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2003 Honda Pilot

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2003 Honda Pilot Review

A freshman rising to the top.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The Honda Pilot debuts as a brand new vehicle for 2003. It is a replacement for a less successful vehicle, the Passport, an SUV that was plagued by several issues and failed to make a splash. But unlike the Passport, the Honda Pilot is its own vehicle. It does share many mechanical similarities to the Acura MDX, but it isn’t a copycat by any means. It is a true family vehicle with seating for eight passengers and enough cargo room for all the standard equipment of suburban living.

The Range

Body Styles: crossover SUV
Engines: 3.5-liter V-6
Transmissions: five-speed automatic
Models: Honda Pilot LX, Honda Pilot EX

What's New

The 2003 Honda Pilot is a brand new crossover SUV that features eight-passenger seating, all-wheel drive, and a powerful V-6 engine.


The 2003 Honda Pilot doesn’t exactly rock the world of SUV design, but it is an attractive vehicle nonetheless. There is very little body cladding, giving it a sleek and clean look. There are several features that fit the classic SUV design, including large pillars and a tall roof. The grille is large with the Honda ""H"" logo in the middle. The hood slopes down into it gently. Nothing about it is aggressive; it is meant to appeal to a gentle family crowd. It is built on a unibody construction with both front and rear sub-frames. This gives it versatile road ability and a smooth ride. It is equipped with a fully independent suspension, an eight-inch ground clearance, large wheel span, and more for off-road driving.


The 2003 Honda Pilot is very spacious and seats eight passengers. One of its best features is the theatrical seating position of the second and third-row. Each row leading to the back is slightly raised so that the passenger can see out the front window, and the driver can see everyone sitting behind them in the back mirror. Legroom in the second row is very spacious. Unfortunately, the third row legroom is a bit tight. It is really suitable for children only; adults will feel cramped on long rides. Both the second and third row seats have a 60/40 split that, when folded down, make more great cargo space. With the second and third row seating folded, the Pilot boasts a whopping 90.3 cubic feet of space. The wide wheelbase also means there is a huge width inside. Cargo area is 48.7 cubic feet when the second-row seating is up. Standard features include split-folding rear seats, a rear liftgate door, cruise control, speed-proportional power steering, tilt-adjustable steering wheel, steering wheel controls, front and rear air-conditioning, interior air filtration, and an AM/FM stereo with a CD player.

Performance & Handling

The 2003 Honda Pilot comes equipped with a 3.5-liter, V-6 engine that produces 240 horsepower with 242 lb-ft of torque. Although the horsepower is fine, the torque is a bit low for an SUV of its class. This results in low towing capability. However, the VTEC that is installed keeps gas consumption lower than on other vehicles, a welcome trade-off considering the gas savings. The engine is paired with a five-speed automatic transmission controlling an all-wheel-drive system. When properly equipped, it can tow 3500 pounds. It isn’t exactly a lightweight vehicle, but acceleration is quite good. It's a quiet and smooth ride due to the independent suspension. The wide stance also makes it more stable.


The 2003 Honda Pilot comes equipped with dual-stage airbags, front side airbags, and anti-lock brakes. Several other features, such as child safety locks, adjustable three-point seatbelts, and an airbag safety switch, also come standard.

EPA Fuel Economy

Honda Pilot: 15/21 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Eight-passenger seating
  • Stable ride
  • Large and versatile cargo area
  • Lots of standard features
  • Reliability

You Won't Like

  • Limp towing capacity
  • Low torque in comparison to other SUV models
  • High demand

Sum Up

A freshman rising to the top.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Buick Rendezvous
  • Chevrolet Blazer
  • Chevrolet TrailBlazer

See the New 2015 Pilot.

Front & Driver Side View

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