Image credits: © Honda.

2008 Honda Pilot Prototype

Next-Generation Honda Pilot Balances Ideal Combination of SUV Strengths and On-road Refinement

2008 Honda Pilot Prototype
A prototype of the next-generation Honda Pilot is being unveiled at the 2008 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced today.
The prototype conveys design features of the more boldly-styled 2009 Pilot, set to debut in spring 2008, which emphasizes authentic SÚV styling, clever and more accommodating interior packaging and advanced technologies for safety, fuel efficiency and convenience.
'The Pilot's pioneering formula improves for 2009 by enhancing its combination of refinement and efficiency with even more traditional SÚV strengths,' said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda. 'A powerful exterior design communicates strength and allows for more space inside.'
Functional eight-passenger seating, a hallmark of the Pilot, becomes even easier to access in the third row as key dimensions for legroom, cargo and occupant space increase in all seating positions. A redesigned platform allows even more refined handling and ride comfort to exist seamlessly with all-weather and medium-duty off-road capabilities.
To further enhance safety, the Pilot will feature the Honda-exclusive Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE®) body structure and the most extensive use of high-strength steel in any Honda product to date.
The ACE body structure enhances frontal collision compatibility with vehicles of different sizes and bumper heights. A pedestrian injury mitigation design in the front of the vehicle is designed to help absorb energy in the event of a collision.
A crossover SÚV platform underpins the Pilot to provide the best of the car and truck worlds by integrating the refined traits and packaging advantages of a unit body car design with the utility and capability of an SÚV design. A V-6 engine introduces the latest generation of Honda fuel-saving Variable Cylinder Management™ (VCM®) technology that operates in 6-cylinder mode for power and 4- and 3-cylinder modes for efficiency, an improvement compared to the existing Pilot's available VCM system that works exclusively in 6- and 3-cylinder modes.
Three rows of seats provide a high degree of adaptability for people and large cargo loads. The first row provides a commanding view of the road from two captains' chairs. A wide center stack and center console form the styling anchor for the interior with a design that emphasizes spaciousness and power, while allowing for convenient access to navigation, entertainment and climate-control systems.
The 60/40 split second row, now more spacious, slides further forward for increased ease of access to the third row. The 60/40 split third row, now supplies enough knee room for an above-average-sized adult male to fit comfortably, making the Pilot's third row among the most practical in the industry. Each side of the second and third row independently folds down for cargo. A flat floor is created when the second and third rows are folded down.
The Pilot originally debuted as a 2003 model in July of 2002. Design and development of the 2003 Pilot and the 2009 Pilot were carried out at Honda R&D Americas in Raymond, Ohio, and Torrance, California. The Pilot is assembled* at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Lincoln.
Among its numerous accolades, the Honda Pilot has earned Car and Driver Magazine's prestigious '5Best Truck' award on six consecutive occasions (2002-2007). The current-generation 2008 Pilot is also among an elite group of vehicles to receive both a 'Top Safety Pick 2008' from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and a 5-star crash safety rating for frontal and side collisions from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)**.

2008 Honda Pilot Prototype* Honda products are produced using domestic and globally-sourced parts.
** Government star ratings are part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA's) New Car Assessment Program ( Model tested with standard side-impact airbags.)

Source - Honda

Prototype Honda Pilot Headed to North American International Auto Show

A prototype of the next-generation Honda Pilot will be unveiled at the January 2008 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced today.
The prototype will convey design features of the more boldly-styled, next-generation Pilot and will emphasize authentic SÚV styling, clever interior packaging and advanced technologies for safety, fuel efficiency and convenience.
The current-generation Pilot offers versatile eight-passenger seating and all-weather, medium-duty off-road capabilities while earning a distinctive reputation in the midsize SÚV class for its refined handling and ride comfort. Among its numerous accolades, the Honda Pilot has earned Car and Driver magazine's prestigious '5Best Truck' award for six straight years (2002 thru 2007).
Additional Honda vehicles to be on display at NAIAS include the FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, introduced at the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show, and the CR-Z concept vehicle, introduced at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show. Limited retail marketing of the FCX Clarity will begin in summer 2008. The CR-Z is a next-generation lightweight sports car concept equipped with Honda's original gas-electric hybrid system.

