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The Honda Pilot is a mid-size crossover manufactured by Honda and introduced in 2002.
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 of 2002 as a 2003 model.
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 is designed to provide handling similar to that of a car and 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 pickup truck-based design. The Pilot is Honda's largest and only three-row seat model, although the 2010 Crosstour surpassed the Pilot in length.
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.
First generation (2003–2008)
The Pilot has an aluminum alloy 3.5 L SOHC, 24-valve VTEC V6 engine with timing belt driven camshafts. The engine is rated at 240 hp (179 kW; 243 PS) SAE @5400 rpm and 242 lb·ft (328 N·m) of torque @4500 rpm. It is mated to a five-speed automatic. For the 2006 model, the power was 244 hp (182 kW; 247 PS) SAE @5600 rpm(4WD), 240 lb·ft (325 N·m) of torque @4500 rpm. Models from 2005 include a drive-by-wire throttle. The Pilot weighs in at a little over 4,400 lb (1,996 kg), with a United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated gas mileage for 2007 of 16 mpg-US (15 L/100 km; 19 mpg-imp) city and 22 mpg-US (11 L/100 km; 26 mpg-imp) highway for the two wheel drive model, and 15 mpg-US (16 L/100 km; 18 mpg-imp) city and 20 mpg-US (12 L/100 km; 24 mpg-imp) highway for the four wheel drive model. 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. The FWD Pilot models feature Honda's Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) that deactivates and reactivates multiple cylinders, depending on the engine’s needs. The 2004 Pilot included LED front lights that were not available on European market cars.
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.
The four-wheel drive system is called Variable Torque Management 4WD (VTM-4). It delivers power to four wheels under acceleration and when wheel slippage is detected. The VTM-4 system has a dashboard switch that locks both rear half-shafts to get the driver unstuck, but it operates in just first, second, and reverse gears, and unlocks at 18 mph (29 km/h). Otherwise, the system operates primarily in front-wheel drive and sends torque to the rear wheels when spin is detected up front. Two wheel drive models have been available since 2005.
Other features include ABS-equipped four-wheel disc brakes, rack-and-pinion steering, four-wheel independent suspension, and 282° of outward visibility.
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)
The larger second generation Pilot was unveiled in January 2008 at the North American International Auto Show. Assembled at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Lincoln, Alabama, it was offered in four trims; LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring. 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. 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.
The 2012 model year introduced a redesigned front fascia, new alloy wheels, and updates to the interior along with changes to the bumper.
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
*vehicle structure also rated "Poor"
Third generation (2016–present)
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.
New safety features include Honda's LaneWatch passenger side mirror camera, as well as Blind Spot Indicators, Lane Departure Warning (LDW), with Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) and Road Departure Mitigation (RDM). Additional options include Forward Collision Warning (FCW) with Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Rear Cross Traffic Monitor, Adaptive Cruise Control and standard multi-angle backup camera.
The revised 3.5-liter V6 engine has direct-injection and start-stop system, 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 FWD 6-speed models registering 19/27/22 mpg, and 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.
The car debuted in Russian market in 2016 with 3.0-liter V6 engine (249 hp), 6-speed automatic and all-wheel drive.
Overall dimensions are larger, while weight is down approximately 300 pounds with noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) reduced. 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.
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