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Discussion Starter #1
I saw the Honda Pilot, live and in person, for the first time tonight at the local dealer.

My immediate impression: Mixed. Saw the back first and liked it. Then saw the front and didn't. (BTW - it was silver)

The good: It is very "MDX", with similar seats, mirrors, and general dimensions -> It offers all the nice specs that make the X so versatile. The dash is different than the MDX; not better, just different. Dead-on view of the front really shows the width ("wider is better!). Rear gate styling is the most attractive part of the car. Like the roof rack.

The bad: Side lines are bulbous and cluttered; not clean like the MDX. The front is too bulky looking for my taste, with gaping grill dominating. The rear roofline is very boxy, as compared to the MDX.

Bottom line: The MDX styling is much better. However, given the similarities in features, versatility, and performance, AND given the value pricing of the Pilot, I'd have to really think before spending the extra cash on the MDX.
:8:
Let us know your thoughts when you see it! :20:
 

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I saw a black Pilot on the road today. I was surprised because I didn't expect to see one in the wild this soon. I only saw it briefly in passing. My first thought was, "Is that a CRV?" Then, "No, it's too big to be a CRV. Wow, that's a Pilot! That guy must have pre ordered a long time ago!" (Because of the location, I'm sure it wasn't a test drive.)

My next thought was, "Man, that's almost ugly." I think the styling of the MDX is far superior to the Pilot, especially the front end. I haven't had a chance to look at a Pilot closely, but my first impression is that the MDX is worth the extra $ for styling alone. When you throw in TLC, it's a no brainer.

I would definitely like to see a Pilot up close, though. Maybe even test drive one just for kicks.

E
 

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I saw a couple at the dealer just the other day. I knew it was coming but I guess I didn't think June 3rd actually meant June 3rd, but low and behold, they had them on the lot. We were actually going to look at the CR-V as it was our "maybe we shouldn't spend the money" fallback, but I think we've ruled that out.

I took at look inside and out. I knew it shared a lot with the MDX, but for some reason I just didn't like it as much. I prefer the dash in the MDX, and I definitely prefer the MDX styling on the outside. Plus the MDX has an extra year/12k miles on the warranty.

This is our first journey into SUV land, and I feel like the MDX looks more like a big wagon and a little less like a 'truck' by comparison.

Overall, though, for what it is, the Pilot is probably going to do very well, I'm sure.
 

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I test drove a pilot yesterday. I like some of the exterior styling such as the front grill but overall the MDX is better in this department. It's a nice vehicle and will be in high demand. The feel when sitting in the driver's seat is simular to an Accord with the lower dashboard and side door windows. Although this creates a larger front windshield increasing visability, I never cared for it in the Accord, and it gave the Pilot a mini van like feeling. It also felt like I was sitting lower to the ground relative to the MDX.
 

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welcome to the new members.

joshr said:
Plus the MDX has an extra year/12k miles on the warranty.

not to nitpick, but the Acura MDX has a 4yr/50,000 mile warranty.

I haven't seen the pilot yet, but i like the ads on t.v.
 

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Saw a Havasu Blue with Gray interior Pilot in dealer's showroom. Asking MSRP+$5K. This is the first time I saw this color. Looked like it had a "greenish tint" indoors. The salesman said it looks more bluish outdoors.

I liked the looks of the Pilot, but not as much as the MDX. The X is more stylish. I did like the Gray interior color. Sitting in the Pilot felt very similar to sitting in the MDX. Altho, I didn't like the looks of the dash as much as that of the MDX. I really liked the console area better than the MDX. It had more storage area and gave a more roomy feel. This is a result of the shifter being on the steering column in the Pilot. (I guess it's because I was so used to the space we had when we had a Honda Odyssey, wish the X had more space in this area).

Overall, I think the Pilot has a lot to offer if priced at MSRP...not +$5K
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Is this good or bad?

joshr said:
This is our first journey into SUV land, and I feel like the MDX looks more like a big wagon and a little less like a 'truck' by comparison.

Overall, though, for what it is, the Pilot is probably going to do very well, I'm sure.
Joshr - I can't read between the lines . . . sounds like you're opting for the the Pilot because it is more 'trucklike' and last van-ish than the MDX. Is this true?
 