Source - Honda
Debuted in 2003, the Honda Pilot is a full-size crossover SUV that replaced the Honda Passport. Attempting to establish itself in the SUV market segment for its own line of cars, Honda had created the Passport, which was basically a rebadged Isuzu Rodeo. The compact CR-V, loosely based on the Civic was the only other SUV. With its roomy cabin and impressive three rows of seating that could hold up to eight passengers, the larger Pilot found a nice niche for itself in the automotive market. One of the first crossover SUV's to offer three rows, the Pilot helped to define a new segment aimed at buyers wanting plenty of seating and cargo options without buying a minivan or top-heavy SUV. With Honda's exceptional reputation for reliability and quality along with an efficient V6 engine, the Pilot quickly rose popularity and more than 100,000 models were sold by its second year on the market.

Mostly aimed at the North American market, the Pilots are currently manufactured in Lincoln, Alabama and produced in Alliston, Ontario, Canada until April 2007. In Japan and Australia, the Pilots relative, the MDX was sold instead. The Pilot is sold as the Honda MR-V in the Middle East. Russia and Ukraine have received the second generation Pilot.

When designing the Pilot, Honda took styling cues from the Accord sedan and the Acura MDX which itself was based on the Odyssey minivan. Perfect for light off-road use and towing the Pilot was a comfortable ride with excellent handling. Currently the Pilot is in its second generation and comes in base LX, midlevel EX, upper-class EX-L, and the top of the line Touring trims. All of these models come with a standard front-wheel-drive configuration, though four-wheel drive at each trim level could be added as an option. All of the trims featured power from a 250-hp, 3.6-liter V6 mated with a five-speed automatic transmission.

At the time, many other SUVs sat on truck platforms while the Pilot rode on a platform borrowed from the Odyssey, Accord and the MDX. This platform featured a comfortable car-like feel thanks to a unibody design and a suspension tuned to provide responsive handling. The original Pilot came on a 106.3 inch wheelbase and had an overall length of 188 inches. Though convenient for numerous passengers, the third row seat didn't leave much legroom for the average adult while the second row did provide abundant legroom for all but the tallest of adults. Able to fit cargo within excess of up to four feet wide, the Pilot rear seat split 60/40 and both rows could be folded flat to expand that cargo space. The seats in the Pilot are configured as stadium seating.

Originally the Pilot was available in LX and EX trim levels. Both levels were nicely equipped with numerous standard features like a climate-control system with rear vents, cruise control and power windows and locks. The EX also came with automatic climate control, keyless entry, multifunction steering wheel and a power-adjustable driver's seat.
Driver's that opted for the EX-L trim received a leather upholstery package to the EX trim level and had the option of navigation and DVD entertainment system.

Borrowing the engine from the Acura MDX, the first generation Pilot featured a 3.5-liter aluminum V6 engine that produced 240 hp and was mated to a five-speed automatic. It was able to achieve 0-6mph in just 7.6 second and managed a competent 16/22 mph for FWD trims and 15/20 for 4WD trims. With a towing capacity of 4,500 pounds, the Pilot featured an optional Variable Torque Management 4WD system that sent torque to all four wheels when a slippage was detected, but defaulted to front-wheel-driver operation during normal driving conditions. The system had a dashboard switch that locks both rear half-shafts to get the driver unstuck. It operates in first, second and reverse gears and unlocks at 18 mph.

Safety features included antilock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, rack-and-pinion steering and dual-stage front airbags. It also features 282° of outward visibility. A highly rigid unibody the Pilot foundation features reinforcing structures and energy absorbing crush zones and is designed to dorm progressively in front, side and rear end collisions. Receiving a top score of Good from the IIHS the Pilot also received from five out of five stars in both front and side crash tests conducted by the NHTSA.

