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2003 Honda Pilot Sport Utility

4WD EX Auto w/Leather/DVD

Starting at | Starting at 17 MPG City - 22 MPG Highway

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  • Average Retail is not available
  • $32,020 original MSRP
Printable Version

2003 Honda Pilot Sport Utility

Printable Version

2003 Honda Pilot Sport Utility


2003 Honda Pilot

Source: New Car Test Drive


Honda took its own sweet time getting its first family-size SUV on the market, but a couple of minutes behind the wheel of the 2003 Honda Pilot makes it clear that every moment was well spent.

The all-new Pilot brings Honda virtues to a new class of vehicle. The interior packs eight seats into an overall package so short that the EPA considers the Pilot a compact SUV. However, its competition will be the world's midsize SUVs. The Honda Pilot offers more cargo space than the Ford Explorer, GMC Envoy, and Toyota Highlander.

The Pilot also sets the pace dynamically, with a 240-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 and the same crisp, predictable handling that have made the Honda Odyssey minivan and Acura MDX SUV hits.

Model Lineup

All Pilots feature Honda's patented VTM-4 electronically controlled full-time all-wheel-drive system, a 240-horsepower V6 engine, and a five-speed automatic transmission.

Two models are available: LX ($26,900); EX ($29,270).

LX offers a range of standard equipment including air conditioning, cruise control, AM/FM stereo, in-dash CD player, driver and front passenger front and side airbags, power windows, mirrors and door locks.

The EX raises the ante with standard aluminum alloy wheels, synchronized front and rear automatic climate control, a powerful seven-speaker stereo.

Option packages include EX with leather interior trim ($30,520); EX with leather interior trim and rear entertainment system ($32,020); EX with leather interior trim and navigation system ($32,520). Prices do not include a $460 destination and handling charge.


The Honda Pilot gracefully borrows key styling cues from Honda's smaller CR-V sport-utility. The grille and headlights are a careful enlargement of the CR-V's fluid wraparound face, while the body-color moldings give the Pilot a more refined and upscale look.

The wheel arches are just aggressive enough to offset any impression this is a toy truck, but subtle enough to be consistent with the Pilot's likely hangouts in upscale neighborhoods and parking lots. Large Honda badges on the grille and liftgate make it clear that Honda is proud of the Pilot, and expects customers to feel the same way.

Interior Features

The Honda Pilot packs an amazingly large amount of interior room into its small overall package. The middle seats are comfortable for adults, but the third-row seats are strictly for young children or short trips. Both rows of rear seats split 60/40 to fold. With both rows folded flat, the Pilot offers 90.3 cubic feet of cargo space. That compares to 80.1 cubic feet in the GMC Envoy, 81.3 in the Ford Explorer, and 81.4 for the Toyota Highlander, all with the seats folded down.

The Pilot's front seat is spacious, with two comfortable bucket seats and a versatile center console. The seats give excellent access to all the controls. In a particularly clever move, the largest dial in the center of the instrument panel is the switch to shift the audio controls from front- to rear-seat audio. Several observers with young children immediately recognized that as the control they would use most, and they appreciated the its large size and central placement.

The headliner-mounted DVD screen does not take up much space when not in use, and is highly visible to small children in the second- and third-row seats.

The front-seat center console includes a fold-out cell-phone holder with a power outlet. Unfortunately, this was the only interior feature that did not seem to be fully thought out. Whenever the cell-phone holder was in use, it completely blocked the two cupholders mounted in front of it in the console. However, the console provides plenty of storage space, with a compartment behind the cell-phone holder (where my cell phone actually ended up most of the time), and a covered compartment located on the Pilot's centerline provided more storage in the space between the console and the instrument panel.

The other instruments and controls will be familiar to anyone who has ever driven a Honda. The company does not vary much from the layout that decades have proven to be a model of ergonomics.

Passive safety features include dual-stage/dual-threshold front airbags, front side-impact airbags with occupant position sensing on passenger side.

