Honda to Debut All-New Pilot Crossover at Chicago Auto Show

(Los Angeles Times/TNS) -

Honda’s Pilot — the blocky, boxy three-row crossover — is getting a makeover.

Honda announced Wednesday that it will debut the all-new 2016 Pilot at the Chicago Auto Show on Feb. 12. The third-generation crossover will look to reestablish Honda in a segment that is brimming with new, compelling models from rival automakers.

“The new Pilot will raise the bar in a segment it helped to create, with more innovation, style, premium features and family utility than ever before,” said Jeff Conrad, senior vice president of Honda.

No photos or details concerning the new Pilot were released.

It’s likely that the new model will use its predecessor’s 250-horsepower V-6 engine, though the five-speed automatic transmission will likely pick up another gear for added efficiency. AWD will continue to be an option, with front-wheel-drive standard.

A four-cylinder engine may also join the lineup, considering many of the Pilot’s competitors have one as their base engine.

Aesthetically, Honda has promised that the 2016 model would “represent a dramatic shift in design.” This is a good thing, as the outgoing model — introduced in 2008 — had a squared-off profile while nearly all of its crossover competitors have shifted to a more streamlined, modern design.

Three-row models such as the Mazda CX-9, Kia Sorento, Nissan Pathfinder, Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander and Chevy Traverse have all been updated or overhauled since the current Honda Pilot was released. This hurt the Pilot’s sales in 2014, which dropped just over 14 percent for the year.

Honda’s luxury division, Acura, will also be busy at the Chicago Auto Show. It announced that a heavily updated version of its compact RDX crossover will debut on Feb. 12, as well.