- The Washington Times - Friday, August 9, 2002

I'm betting the all-new Honda Pilot will become the best-selling sport-utility vehicle on the market in record time. The Pilot has everything the typical SUV buyer wants.
Like most of Honda's well-built vehicles, the Pilot should quickly rise to the top of the list on the consumer radar screen.
The Pilot is as "all-American" as its exterior appearance, closely fitting in with the more traditional GM truck look. This kind of "blending in" will appeal to the mainstream buyer.
On the inside, the Pilot is all about the family. Honda calls its SUV "stuffable," with lots of storage space and 90.3 cubic feet of cargo volume. The panoramic glass provides 282 degrees of outward visibility one of my favorite attributes of the test vehicle.
Pilot comes in two models, the LX and EX, with base prices of $26,900 and $29,270, respectively. Both models are equipped with a four-wheel-drive configuration, dual front and side air bags, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD, as well as power locks, mirrors and windows.
My test Pilot, the uplevel EX, comes with an eight-way power driver seat, roof rails, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and premium sound equipment.
While the Pilot is a massive vehicle that can accommodate eight passengers in stadium-style seating, it is not in the behemoth league of the Ford Expedition or Chevrolet Suburban.
However, Honda brags that its newest SUV is more than 4 inches wider than the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Ford Explorer or Toyota Highlander. The Pilot's 77-inch width certainly does provide for a family recreation-room-style interior.
But when it comes to negotiating parking lots, I had to pull the Pilot into the space, back up, adjust, and pull back in again.
This vehicle delivers on-demand, confident performance with its 3.5-liter, 24-valve, V-6 engine. As soon as I pressed down on the gas pedal, this energetic power plant kicked up its 240 horsepower and 242 foot-pounds of torque, giving me immediate results.
The five-speed automatic transmission delivered an effortless, smooth performance as it quietly shifted through the gears.
Pilot is equipped with a Variable Torque Management 4-Wheel Drive system that keeps the SUV stable in all types of road conditions. Honda's VTM-4 technology is engaged at all times so that the driver does not have to wait for slippage to occur before traction is activated. In addition, a button on the dash panel will allow the driver to put VTM-4 in a lock mode.
This locking mode is useful when a driver is traveling in slippery conditions or preventing the vehicle from getting stuck in mud.
The Pilot is designed for only medium-duty off-road use and is not targeted toward true off-road use. In its own tests, Honda built the Pilot to meet certain off-road standards, such as climbing a 28-degree dirt hill and a 31-degree paved slope (with a two-passenger limit). The Pilot does have 8 inches of ground clearance, a heavy-duty air filter to remove dust from the engine's air supply, and a towing capacity of 4,500 pounds when properly equipped with the optional tow package.
The automaker says its customers will use this SUV primarily for on-road, family needs. The unit-body construction, as well as lower standards of off-roadability, allowed engineers to build the Pilot with higher levels of sedanlike refinement and fuel efficiency. The Pilot is a low-emissions vehicle, achieving gas mileage ratings of 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.
Honda says its goal for the Pilot is to become the "American Family Adventure" vehicle. Odds are it will happen in record time.

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