Underhood, the Pilot shares a 3.5-liter VTEC V-6 engine with the Odyssey minivan. It is expected that the Pilot will also have 240 horsepower, though production output has not been released. The all-aluminum engine will be backed by a five-speed automatic transmission, with power routed through a full-time four-wheel-drive system. Eight inches of ground clearance, short front and rear overhangs, and electronically locking rear differential give the Pilot sufficient off-road ability to meet the light-duty needs of most SUV customers.

Its 3500-pound towing capacity means it could haul a pair of personal watercraft or small boat, but it won't challenge the more muscular body-on-frame SUVs. A rigid unibody structure with front and rear subframes and four-wheel, fully independent suspension system provides the foundation for a well-mannered ride. The core hardware package is rounded out with variable power-assist rack and pinion system and four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes.

"We think this vehicle strikes at the heart of what many people are looking for in a family-sized SUV," says Dick Colliver, executive vice president of American Honda. "The Pilot delivers all the utility and versatility that people expect from their SUV with the added benefits of Honda's world-class quality, durability, and innovative design."

The Pilot is poised to take on the successful Toyota Highlander with a spec chart stacked in its favor starting this summer, when it goes on sale as a 2003 model.