2003 Honda Pilot Road Test

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests (2)
  • Comparison (1)
  • Long-Term

2003 Honda Pilot SUV

(3.5L V6 AWD 5-speed Automatic)

Built To Suit

Honda buyers had to wait a good long time to get the Pilot. Think of all that's changed since the company first began peddling a rebadged Isuzu Rodeo called the Passport in 1994. Back then, rugged styling was enough on its own, and it really didn't matter if your vehicle was a sloppy handler or whether it was roomy and comfortable on the inside. However, by the late 1990s it was widely known that most SUV owners really don't go outdoors much nor must they battle rough terrain or packed snow just to get to work in the morning — and as such, they require vehicles that look vaguely like trucks but are nearly as agile and certainly as comfortable as cars.

Such vehicles are often called crossovers, and auto manufacturers are scrambling to come up with relatively affordable midsize versions to sell to families too civilized for comparative bruisers like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota 4Runner and even the Ford Explorer.

With the "midsize crossover SUV" segment about to double and even triple in size, the Pilot would seem to have arrived just in time — in time that is to take advantage of loyal Honda buyers who want a crossover, but can't afford an Acura MDX and are about to visit a Toyota dealer. Further, this is an opportunity for the company to sweep nine years of Passport sales under the hypothetical rug.

The Pilot is based on the same platform as the second-generation Honda Odyssey minivan introduced in 1999 and is basically a downmarket version of Acura's MDX; the two sport-utes have very similar dimensions and mechanicals. High consumer demand has been the order of the day for these vehicles; now in its fifth year, the Odyssey still commands a premium over MSRP on many purchases. In order to make room for Pilot production at its Alliston, Ontario, plant, Honda opened a new facility in Alabama in 2001 to share some of the Odyssey burden. However, Pilots still won't be easy to come by at dealerships, so if you can get one at sticker price, you've probably done well.

Our early driving experience in the Pilot — both in our First Drive and in our long-term road test of a Pilot EX (with leather interior and the navigation system) — has suggested that this would be an outstanding utility vehicle to own, not just among the crossover types but among the real trucks, too. (If you're one of the few who really does tow stuff or go off-roading, you'll want to look closer at the body-on-frame SUVs with optional V8s.) A subsequent week with a Redrock Pearl EX model with leather and the rear DVD entertainment system only confirmed these impressions. No surprise, then, that we selected the Pilot as our Most Wanted Midsize SUV for 2003.

Like most other Hondas, the Pilot is not infused with a great deal of luxury or entertainment value, even when loaded up as our test vehicle was (though we suppose it matters where you're sitting as the flip-down video screen is only for second- and third-row passengers). Instead, you're more likely to fall in love with its all-encompassing practicality. Here is an apt definition of the modern-day utility vehicle, one that rejects the superfluous stuff (this being a multiple-range transfer case, off-road ability and high towing capacity by contemporary standards) in favor of what most buyers really want — a spacious cabin with flexible seating, lots of storage areas and enough cargo capacity for weekend trips to the cabin or just the big discount stores. Add in the ability to get out of the driveway after a snowfall, a five-star sweep in NHTSA front- and side-impact crash testing and Honda's legendary reputation for reliability, and you would seem to have a perfect vehicle — for families with two or more kids anyway. Plus, this one manages not to look like a minivan, a key point for any midsize-crossover shopper.

Appropriately, we'll start our discussion with the cabin accommodations. As our test vehicle was a top-of-the-line EX, it had luxuries like automatic climate control, leather upholstery and an eight-way power driver seat, but you won't be giving up much if you stick with the lower-priced LX, which still offers manual front and rear climate controls, as well as a manually height-adjustable driver seat. In front, twin captain's chairs provide excellent comfort for humans of all sizes, increasing the chances that parents will remain even-tempered on long trips. Editors raved about the extra long seat bottom, which does a superb job of cradling the thighs (with the help of height adjustment for the driver seat) — of particular interest to anyone with long legs. The center console top is nicely padded for elbows, and its height matches the padded cutouts in the door panels, yielding an ergonomically sound armchair feel.

