The Honda Pilot is Honda's second SUV fully built and designed by Honda. The Honda Pilot is built in Alliston, Ontario, Canada and Lincoln, Alabama. Honda's initial SUV offering for many years was the Passport, which was a rebadged Isuzu Rodeo. Where the Passport was truck-based, it replaced the extended-wheelbase EX trim of the Passport. The Pilot shares underpinnings and the powertrain with the Acura MDX, which has a lineage which can be traced to the Honda Odyssey minivan (itself based on the global light truck chassis). The Pilotâ€™s unibody construction, however, is fortified with integrated perimeter frame rails, which helps it withstand light off-road use.
The Pilot was designed to fill a large American demand for SUVs. Prior to the introduction of the Pilot, Honda only had the smaller CR-V based on the Civic platform, and the aforementioned Passport. However, the CR-V lacked in features many American consumers looked for in an SUV, which are overall size, passenger space, and towing capacity. The Pilot is at most designed to withstand light duty off roading. The Pilot has been a best-seller for Honda, with Honda selling over 100,000 Pilots in 2004, an increase of almost 20% over 2003. The Pilot is sold in North America, while Japan and Australia get its relative, the Honda MDX instead. In the Middle East, the Pilot is sold as the Honda MR-V.
Like the MDX, the Pilot is propelled by an aluminum alloy 3.5 L SOHC, 24-valve VTEC V6 engine. The engine is rated at 240 hp and 242 ftÂ·lbf of torque, and mated to a five-speed automatic, which, as tested , results in a 0-60 mph time of 7.6 seconds and 1/4 mile sprint of 15.9 seconds. For the 2005 model, the power was increased to 255 hp, 250 ftÂ·lbf of torque and includes a Drive by Wire (DBW) Throttle System. The Pilot weighs in at a little over 4,400 lb, with an EPA estimated gas mileage for 2005 of 17 city and 22 highway. Also, like the MDX, the Pilot rides on struts up front with a coil-spring, multilink arrangement at the rear designed to allow a flat load floor. It also has the MDXâ€™s wide track â€” 66.3 in at the front and 66.5 in at the rear. The Pilot has a 4,500 lb boat/3,500 lb trailer towing capability.
The Pilot is capable of transporting up to 8 passengers. The third row seats 3 but footroom is limited, allowing transportation of small children or adults on short trips. Similar to the Honda Odyssey, the rear seats are capable of folding into completely flat surfaces to allow larger cargo inside if necessary. Seats are configured as stadium seating. Optional amenities that can also be included are a powered moonroof, DVD entertainment system, and a navigation system.
The Pilot employs a four-wheel drive system called Variable Torque Management 4WD (VTM-4). The VTM-4 system delivers power to all four wheels under acceleration and when wheel slippage is detected. The VTM-4 system has a dashboard switch that locks both rear half-shafts to get the driver unstuck (there is no center or rear differential), but it operates in just the first two gears and unlocks at 18 mph. Otherwise, the system operates primarily in front-wheel drive and sends torque to the rear wheels when spin is detected up front. Two wheel drive models are available.