|Midsize SUV; Built in Canada|
|Good condition price range: $6,500 – $19,200*|
2003 Honda Pilot
2004 Honda Pilot
2005 Honda Pilot
Pleasantly practical and family-friendly, Honda’s midsize SUV ranks as the Accord of its class. Delivering a laudable balance of civility and comfort, refinement and power, it serves as a highly rational approach to the way most people really use their SUVs. Toss in Honda’s strong reputation for reliability, and it’s no wonder that the Pilots is an authentic Best Buy–though lack of curtain airbags disappoints. High resale values translates to hefty used-SUV prices, however.
Honda borrowed the basic design of the popular MDX from its upscale Acura division, and transformed it into a new midsize SUV. The 2003 Pilot shared its basic chassis and powertrain with the more costly Acura MDX, and used the same V6 engine, five-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel-drive system. Built on the same wheelbase as the MDX, but a bit shorter overall, the Pilot had different styling and softer suspension tuning. It was also slightly taller and wider.
Unlike the seven-passenger MDX, Honda’s Pilot could seat eight and had 16-inch wheels instead of 17s. Honda’s version had 8.8 cubic feet more cargo space.
Models included the basic LX and a pair of upscale versions: EX and leather-upholstered EX-L. All Pilots had antilock four-wheel disc brakes and front side airbags. Rear or curtain side airbags were unavailable.
Pilot’s AWD system lacked low-range gearing, but a locking rear differential could provide additional traction when needed. Maximum towing capacity was 4500 pounds.
The one-piece rear liftgate did not have separate-opening glass. Second- and third-row seats were 60/40 split-folding benches. The EX model added alloy wheels, keyless entry, a power driver’s seat, automatic climate control, and upgraded audio with steering-wheel controls.
Optional on the EX-L were a navigation system and rear DVD entertainment, although they were not available together. Rivals included the Ford Explorer, Nissan Murano, and Toyota Highlander.
Only minor changes marked the 2004 Pilots. Newly standard on the EX-L were heated front seats and mirrors.
Honda’s V6 engine gained 15 horsepower for 2005, now rated at 255. A tire-pressure monitor joined the standard-equipment list, and the EX-L model gained an antiskid system. All Pilots got a bigger fuel tank. EX and EX-L models substituted an in-dash CD changer for the previous single-CD player.
Pilot got freshened styling, curtain side airbags, and all models became available with both all- and front-wheel drive for 2006. The 2WD Pilots got Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management system that deactivates three cylinders when cruising or decelerating to save fuel.
Honda’s midsize SUV is unchanged for 2007.
The 2008 Honda Pilot added some new models to its lineup. The entry-level VP model replaced the LX. Other trim levels included uplevel EX, new-for-2008 SE, and EX-L with leather upholstery and heated front seats.