The only weak area is the headrests. Presumably to keep costs down, Honda has fitted the front chairs and the second-row bench with nonarticulating, doughnut-style restraints. Though not as obnoxiously protrusive as the ones in the Buick Rendezvous, they're still incapable of providing a comfortable respite for the head. While this design might have been OK in the underachieving Passport, it's less welcome in a relative of the Odyssey and MDX. A few other upgrades we feel Honda should consider for the front seats include lumbar and seat-height adjustment for the front passenger, and either a telescoping steering wheel or adjustable pedals to improve comfort and safety for the driver.

Visibility from the cockpit is quite good; square-shaped side mirrors make it easy to monitor cars behind or on either side of the Pilot. Your dealer can install an auto-dimming rearview mirror as an accessory, as well as reverse parking sensors — or if you have the navigation system, a miniature camera mounted on the liftgate that projects its images onto the nav screen.

The overall interior design is nothing exciting, but as in the Highlander, it has a crisp, functional feel. The dash has a pleasant shape to it, and faux aluminum trim on the steering wheel and encircling the gauges adds a mild dose of sport. The gauges use a squarish, classically Honda font, and their green nighttime lighting proved soothing.

Interior plastics are mostly low in gloss and high in quality, and just about every surface that needs to be soft-touch is indeed that, the hard door top trim being an obvious exception. The leather upholstery is nothing special, and the perforated sections already had little "hairs" sticking out of them in our test vehicle. Additionally, many of the plastics in our early-run tester had ragged edges. Subsequent comparison with our later-production long-term Pilot suggests that this fit-and-finish issue has been mostly resolved, though you're still likely to find rough edges on the steering wheel buttons.

Controls are generally easy to find and use; the automatic climate control system, for example, employs a simple dial for temperature adjustment and includes a dedicated "off" button. Steering wheel controls include stereo and cruise functions, though a lack of illumination leaves drivers to fumble around at night. As is typical of most Hondas, only the driver window offers one-touch operation. The stereo system, on the other hand, was unusually good for a Honda product — good enough to satisfy even audiophiles; check our stereo expert's review.

Spend an hour or two with a Pilot and you'll gain an appreciation (as we did) for the thoughtful design of the cabin storage areas. The center console container isn't very large nor is it lined; however, it houses a cell phone holder and power point that render it quite practical. You see, the holder is mounted on a secondary door that pops forward (like a Murphy bed), allowing the driver access to his holstered phone while it continues to charge.

Other receptacles include a pair of removable cupholders in the center console (when decommissioned, they leave behind an additional storage well); a deep, textured shelf under the center stack; large door bins (the front passenger door includes an extra bin); small bins on either side of the center console for folded maps; an overhead sunglasses holder; a felt-lined, slotted coin holder; and a large, unlined glovebox.

Given that this is a Honda product, and thus carrying with it the company's reputation for quality, we had hoped for a few more liners here and there (to cut down on noise from various items rolling around), and we were a bit dismayed when the glovebox door flopped open haphazardly (rather than employing the gradual release-type latch typically found in import-branded vehicles in this price range). Still, these minor issues detract little from the total package. Our resident truck expert, always a proponent of simple, efficient design, wrote: "Honda has taken the lowly storage bin and raised it to an art form. The center console alone has no less than three separate storage bins, two cupholders and a cell phone slot, all of which can be reconfigured for various size items. It's all very simple to work and practical to use, yet most owners will hardly even notice the beauty of it."

Of course, comfortable, practical front-seat accommodations wouldn't count for much if the kids were unhappily crammed into the back. In the Pilot, the second-row bench has seating for three, and plentiful head-, leg- and toe room. Two adults or three children should be content back there on long trips. Minor complaints include the flat, minimally contoured cushions and the somewhat low and short seat bottom (likely to bother longer-legged adults). With the use of the manual seat back recline, though, most passengers will be able to get comfortable. All three seatbelts are equipped with pre-tensioners, and the outboard positions have a full set of upper and lower child-seat anchor points.

