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Coloring Outside the Lines: 2003 Crossover Buyer's Guide
by Steve Siler

Honda Pilot - The Honda of Crossovers
2003 Honda Pilot

When Honda sets out to do something, you know it is going to do it well. After all, most of Honda's models are the best-selling vehicles in their respective markets, due in no small part to Honda's sterling reputation for quality.

The car-savvy among you will remember that until last year, Honda's only entry in the mid-size SUV segment was the Isuzu-based Honda Passport, which was a truck first and foremost, and always somewhat out of character for the Honda brand. The Pilot has flown in to correct things; it is a plus-sized, eight-passenger SUV that is based on that same architecture as Honda's successful Odyssey minivan and Acura's comfy MDX. This all means that you have the pleasant ride quality and low center of gravity of a minivan with the social standing and capability of a light-duty SUV. A winning combination indeed.

There are lots of cool things to talk about with the Pilot, the most notable being the standard fitment of the same type of "disappearing" third-row seat as the Odyssey, as well as the availability of a kid-friendly DVD entertainment system and/or a user-friendly navigation system. The base LX comes with just about everything, except keyless entry, power driver's seat, rear privacy glass, steering wheel audio controls and a cassette player for the standard CD stereo. All of that is standard on the EX, which also offers leather appointments as an option.

Power comes from a smooth, gutsy 3.5-liter V-6 mated to a five-speed automatic works smoothly and seamlessly. And in contrast to many in the midsize crossover and SUV class, all-wheel-drive is standard.