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Re: Is this good or bad?

MrPrescott said:


Joshr - I can't read between the lines . . . sounds like you're opting for the the Pilot because it is more 'trucklike' and last van-ish than the MDX. Is this true?
hah, actually, just the opposite. i'm going for the MDX. i live in SoCal, the last thing i really need is a 'truck'. i'll be the first to admit, the reasons i'm buying an SUV have nothing to do with going offroad or driving in bad weather. i need a family hauler that has lots of room and is high up enough that i won't make my back hurt more than it already does from lifting kids in and out of a car seat.

i was actually considering the Odyssey. we weren't exactly enthusiastic about getting a minivan, though, and a trip to the local dealer (they had two on the lot ... spoken for, of course, but they let us get in and look around) sobered us up. it was nice, for what it was, but it just wasn't right for us.

when i say 'do very well', i just mean that to me one is not clearly better than the other, and once dealers stop charging way over MSRP, i'm guessing the Pilots will be all over the place.

and to correct my statement about warranty up above, that should have been an extra year/14k miles, i think, at least according to edmunds.com (pilot: 3/36, mdx: 4/50).
 

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I saw a black one today -- and I must agree with all of you -- it was kind of boring. It looks like a bigger CRV. The styling of the MDX is 10 times nicer -- not to offend any Pilot owners, but I'm kind of a snob about my X and compare it to everything.

I'm sure it's a perfectly good vehicle, but I like the MDX much better.

That's the nice thing about the Japanese companies -- they're good at differentiating similar models between the lines (i.e. Acura/Honda Toyota/Lexus) -- you can tell they're similar, but huge differences in the styling. Unlike US manufacturers that change the rims and slap a different name on it.
 

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I stopped by my local Honda dealer on friday to take a look at the Pilot.

The pilot definetly has more storage compartments, but no where near the LUXERY look inside as the X. The front headrest don't even adjust.

Overall not a bad vehicle, but the dealership wanted $2,995 extra for AMV (Adjusted Market Value) and selling at MSRP He mentioned all the dealers in this are area selling them with an AMV. I looked at a fully loaded EX with, leather and the DVD entertainment package. The before sales tax price was $36,225, with a MSRP of $32,980.

I told the salesman I would rather buy a MDX at that price and they are not negoition on the AMV, since the vhicle is so new. I thought paying MSRP for the X was crazy, but to pay MSRP and AMV, the Honda dealers are really crazy.

I was considering a Pilot for another vehicle, since me and the wife like the X so much. Guess I will be waiting for a bit longer now.

Time to go wash and Zaino the X.

:)
 

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Stopped by the Honda dealership last week and got to sit inside of one. Definitely less "plush" on the inside. The exterior looks like a large Subaru Forrester. I guess it's the very square lines.

Funny how they offer the base model, but all the ones they had on the lot were the upgraded model with leather!

FYI - At least this dealership is charging msrp (Rt. 9, Natick, MA). June and July inventory sold out already and they said you could probably get one in August.

One more week till I get my 'X :2:
 

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Cruised my Honda dealer's lot today and looked at two Pilots.

I traded my '98 Accord EX V6 for our white 2002 MDX.

Wife and I both agree, that as much as we like Honda, we made the right decision.

Based on price, both exterior and interior styling, we are glad we waited 9 weeks for our MDX and not a little longer for Pilot.

I just hope the Acura dealer is as excellent on service and genuine concern for the happiness of their customers as Honda.

We will be trading wife's 2000 Civic Coupe EX in 2003. We were going to consider Pilot but will probably opt for a CRV.
 

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I don't think it has any style at all... I think the new CRV has more style. When they annoced the Pilot I thought maybe I should have waited but after seeing it I'm very glad I have My mdx. I just hope Honda doesn't drop the ball on the new accord..
 

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Pilot

IMHO I think the group is being too hard on the Pilot. Seems we have a need to "defend our selection of the MDX". Well, we own an MDX [no regrets] and would consider a Pilot. Everyone keeps "slamming the Pilot" because it is "less luxurious". Heck yes it is, it is a Honda, not an Acura. What is a TL if not a lux version of the Accord?