Manual climate controls for the rear air ducts are on the back of the center console (though parents can control temperature from the front if little ones are seated back there), as are three headphone jacks. Our entertainment system-equipped Pilot also included a couple pairs of wireless headphones. DVDs must be loaded in the front seat, but adjustments can be made by parents or by the rear-seaters via roof-mounted buttons or a wireless remote. Check out our entertainment system review for the full story on this setup.

Whatever age your kids are, everyone is sure to enjoy the abundance of storage areas in the backseat — besides decent-size door bins, you get a pair of large cupholders integrated into the door panels, a double set of elasticized net pockets on each front seat back and, on EX models only, a fold-down activity tray with two additional cupholders and a shallow storage area perfect for stray Legos.

Climbing into the third-row seat shouldn't be too hard for active kids, but don't expect the aunts, uncles or grandparents to do the same. As in most midsize SUVs, the second-row seat folds and slides forward in its 60/40 partitions to facilitate entry, but getting in still requires some bending and twisting. Although the Rendezvous is not one of our favorite crossovers, it does offer the easiest third-row entry, as its second-row seats lift up and away so that passengers can step in.

Honda readily admits that the three-person third-row bench is intended for children; in leather-equipped EX models, this bench is bound in vinyl to minimize wear and tear (fortunately, the vinyl is a close match to the real leather so that the difference isn't noticeable). While we have no doubt that two or three kids under 10 will enjoy the close-knit quarters, we couldn't help but notice that it would be much more useful if the second-row seats could be adjusted fore and aft — thus freeing up a little extra legroom for a car pool of adults going to lunch. (True, the second-row seats slide forward a bit for entry, but you can only lock them down in one position.) The Odyssey offers this feature, and recently, we took a ride in the third row of another new midsize crossover, the Volvo XC90 (which has a base price a couple thousand above the Pilot's) — each section of its 40/20/40 second-row bench slid forward, making the situation bearable for the two adults seated in the very back. As it is, we'd be more inclined to recommend the Explorer, the XC90, a minivan or a larger, thirstier SUV, like the Ford Expedition, to buyers with older kids who need third-row seating on an everyday basis.

The Pilot's rearmost seat does offer adjustable seat back recline, as well as four cupholders and three storage wells. Only upper child-seat anchors are provided back there, so you'll need to use the seatbelts (all three-point) to cinch down preschoolers' booster seats. One advantage the Pilot has over the Odyssey is its third-row seat's flexible configurability. In our favorite minivan, the fold-flat third-row bench is either all the way up or all the way down (forcing a choice between carrying passengers and hauling cargo), as happy owners of Chrysler minivans and parents of three or more children have pointed out to us. But the Pilot's "magic seat" folds flat in 60/40 partitions, thereby accommodating a mix of humans and cargo when necessary. The headrests must be removed, but Honda has provided a storage compartment in the cargo bay floor to help owners keep track of them.

Even with the third-row seat in use, there's room for several bags of groceries — more room than you'll find in the Explorer due to the Pilot's greater overall width (77.3 inches versus 72.1 for the Ford). A cargo net with drawstring adjustment (standard on the EX) and four grocery bag hooks (standard on all models) make it easy to keep items from sliding around. Some editors wish that the Pilot offered a separate rear lift-glass like the Explorer's for quicker loading.

With the third-row seats folded, the Pilot offers 48.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity — more than either the Explorer's or the Highlander's — and most of it usable thanks to four feet of clearance between the wheel wells. The second-row seats fold easily for large hauling jobs; although the resulting load floor isn't perfectly flat, it is a continuous surface with no gaps between the folded rows. Capacity is rated at 90 cubic feet, again more than the Explorer's or Highlander's. These expansive dimensions do come at a small price, though, as you get only a temporary-use spare tire mounted underneath the vehicle. And when planning for a family trip, it's a good idea to keep the allowable payload (passengers plus cargo) in mind; the Pilot can tote up to 1,322 pounds.

