For 2007, the Honda Pilot adds a new configuration: the LX trim line is available in two-wheel drive.

The Pilot is available in LX, EX and EX-L trim; all models use a 3.5-litre V6, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. The new FWD version’s engine includes Variable Cylinder Management (VCM), similar to that used in the Honda Odyssey, which shuts off half the cylinders under light load for improved fuel economy. All other models also 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. Three rows of seating accommodate up to eight passengers, but the third row is very cramped.

Features on the LX models include 16-inch alloy wheels, side and curtain airbags, engine immobilizer, tire pressure monitoring system, stability and traction control, intermittent rear wiper/washer, variable intermittent wipers, roof rails, cruise control, front and rear air conditioning, power windows, power locks with keyless entry, CD stereo with four speakers, 60/40 folding second-row seat, and 50/50 split folding third-row bench.

The EX adds a security system, fog lights, tinted glass, automatic climate control, auto-off headlamps, exterior temperature indicator, garage door opener, rear cargo net, eight-way power driver’s seat and six-CD stereo with seven speakers.

The EX-L adds power sunroof, conversation mirror, and heated leather seats; available options on this model include a 115-volt power outlet, navigation system with rearview camera, and rear DVD system.

With the addition of its new FWD model, the Pilot offers buyers an opportunity to get into this ruggedly-designed SUV without the need for an all-wheel system, which many drivers don’t need and don’t want to pay for. The Pilot is well-finished, with good power and creature comforts, but it plays in a crowded market: be sure to check out competitors such as the Nissan Pathfinder and GMC Envoy.

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