Here are some of the pluses we see in the Pilot:

** Has auto-up driver door window.

** Has integrated body side molding. To me, looks better, doesn't look "added on".

** "Same" engine, runs on regular gas. Granted the torque curve is different, but I would rarely miss it.

** Roof rack that looks like it would work.

** Neat rear under floor storage compartment [much bigger than the MDX].

** Available cloth interior!! In SCAL, we don't necessarity see leather as a big plus [cloth is more comforatable after sitting in the blazing sun for hours.

** MDX running gear [engine, trans, awd] that have a little history [aka our MDXs].

** MSRP with significant savings.

There are some negatives as we see it:

** No moon roof [wife would be OK, I wouldn't].

** Honda dealers are really greedy in our area!!

** Service departments that don't match Acura service departments AND we know that Acura is lacking in this area.

.... Oh well ;)
 

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Re: Pilot

srpbep said:
IMHO I think the group is being too hard on the Pilot. Seems we have a need to "defend our selection of the MDX".
Yes, there are a lot of positives about the Pilot. But this is, after all, an "MDX enthusiasts'" system. Like you, we all have personal preferences and for some of us, the MDX is the way, and for others, the Pilot is the choice.

A definite concern I'd have (again, personal preference here) with the Pilot is its softer and less precise handling -- leans into corners more, steering is number. The MDX isn't an X5 when it comes to handling, but it has, for my own preferences, a near-ideal balance of ride comfort and handling.

Honda definitely followed the "family-oriented" theme with the Pilot when they tuned the suspension (and put 16" wheels on it). The Pilot's ride is softer and more comfortable than the MDX, but the vehicle is definitely less sporty. Then again, its conservative, boxy sheetmetal also screams "family marketing." So do the extra cup holders, children's activity tray, etc. etc. The marketeers were working overtime on this one!

One man's sporty vehicle is another man's familymobile. I know an X5 owner would scoff at me for praising the MDX's handling, and he thinks his firm, stiff ride is fine. :D

Nevertheless, they are both excellent vehicles and would make a lot of people happy.
 

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Edmunds Review

First Drive: 2003 Honda Pilot
12 O'Clock High
By Brent Romans
Last updated: 2002-05-24

It's lunchtime at the Honda Pilot national press introduction. At a table is a selection of automotive journalists, Honda public relations managers and me. One of the journalists — between mouthfuls of free steak — is loudly telling the Honda people that the Pilot is "going to get hammered" in reviews because of its transmission shifter.

For reasons that I can discern only as an attempt to justify his own existence, said journalist is making the shifter out to be the worst thing since outboard fuel tanks, or possibly Felicity's short hair cut. The Honda PR mavens nod politely. I'm embarrassed to be grouped in the same profession. Dear reader: If the worst thing an egotistical journalist can say about the Honda Pilot is that it has a balky shifter, you know we've got a pretty good vehicle here.

The Pilot, as you've more than likely come to this story to find out, is a replacement for the Isuzu-sourced Honda Passport SUV. It's about time that the Passport was revoked; we thought so little of it in a midsize SUV comparison test, we ranked it last and wrote that it earned a "G-ticket to Loserville." The Pilot, thankfully, comes from a much more respected and well-to-do family. It's very similar mechanically to the popular Acura MDX, a vehicle itself based on the outstanding Odyssey minivan. Knowing that lineage alone should indicate to you that the Pilot is indeed something quite desirable.

UAFAV. This might sound like some sort of Army munition used to delouse the mountains of Afghanistan, but, in fact, it's Honda's goal for the Pilot — the Ultimate American Family Adventure Vehicle. To meet the challenge, the Pilot is equipped with seating for eight, a powerful V6 engine, a versatile interior, capable road handling and a reasonable level of offroad ability. It's also tempered with Honda's traditional strengths in dependability, quality, safety and environmental awareness. If this story were an infomercial, now's the time we'd cue the "You get all this! But wait, there's more!" sound bite.

Third-row seating is all the rage with new midsize crossovers and SUVs, and the Pilot isn't one to shirk from peer pressure. (Honda is marketing the Pilot as an SUV, but its car-based uni-body construction and lack of a two-speed transfer case incline us to label it as a crossover.) The third-row is virtually the same size as the MDX's, but in this case it has three sets of adjustable headrests and three-point seatbelts. Legroom is tight at 30.2 inches, so it's best to limit the third row to children. Three normal-sized adults would likely find the third row as uncomfortable as eating a cheeseburger at a PETA convention.