If you're a typical Honda buyer, performance probably doesn't matter that much to you — with the assumption that whichever model you choose comes with a smooth-running powertrain (that will continue to run well past the 100K mark) and competent if not exciting handling. In this regard, the Pilot is just what you would expect Honda to offer. Its refined and sophisticated 3.5-liter V6 produces 240 horsepower at 5,400 rpm and 242 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm with the aid of Honda's Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (VTEC).

Besides providing for a relatively flat torque curve (with ample acceleration at low to mid rpm) and strong performance at high engine speeds, VTEC boosts fuel economy. The Pilot is rated for 17 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway, slightly lower than the 220-hp Highlander's 18/22 rating but better than that of any SUV packing eight cylinders. Overzealous use of the throttle will lower mileage, however, as we managed just 15 mpg over a week. It's certainly possible to do better than this, as our long-term Pilot has averaged almost 18 mpg in its first three months on the road.

Acceleration on public roads posed no problems for our test vehicle, though as with most high-capacity SUVs, you're apt to feel a bit weighted down if you load it up with the equivalent of a half-dozen passengers and their luggage. The Pilot's towing capacity is rated at 3,500 pounds (or 4,500 if you're towing a boat — less aerodynamic drag, according to Honda). Trailer preparation is not on the equipment list, but Honda dealers will be happy to sell you a tow package with a Class III hitch and a transmission oil cooler.

The five-speed automatic consistently delivered crisp, well-timed shifts, and its Grade Logic software kept the transmission from shuffling between gears on uphill grades and smoothly activated engine braking on steep descents. As noted in our First Drive, the column-mounted gear selector can take a little getting used to, as you must push it away from your body to access the lower gears.

Instrumented testing yielded an 8.6-second 0-to-60-mph time and a 16.6-second quarter-mile. This is a competitive time among the crossover SUVs; we've timed the Highlander at 8.8 seconds and the Subaru Outback at 8.4.

An automatic four-wheel-drive system is standard on every Pilot; if you don't require all-weather capability (or third-row seating), you should consider the Highlander, which is available as a front-wheel-drive model, resulting in better gas mileage. Identical to the setup in the MDX, the Pilot's Variable Torque Management four-wheel drive (VTM-4) is designed to provide a compromise between fuel economy and all-weather, all-terrain capability. During constant-speed cruising, power flows only to the front wheels, improving economy. However, since VTM-4 is an electronically, rather than a mechanically, controlled system, it's able to redistribute torque (up to a maximum of 50 percent) to the rear wheels before slippage occurs, based on changes in throttle input and wheel speed.

The VTM-4 Lock mode (activated by a button on the dash) fixes the front/rear power split at 50/50 — it's designed for extremely slippery conditions (like an icy driveway) and operates only in first, second and reverse gears up to speeds of 18 mph, after which point it disengages. Basically, this takes the place of the 4 Hi mode in traditional SUVs. For a more in-depth explanation of the Pilot's 4WD system, refer to our First Drive.

During its stay, we took the Pilot on the same light- to medium-duty off-road trail used for the aforementioned crossover comparison test. The Pilot had little difficulty with the trail, even when an editor inadvertently veered off-course onto a more steeply graded rocky stretch. Its eight inches of ground clearance helped out here, though like other car-based sport-utes, somewhat limited wheel travel caused it to bottom out over more severe ruts. Of course, more travel would detract from the Pilot's smooth, stable ride on pavement — obviously not a trade-off any crossover owner would care to make. Among nonluxury crossovers, only the Outback is more at home off the pavement.

While you can trick yourself into thinking the MDX offers quasi-sporty handling, the Pilot's front strut/rear multilink suspension is tuned for a softer ride. During normal driving, Honda's sport-ute is well behaved — it feels secure and balanced around corners and on freeway on-ramps, and its steering offers progressive weighting and predictable responses to input. When pushed harder on two-lane roads, the Pilot's 4,400-pound curb weight makes itself known, as the body rolls over considerably and the steering is unable to convey much information about what's going on with the tires. The lack of road information through the wheel turns out to be of little consequence, though, as the 235/70R16 Goodyear Integrity tires, which contribute to the Honda's delightfully quiet ride on the highway, are quick to howl and fold over with displeasure when asked to perform on twisty two-lanes. In addition, our test vehicle proved to be a handful in the 600-foot slalom; our test driver noted that the Pilot was unable to change directions quickly even when measured by SUV standards.

But let's face it — a family-oriented crossover SUV isn't likely to confront such challenges during its tour of duty, and the Pilot performs competently in everyday maneuvers. Moreover, several editors found the Honda's overall handling package more satisfying than the Highlander's (the winner of our crossover comparison).

The Pilot is equipped with four-wheel antilock disc brakes supplemented by Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. Honda notes this setup was designed to accommodate its role as a people and cargo hauler and an occasional tow vehicle. On public roads, we were content with our test vehicle's braking performance, though one editor felt that there was too much nose dive under heavy braking. Instrumented testing yielded a best 60-to-0-mph distance of 131 feet; our test driver noted that the brake system, though adequate, had to work quite hard to bring the heavy vehicle to a stop. Maximum braking was accompanied by a great deal of noise and pedal vibration, though body movement was minimal.

The Pilot's list of safety features isn't especially long: The only one we haven't mentioned thus far is the standard side airbags for front occupants, though the sport-ute's five-star side-impact crash test scores suggest that it doesn't require extras like full-length head curtain airbags. Still, a stability control system would be a worthwhile addition, at least as an option (especially since the Highlander, Outback and Explorer offer it); the MDX got it for 2003.

While not without a few faults and unlikely to appeal to families of less than four, the Pilot is still the most well-rounded midsize SUV currently on the market. Besides offering solid engineering and construction inside and out, it's more intelligently packaged than any of its competitors: One large, comfortable cabin with seating for eight; one long list of standard features with a minimum of confusing options; and one theoretically reasonable price after you've chosen your trim level (LX or EX). Sound great? Now for the hard part — you have to go out and find one.

Stereo Evaluation

System Score: 9.0

Components: It could be said that every Pilot needs a good radio, and in the case of Honda's new full-size SUV, truer words were never spoken. Honda, which once lagged behind in the stereo area, has lately been coming to market with factory sound systems that rival its better-sounding Toyota and Nissan cousins. The system in the new Honda Pilot stakes a further claim that Honda plans on giving its customers viable sound systems that meet the competition.

This system begins with an unusual-looking head unit that nonetheless offers the kind of user-friendly ergonomics we've come to expect from Honda. Surprise-and-delight features include round knobs for both volume and radio tuning, a logical and commonsense topography, and great button spacing for ease of use. The head unit also occupies an elevated position in the dash that is perfectly positioned for accessibility and safety. As if this weren't enough, the system also boasts steering wheel controls for volume and seek-scan.

It gets even better in the speaker department, with 6.5-inch drivers in all four doors, plus a wonderfully thumpy 10-inch sub in the right rear-quarter panel. Top this off with a pair of upward-firing tweeters mounted on the dashboard and you'll understand why this one sounds as good as it looks.

Performance: Even before turning this system on, we were impressed with the generous array of speakers in the cabin, and this one certainly didn't disappoint once we put it through its paces. The overall sound of the system was smooth and luxurious. High frequencies not only sounded lush and intricate, but the dash-mounted tweets presented an excellent dispersion pattern into the passenger compartment; as a result, the soundstage in this vehicle was one of the better ones we've heard in this segment. We were a little put off by a slight stridency in the midrange, but perhaps this is just quibbling. Horns sounded excellent, female vocals just a little hissy and acoustic strings warm and wooden. We were really impressed with the bass response, which was not only deep and bounteous but exhibited tight attack when called on to do so. Honda has definitely upped the ante in the segment.