For 2004 heated front seats were added as a standard feature for EX-L trims. The following year power was boosted for the Pilot's 3.5-liter V6 engine to 255 hp.

The Pilot underwent a halfway through generation refresh that included a variety of exterior updates. The front fascia and grille was updated and the headlights received halogen projector headlights while the taillights received clear lenses. On the inside a brand-new center console and instrument cluster were debuted. The 4WD system was updated to be more fuel-efficient and now featured variable valve management added to the V6 engine which shut down three of the six cylinders when cruising to improve the fuel economy. The updated V6 engine was now rated 18/24 by the EPA. The original EX wheels were moved to the LX trim while the EX trim level received newly redesigned wheels. Side airbags were now provided in the C pillar further protecting rear passengers. The center console now sported chrome trim; the gauge cluster was updated along with the storage compartments and cup holders.

In 2008 the second-generation of the Pilot was introduced. It featured a much more rugged appearance which was met with mixed reviews since some desired the boxier, bulkier look while others missed the smoother, rounded lines from the previous generation.

On the outside of the Pilot updates includes a tall oversize grille, bigger 17-inch wheels and a higher hood line. The headlights returned to standard halogen reflectors. On the inside numerous changes were made, as a new tri-zone automatic climate control system was introduced and new two-position memory settings for the drivers. Other updates included a new power tailgate and the relocation of the gearshift from the steering column to the center console between the front captain's chairs. The Touring trim now featured a new Satellite-Linked Honda Navigation System and a new 120-volt power outlet. The wheelbase was increased to 109.2 inches and the overall length spread to 190.9 inches. Thankfully this generation added more interior space by growing in length and now featured more legroom in the rear seat.

This generation was assembled at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Lincoln, Alabama. This year also brought with it a brand new top-of-the-line Touring trim and a new 250-hp, 3.5-liter i-VTEC V6 borrowed from the Accord. Transforming to more SUV and less sedan-like the Honda reduced the Pilots turning ratio to improve maneuverability in tight spaces like parking lots, and strengthened the Pilot's body to increase rigidity. According to the EPA, fuel economy is 17 mph city and 23 mph highway for front wheel drive transmission and 16 mph city and 22 mph highway for the 4-wheel drive transmission. Both of these transmissions are five-speed automatics. The Pilot was awarded the Best Resale Value Award in the Full-Size Utility Vehicle category in 2010 by Kelley Blue Book.

The Pilot was updated for 2012 and received a newly revamped front fascia. Other updates included all new alloy wheels, interior updates and changes to the bumper. The following year a host of great extras were introduced as standard on all Pilots and included a rearview backup camera, USB connector, Bluetooth hands-free calling and wireless audio streaming, tri-zone climate control and i-MID central dashboard 8-inch WQVGA LCD screen. The Pilot now uses Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering front bracket.

The Pilot features a proficient off-road system that included three individual systems: Hill Start Assist Control system, Grade Logic Control system and the Variable Torque Management four-wheel drive system with locking differential. When the system senses a loss of traction the Variable Torque Management all-wheel-drive system automatically engages. The driver can engage the system with its manually locking rear differential and the system will continue to stay engaged up to 18 mph, or is moved from first, second, or reverse gears, then unlocks and goes back to the automatic engaging. The Hill Start Assist system keep brake pressure when the brake pedal is released which gives the driver time to engage the accelerator. The Grade Logic Systems holds the engine in a lower gear when on steep incline for better hill-climbing torque and increased engine braking when traversing steep inclines. The Pilot's AWD system allows it to wade through 19 inches of water.

From 2003 through 2008 the Honda Pilot was awarded Best Large SUV by Car and Driver magazine. Intellichoice called it 'Best Value of the Year' while claimed it was 'Most Wanted SUV'. AMI Auto World dubbed it the 'World Family Vehicle of the Year'.

The Pilots biggest competition comes from category contenders like the Nissan Murano, Ford Flex, Mazda CX-9, Toyota Highlander, Buick Enclave and Chevy Traverse.


By Jessica Donaldson

Concepts by Honda

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