Primarily aimed at the North American market, the Pilot is the largest SUV from Honda and features three-row seating. Pilots are currently manufactured in Lincoln, Alabama, and the Pilot was produced in Alliston, Ontario until April 2007. The first generation Pilot was released in April 2002 as a 2003 model.
Prior to the introduction of the Pilot, Honda marketed the compact crossover CR-V and the Honda Passport (a rebadgedIsuzu Rodeo). The Honda Passport that was sold between 1993 and 2002 was a truck-based design. The Pilot is Honda's largest SUV, although the 2010 Crosstour surpassed the Pilot in length.
The Pilot is sold in North America and the Middle East, while the Honda MDX (first generation Acura MDX) was marketed in Japan and Australia for several years. The second generation Pilot is also sold in Russia, Ukraine, South Korea, South America and the Philippines.
The 2003-2004 Pilots featured the J35A4 engine, an all-aluminum 3.5L V6 SOHC with VTEC, producing 240 hp (179 kW) and 242 lb⋅ft (328 N⋅m) of torque.
The 2005 Pilot received a new engine, the J35A6, which added drive-by-wire throttle and produced 255 hp (190 kW) and 250 lb⋅ft (339 N⋅m) of torque. Other changes included the transmission with revised 4th and 5th gear ratios providing a smoother transition between gears, along with a new fuel tank design, increasing the Pilot's driving range by over 40 mi (64 km). All Pilots from 2003-2005 feature VTM-4, Honda's four-wheel drive system.
The Pilot received more updates starting with the 2006 model year, engines were either the J35Z1 (FWD) or the J35A9 (4WD). Both engines were rated at 244 hp (182 kW) and 240 lb⋅ft (325 N⋅m) of torque; the power reduction is because Honda used the updated SAE net power standard. This was the first time 4WD was not standard on the Pilot.
The new FWD models featured Honda's Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system, which can deactivate up to three cylinders under light load to increase fuel economy, to help control noise from the system Honda added Active Control Engine Mount System (ACM) and Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). Further this version of the J35 featured updated iVTEC and the automatic transmission a shorter 1st gear ratio. With powertrain updates and the lack of VTM-4 the FWD version had improved fuel economy of 18-city/24-highway, an increase of +1/+2 mpg versus the 4WD.
All Pilots from this generation feature a 5-speed automatic transmission. The Pilot has front struts with a coil-spring, multilink rear suspension for a flat rear load floor. Front track is 66.3 in (1,684 mm) and 66.5 in (1,689 mm) at the rear. The Pilot has a 4,500 lb (2,041 kg) boat/3,500 lb (1,588 kg) trailer towing capability with the optional dealer installed towing package.
Pilots with Honda's Variable Torque Management 4WD system (VTM-4) sent most power to the front wheels under normal driving conditions. Under acceleration or if wheel slippage is detected at the front wheels, up to 50% of power can be sent to the rear wheels. The system also features a VTM-4 lock button on the dashboard which locks the rear differential and sends 25% of the power to each rear wheel. However, the VTM-4 lock function only operates in first gear, second gear and reverse, and automatically disengages above 18 mph (29 km/h), then re-engages when the speed drops below 18 mph (29 km/h).
Design of the Pilot was by Honda's Ricky Hsu through 1999, when styling was approved. The Pilot can accommodate up to eight passengers in three rows configured as stadium seating. The third row can seat three, but the limited legroom makes it suitable only for small children or adults on short trips. Similar to the Honda Odyssey, the rear seats can be folded into flat surfaces for larger cargo. Options include powered moonroof, DVD entertainment system, and a navigation system.
Other features include ABS-equipped four-wheel disc brakes, rack-and-pinion steering, four-wheel independent suspension, and 282° of outward visibility.
For the 2004 model year, Honda increased adjustability on second row seats and added heated front seats and side mirrors to models equipped with leather seats. 
For the 2005 model year, Honda added tire pressure monitoring, electronic stability control, revised steering, and upgraded the air bags.
2006-2008 Honda Pilot
Honda revised the Pilot for the 2006 model year in October 2005. Changes to the exterior included a new fascia with a different grille insert and halogen projector headlights, and taillights with clear lenses. The EX trim level received redesigned wheels, and the original EX wheels were now found on the LX trim. On the inside, side airbags were provided in the C pillar, the gauge cluster was updated and the center console featured chrome trim and redesigned storage compartments and cup holders. For the 2006 model year, Honda added Variable Cylinder Management to the two-wheel-drive models. This VCM tech proved to be problematic in some cases, which led to a class action lawsuit for Honda Motor Co. 
For the 2007 model year, Honda added Nimbus Gray Metallic, Dark Cherry Pearl, Aberdeen Green Metallic and Formal Black as four new colors to all models.
