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Average User Score
4.4 ⁄ 5 stars
Based on 29 reviews
2006 Honda Pilot Overview
Overall User Score
Based on 29 reviews
The best-selling midsize Honda Pilot SUV underwent its 2006 mid-cycle refreshing with the introduction of a new model and a number of upgrades.
The Pilot comes in three trims: base LX, mid-level EX, and luxury EX-L. The standard engine/transmission for all trims is a VTEC equipped 3.5-liter V6 producing 244 hp coupled to a five-speed automatic. Previously, power was directed only to Honda’s all-wheel-drive system, Variable Torque Management 4WD, which features an electronically locking rear differential. Most 4WD systems send power to the front wheels and shift it rearward when slippage occurs up front. Honda’s system, however, also sends some of the power to the rear wheels whenever the driver accelerates. In addition, the driver, via a push-button differential lock, can at any time send 50% of the available power to the rear wheels. The EPA rates this configuration at 17/22 mpg on regular fuel.
New for 2006, a more fuel efficient front-wheel-drive system was offered on all trim lines. To further improve the FWD system’s fuel efficiency, Honda added its Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system, which automatically shuts down three of the V6’s cylinders when cruising. To compensate for engine noise while under VCM control, the FWD configuration also includes Active Noise Cancellation and Active Engine Control Mount systems to cancel out any dissonant sounds. The resulting EPA rating is 18/24 mpg on regular fuel.
The Pilot shares its powertrain and platform with the Acura MDX and the Ridgeline pickup truck. These vehicles all share the midsize Accord sedan as their platform basis. Reviewers enthusiastically praised the Pilot’s ride and handling as much more car-like than any typical SUV. The Pilot wins praise for its agility, nimbleness, and balanced ride and handling characteristics. Stable at highway speeds, the Pilot can also handle potholed city streets calmly and comfortably. The ABS disc brakes produce linear, smooth braking in panic stop simulations and the rack-and-pinion steering provides good road feel.
The interior is simple and practical with spot-on ergonomics and Honda-level fit and finish. There’s a cupholder for every seat, and cubbies and storage pockets abound, along with a number of nice convenience features, such as a driver’s fold out cell-phone holder and a second-row fold–down activity tray. An optional voice-activated navigation system and a DVD entertainment system are offered, but it’s an either-or deal – a Pilot can’t have both.
The spacious midsize Pilot seats eight in relative comfort – reviewers can’t seem to agree what size humans fit in the third row. With the rear two rows folded flat into the floor, it offers 90.3 cubic feet of cargo space; its 4-foot-wide cargo floor swallows full sheets of building materials. The Pilot’s cargo space exceeds that of the GMC Envoy, Ford Explorer, Nissan Murano, and Toyota Highlander.
All Pilot models come standard with dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags, front side-impact airbags, and, new for 2006, three-row curtain airbags. Brakes are ABS four-wheel discs with electronic brakeforce distribution. The EX model adds Vehicle Stability Assist, Honda’s stability control system. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the Pilot its five star (highest) rating for side and frontal crash tests and four out of five stars for the rollover test.
Buyers might want to consider the Pilot as a less-expensive version of the luxury Acura MDX.