The second- and third-row seats are positioned theater-style, meaning that they are elevated to give occupants a better outside view. Legroom for second-row passengers measures 37.4 inches and shoulder room is 61.4 inches. These figures are very competitive for the class. For comparison, a seven-passenger Ford Explorer offers 37.2 inches of legroom and 58.9 inches of shoulder room. The Pilot's second-row seating lacks contouring and isn't overly comfortable, but at least the seatbacks can be adjusted through seven positions of recline via a lever on each seat's upper bolster.

Both the second and third rows are split 60/40. To fold the second-row seat flat for cargo hauling, the user lifts up on a lever located on the upper portion of the outboard seat bolster. The cushion then automatically cantilevers both down and forward as the seatback is folded down to create a flat load floor with no gaps between the seats. The third-row can be folded down also, though in this case, the headrests must be removed to get a flat floor. To store them, Honda has provided a hidden storage compartment beneath a hinged door in the rear cargo floor. The compartment can also be used to store other items, such as an emergency kit or tire chains.

Lowering the seats reveals an impressively large 90.3-cubic foot cargo hold. Because of the Pilot's wide stance, there's sufficient clearance between the wheelwells to place 4-foot-wide items, such as sheets of plywood, flat on the floor. If the second-row seats are in use, cargo capacity is 48.7 cubic feet. With the third row up, there's still enough room for grocery bags, baby paraphernalia or a set of golf clubs. The liftgate is one piece, meaning that it must be completely opened to load items. Some SUVs, like the Explorer, have a rear glass panel that can be opened independently of the main liftgate.

Two trim levels are offered: LX and EX. As is typical of Honda offerings, nearly everything is standard equipment. This includes a heavy-duty climate control system with rear-seat vents and ducts; cruise control; power windows, doors and locks; a rear window defroster; and a CD player. Going with the EX adds alloy wheels, auto-off headlamps, an eight-way power driver seat with lumbar adjustment, available leather seating, keyless entry, automatic climate control, HomeLink and steering wheel-mounted audio controls.

In addition to dual-stage front airbags, all Pilots come with second-row LATCH child-seat anchors, front side airbags and ABS-equipped disc brakes with Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD). There's also a sensor in the front passenger seat that can prevent deployment of the side airbag when a child or small-statured person is incorrectly positioned in the airbag's path. Honda expects the Pilot to earn a five-star rating in front- and side-impact National Highway Traffic Safety Administration testing, as well a "good" rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's offset frontal crash test.

On EX models with leather (EX-L), a DVD-based navigation system and a DVD entertainment system are available. If the nav system is ordered, the Pilot comes with a center stack-mounted 6-inch LCD display screen. Thankfully, the separate controls for the audio and climate systems are retained, avoiding the common automaker blunder of running everything through a cumbersome LCD interface. Though Honda doesn't offer a reverse parking sensor, a liftgate-mounted wide-angle miniature video camera can be ordered from a dealer. Once installed, the camera will project its field of view on the nav screen any time the vehicle is put in reverse. The entertainment system includes a 7-inch flip-down LCD screen for second- and third-row occupants. It includes remote wireless headphones and video input jacks. Unfortunately, the nav and entertainment systems cannot be ordered together.

Up front, the cabin is simple and well thought out, as is typical for Honda vehicles. The center console/armrest is particularly useful, as it features a deep central bin to hold large items including CDs and DVDs. The front of the console features a hinged door with a removable cell phone cradle and a 12-volt auxiliary power port. In front of the cell phone holder are two adjustable cupholders and netted map pockets. Other storage areas abound, including netted storage pockets and, on EX models, a kid-friendly fold-down activity tray in the second row.

For the adolescent in all of us, the Pilot comes juiced with a 3.5-liter V6. With only minor variations, it's the same mill found in the MDX and Odyssey. And as with virtually every other Honda and Acura vehicle, the engine features the VTEC variable-valve timing system to improve high-end power, low-end torque and fuel economy. The engine makes 240 horsepower at 5,400 rpm and 242 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. (The MDX makes slightly more torque at a lower rpm thanks to a more advanced intake manifold.)

