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, 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. For 2006, the Pilot received new front and rear fascias, a redesigned interior, and various standard safety features.
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. The second generation 2009 Pilot is also available in Russia and Ukraine.
Like the first-generation MDX, the Pilot is propelled by an aluminum alloy 3.5 L SOHC, 24-valve VTEC V6 engine. The engine is rated at 240hp (179kW) and 242lb·ft (328N·m) 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 2007 model, the power was increased to 244hp (182kW), 240lb·ft (325N·m) of torque and includes a drive-by-wire throttle. The Pilot weighs in at a little over 4,400lb (1,996kg), with a United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated gas mileage for 2007 of 16mpg-US (15L/100km; 19mpg-imp) city and 22mpg-US (11L/100km; 26mpg-imp) highway for the two wheel drive model, and 15mpg-US (16L/100km; 18mpg-imp) city and 20mpg-US (12L/100km; 24mpg-imp) highway for the four wheel drive model. 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 MDX’s wide track — 66.3in (1684mm) at the front and 66.5in (1689mm) at the rear. The Pilot has a 4,500lb (2,041kg) boat/3,500lb (1,588kg) trailer towing capability.