Honda’s Alabama Auto Plant has notched another major milestone, with the launch of a redesigned Pilot SUV that is already setting records for the automaker.
The 2023 Pilot is the largest and most powerful SUV in Honda’s history, and it required significant changes in structure and training at the $3 billion, 4,500-worker factory in Talladega County.
Upgrades in equipment and processes were made in areas across the facility, including engine, weld, injection, paint, assembly and final inspection. It represented the most manufacturing change points since the first-generation Pilot debuted in 2003.
The plant also established a new training program that involved every employee and moved to a new global Honda standard for the flow of assembly processes.
On Thursday, the plant celebrated the start of mass production for the new Pilot. The Alabama plant is the sole global source of the Pilot, now in its fourth generation.
“The all-new Honda Pilot is an incredible product that required the determined efforts of each and every associate at the Alabama Auto Plant and I am proud of how our team overcame numerous challenges to create new value for our customers,” said Lamar Whitaker, plant lead.
Honda helped set the foundation for Alabama’s growing auto industry more than 20 years ago, and the automaker continues to build on its long track record of success in the state, said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“Honda has done it again, with the launch of another impressive vehicle that will exceed customer expectations and help the brand reach new heights,” Secretary Canfield said.
“The new Pilot is also the latest example of the commitment and skill of Alabama’s auto workers, who have proven their expertise over more than two decades of building high-performance, high-quality vehicles that are in demand around the world.”
Honda’s Alabama Auto Plant also produces the Odyssey minivan, Passport SUV and Ridgeline pickup.
Since it opened in 2001, workers have produced more than 5.7 million vehicles and more than 5.7 million V6 engines that power them.
The redesigned Pilot is longer and wider than its predecessor and features a new rugged styling, marked by flared fenders and larger tires. There’s also a bigger upright grille and a new opening panoramic sunroof.
Under the hood, the updated SUV features a new engine that is also built exclusively at the Lincoln plant. The new dual overhead cam 3.5-liter V6 engine produces 285 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, with more complete combustion efficiency to meet stringent emissions requirements.
The 2023 Pilot is available in five trim levels, including Sport, EX-L, Touring, Elite and TrailSport. The TrailSport is Honda’s most off-road capable SUV in history, featuring all-terrain tires, expanded all-wheel drive system capabilities, thick steel skid plates protecting the engine and fuel tank and a raised off-road tuned suspension with an inch more ground clearance.
The new Pilot is arriving on dealer lots this month, with a starting price of $39,150.
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