So armed, the Pilot is able to, umm, out-fly most crossover competitors like the Toyota Highlander and Subaru Outback H6. This isn't a lightweight SUV — it checks in at more than 4,400 pounds. Still, acceleration feels more than adequate. More power can be found in domestic SUV offerings (Ford Explorer V8, GMC Envoy, Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Jeep Grand Cherokee V8 and Dodge Durango), but all are thirstier at the gas pump. The Pilot runs on regular fuel, unlike the MDX, which requires premium. EPA mileage estimates are 17/22 mpg for city and highway.

The engine's power is routed through a five-speed automatic transmission that features programming to hold a lower gear better when climbing or descending a steep grade. Alas, the column-mounted transmission shifter is a bit fussy when selecting driving modes, but owners will likely become quickly acclimated to it. The transmission's gear spacing is fairly wide to improve low-end grunt while still keeping the revs down for top-gear highway cruising. At 70 mph in fifth gear, the Pilot's engine is spinning at 2,000 rpm. An optional dealer-installed tow package adds a Class III hitch and transmission oil cooler to keep the tranny's temperature acceptable during heavy-load conditions. So equipped, the Pilot's maximum trailer towing rating is 3,500 pounds. Honda says that this figure is calculated to include up to four passengers and their cargo, and if a boat is being towed, the rating rises to 4,500 pounds.

From the transmission, power goes to a standard electronically controlled four-wheel-drive system. Called Variable Torque Management 4-wheel-drive (VTM-4), the Pilot's system is the same as the one applied to the MDX. During normal cruising conditions, the Pilot applies power only to the front wheels for better fuel efficiency. To get the most traction possible, the VTM-4 monitors throttle inputs and wheel speeds and then continually adjusts torque output to the rear wheels. This is different from the CR-V's mechanical 4WD system, which must encounter front-wheel slippage before torque is diverted to the rear wheels.

All info from Edmunds.com
 

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The Final

The key to the VTM-4 is a special rear axle drive unit. Like any front-wheel-drive vehicle, the Pilot has half-shafts in front that supply power to the front wheels. But there is also a constantly spinning propeller shaft that runs from the transmission to the rear-drive unit.

Not a rear differential in the typical sense, the Pilot's final drive is a unique hypoid ring-and-pinion gearset. The gearset does switch torque from the propeller shaft's longitudinal orientation to the lateral orientation necessary to drive the rear wheels. But this happens only when the VTM-4's electronics say so. A button on the dash allows drivers to lock torque output manually to the rear wheels (equaling an approximate 50/50 split between the front and rear wheels) to aid extraction from a slippery ditch or a snow bank. The VTM-4 lock also serves to equalize torque between the left and right rear wheels, thereby improving traction.

During the press introduction, we had a chance to drive a Pilot through a moderately challenging offroad course that included steep hills and ditches, embedded logs and wheel-engulfing pits. Even though the Pilot lacks a two-speed transfer case, it fared as well as the Ford Explorer, Chevy TrailBlazer and Toyota Highlander, three vehicles Honda brought along for comparison. The VTM-4 lock feature was beneficial in some low-speed situations where extra traction was required. Like the MDX, the Pilot is intended for "medium-duty" usage, with medium-duty being defined as the capability to support trips into the wilderness for camping or to launch a boat. It has 8 inches of ground clearance and respectable approach, departure and breakover angles. In more challenging situations, vehicles like the Dodge Durango, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Mitsubishi Montero would all prove superior in their ability to bounce over rocks and power up gnarly hill faces.

On-pavement use is where the Pilot shines. It's quiet and comfortable on city streets, as well as on the highway. When going around corners, the Pilot is predictable in nature and doesn't feel top-heavy. It certainly isn't sporty, however. Suspension tuning is softer than the MDX. As a result, the Pilot isn't as entertaining to drive as its Acura cousin or some other available SUVs. Further debilitating is a lifeless steering rack and 235/70R16 tires that, at just moderate cornering speeds, give up and start vocalizing their discontent.

In the big picture of things, these are minor points. Honda says that its engineers have determined that while some competitors may offer greater capabilities in one or two areas — such as offroad ability or towing capacity — the Pilot provides the best overall balance while maintaining a high level of comfort and stability.