Driving Impressions

The Honda Pilot shares its platform with the Acura MDX sport-utility and Odyssey minivan, both highly successful vehicles. Like the MDX and Odyssey, the Pilot is a joy in daily use. While its flexible and roomy interior belies its official status as a compact SUV, its maneuverability, handling and ease of parking quickly remind you what an extraordinarily efficient package Honda has created.

The Pilot shares virtually all its key mechanical systems "engine, transmission, all-wheel-drive system, and brakes" with the more expensive Acura MDX, and it shows. Everything about the way the SUV behaves on the road feels just a little better than was necessary to beat the competition.

The 240-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 is more than adequate to propel the Pilot. (Curb weight is 4416 pounds for LX, 4439 pounds for EX.) Acceleration performance is excellent, particularly in the 40-60 mph passing range that matters most in a quick run to the grocery store or when running late on the way to soccer practice. The Pilot outguns the V6-powered Toyota Highlander by 20 horsepower. More important, the engine produces 245 pounds-feet of torque from 3000 rpm to 5000 rpm. That compares to 222 pounds-feet at 4400 rpm for the V6 Highlander. GM's midsize SUVs, the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, GMC Envoy and Oldsmobile Bravada, offer a 4.2-liter straight-six producing 270 horsepower and 275 pounds-feet of torque, but those truck-based SUVs are about 200 pounds heavier than the Pilot.

The automatic transmission shifts smoothly and precisely, even under hard acceleration. The five-speed electronically controlled automatic benefits from Honda's electronic Grade Logic Control system, which monitors throttle position, speed and acceleration to avoid hunting between gears. The transmission's computer controller holds lower gears longer than normal for better performance going up hills and to provide engine braking on downhill grades.

The all-wheel-drive system is Honda's VTM-4 (Variable Torque Management 4WD) full-time four-wheel drive with an electronically locking rear differential.

The speed-variable rack-and-pinion steering provides excellent feedback and adjusts assistance smoothly as the SUV accelerates. The steering wheel returns to center comfortably and intuitively for maneuvers in parking lots and tight driveways.

Ride and handling compares well to the best midsize cars. It is stable at highway speeds, nimble in parking lots, and sufficiently well-damped to run over winter-buckled and pothole-laden urban streets without discomfiting its passengers. The steering wheel transmits road conditions enough to keep the driver informed without jerking the wheel at every pavement disruption. Passengers in the second-row seats found the ride equally comfortable, but the third row suffered somewhat from being right over the rear wheels.

Unlike many SUVs, the Pilot has enough sound insulation to prevent bumps in the road from being transmitted to the interior as noise. Given their cavernous interiors, it's not uncommon for SUVs to become booming echo chambers on rough roads. Even on Michigan's notoriously ragged freeways, the Pilot's interior remained quiet enough to carry on a normal conversation.

The Pilot felt stable and secure in simulated emergency maneuvers carried out in an empty parking lot. The suspension behaved with aplomb under both hard braking and acceleration. The nose does not dive overmuch on sudden deceleration, nor does the Pilot squat back on its haunches in a fast start.

The anti-lock brakes (ABS) performed equally well in simulated panic stops. The brake response is linear, and smooth, providing a reassuring feeling of control even under maximum braking. Pedal feedback from the ABS was minimal, removing one possible distraction that a driver really doesn't need in an emergency. The electronic brake distribution system (EBD), designed to reduce braking distances, performed transparently, as it should. Honda has not provided braking distance figures for the Pilot, but our test vehicle felt on a par with its competition.


Honda Pilot is a reasonably priced, good-looking and practical sport-utility that offers exceptional interior space, power and comfort for the money. Honda expects to sell 80,000 Pilots a year. In a world where many SUVs take up far more space than their utility justifies, and drink far more gas than their performance merits, the Pilot is a breath of fresh air.

