy sales in a number of markets around the world.