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2016 Honda Pilot cuts a more elegant figure (pictures)

The all-new Honda Pilot doesn't stray too far from its established formula, but it's now lighter and more attractive.

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Antuan Goodwin
2016 Honda Pilot
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Honda's large SUV gets a major update for the 2016 model year.

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The new Pilot is longer and larger than the previous model, but is also more curvaceous.

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The front end's design steps in line with those of Honda's smaller CR-V and HR-V crossovers.

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The increase in size manifests itself most apparently in the upgraded cargo volume and rear leg room.

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The Pilot is available in front-wheel and all-wheel drive configurations.

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The lighter chassis goes hand in hand with the more powerful engine room. Here you'll find that Honda's 3.5-liter direct-injected V-6 engine has been enhanced to the tune of 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque.

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The V-6 retains Honda's variable cylinder management system, which allows it to deactivate three of its cylinders during light cruising to save fuel.

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The 2016 Pilot also gets a new interior design that's more approachable and open than the previous model's.

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Part of that openness comes from the new shift-by-wire switch gear for the optional nine-speed transmission, which ditches the traditional lever.

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Honda's navigation software is now provided by Garmin.

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The HondaLink feature allows the infotainment system to deliver Web-connected information when paired with a smartphone running the HondaLink app.

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Underpinning the entire system is the Android operating system. With so flexible a base, we expect that the Pilot's software will be updatable to add new features and functions.

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The home screen is reconfigurable by dragging and dropping the icons. There are also two additional blank home pages -- presumably awaiting future updates.

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The Elite model sits at the top of the line, boasting the most amenities.

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The new Pilot is larger, but it appears smaller at curbside. That's because its ride height has been reduced to a more road-friendly level.

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Drivers have the choice between Honda's LaneWatch camera system or a sensor-based blindspot monitoring system. The Pilot cannot be equipped with both.

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A rear camera is standard on all Pilot models.

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Forward-looking cameras are used in conjunction with the lane-keeping assistant feature and forward collision alert.

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The cabin is measurably and visually more spacious.

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Steering wheel controls are logically organized. The Pilot's steering is light and easy, but offers an acceptable amount of feedback.

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Instrumentation is a familiar configuration with a twist. The full-color info display is flanked by two half gauges.

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The nine-speed automatic transmission's push-button shifter takes some getting used to, but I appreciated the more streamlined look and an unobstructed reach for the cupholders.

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The Pilot Elite has five high-powered USB charging ports, spread between the dashboard and center console.

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An optional Blu-ray entertainment system folds down from the ceiling.

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The optical drive for the rear entertainment is located low on the dashboard's center stack.

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In addition to the Blu-ray drive, the rear entertainment can also display video fed through its HDMI input or analog AV ports.

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The Econ button helps lead-footed drivers to reach optimal fuel economy by tweaking the throttle response to smooth out acceleration.

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A button on the side of the second row seats slides those seats forward for easy access to the third row.

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Honda says that placing the button low allows children to access the third row without much help from an adult.

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The rear stowage area has a flat loading floor with a hidden compartment beneath.

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The 2016 Honda Pilot represents a massive upgrade over the previous generation model, modernizing everything from the looks to the performance to the amenities.

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The 2016 Pilot starts at around $30,000 for the base model and tops out at around $46,420 for a loaded-up Elite AWD example.

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