Honda Pilot SUV: Chronicling the Changes

Revised: September 22, 2023

The Honda Pilot is a midsize, three-row sport utility vehicle with room for eight. Introduced in 2003, the Pilot has undergone complete overhauls and regular updates since. This SUV is one of our top recommended models in its segment when shopping for used or new. As such, we track the changes each year and offer the following synopsis since the Honda Pilot was introduced.

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Chronicling the Changes

Fourth-Generation Honda Pilot

The fourth-generation Honda Pilot
The fourth-generation Honda Pilot

2023 – An all-new and fourth-generation Honda Pilot debuts. The model boasts a rugged exterior, a modern interior, and an all-new 3.5-liter DOHC V6 engine. Offers an available torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system. Increased cargo volume and a removable second-row middle seat, available in Touring and Elite trims, provide added versatility. Technology upgrades include standard digital instrumentation, with higher trims offering larger touchscreen displays with wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto compatibility. The vehicle features seven drive modes, standard Honda Sensing system for enhanced safety, and Hill Descent Control. In the TrailSport trim, off-road performance is optimized further with Trail torque logic and a TrailWatch camera system to help navigate obstacles.

2022 – Honda drops the LX and EX trims for the third-generation model’s final year.

2021 – Honda adds a new SE or Special Edition grade for 2021. Dual-zone climate control and a 9-speed automatic transmission are now standard everywhere.

2020 – A new range-topping Black Edition grade rolls out.

2019 – Following a year of no changes, the 2019 Pilot receives a minor styling update. A revised infotainment touchscreen display is present. This year, the automaker made its Honda Sensing driver-assist suite standard on all grades. Finally, a smoother shifting 9-speed automatic transmission is added.

2018 — No changes of note for the 2018 Pilot.

2017 — The lone changes for 2017 cover technology as both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included on all but the base model.

Third-Generation Honda Pilot

The third-generation Honda Pilot
The third-generation Honda Pilot

2016 — A fully redesigned, third-generation Honda Pilot debuts. Lighter than the previous model, the 2016 Pilot has a more powerful engine and two transmission choices, including a nine-speed automatic. Improved seats, better cargo space, and a nicer interior round out the top changes for the year.

2015 — A new Special Edition (SE) trim is introduced.

2014 — No changes of note for the 2014 Pilot.

2013 — Equipment changes for 2013 include making the rearview camera standard as well as Bluetooth connectivity and a USB port. All models now have an eight-inch color touchscreen.

2012 — For 2012, the Honda Pilot is the benefit of a mid-cycle update. Restyled headlights and a refreshed front fascia chart the exterior changes. Inside, new materials, updated instrument gauges, and a new center stack highlight the interior updates.

2011 — Equipment upgrades to two trims are the only changes for 2011.

2010 — Following the second-generation Pilot’s release the previous year, the 2010 model offers minimal changes to equipment packaging.

Second-Generation Honda Pilot

The second-generation Honda Pilot
The second-generation Honda Pilot

2009 — The 2009 Pilot launches the second generation of this model. The engine and transmission return unchanged, while a new exterior and interior debut, including a wider third-row seat.

2008 — Two new trim levels roll out, otherwise, the 2008 Pilot is unchanged.

2007 — No changes were made for 2007 following extensive updates to the previous model year.

2006 — The 2006 Pilot reflects a refresh to the exterior, including new lighting and wheel designs. An update to the optional navigation system brings in a seven-inch screen; a rearview camera is now optional. A front-wheel-drive version debuts.

2005 — An updated engine with an increase of 15 horsepower rolls out. All other changes involve updates to equipment levels and package offerings.

2004 — Small changes accompany the 2004 Pilot for its second year. Equipment shuffling and improved access to the third row are among the updates.

2003 — Introduced in 2003, the Honda Pilot is a midsize SUV powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. Standard all-wheel drive, optional navigation, and entertainment systems, and three grade levels — LX, EX, and EX-L — mark this model.

First-Generation Honda Pilot

The first-generation Honda Pilot
The first-generation Honda Pilot

Honda Pilot Considerations

Since its inception, the Honda Pilot has offered standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive. A V6 engine paired with an automatic transmission, and a range of convenience, technology, and safety features can be found.

When cross-shopping the Pilot, we advise looking at the wide variety of three-row crossovers that have competed since this SUV rolled out. Some models, such as the Subaru B9 Tribeca and Saturn Outlook are no more. In later years, the competition includes the Chevrolet Traverse, Hyundai Palisade, Nissan Pathfinder, Jeep Grand Cherokee L, Ford Explorer, Kia Telluride, Mazda CX-9, Subaru Ascent, Buick Enclave, Volkswagen Atlas, and the GMC Acadia.

See AlsoHonda Service Pass Adds Complimentary Care

Image by Kevauto, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Matt Keegan
Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan is a journalist, media professional, and owner of this website. He has an extensive writing background and has covered the automotive sector continuously since 2004. When not driving and evaluating new vehicles, Matt enjoys spending his time outdoors.

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