2003 Honda Pilot -- Introduction - Overview & Highlights

The Ultimate American Family Adventure Vehicle


With the introduction of the all-new 2003 Pilot' SUV, Honda establishes a new benchmark among sport-utility vehicles in its class. Designed, developed and manufactured by Honda, the Pilot takes traditional SUV strengths - such as a commanding seating position, rugged image, versatile utility and four-wheel drive - and combines them with core Honda design attributes including:

  • Honda dependability, quality and reliability (DQR);
  • World class build quality;
  • Nimble and precise handling with outstanding ride comfort;
  • "Man maximum, machine minimum" packaging efficiency;
  • Superb ergonomic design;
  • High fuel efficiency and low emissions;
  • Honda advanced engine technology; and
  • Innovative design features.

With its versatile eight-passenger interior, advanced V-6 engine and VTM-4 four-wheel drive system, anticipated five-star safety performance and class-leading cargo capacity, the Honda Pilot is the best all-around performer in its competitive set. In keeping with Honda's longstanding commitment to environmental leadership, the Pilot also achieves the highest combined fuel economy in its class while meeting stringent Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) standards (and Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle standards in California).

Designed from the inside out, the Pilot delivers new levels of interior versatility and functionality for an SUV in its class. Beginning with its eight-passenger seating capability, the Pilot features 60/40-split second- and third-row bench seats that fold flat for optimal versatility in passenger and cargo hauling capacity. With all seats folded, the Pilot provides a full flat cargo floor and the largest cargo capacity of any SUV in the segment. And with its widest-in-class wheel track, the Pilot is the only vehicle in its class that can accept four-foot wide items, like plywood sheets, between the wheel wells with no tilting of items or scraping of interior surfaces.

Developed under the theme of "the Ultimate American Family Adventure Vehicle," the Pilot is designed to handle the many different needs and requirements of the typical family user, including such varied assignments as a trip to the fast food drive-thru, a family camping trip or a weekend visit to the local home improvement store. The interior of the Pilot is packed with thoughtful details and "family friendly" features including a multitude of "stuffable" storage areas, beverage holders and places for a wide variety of items, from cell phones and purses to backpacks and sporting gear.

Optional features like the Honda Satellite-Linked DVD Navigation System, or its Honda DVD Entertainment System, make the Pilot one of the most family-friendly vehicles on the road. Additional unique interior features include a multi-function center console with a large center storage bin, coin holder, dedicated cell phone cradle, 12-volt power outlet, compact disc holder and dual-position beverage holder. In EX models, the second-row seat features an activity tray that incorporates two cup holders and a storage tray with a place for crayons, markers or other kids' stuff, as well as a tray for fast food items including a special place for dipping sauce containers.

The Pilot's 3.5-liter SOHC V-6 engine uses advanced valvetrain and emissions technology, including Honda's VTEC" variable valve control system. This all-aluminum, 24-valve, engine delivers a maximum output of 240 horsepower and 242 lb.-ft. of torque for best-in-class acceleration and passing performance, using regular unleaded fuel. Power is delivered via an electronically controlled 5-speed automatic transmission with Honda Grade Logic Control for improved performance and reduced transmission "hunting" on steep grades.

To ensure optimal stability and control in a variety of road and weather conditions, the Pilot employs an advanced new four-wheel drive system called Variable Torque Management 4WD (VTM-4). VTM-4 combines the best features of modern on-demand and conventional four-wheel drive systems while minimizing penalties to vehicle weight, efficiency and interior space. VTM-4 proactively delivers power to all four wheels under acceleration and when wheel slippage is detected. This has the benefit of not only improving traction in slippery conditions, but also benefits driving dynamics and vehicle stability in virtually all circumstances.

The system goes one step further by providing a "locking" feature that effectively locks the rear differential for improved traction in extremely slippery or "stuck" conditions.

With safety as a top priority, Honda engineers adopted a number of advanced safety technologies and sophisticated body design features to deliver class-leading levels of crash protection.

The Pilot's advanced safety systems include dual-stage, dual-threshold driver and front passenger airbags; a front passenger side airbag with Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS); and headrests and three-point seatbelts in all eight seating positions.

Internal Honda testing anticipates five-star level safety performance in frontal (NCAP) and side impacts (SINCAP) for all passengers, as well as an anticipated "good" rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) 40mph frontal offset crash test - the highest ratings achievable. Additional design measures were taken to confirm a high level of safety for third-row passengers in a rear collision, beyond existing safety requirements.

In addition, the Pilot delivers a high level of active safety in its powerful V-6 engine and VTM-4 four-wheel drive system, ABS-equipped four-wheel disc brakes, precise rack-and-pinion steering, four-wheel independent suspension and 282-degrees of outward visibility (best in class). All these features combine to provide one of the most confident and secure driving experiences available in a modern sport-utility vehicle. The foundation for the Pilot's outstanding handling and safety performance is its highly rigid unit body with reinforcing structures and energy absorbing crush zones. The Pilot's structure is designed to deform progressively in front, side and rear collisions.

A highly rigid passenger compartment is reinforced laterally and longitudinally to maintain its size and shape for omni-directional crash protection. A special bracket attached to the vehicle's front frame structure improves compatibility with other vehicles in a frontal collision. The use of high tensile steel in critical areas further enhances body integrity while minimizing associated weight penalties.

The Pilot's four-wheel independent suspension system, specially tuned tires and rack-and-pinion steering system provides the basis for the Pilot's exceptional handling, precise steering control and refined ride quality. The Pilot's chassis also employs fully isolated front and rear subframes for improved refinement and control of road noise, vibration and harshness.

2003 Honda Pilot SUV product highlights include:

  • Largest cargo volume in class (90.3 cu.-ft. behind the 1st row seats);
  • Anticipated five-star frontal and side crash protection for all passengers;
  • Versatile eight-passenger seating capability;
  • Outstanding fuel efficiency (EPA 17 city/22 highway);
  • Best-in-class acceleration and passing performance;
  • Innovative interior with "stuffable" storage areas;
  • Full-flat cargo floor with 4-foot wide loading capability;
  • 240-hp, 3.5-liter, SOHC, V-6 engine with 3-rocker VTEC technology;
  • Advanced Variable Torque Management 4WD (VTM-4) with Lock feature;
  • Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) status (ULEV in CA);
  • Medium-duty off-road capabilities with 8-inches of ground clearance;
  • 4500-pound boat/3500-pound trailer towing capability (with optional towing package);
  • Theatre-style seating (2nd and 3rd row seat raised for comfort and visibility);
  • Available factory-installed satellite-linked DVD Navigation System (Navi); and
  • Available factory-installed Honda DVD Rear Entertainment System (RES).