Introduced in June 2002 as a 2003 model, the Honda Pilot has lived through three generations and nearly eighteen years. After over two million units sold worldwide, “the Ultimate American Family Adventure Vehicle,” developed on a car-like unibody platform, will be reinvented for its fourth-generation next year.
Engineers have started road-testing the all-new 2022 Honda Pilot, spy pictures published on carscoops.com have revealed. Unlike the current model, it is likely to hit the market with an optional hybrid variant. The first-ever Honda Pilot Hybrid would make the midsize SUV appealing to the fuel economy- and environment-conscious customers.
Honda’s midsize SUV will continue to be made exclusively in North America. Compared to the current Pilot, the 2022 model appears to have a bolder and striking design. The redesigned model should feature an upright front-end with the nose set straight up and a flatter hood. The rear-end would have a contrasting styling with a steeply raked windscreen like the much smaller Toyota Venza, lending it a very modern appearance.
As for the dimensional changes, the fourth-gen Acura MDX provides clues, as the new Pilot would be its technical cousin or the mainstream derivate. Compared to its predecessor, the 2022 Acura MDX is 2.2 inches longer, exactly an inch wider, and 0.6 inches taller, and has a 2.8-inch longer wheelbase.
The 2022 Honda Pilot interior would embody the brand’s new design philosophy that debuted in the new Civic – Simplicity and Something. Expect a clean interior styling with a slimmer and simplified dashboard that frees the cabin of visual clutter. It would be roomier than the old model. The steering wheel and the center console would have a neat design and underline the minimalist styling. A brand-new (12.3-inch) touchscreen infotainment system and a (12.3-inch) fully digital instrument cluster with wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto would make the midsize SUV more attractive for tech-savvy customers.
Honda may expand the Pilot’s list of ADAS with the upcoming full model change. The company may offer Level 3 autonomous driving features with the Honda Sensing Elite safety system.
In the Honda Legend, Japan’s Acura RLX, Honda Sensing Elite features a ‘Traffic Jam Pilot’ function, an L3 autonomous driving technology as per Japanese authorities. In a traffic jam, and when certain conditions are met, the system can be delegated the core vehicle tasks of accelerating, steering, and braking. The driver can take his/her eyes off the road and watch TV/DVD on the infotainment system or do something else that relaxes him/her during that time.
Electrification on the 2022 Honda Pilot
The Honda Pilot has traditionally come with a gasoline engine, but there’s no evading electrification this decade. The new midsize SUV is likely to come with a hybrid powertrain as an option. Moreover, instead of a basic self-charging hybrid system, reports say that a more advanced plug-in hybrid system could be a part of the powertrain mix. Note that Honda has not dropped hints about the new Pilot.
The Pilot competes with the Toyota Highlander, Kia Telluride, VW Atlas, Hyundai Palisade, Ford Explorer, and the Chevrolet Traverse. It has an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 19 city/26 highway/22 combined in the AWD variant. The Toyota Highlander AWD and the Ford Explorer AWD achieve better fuel economy, thanks to the availability of a hybrid. EPA estimates the hybrid variants to deliver 35 city/35 highway/35 combined and 23 city/26 highway/25 combined, respectively. Honda would have to make its midsize SUV equally efficient in the next generation to maintain its competitive position.
Honda electrification strategy
Honda, which sold the most electrified vehicles in its history last year in the USA, aims for a 40% EV/FCV unit sales ratio in North America by 2030. The company has said that it will increase this number to 80% by 2035, and by 2040, it would discontinue gas-powered vehicles to become a 100% zero-emission brand. A strong performer like the Pilot, which sells in the millions of units, should be among the initial set of cars to be electrified for Honda to reach its emissions target.
There’s no word on the 2022 Honda Pilot’s release date and pricing, but we will keep updating this story as new information surfaces.
Featured Image Source: Honda H7X Concept front-end via YouTube/Honda