If I needed a big vehicle with seating for up to eight people, the new Pilot would be near the top of my short shopping list (which would also include the Saturn Outlook, the Honda Odyssey, and the Dodge Caravan). The Pilot's exterior styling makes it look very big, whereas the previous Pilot looked deceptively small. There's a bit of Jeep Liberty in the rear side window, but its distinctive face helps set the Honda apart from other crossovers.
Jean wasn't kidding when she described the countless clever, useful touches in the passenger compartment, including those myriad storage bins. The lack of a transmission-tunnel hump really opens up the middle row, too. The driver's seat (the only one I sampled, unfortunately) is quite comfortable, and the Pilot offers a very nice, quiet ride going down the road. Get-up-and-go is acceptable but not overwhelming. Still, the Pilot handles in such a way that makes me think it could easily tackle fairly ambitious towing and hauling tasks, even though its V-6 clearly wouldn't tug like a diesel or a V-8. The trip computer indicated an average of 18 mpg for my round-trip commute of mixed city and highway driving-decent for a vehicle with such capacity.
Personally, I love how the needles are set behind the clear gauge faces-a very cool touch. I did find the interior plastics were a bit less impressive in their fits than typical Honda fare. The transmission lever is well-placed, freeing up space below, but I thought it felt loose and oversensitive: it's easy to slip it all the way down to "2" instead of "D."
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor