As the Isuzu-sourced Passport’s replacement, the 2003 Pilot took a more populist, family car approach to the SUV segment. It was about two inches shorter than Acura’s MDX, but was taller and wider with a more upright greenhouse for more interior space. The Pilot looked like a large, comfortable cruiser, with big shouldered fenders. Its 3.5L/240hp V6 ran on regular gas. The Pilot’s third-row seat had room for three and its gear shift was at the base of the steering column, making room to store things on the center console. Handsome brushed chrome accents negate the need for wood. There were lots of cargo nets, a tray in the rear center armrest with two cupholders and a condiment holder, and an optional DVD player. Even with optional leather, the Pilot was suited for a trip to McDonald’s with the kids.
Honda hoped its new SUV would stem the tide of Accord owners who’ve been moving into Explorers, Highlanders, and TrailBlazers. If the Pilot made as big a splash as Acura’s MDX, it probably did much more.