Model Line Overview

Model lineup: LX ($26,900) (YF1813EW); EX ($29,270) (YF1843EW)
Engines: 3.5-liter V6
Transmissions: 5-speed automatic
Safety equipment (standard): dual-stage/dual-threshold front airbags, driver side airbag, front passenger side airbag with occupant sensing, seatbelt pretensioners, ABS, electronic brake distribution
Safety equipment (optional): none
Basic warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in: Alliston, Ontario, Canada

Specifications As Tested

Model tested (MSRP): Honda Pilot EX ($29,270) (YF1843EW)
Standard equipment: air conditioning; cruise control; AM/FM stereo; in-dash CD player; power windows, mirrors and door locks
Options as tested (MSRP): leather seats, rear-seat DVD entertainment system
Destination charge: ($460)
Gas guzzler tax: N/A
Price as tested (MSRP): $32,480
Layout: four-wheel drive
Engine: 3.5-liter sohc 24-valve VTEC V6
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 240 @ 5400
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm): 242 @ 4500
Transmission: 5-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with Honda Grade Logic Control
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: 17/22 mpg
Wheelbase: 106.3 in.
Length/width/height: 188.0/77.3/70.6 in.
Track, f/r: 66.3/66.5 in.
Turning circle: 38.0 ft.
Seating capacity: 8
Head/hip/leg room, f: 41.9/57.5/41.4 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m: 40.6/56.6/37.9 in.
Head/hip/leg room, r: 38.9/49.0/30.2 in.
Trunk volume: 90.3 cu. ft.
Payload: N/A
Towing capacity: 3500 Lbs.
Suspension, f: independent strut-type with L arm, gas-pressurized shocks and stabilizer bar
Suspension, r: independent multi-link with trailing arm, gas-pressurized shocks and stabilizer bar
Ground clearance: 8 in.
Curb weight: 4439 lbs.
Tires: 235/70R16
Brakes, f/r: disc/disc with ABS, EBD
Fuel capacity: 19.2 gal.

Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.
All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) effective as of May 01, 2002.
Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges.

N/A: Information not available or not applicable.
Manufacturer Info Sources: 1-800-33-HONDA - http://www.honda.com

Copyright © 1994-2003 New Car Test Drive, Inc. 

Printable Version

2003 Honda Pilot Sport Utility

Safety Ratings help

What do the Safety Ratings mean?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs independent crash testing of new vehicles and then assigns them a score based on their performance. The overall crash test rating is based on how a vehicle performs in the following tests:

Driver Crash Grade:

Measures the chance of a serious injury to a crash test dummy that is placed in a driver's seat and driven into a fixed barrier at 35 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less chance of injury.

Passenger Crash Grade:

Similar to the driver crash grade, only now the focus is on the passenger.

Rollover Resistance:

Simulates an emergency lane change to measure the likelihood of a vehicle rolling over. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less risk of rollover.

Side Impact Crash Test - Front:

Focuses on the front side of a vehicle. It simulates crashes that can occur in intersections by striking a 3,015-pound weight against the side of a vehicle at 38.5 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 5 percent or less chance of injury.

Side Impact Crash Test - Rear:

Similar to the front side impact test only now the focus is on the rear passenger.

Driver Crash Grade

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Passenger Crash Grade

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Rollover Resistance

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Side Impact Crash Test - Front

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Side Impact Crash Test - Rear

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Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Side Air Bag Std
Child Safety Locks Std

Road Visibility

Fog Lamps Opt
Electrochromic Rearview Mirror Opt
Intermittent Wipers Std
Variable Inter. Wipers Std

Accident Prevention

Rear Parking Aid Opt


Alarm Std
Anti-theft System Std
Printable Version

2003 Honda Pilot Sport Utility

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Drivetrain 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Corrosion 5 Years/50,000 Miles

Honda Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

Honda Certified Used Car Limited Warranty extends the non-powertrain coverage by 1 year/12,000 miles from the date of purchase or expiration of new car warranty date. In addition, Honda Certified Used Car Limited Warranty extends the powertrain coverage to 7 years/100,000 miles.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 6 year or 80,000 miles
Lease Term Certified No
Point Inspection 150
Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance No
Special Financing Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $0

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

2003 Honda Pilot Sport Utility

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