And that's the key. The reason Honda vehicles do well in our comparison tests is not because they excel in any highlighted fashion, but instead because they are so thoroughly balanced and capable in all areas. The Pilot is engineered to meet the typical buyer's needs exactly.

Though we have yet to do a complete road test, we expect the Pilot to be one of the best crossover SUVs available. Its price — in the low 30s fully equipped — further boosts its prospects. If there's a problem, it's that Honda is building just 80,000 of them in the first year. Based on consumer demand for the MDX and Odyssey, we expect the Pilot to be a hot commodity, indeed.
 

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Pricing

Honda Announces Pricing For All-New 2003 Pilot SUV

Date: May 22, 2002 11:58
Submitted by: Benoit
Source: Honda
Credibility Rating: N/A

Torrance, Calif. 05/17/2002 -- Honda's all-new sport utility vehicle, Pilot, will go on-sale June 3 as a 2003 model with prices beginning at $26,900 for LX models, and $29,270 for EX models, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced today.
Standard equipment on LX models include a 240-horsepower, VTEC V-6 engine and five-speed automatic transmission; Honda's advanced VTM-4 (Variable Torque Management 4WD) four-wheel drive system; air-conditioning; cruise control, AM/FM stereo with CD player, power windows, door locks and mirrors, and dual front and side airbags.

EX models will carry a suggested retail price of $29,270 and add alloy wheels; automatic climate control; 8-way power driver's seat with adjustable lumbar support; high-powered stereo with cassette player and steering-wheel mounted stereo controls; roof rails; and second row fold-down kid's activity tray. EX models with leather interior trim will be priced at $30,520 and may also be equipped with a DVD Entertainment System at $32,020; or Honda's satellite-linked DVD Navigation System for $32,520.

The eight-passenger Pilot boasts the largest and most versatile interior in its class with 90.3-cubic feet of cargo volume and 60/40 split second- and third-row seats that convert easily into a flat load floor. All models come equipped with a full compliment of advanced safety features and are designed to achieve a five-star rating for all passengers in the NHTSA's frontal and side impact crash tests.

In keeping with Honda's long standing commitment to environmental leadership, the Pilot will be a Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) with class-leading fuel economy of 17 city and 22 highway (EPA estimate), and is constructed with 90 percent recyclable components.
---------------------------------
A reader submitted this Canadian pricing:

EX - $41,000
EX-Leather - $43,000
Price do not included shiping and handling.
Last edited by Tuan on 05-22-2002 14:59
 

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Discussion Starter #19
MrPrescott said:
The good: It is very "MDX", with similar seats, mirrors, and general dimensions -> It offers all the nice specs that make the X so versatile. The dash is different than the MDX; not better, just different. Dead-on view of the front really shows the width ("wider is better!). Rear gate styling is the most attractive part of the car. Like the roof rack.

The bad: Side lines are bulbous and cluttered; not clean like the MDX. The front is too bulky looking for my taste, with gaping grill dominating. The rear roofline is very boxy, as compared to the MDX.

Bottom line: The MDX styling is much better. However, given the similarities in features, versatility, and performance, AND given the value pricing of the Pilot, I'd have to really think before spending the extra cash on the MDX.
Hi all. Just for the record: I started this thread to primarily gather feedback about the styling. My conclusion? . . . Too close to call. So, the purpose isn't to bash the Pilot; it's to get personal feedback from people who have just seen it, live and in person, for the first time.
 

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The Pilot

Honda is going to sell tons of these things.

Just saw a white Pilot at the So. Portland, ME Honda dealership this past saturday. There were two salesmen and four couples, all with young ones,
crowding around this vehical when I pulled in. Now understand that Maine has no Acura Dealerships yet and there are only about half a dozen MDX's in the entire state. When I pulled in you would have thought I was green and just landed in a space ship. Everyone including the salesmen gave my MDX a closer look. After close examination of the Pilot, my MDX was a treat they did not expect . Wow, was that FUN.

I do not like the back , very boxy. This may be why the estimated mpg is lower than the X but shoud give the soccer mom crowd more cargo room.

The Pilot is the MDX's younger brother
 
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