For 2006, the Honda Pilot midsize SUV gets several new features. There’s a new trim level, the EX-L Navi, which adds a navigation system with bilingual voice guidance and recognition, and a rearview camera that broadcasts in the navigation screen. All models receive Vehicle Stability Assist, passenger seatbelt reminder, curtain airbags, a restyled tailgate spoiler garnish, and new Ammonite Green Metallic interior. The entertainment system’s flip-down screen is increased to nine inches; the EX-L gets a compass in the rearview mirror; and all models but the base LX get front fog lights and body-colour door handles.

The Pilot’s sole engine is a 3.5-litre V6, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission; all use 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 starts as the LX, which includes four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, 16-inch alloy wheels, CD player with four speakers, air conditioning, seven cupholders, cruise control, power locks with keyless entry, heated mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, intermittent rear wiper, roof rails, cloth seats, and 60/40 folding second- and third-row seats.

The EX adds CD/cassette with seven speakers and wheel-mounted controls, nine cupholders, outside temperature display, cargo net, Homelink garage door opener, auto-off headlights, privacy tint, security system, eight-way power driver and four-way power passenger seats, and second-row centre activity tray.

The EX-L adds power sunroof, leather interior, and leather-wrapped wheel. The EX-L RES adds a rear entertainment system, while the EX-L Navi adds the navigation system. The entertainment system can be added to all models, but the navigation system is an option strictly on the EX-L.

The Pilot stands on its own merits, offering decent power and creature comforts, but it’s a crowded market; be sure to also check out the Nissan Pathfinder and GMC Envoy.

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