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2021 Honda Pilot gets special edition, new standard features

The Honda Pilot is nearing the end of its generational run.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

As the current generation Honda Pilot begins to sunset, the automaker is offering a new Special Edition trim level for the 2021 model year. Additionally, a long fresh list of standard features and transmission come on the model.

The Pilot is facing increased competition as it ages from the redesigned-for-2020 Toyota Highlander, Subaru Ascent, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, and Mazda CX-9. Kia's redesigned 2021 Sorento will be out later this year and Volkswagen has refreshed the Atlas for 2021 as well. The Chevrolet Traverse remains popular with buyers and will be refreshed for the 2022 model year.

In the Honda stable, the Pilot slots at the top of the SUV lineup. Below it are the Passport, CR-V, and HR-V. The company recently added a CR-V Hybrid model.

2021 Honda Pilot Elite The Pilot lineup sees a bit of a price increase for the 2021 model year. The Pilot Elite, shown here, remains at top-tier offering.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Starting today, dealerships will have 2021 Honda Pilot Special Edition (SE) models in stock. Those models build on the Pilot EX-L trim and offer, in addition to what is on the EX-L roster, leather seats, second-row sunshades, and a power-adjustable driver's seat with two-position memory. Blacked out features include 20-inch wheels, roof rails, grille, and front/rear skid garnishes. There's a foot-activated hands-free tailgate and wireless phone charger. The model is available in two- or all-wheel drive. Two-wheel drive models start at $38,960 and AWD versions have a $40,960 price tag.

Honda is also making its nine-speed automatic transmission standard across the model line adding paddle shifters to each model. Dual-zone climate control is now standard. Buyers now have the option to choose the Platinum White Pearl paint job for their Pilot Black Edition.

The price of the Pilot has gone up for the 2021 model year, but only slightly. It now starts around $600 more than the 2020 edition. The 2021 Pilot LX with two-wheel drive starts at $32,250 adding AWD to that trim level bumps the price up to $34,250.

The 2021 Honda Pilot is made at the company's Lincoln, Alabama plant alongside Odyssey, Passport, and Ridgeline. Its engine is also manufactured in Alabama.

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The 2022 Lexus ES will debut next week.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

The meat and potatoes of the Lexus sedan lineup, the ES, is due for a refresh, and it will get one. The 2022 Lexus ES will be shown publicly for the first time this Sunday as part of the festivities of the Shanghai auto show.

While the photo doesn't tell a lot, there's some things you can bet on in the 2022 ES. For starters, look for all the improvements that the auto has gotten over the last two years to carry over into the new model. That includes the addition of all-wheel drive to the lineup and standard blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.

The ES Black Line may not make its way to the 2022 version of the midsize sedan. Generally, blacked out editions are available only at the tail end of a model run ahead of a refresh or generational redesign. However, the blacked out elements could become available as part of a package.

The headlight photo that Lexus has offered as a teaser shows a housing that is not dissimilar to the one that the Lexus IS wears. However, the daytime running light is on the bottom here, instead off the top. Like the IS, there are strong hood lines.

At the back, the preview video shows a vehicle that is very similar to the current model. It's taillights, a strong chrome line that runs the width of the year, and rear lip spoiler all look mostly same as before.

As for what to expect underneath the body of the car, there's not a lot of indication from the teasers, which leads one to believe that's where the biggest changes are coming. There's a good chance that we'll finally say goodbye to the Lexus touch pad in favor of a touch screen display that's within a comfortable distance.

It's also likely that Lexus will fine tune the dynamics of the ES in a similar fashion to how the Lexus IS got more performance-focused driving dynamics in its latest redo.

Stay tuned for more specifics are the curtain is pulled back on April 19 in China (April 18 in the U.S.).

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Domino's and Nuro announced their partnership in 2019 — and now the robots are hitting the roads.

Photo courtesy of Nuro

After announcing their partnership to work on pizza deliveries via self-driving robots in 2019, Dominos and Nuro have officially rolled out their technology to one part of town.

Beginning this week, if you place a prepaid order from Domino's in Woodland Heights (3209 Houston Ave.), you might have the option to have one of Nuro's R2 robot come to your door. This vehicle is the first do deliver completely autonomously without occupants with a regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a news release.

"We're excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for Domino's customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston," says Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer, in the release. "There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space. This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations."

Orders placed at select dates and times will have the option to be delivered autonomously. Photo courtesy of Nuro

Nuro Domino's delivery vehicle

The Nuro deliveries will be available on select days and times, and users will be able to opt for the autonomous deliveries when they make their prepaid orders online. They will then receive a code via text message to use on the robot to open the hatch to retrieve their order.

"Nuro's mission is to better everyday life through robotics. Now, for the first time, we're launching real world, autonomous deliveries with R2 and Domino's," says Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president, in the release. "We're excited to introduce our autonomous delivery bots to a select set of Domino's customers in Houston. We can't wait to see what they think."

California-based Nuro has launched a few delivery pilots in Houston over the past few years, including the first Nuro pilot program with Kroger in March 2019, grocery delivery from Walmart that was revealed in December 2019, and pharmacy delivery that launched last summer.

From being located in a state open to rolling out new AV regulations to Houston's diversity — both in its inhabitants to its roadways, the Bayou City stood out to Nuro, says Sola Lawal, product operations manager at Nuro.

"As a company, we tried to find a city that would allow us to test a number of different things to figure out what really works and who it works for," Lawal says on an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "It's hard to find cities that are better than Houston at enabling that level of testing."

You can find out which self-driving vehicles are being tested in your neck of the woods by clicking here.


This article first appeared on AutomotiveMap's sister site InnovationMap.

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