For 2005, Honda’s Pilot midsize SUV gets a power increase, with 255 horsepower to 2004’s 240, and 250 lb-ft of torque to the previous 242. There’s a new base LX trim, which drops the Pilot’s 2004 starting price by $2,000. A tire pressure monitoring system has been added to all models, the EX gets a six-CD changer, and the EX-L gets a new sunroof, six-CD and vehicle stability assist. A revised power steering pump improves steering feel, and the transmission has been tweaked for extra smoothness.

All lines come with a 3.5-litre V6, five-speed automatic transmission and Honda’s Variable Torque Management (VTM) four-wheel-drive system, which locks the rear half-shafts at speeds under 30 km/h; over that, it’s primarily a front-wheel-drive that sends power to the rear wheels should the front ones slip. It’s not a serious off-roader, but with underpinnings borrowed from the creamy-smooth Acura MDX, this is more about highway hauling than timberline transport. Officially, the Pilot is rated as an eight-passenger, but the tight third row is strictly for pint-sized passengers.

The Pilot now comes in four lines, starting with the new LX, which features air conditioning, 16-alloy wheels, variable intermittent wipers, intermittent rear washer/wiper, roof side rails, CD player with four speakers, power locks with keyless entry, power windows, and rear seat heater ducts.

The EX adds a security system, auto-off headlamps, automatic air conditioning, six-CD/cassette with seven speakers and wheel-mounted audio controls, eight-way power driver’s seat, Homelink garage door opener, rear cargo net, and a second-row “activity tray” with dual cupholders and storage area.

The EX-L adds stability control, power sunroof, heated front seats and leather interior with leather-wrapped wheel; the EX-L RES adds a rear DVD entertainment system.

It stands on its own merits, but the Pilot faces stiff competition for 2005; the newly redesigned Nissan Pathfinder has a more powerful engine and a lower base price, while a base GMC Envoy has 20 more horsepower for only $390 more.

The Pilot is built in Alliston, Ontario

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