Is Honda Considering a Short-Wheelbase Pilot SUV?
Midsize Crossover Would Compete With Ford Edge, Nissan Murano
The latest product from the rumor mill is that Honda is considering a short-wheelbase Pilot midsize SUV to compete with large two-row crossovers on the market.
Using the Hyundai Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport to support its theory, WardsAuto says a short-wheelbase Pilot could slash the SUV’s starting price by up to $5,000, making a five-seater Pilot more attractive to smaller families that don’t need a third row. The tactic also works for Ford, which markets the two-row Edge at about $2,700 less than the three-row Explorer.
Conversely, a “Pilot Sport” could also serve as a lifestyle vehicle for Honda, playing the same role as the Murano in Nissan’s lineup. That model is often sold to empty nesters and small families who prioritize its edgier styling over the greater practicality of the staid, upright Pathfinder. The shorter Pilot wouldn’t be Honda’s first foray into the large-ish five-seater market, as the late Crosstour gave Accord and Pilot buyers a compromise: more practical than the Accord, sportier than the Pilot, and with a unique style all its own.
Adding fuel to the fiery gossip is the discovery made by Car and Driver that Honda recently filed an application for one of its old SUV names—Passport—with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. As you may remember, the Passport was a Honda-ized version of the Isuzu Rodeo, a sporty five-seat SUV that offered station wagon levels of passenger and cargo room, packaged in a relatively stylish package. Sounds like the perfect recipe for a new, small-family–oriented Honda crossover.
“But wait,” we hear you say. “Honda already has a spacious, two-row crossover, the CR-V.” Well, you’re right. Seating comfort in the CR-V is on the luxurious side of adequate, and its cargo space is impressive given its exterior proportions. But it's only available with one of two four-cylinder engines, and we'd bet that road-tripping families would prefer the Pilot's wider interior (below) to the CR-V's (above). There might be room in Honda’s lineup for a V-6–powered crossover between the CR-V and Pilot, with a base price somewhere in between the former’s $24,045 and the latter’s $30,595.
Honda’s crossover lineup is looking good right now, but with tons of competition (and increasingly narrow market segmentation), the company could do well to diversify its lineup, especially since most of the Pilot’s development work is done. At a target base price of $27,000, we think Honda would sell every short-wheelbase Pilot (or Passport) they can make.