Honda Pilot

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Honda Pilot
Honda Pilot 3.5 Elite AWD 2016.jpg
Manufacturer Honda
Also called Honda MR-V (Middle East)
Production 2002–present
Model years 2003–present
Body and chassis
Class Mid-size crossover SUV
Body style 5-door SUV
Layout FF (since 2006) / 4WD
Engine 3.5-liter V6
Predecessor Honda Passport

The Honda Pilot is a mid-size crossover SUV manufactured by Honda and introduced in 2002.[1]

Primarily aimed at the North American market, the Pilot is the largest SUV from Honda and features three-row seating. Pilots are currently manufactured in Lincoln, Alabama, and the Pilot was produced in Alliston, Ontario until April 2007. The first generation Pilot was released in April 2002 as a 2003 model.[2]

The Pilot shares its platform with the Acura MDX, as well as the Odyssey minivan and the Accord sedan. The Pilot's unibody construction and independent suspension are designed to provide handling similar to that of a car, and it has integrated perimeter frame rails to allow towing and light off-road use.

Prior to the introduction of the Pilot, Honda marketed the compact crossover CR-V, and the Honda Passport, (a rebadged Isuzu Rodeo) that was a pickup truck-based design. The Pilot is Honda's largest SUV, although the 2010 Crosstour surpassed the Pilot in length.[3]

The Pilot is sold in North America, while the Honda MDX (first generation Acura MDX) was marketed in Japan and Australia for several years. The Pilot is badged Honda MR-V in the Middle East. The second generation Pilot is also marketed in Russia, Ukraine, and in the Dominican Republic. The Pilot is also sold in the Philippines.[4]

First generation (2003–2008)[edit]

First generation
2003-2005 Honda Pilot -- 10-19-2011.jpg
Production April 2002—2008
Model years 2003–2008
Designer Ricky Hsu (1999)
Body and chassis
Transmission 5-speed automatic
Wheelbase 106.3 in (2,700 mm)
Length 188.0 in (4,775 mm)
  • 2003–05: 77.3 in (1,963 mm)
  • 2003–05 LX: 76.3 in (1,938 mm)
  • 2006–08: 77.5 in (1,968 mm)
  • 2003–05: 71.7 in (1,821 mm)
  • 2003–05: 70.6 in (1,793 mm)
  • 2006–08 2WD LX: 70.1 in (1,781 mm)
  • 2006–08 4WD LX: 70.4 in (1,788 mm)
  • 2006–08 2WD EX/EX-L: 71.3 in (1,811 mm)
  • 2006–08 4WD EX/EX-L: 71.7 in (1,821 mm)


The 2003-2004 Pilots featured the J35A4 motor, an aluminum-alloy 3.5L V6 producing 240 HP and 242 lb-ft of torque. The 2005 Pilot received a new engine, the J35A6, which featured drive-by-wire throttle and produced 255 HP and 250 lb-ft of torque. Refreshed 2006-2008 Pilots came with either the J35Z1 (FWD) or the J35A9 (4WD). Both engines are rated at 244 HP and 240 lb-ft of torque. Refreshed FWD models feature Honda's Variable Cylinder Management system, which can deactivate up to three cylinders under light load to increase fuel economy. All Pilots from this generation feature a 5-speed automatic transmission. The Pilot has front struts with a coil-spring, multilink rear suspension for a flat rear load floor. Front track is 66.3 in (1,684 mm) and 66.5 in (1,689 mm) at the rear. The Pilot has a 4,500 lb (2,041 kg) boat/3,500 lb (1,588 kg) trailer towing capability with the optional dealer installed towing package.

2003-2005 Pilots came with Honda's Variable Torque Management 4WD system (VTM-4). Under normal driving conditions, most power is transferred to the front wheels while some is sent to the back wheels. Under acceleration, or if wheel slippage is detected up front, up to 50% of power can be sent to the rear wheels. The system features a VTM-4 lock button on the dashboard which locks the rear differential and sends 25% of the power to each rear wheel. However, the VTM-4 lock function only operates in first, second, and reverse, and automatically disengages above 18mph, then re-engages when the speed drops below 18mph. 2006 refresh models were the first time a Pilot has been offered in FWD.


Design of the Pilot was by Honda's Ricky Hsu through 1999, when styling was approved. The Pilot can accommodate up to eight passengers in three rows configured as stadium seating. The third row can seat three, but the limited legroom makes it suitable only for small children or adults on short trips. Similar to the Honda Odyssey, the rear seats can be folded into flat surfaces for larger cargo. Options include powered moonroof, DVD entertainment system, and a navigation system.[5][6]

Other features include ABS-equipped four-wheel disc brakes, rack-and-pinion steering, four-wheel independent suspension, and 282° of outward visibility.

2006-2008 Honda Pilot

2006 Facelift[edit]

Honda revised the Pilot for the 2006 model year in October 2005. Changes to the exterior included a new fascia with a different grille insert and halogen projector headlights, and taillights with clear lenses. The EX trim level received redesigned wheels, and the original EX wheels were now found on the LX trim. On the inside, side airbags were provided in the C pillar, the gauge cluster was updated and the center console featured chrome trim and redesigned storage compartments and cup holders.

Second generation (2009–2015)[edit]

Second generation
09 Honda Pilot.jpg
Production April 2008 – 2015
Model years 2009 – 2015
Assembly Lincoln, Alabama, United States (HMA)
Designer Dave Marek (2006)
Body and chassis
Engine Honda J35Z4 V6
Transmission 5-speed automatic
Wheelbase 109.2 in (2,774 mm)
  • 2009-11: 190.9 in (4,849 mm)
  • 2012-15: 191.4 in (4,862 mm)
Width 78.5 in (1,994 mm)
  • 2009-11: 72.7 in (1,847 mm)
  • 2012-15: 71.0 in (1,803 mm)
Rear view

The larger second generation Pilot was unveiled as a prototype in January 2008 at the North American International Auto Show. Assembled at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Lincoln, Alabama, it was offered in five trims; LX, EX, EX-L, Touring, and SE (2015 only). It received a new 3.5-liter V6 VTEC engine producing 250 hp (186 kW; 253 PS) SAE net at 5700 rpm and 253 lb⋅ft (343 N⋅m) of torque at 4800 rpm.[7] EPA fuel economy is rated at 17 mpg city /23 mpg highway with front-wheel-drive and 16 mpg city / 22 mpg highway for all-wheel-drive.

Both drivetrains were equipped with five-speed automatics. The second generation's wheelbase is 109.2 in, with a length of 190.9 in, a width of 78.5 in, a height of 71.0 in and interior space of 153.7 cu-ft. The redesigned headlights lost the previous generation's halogen projectors and return to standard halogen reflectors. Features included new two-position memory settings for the driver's seat, a new power tailgate, and the gear shift was relocated from the steering column to the center console between the front seats. The Touring trim included a 120-volt power outlet and a satellite-linked Honda navigation system.

2012 facelift[edit]

2012 Honda Pilot EX

The 2012 model year introduced a redesigned front fascia, new alloy wheels, and updates to the interior along with changes to the bumper.

2013 changes[edit]

The 2013 model year included a standard rearview backup camera, i-MID central dashboard 8-inch LCD screen, USB connector, Bluetooth hands-free calling and wireless audio streaming, and tri-zone climate control.


The Pilot uses Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering front bracket. For the 2013 model year a rear-view backup camera was made standard. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found the Pilot a driver death rate of 2 deaths per million registered years among the ten lowest released in their report[8][9]

IIHS crash test scores:[10][11]
Moderate overlap frontal offset Good
Small overlap frontal offset Poor*
Side impact Good
Roof strength Marginal (2009-11 models)
Roof strength Good (2012 models)

*vehicle structure also rated "Poor"

NHTSA 2011 Pilot:[12][13]
Overall: 4/5 stars
Frontal Driver: 5/5 stars
Frontal Passenger: 4/5 stars
Side Driver: 4/5 stars
Side Passenger: 5/5 stars
Side Pole Driver: 5/5 stars
Rollover FWD: 4/5 stars / 17.4%
Rollover AWD: 4/5 stars / 16.4%
Because of more stringent tests, 2011 and newer model ratings are not comparable to pre–2011 ratings.

Third generation (2016–present)[edit]

Third generation
2017 Honda Pilot AWD front 6.15.18.jpg
Production May 2015–present
Model years 2016–present
Assembly Lincoln, Alabama, United States (HMA)
Designer Ben Davidson (2012)
Body and chassis
Wheelbase 111.0 in (2,819 mm)
Length 194.5 in (4,940 mm)
Width 78.6 in (1,996 mm)
Height 69.8 in (1,773 mm)
Curb weight
  • 4,054–4,140 lb (1,839–1,878 kg) (FWD)
  • 4,220–4,317 lb (1,914–1,958 kg) (AWD)
Rear view

The third-generation 2016 Pilot debuted at the Chicago Auto Show in February 2015, production began during May, and was made available for sale in June.

The exterior is sleeker in appearance compared to its boxier predecessor. Added to the exterior are optional LED headlamps with automatic high-low beam switching, LED daytime running lights (DRLs), and LED brake tail lights and the new Elite model. New features also include heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, and a panoramic roof to Elite models only. Alloy wheels became standard.

LaneWatch provides an 80° field of view along the passenger-side of the vehicle giving four-times more visibility than traditional side-view mirrors.

Newly available safety features include Honda's LaneWatch passenger side mirror camera or Blind Spot Information (BSI) and rear Cross Traffic Monitor.[15] Additional options include Lane Departure Warning (LDW) with Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) and Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), Forward Collision Warning (FCW) with Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). A tri-angle backup camera is standard with dynamic guidelines optional.