For the last model year of the generation Honda added two new trims. The VP (Value Package) replaces the LX as base trim and SE (special edition) goes in between the EX and EX-L trim.
The larger second generation Pilot was unveiled as a prototype in January 2008 at the North American International Auto Show. Assembled at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Lincoln, Alabama, it was offered in five trims; LX, EX, EX-L, Touring and SE (2015 only). All second generation Pilots used a new J35Z4 3.5-liter V6 i-VTEC engine producing 250 hp (186 kW; 253 PS) SAE net at 5700 rpm and 253 lb⋅ft (343 N⋅m) of torque at 4800 rpm. EPA fuel economy is rated at 17 mpg city /23 mpg highway with front-wheel-drive and 16 mpg city / 22 mpg highway for all-wheel-drive.
Both drivetrains were equipped with five-speed automatics. The second generation's wheelbase is 109.2 in, with a length of 190.9 in, a width of 78.5 in, a height of 71.0 in and interior space of 153.7 cu-ft. The redesigned headlights lost the previous generation's halogen projectors and return to standard halogen reflectors. Features included new two-position memory settings for the driver's seat, a new power tailgate, and the gear shift was relocated from the steering column to the center console between the front seats. The Touring trim included a 120-volt power outlet and a satellite-linked Honda navigation system.
The 2011 model year had minimal changes. The voice-activated navigation system which was previously exclusive to the Touring trim became available on the EX-L trim and rear system entertainment became standard equipment on the Touring trim.
2012 Honda Pilot EX
The 2012 model year introduced a redesigned front fascia, new alloy wheels, and updates to the interior along with changes to the bumper.
The 2013 model year included a standard rearview backup camera, i-MID central dashboard 8-inch LCD screen, USB connector, Bluetooth hands-free calling and wireless audio streaming, and tri-zone climate control.
The SE (special edition) trim was added which came standard with a power moonroof, satellite radio, and rear seat entertainment system. 
The third-generation 2016 Pilot debuted at the Chicago Auto Show in February 2015, production began during May, and was made available for sale in June.
The exterior is sleeker in appearance compared to its boxier predecessor with a 10 percent reduction in drag area. Added to the exterior are standard LED brake and tail lights, LED daytime running lights (DRLs) on EX trims and above, and LED headlamps with automatic high-low beam switching the on new Elite model. The Elite trim level also gained features that were new to the Pilot, including ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a panoramic roof. Alloy wheels became standard.
LaneWatch provides an 80° field of view along the passenger-side of the vehicle giving four-times more visibility than traditional side-view mirrors.
The revised 3.5-liter V6 engine has direct-injection and a start-stop system (on the Touring and Elite trims) with improved power at 280 hp (209 kW; 284 PS), a 6-speed automatic is standard on the LX, EX, and EX-L trims while a ZF 9-speed automatic is standard on the Touring and Elite trims. With all-wheel drive models the amount of engine torque sent to each rear wheel is variable. EPA-estimated fuel economy is improved with front-wheel drive (FWD) 6-speed models registering 19/27/22 mpg, and all-wheel drive (AWD) models registering 18/26/21 mpg (city/highway/combined). 9-speed models see fuel economy of 20/27/23 mpg in FWD configuration and 19/26/22 mpg in AWD.
Overall dimensions are larger, while weight is down approximately 300 pounds with noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) reduced. Both 2WD and AWD share the same platform. Structurally 21.3% of the Pilot's body is composed of 980, 1300 and 1,500 MPa ultra-high-strength steels, 5% is from aluminum or magnesium, an additional 34.5% is 270 MPa mild strength steel used in areas to minimize repair costs.
For the 2017 model year, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto were added to all trims except the base LX trim.
2019 Honda Pilot EX-L (facelift)
For the 2019 model year, Honda has refreshed the Pilot inside and out. The powertrain for the Pilot has remained unchanged, but Honda did revise the nine-speed transmission and start-stop system that are only found on the Touring and Elite trims. The exterior now has new bumpers, grille, wheels, standard LED headlights, and revised taillights. A hands free tailgate is now available. In the interior, the gauge cluster is replaced with a new one, similar to the one found on the Odyssey. The infotainment system is updated with the latest HondaLink software and it also features the CabinControl app (also found in the Odyssey). 4G LTE hotspot, CabinTalk, and a new rear entertainment system are now available. The volume slider has also been replaced with a volume knob. Honda has replaced the steering wheel with a new design, also from the Odyssey. Lastly, Honda Sensing is now standard on all trim levels for the Pilot.
For the 2020 model year, a new Black Edition trim was added to the lineup.
The 9-speed transmission is now standard on all trim levels, and there is a new Special Edition slotted in between the EX-L and Touring trims.