Is the Honda Pilot an SUV?

SUVs are some of the most popular vehicle types in the industry today. Most people need the space, efficiency, and luxury that most good models provide. With minimal differences between the two, some people have difficulty telling crossovers and SUVs apart. Although the Honda Pilot is labeled as such, is it actually an SUV or is it a crossover in disguise?

Honda calls the Pilot a midsize SUV

A blue 2022 Honda Pilot Elite midsize SUV, it's actually a crossover.
A blue 2022 Honda Pilot Elite Midsize SUV | Honda

The easiest way to determine which class a vehicle falls into is by visiting the automaker’s website. Upon clicking on the Pilot, you’ll immediately notice that it’s a midsize SUV. Honda markets one of its best-selling vehicles as a well-sized SUV that fits the whole family. Starting at only $37,580, that seems like a fair deal for something of this magnitude.

After all, the Honda Pilot is as powerful as most good SUVs. It comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine, even in the Sport base model. Additionally, a traction system with a snow mode, blind-spot monitoring, all-wheel drive, safety features, and tons of technology are included. With all this and more coming in the base model, the Pilot is undoubtedly an SUV, right?

The Honda Pilot is a crossover, not an SUV

How do we decide what is a crossover and what is an SUV? To put it as simply as possible, a crossover is lighter and built on the platform of a car. On the other hand, an SUV is built on a truck platform and is quite a bit heavier. While the Honda Pilot looks bigger, bulkier, and is more capable than most, it is still sitting on a car’s platform. No matter how Honda classifies it or its capabilities, it’s still a crossover by definition.

The Honda Pilot uses a unibody chassis (like a car) shared by the Acura MDX and Honda Odyssey minivan. That’s right, the underpinnings of a Pilot are the same as the cheaper, often less desirable minivan. There’s a stigma against buying minivans because of the “soccer mom” look, but the Pilot is the same thing with a different shape. That’s why despite the front page of the Pilot section on Honda’s website saying “midsize SUV,” it’s actually a crossover.

Why does Honda call the Pilot an SUV?

There are a few reasons why Honda might refuse to call the Pilot a crossover. The most likely reason is the other Honda models in its lineup. Honda has the HR-V, CR-V, CR-V Hybrid, Pilot, and Passport in the crossovers and SUV section. Each one uses a unibody chassis and is “technically” a crossover. However, the Passport and Pilot are classified as SUVs because they’re larger, putting them into the midsize segment.

The CR-V and HR-V, on the other hand, are much smaller. That’s why they’re more appropriately called crossovers, even though every crossover and SUV in the Honda lineup is a crossover. People tend to associate the name “SUV” with larger, more spacious vehicles, which the Pilot and Passport are.

Should you buy a 2022 Honda Pilot crossover SUV?

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The Honda Pilot is one of the most popular vehicles in its class. It didn’t get into its position of popularity by accident either. Honda’s spacious crossover gets 20 city and 27 highway miles per gallon, comes with a V6 engine and is well-equipped from bottom to top trim. For the new model year, there’s even an off-road-focused model called TrailSport. Those looking for a premium, luxury experience can get the Elite or Black Edition models, which retail for around $50,000.

In conclusion, Honda calls the Pilot an SUV, but it’s a crossover. Crossover vs. SUV status is decided by whether or not the vehicle uses a car or truck platform. Since the 2022 Honda Pilot, and those that came before it, sit on a car’s platform, it is technically a crossover.

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