Best Feature: Overall sonic excellence.

Worst Feature: No CD changer (and no option to add one).

Conclusion: Take me to the Pilot! This is a great-sounding SUV! — Scott Memmer

Rear Entertainment System Evaluation

System Score: 9.0

Components: As if it weren't enough to have a great-sounding audio system in the new Honda Pilot, our test vehicle also came equipped with a DVD-based entertainment system. The system, which consists of an in-dash DVD player, a roof-mounted fold-down screen, two pairs of wireless headphones and a wireless remote control, represents the state of the art in the category.

Performance: We could find little fault with this system. The audio can be routed through the existing sound system or the headphones, your choice. The headphones sound excellent and are also lightweight enough that they won't become tiresome after an hour or more of viewing. The video image was crisp and bright and easily viewed from all the rear seats. We also enjoyed the wireless remote, which had about as many features as a home player. All in all, a nice setup.

Best Feature: Great wireless headphones.

Worst Feature: Poor access to DVD player.

Conclusion: A few minor complaints. Why is the DVD player mounted in the dash, away from the viewers? It would seem to make more sense to have it in a center console, accessible to the rear passengers. Likewise, the roof-mounted controls. — Scott Memmer

Second Opinions

Editor in Chief Karl Brauer says:
With so many vehicles, and manufacturers, vying for market share in the midsize SUV segment, is it wise for Honda to spend the resources necessary to compete here? The answer depends on how well it can compete. Jumping into a hot segment with whatever the company can quickly throw together (that is, the Honda Passport) is a solid recipe for mediocrity. But while we all lamented this rebadged Rodeo, Honda used the time to construct a first-rate SUV. The Pilot comes to market with all the features we know the target buyer demands: carlike ride and handling, three rows of seats, a rugged (if somewhat innocuous) appearance and enough horsepower to keep up with today's typical sport sedan.

In the Pilot's case, Honda went a few steps further by adding exceptional interior storage features, an available DVD-based navigation system (or a much-appreciated DVD entertainment system — though you can't get both on the same vehicle without dealer intervention), and a five-speed automatic transmission. Of course it's all wrapped in typical Honda build quality, meaning everything from the door handles to the switchgear works with fluid perfection. I am, however, disappointed by the sharp edges on the back of the steering wheel buttons that almost seem capable of slicing my finger open, and I can't believe Honda has but a single default position for the second-row seat. The tracks and sliding system are already in place, so why not allow the seat to lock down in several locations, thus creating more potential legroom for third-row passengers (a la the Honda Odyssey)?

Quibbles aside, the Pilot will now be to SUVs what the Odyssey is to minivans: overdemanded and undersupplied. If you're after one, I hope you don't mind repeated calls to your local Honda dealer and a mad dash over there when the latest Pilot shipment arrives. Picky about color and options? Maybe you should look into the Buick Rendezvous.

Road Test Editor John DiPietro says:
I've been singing the praises of Hondas for over two decades, and the well-executed Pilot gives me reason to keep singing. All the Honda hallmarks are present: rock-solid build quality, a pleasant driving experience and thoughtful design. There's plenty of thrust from the refined V6, the tranny provides seamless changes at the right time, the steering has a reassuring heft, the ride is comfy and the Pilot is easy to place for such a big vehicle. There's plenty of stowage inside the cabin with large door and center console bins, and the map pockets on the console's side keep your MapQuest directions close at hand. There are a couple of minor glitches; there's too much nose dive under heavy braking, the column-mounted gear selector is awkward to use (as it arcs away from you when you move it) and the cruise control power button, in Honda tradition, is mounted somewhat out of sight on the left side of the dash. But the Pilot's many strengths more than compensate for these little quibbles. Bottom line, if I was spending $30K on an SUV, this is the one I'd buy.

