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click above image to view more high-res images of the Honda Pilot Prototype

Honda's big debut today was its next-gen Honda Pilot. While we've already shown you the concept sketch, we saw the real thing today. Although still labeled a prototype, it's not hard to see the next-generation Pilot SUV under that prototypified skin. Just like we saw when they showed us the Accord Coupe "Concept" last year, we expect the production Pilot vehicle to look very similar to this.

The next-gen Pilot will feature Honda's ACE Advanced Compatibility Engineering safety technology and VCM cylinder deactivation management system that's also available on the Accord V6. The Variable Cylinder Managaement system allows this V6 to run on 6, 4 or 3 cylinders depending on the need. The new Pilot also sports better interior packaging with seating for up to eight passengers, as well. Overall, we find the exterior design inoffensive and bland, except for those headlights that seem to follow us around the room. Seriously Honda, you're scaring the kids.

[Source: Honda]


Next-Generation Honda Pilot Balances Ideal Combination of SUV Strengths and On-road Refinement

Bolder styling and more accommodating interior highlight changes to 2009 Pilot

A prototype of the next-generation Honda Pilot is being unveiled at the 2008 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced today.

The prototype conveys design features of the more boldly-styled 2009 Pilot, set to debut in spring 2008, which emphasizes authentic SUV styling, clever and more accommodating interior packaging and advanced technologies for safety, fuel efficiency and convenience.

"The Pilot's pioneering formula improves for 2009 by enhancing its combination of refinement and efficiency with even more traditional SUV strengths," said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda. "A powerful exterior design communicates strength and allows for more space inside."

Functional eight-passenger seating, a hallmark of the Pilot, becomes even easier to access in the third row as key dimensions for legroom, cargo and occupant space increase in all seating positions. A redesigned platform allows even more refined handling and ride comfort to exist seamlessly with all-weather and medium-duty off-road capabilities.

To further enhance safety, the Pilot will feature the Honda-exclusive Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE®) body structure and the most extensive use of high-strength steel in any Honda product to date.

The ACE body structure enhances frontal collision compatibility with vehicles of different sizes and bumper heights. A pedestrian injury mitigation design in the front of the vehicle is designed to help absorb energy in the event of a collision.

A crossover SUV platform underpins the Pilot to provide the best of the car and truck worlds by integrating the refined traits and packaging advantages of a unit body car design with the utility and capability of an SUV design. A V-6 engine introduces the latest generation of Honda fuel-saving Variable Cylinder Management™ (VCM®) technology that operates in 6-cylinder mode for power and 4- and 3-cylinder modes for efficiency, an improvement compared to the existing Pilot's available VCM system that works exclusively in 6- and 3-cylinder modes.

Three rows of seats provide a high degree of adaptability for people and large cargo loads. The first row provides a commanding view of the road from two captains' chairs. A wide center stack and center console form the styling anchor for the interior with a design that emphasizes spaciousness and power, while allowing for convenient access to navigation, entertainment and climate-control systems.

The 60/40 split second row, now more spacious, slides further forward for increased ease of access to the third row. The 60/40 split third row, now supplies enough knee room for an above-average-sized adult male to fit comfortably, making the Pilot's third row among the most practical in the industry. Each side of the second and third row independently folds down for cargo. A flat floor is created when the second and third rows are folded down.

The Pilot originally debuted as a 2003 model in July of 2002. Design and development of the 2003 Pilot and the 2009 Pilot were carried out at Honda R&D Americas in Raymond, Ohio, and Torrance, California. The Pilot is assembled* at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Lincoln.

Among its numerous accolades, the Honda Pilot has earned Car and Driver Magazine's prestigious "5Best Truck" award on six consecutive occasions (2002-2007). The current-generation 2008 Pilot is also among an elite group of vehicles to receive both a "Top Safety Pick 2008" from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and a 5-star crash safety rating for frontal and side collisions from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)**.

* Honda products are produced using domestic and globally-sourced parts.
** Government star ratings are part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA's) New Car Assessment Program (www.safercar.gov. Model tested with standard side-impact airbags.)

Additional consumer information is available at 2009-prototype-Pilot.honda.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      i HATE the gear shrfter on the dash! It makes it look like a mini-van. Just put it in the in the middle by the console. The rear looks to jeepish. I hope they keep the blinkers on the mirrors though.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Isn't this basically a minivan?
      • 7 Years Ago
      I realize I'm being the boring family guy, but they are making a huge mistake not to offer 2 bucket seats as an option in place of the second row 60/40 split bench. Our friends have the Saturn Outlook (like GMC Acadia) and it is so much easier to get people in the 3rd row when you have two carseats occupying the 2nd row buckets and a pass through lane in the middle. Someone needs to point this out to Honda.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I love it!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Okay, so the Accord, a bit bland, but overall, fairly attractive. This.... is offensively ugly. Agree with other comments too.... what happened to Honda ergonomics...
      • 7 Years Ago
      We love our Pilot. The shifter on the console means more places for cell phones and stuff.

      The new design looks fine -- I'm more concerned that they don't seem to be going for a hybrid. This will push us to the highlander I think....

      Why isn't honda doing a pilot hybrid?

      • 7 Years Ago
      I currently have a Pilot and really enjoy it (for a family vehicle). I was hoping the next Pilot design would be a winner so I can confidently upgrade to the new model in a couple of years. Sadly, I find the concept to be quite unsightly. If the production model looks like this, I will be shopping elsewhere. Sorry Honda. If I wanted radically ugly, I'd buy an Element.
      • 7 Years Ago
      MDX redesign is over the top and the Pilot is bland. Something in the middle would have been nice. That would be the new Highlander.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Must've been incredibly difficult to copy the Jeep Liberty, Mercury Mariner and ... well, you insert the name of an SUV and you'll be right. R-e-a-l original design!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Wow. The current Pilot is decent looking. This new one is just plain ugly. Now I know where all Chrysler's engineers went.
      • 7 Years Ago
      So this is an appropriate situation to use the odd phrase "I think I just threw up in my mouth"?
      Wow, Ford Escape got beat up with the ugly stick, and then got a ghettot Ridgeline grill slammed into it's front end? I'm shocked that Honda is really starting to SUCK HARD since the Civic came out.
      • 7 Years Ago
      LOL. Is this a joke? It's the same thing with a blingy grille and overdone and tasteless headlights. Nice job, Honda!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Pilot meets Element.

      That grille is a warped version of the Element's. And the headlights look similar to Element SC headlights.

      The front is rough, the rest is bland. Boo.
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