When Surveyed by American Honda Motor Co. Inc. on desirable attributes for the next-generation Pilot, owners asked for more room in the third row and improved fuel economy, while also imploring designers not to make the '09 Pilot “look like a minivan.”

At the same time, Pilot owners wanted more comfort and convenience, a request supported by the high-end features appearing in newer CUVs in the segment, such as the Mazda CX-9.

“Memory seats (also) were a request from our customers,” Rob Keough, senior product planner for the '09 Pilot, says at a media preview of the vehicle in Ypsilanti, MI. “(And) we saw a power tailgate really becoming a desirable feature.

“But we didn't want to load them all into the current EX-L trim and price those customers out of the market. So we kept the EX-L pretty much where it was (and) added a Touring trim above that.”

Honda expects the '09 Pilot to range in price from $27,000-$40,000 when it goes on sale May 22 in the U.S., with the latter figure representing a fully loaded Touring model.

The current Pilot's price is slightly more than $27,000 for a base 2-wheel-drive LX to $35,645 for an EX-L.

Honda predicts 41% of Pilot buyers will opt for the EX-L model, while 29% will find new Touring trim appealing. The base LX is projected to have a 10% take rate, with the EX accounting for the remaining 20%.

Honda forecasts '09 Pilot U.S. sales will hit 140,000 units in the first 12 months.