The revised 3.5-liter V6 engine has direct-injection and start-stop system with improved power at 280 hp (209 kW; 284 PS), a 6-speed automatic is standard while a ZF 9-speed automatic is optional. With all-wheel drive models the amount of engine torque sent to each rear wheel is variable. EPA-estimated fuel economy is improved with front-wheel drive (FWD) 6-speed models registering 19/27/22 mpg, and all-wheel drive (AWD) models registering 18/26/21 mpg (city/highway/combined). 9-speed models see fuel economy of 20/27/23 mpg in FWD configuration and 19/26/22 mpg in AWD.[16]

Overall dimensions are larger, while weight is down approximately 300 pounds with noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) reduced. Both 2 WD and AWD share the same platform. Structurally 21.3% of the Pilot's body is composed of 980, 1300 and 1,500 MPa ultra-high-strength steels, 5% is from aluminum or magnesium, an additional 34.5% is 270 MPa mild strength steel used in areas to minimize repair costs.[17]

2019 facelift[edit]

For the 2019 model year, Honda has refreshed the Pilot inside and out. The powertrain for the Pilot has remained unchanged, but Honda did revise the nine speed transmission only found in the Touring and Elite trims. The exterior now has new bumpers, grille, wheels, LED headlights, and revised taillights. A hands free tailgate is now available. In the interior the gauge cluster is replaced with a new one, similar to the one found on the Odyssey. The infotainment system is updated with Honda's latest software and it also features CabinControl app, from the Odyssey. 4G LTE hotspot, CabinTalk, and a new rear entertainment system are now available. The volume slider is now replaced with a volume knob. Honda has replaced the steering wheel with a new design, also from the Odyssey. Lastly, Honda Sensing is now standard on all trim levels for the Pilot.[18]


IIHS 2016 Pilot[19]
Moderate overlap frontal offset Good
Small overlap frontal offset Good1
Side impact Good
Roof strength Good2
Headlights Acceptable3
1 vehicle structure also rated "Good".[20]
2 strength-to-weight ratio: 5.22
3 only with the elite or touring, poor for other models
NHTSA 2016 Pilot:[21][22]
Overall: 5/5 stars
Frontal Driver: 5/5 stars
Frontal Passenger: 4/5 stars
Side Driver: 5/5 stars
Side Passenger: 5/5 stars
Side Pole Driver: 5/5 stars
Rollover FWD: 4/5 stars / 17.5%
Rollover AWD: 4/5 stars / 16.4%


Calendar year US sales
2002 52,062
2003 106,917
2004 128,158
2005 143,353
2006 152,154
2007 117,146
2008 96,746
2009 83,901
2010 102,323
2011 116,297
2012 114,848
2013 126,678
2014 108,857
2015 136,212[23]
2016 120,772[24]
2017 127,279


  1. ^ "2009 Honda Pilot vs. Ford Flex and Four Other Crossovers - Comparison Tests". Retrieved 2015-11-08.
  2. ^ "2004 Car Cutaways" (PDF). Automotive News. Retrieved 2015-11-08.
  3. ^ Giametta, Chuck (2010-03-21). "2010 Car Comparison: Chevrolet Traverse v Honda Pilot v Toyota Highlander". iGuida. Archived from the original on 2013-05-07. Retrieved 2015-01-07.
  4. ^ "2009 Honda Pilot EX-L 4WD Comparison Tests". Car and Driver. Archived from the original on 2011-10-12. Retrieved 2015-11-08.
  5. ^ "Patent USD460022 - Vehicle body". Retrieved 2015-11-08.
  6. ^ "All-New Honda Pilot Sport-Utility Vehicle Set to Debut Next Year Pre-Production Model to be Shown at NAIAS". (Press release). 2001-12-13. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-11-08.
  7. ^ "2009 Honda Pilot - Specifications - Official Honda Site". Retrieved 2010-10-03.
  8. ^ "Death rates fall as vehicles improve". Retrieved 2015-11-08.
  9. ^ "Driver death rates". Retrieved 2015-11-08.
  10. ^ "Honda Pilot Crash Test Ratings". IIHS. Archived from the original on 2013-01-15. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
  11. ^ "Honda Pilot 2003 - 2016". Honda Merchandise. Retrieved 2016-01-07.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "2011 Honda Pilot SUV FWD". NHTSA. Retrieved 2015-11-08.
  13. ^ "2011 Honda Pilot SUV AWD". NHTSA. Retrieved 2015-11-08.
  14. ^ Gorzelany, Jim. "Will Honda's Ridgeline Spur More 'Crossover' Pickups, Or Become Another Asterisk In Auto History?". Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  15. ^ "2016 Honda Pilot - Safety and Driver Assistance -". Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  16. ^ "Honda Pilot Fuel Economy". Archived from the original on July 8, 2015.
  17. ^ "2016 Honda Pilot only 34.5% mild steel, has very specific repair dos and don'ts". Repairer Driven News. Retrieved 2015-11-08.
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Honda Pilot Crash Test ratings". IIHS. Retrieved 2015-11-08.
  20. ^ "2018 Honda Pilot". Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  21. ^ "2016 Honda Pilot SUV FWD". NHTSA. Retrieved 2015-11-08.
  22. ^ "2016 Honda Pilot SUV AWD". NHTSA. Retrieved 2015-11-08.
  23. ^ "American Honda Sets New All-Time Annual Sales Record". Honda Newsroom. Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  24. ^ "American Honda Sets All-Time Sales Records Powered by Demand for Cars and Trucks". Honda Newsroom. Retrieved 2018-01-11.

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