Honda Pilot seeks a smoother landing

Redesign sheds boxy shape, gets in line with rivals

Honda Pilot seeks a smoother landing

Redesign sheds boxy shape, gets in line with rivals

The 2016 Honda Pilot‘s new look is a chance for a major course correction. Honda is confident the new Pilot will “become a new sales pillar.”

CINCINNATI — In 2008, the second-generation Honda Pilot crossover came to market with all the style and curves of a shipping container.

The timing was unfortunate. The Pilot’s design had been frozen several years earlier, when gasoline was cheap and brawny SUVs such as the Hummer H2 were in their heyday. But by the middle of 2008, oil prices were surging and an economic crisis was looming. Not only was the Pilot’s styling off-putting, but its boxy shape hid the fact that it was one of the most fuel-efficient crossovers in its class.

Between the Pilot’s conception and launch, said Karl Brauer, senior analyst at KBB.com, “the market literally went in the other direction.”

The redesigned 2016 Pilot, which goes on sale June 18, is a chance for a major course correction.

For starters, gasoline prices are back down, and the light-truck market is up 11 percent through April. Moreover, the Pilot no longer stands out for its ungainly design.

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