An automaker that is just imitating features and styles from others indefinitely loses its captive consumers. In case of Honda, the manufacture of the Pilot model was done for a specific purpose: to satisfy the need for a crossover sport utility vehicle that could accommodate more passengers by fitting a third-row seat. With some off-road capability and a robust design, the Pilot became a good option for families wanting comfortable and safe long drives. In its two generations and continuous manufacture, the said model is yet to show that it is a legitimate competitor in the midsize SUV segment.
2003 – 2008: A combination of power, drivability, and capacity
The first versions of the Honda Pilot came out of the plants powerful, for they had a 24-valve VTEC V6 engine with timing belt-driven camshafts and 3.5-liter displacement. The units produced 240-horsepower and 242-pound-feet of torque, and with its five-speed manual transmission, the units sprinted from 0 to 60-mph at 7.6 seconds. In terms of carrying capacity, the Pilot could accommodate eight passengers, but the third row was only advisable for small children due to the limited legroom. With foldable rear seats, the units had an expandable cargo space if needed. The slight off-road capability of the Pilot was due to the perimeter frame rails installed. Coupled with a Variable Torque Management system, the models had all four wheels operating with the ability to detect wheel slippage. Aside from having a unibody construction designed meant to crush from all sides upon impact, the units also had three important safety features: a rack-and-pinion steering, disc brakes and ABS, and an independent suspension.
2009 – 2012: A crossover SUV with improved power and more entertainment features
The second-generation Pilots improved in terms of horsepower by 10 points and torque output by 11 points. The transmission became a five-speed automatic, and the wheelbase was a bit longer. From the outside, the grille became more contoured; from the inside, the gearshift was moved to the center console, the driver’s seat had two memory settings, and a tri-zone automatic climate control was added. Generally, the units were praised for providing a better driving experience despite their truck-like appearance. In 2012, the Pilots received some redesign for the bumper and front fascia, and alloy wheels were used. The succeeding models came standard with entertainment and connectivity features, including a USB connector, Bluetooth hands-free and audio streaming, an i-MID central dashboard LCD screen, and a rearview back-up camera.