Everything you need: unbiased reviews, product specs and great deals.
2003 Honda Pilot
In the middle of Hondas SUV lineup, the midsize 2003 Honda Pilot offers a great selection of standards, good performance and handling... Read More
In the middle of Hondas SUV lineup, the midsize 2003 Honda Pilot offers a great selection of standards, good performance and handling capability, quality components and in general, excellent value. With lots of room for 8 adult passengers, and lots of cargo, the 2003 Honda Pilot has all the characteristics and utility that has made the SUV class so popular with families and business people looking for more function than they can find in the average sedan. Minimize
76 Reviews from Epinions.com
Apr 20, 2003
World Class Vehicle
Pros: Ride, Handling, Interior Space, Panoramic Visibility, Responsive Power
Cons: One-piece Rear Hatch, Expensive Accessories, We drive it too much.
The Bottom Line:
If you want the most refined and capable full-sized vehicle that runs on regular gasoline, get the Honda Pilot.
For our family's all-wheel or 4-wheel-drive vehicle needs, we've owned two Isuzu Troopers (before they got big and clumsy), a Ford Aerostar XLT AWD, and Two Ford Explorer XLTs. We got interested in trading-in our 2000 Ford Explorer because it was hard to make big payments on a vehicle we just never learned to like a whole lot. Our first Explorer was a V8 XLT AWD with leather and moonroof, and we really enjoyed it. Mainly to get better mileage, we traded that for a 2000 6-cyl XLT with 4WD. Unfortunately, the gas mileage wasn't much better, the 4WD always engaged crudely compared to the AWD, we got tired of the truck-like ride and handling, and, though I still think Explorers have some nice features and represent a reasonably good value by today's standards, we felt no more than ho-hum about our $30,000+ vehicle.
I tried out a couple new and improved Explorers, a Toyota Highlander, looked at the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango, and several others; plus did lots of research on-line and in magazines and dealer literature. When a Honda Pilot EX suddenly became available at our local dealer, and they offered me a reasonable trade without jacking up the list price of the Pilot, it was no contest. We bought the Pilot for about $30,000, including dealer-installed hitch and an upgraded mirror with compass.
The next closest rival was the Toyota Highlander. I do like the exterior styling of the Highlander better; but my overall impression from a test drive was -- in a word -- dull. Also, Toyota recommends premium fuel for their 6-cylinder engine, there is no 3rd seat, and the Highlander was just plain smaller overall.
In addition to the AWD and 4WD vehicles I first mentioned, we've owned 2 Buicks, a couple Pontiacs, an Oldsmobile, 3 Toyotas, 4 Chevrolets, a couple Datsuns, a Subaru, 3 Honda Accords, and 3 Mazda Protege's, including the 2001 LX 2.0 we have now. From all our car ownership, all the test drives and research done for each purchase, plus driving and riding in many vehicles owned by friends and associates -- including Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Lincoln, etc., I strongly believe that Honda provides more refinement per dollar than any other automobile manufacturer. After driving our Pilot more than 11,000 miles in the 5-1/2 months we've had it, this Honda just amplifies that impression.
The Honda Pilot rides and handles like a premier touring sedan with an extraordinary view that just happens to have capacity for 8 passengers with some cargo, all-wheel drive traction, and the ability to tow 4500 pounds. It looks good enough from the outside; but its appearance grossly understates what an outstanding world-class vehicle this is.
The interior has just slightly more flair, but it's loaded with subtle appointments. The big center console has all sorts of compartments that can be configured multiple ways, including two of the best cupholders we've ever had, plus a nicely cushioned lid that offers plenty of elbow space for the driver and front-seat passenger. The front bucket seat backs each have two big webbed pockets, and there are lots more cupholders and cubbies scattered logically throughout. Both rear seat backs are asymmetrically split, which gives us lots of options for loading family stuff or the equipment I haul for our videography business.
The long, tall roofline probably inhibits exterior styling; but it leaves plenty of room for the large and small dog crates we sometimes carry in the back. I do miss the hinged window that our Explorers had in the rear hatch; but I like the Pilot's full-width flush storage hatch in the back floor. The Pilot is noticeably wider than our Explorers were, and that translates to very roomy comfort inside. The overall length is still quite compact, partially due to the transverse mounted engine, so the Pilot is uncommonly easy to park for such a high-capacity rig.
Our EX does not have the leather seats of the EX-L, so there's no integrated DVD-player or in-dash navigator either. Those options are only available with leather. The overall impression of our Honda Pilot probably isn't so much "rich and luxurious" as it is "smart and comfortable." I know I feel smart and comfortable whenever I drive it, which is why I tend to get behind the wheel way too often.
Back to all reviews