Senior Road Test Editor Ed Hellwig says:
After driving the Pilot and inspecting its various design details I found it hard to ignore the fact that Honda has taken the lowly storage bin and raised it to an art form. The center console alone has no less than three separate storage bins, two cupholders and a cell phone slot, all of which can be reconfigured for various size items. It's all very simple to work and practical to use, yet most owners will hardly even notice the beauty of it. Look elsewhere and there's more; from multiple seat back nets to third-row seat cupholders, the Pilot is the king of convenient storage. Items like these might seem like an afterthought to some automakers, but Honda obviously takes them seriously — and for good reason. Ask some people why they like their Pilot so much and they're apt to say "great quality" or "reliable engine." But what they may not realize is that the reason they like it so much is the fact that every time they look to stash something there's always a spot for it. Some things are so simple.

Consumer Commentary

"Difficult to find and tough to negotiate a deal. My area dealers all wanted at least $2,500 over MSRP and it took a no-trade deal to get a reasonable price. Fit and finish are typical high Honda quality. Overall, a great vehicle that is fun to drive. We are pleased and believe this was a great replacement for our seven-year-old minivan. Favorite features: Can honestly seat seven passengers. Vehicle has quick steering and great handling. Has plenty of power for mountain passes even with six passengers. Outside air temperature gauge and auto climate controls are nice features. We purchased the DVD and it works great. Suggested improvements: The gearshift and wiper controls are both on the right side and compete for your attention. The DVD and front and rear A/C controls are poorly thought out and difficult to use. Rear seat folds flat but headrests must be removed. Also wish we could get heated seats." — loyalgmcguy, Sept. 3, 2002

"We like our Pilot (family of four — kids age 8 and 5). Suits our needs fine, without breaking our budget. We especially like the RES (DVD) setup… finally some peace and quiet for those longer rides (kids put headphones on and then my wife and I can talk without interruption)! Decent power. Would recommend the vehicle… actually I have several times already. A good value. Favorite features: Lots of storage compartments, plenty of room inside, the RES-DVD with wireless headphones option if you have kids, the stereo/DVD controls on the steering wheel, auto climate control, third-row fold-down rear seat ability and the rear back-up sensor option is well worth the $. Suggested improvements: (1) They needed to plus-1 or plus-2 the tire and wheel package (came with 235/70-16s). The skimpy tire/wheel setup yields too much body roll. (2) Ability to slide the second-row seats forward a bit so that the third row can be used by other than small kids." — TraderJMF, Sept. 22, 2002

"Believe it or not, I traded in my 2001 Mercedes C320 for the Pilot. We needed a bigger car for our expanding family and when we learned about the Pilot our search ended. My wife and I can't get enough of this SUV. It is excellent. The gas mileage we got on a trip to Illinois was 25 mpg! It rides like a car and is very comfortable! A great buy! Favorite features: The DVD is awesome (if you have kids it's a must!) The cargo mat and cargo net are great for keeping the back neat and clean! Suggested improvements: The second-row seat needs to be able to be set so there's more legroom for the third-row seat. We have some rattling in both the driver and passenger windows, a little early for that (5,000 mi)." — dfernandez, Oct. 21, 2002

"Loved our Accord, so we looked at Pilot when the time for new vehicle arrived. Bought for MSRP with no hassles. Have averaged 18 city and 21-24 on highway (65-80 mph). Unbelievable gas mileage for 4,400-pound SUV with 240 hp. Plenty of room, quality workmanship, and nice driving feel. This is a good alternative to a minivan (which we had) with no apparent loss of mpg and the benefit of 4WD at similar cost. Considered the Explorer and Sequoia, but the Ford experience with our Windstar left us leery and we didn't need the cost or low mpg of the big Toyota. Favorite features: Mileage, build quality, power, versatility and safety features as well as Honda reputation for reliability. Suggested improvements: Why no moonroof? Salesman claimed safety as reason, but the MDX has one. Towing package could be included or a lower cost option." — formerfordfan, July 16, 2002

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