• The 2023 Honda Pilot has been redesigned with a more rugged look, a more spacious interior and increased capabilities.
  • The Pilot also has a new powertrain, a reworked 285-hp 3.5-liter V-6. and a 10-speed automatic transmission.
  • The TrailSport trim makes the Pilot truly off-road capable thanks to all-terrain tires, steel skid plates and a raised suspension.

Since the original Honda Pilot debuted in 2003, it’s basically been a minivan dressed up as a three-row midsize SUV. However, his common pedigree with Honda Odyssey with sliding doors was not outwardly obvious yet the outgoing third generation. That’s when the Pilot showed its true colors with a bulging shape and a soft body that differed from its boxier predecessors. This is also one of the reasons why it failed to stand out in a competitive segment full of more interesting alternatives. Well, Honda has flipped the script: the new fourth-generation 2023 Pilot is bigger, stronger, and better off-road.

New above and below the hood

Let’s start with the obvious. The 2023 Honda Pilot no longer looks like a lifted minivan. As well as being much more boxy than before, it has an upright front end and front roof pillars that are further back, giving it a larger panel-to-axle ratio. The Pilot is also 3.4 inches longer from stem to stern, and its wheelbase is also stretched 2.8 inches. Its front and rear tracks are also wider, increasing by 1.2 and 1.5 inches, respectively.

The increased dimensions are part of a new platform that makes the Pilot the stiffest it’s ever been, according to Honda. The company also says its new chassis includes stiffer suspension, a quicker steering ratio and other changes aimed at giving the Pilot better handling and ride. A set of larger front brake rotors (13.8 vs. 12.6 inches) and shorter overall pedal travel are improvements in the braking department. Adding additional soundproofing materials should also make the interior quieter.

It would have been easy for Honda to take the 280-hp SOHC 3.5-liter V-6. and nine-speed automatic transmission from the outgoing Pilot and connect them to the new one. Instead, the automaker completely redesigned its venerable engine, keeping the same displacement but making a host of improvements. In a nutshell, the new DOHC V-6 has a better package.

While the 3.5-liter engine makes the same 262 lb-ft of torque, horsepower is bumped up to 285. A cylinder deactivation system also joins the party in pursuit of better fuel economy. However, Honda has yet to release EPA estimates. All Pilots now have a 10-speed automatic transmission (including paddle shifters).

TrailSport: A really rugged trim

The 2023 Pilot won’t be the first with TrailSport trim, it’ll just be the first where it really meant something. That’s because, unlike the glorified appearance package that came before it, the new TrailSport model is actually capable of tackling most trails –as we learned during the prototype ride.

Equipped with all-terrain tires and steel skid plates, the off-road oriented Pilot can go where its predecessors couldn’t. Its capabilities are complemented by a 1.0-inch lift, which increases ground clearance and provides better front and rear angles for overcoming obstacles. The TrailSport’s suspension has also been revised to do more than the regular models. What if you get an apartment? There is a full-size spare. What if it’s stuck? There are heavy-duty tow hooks built into the front fascia and one on the standard trailer hitch.

To help the TrailSport stay on track, Honda equipped it with a specially calibrated all-wheel drive system. We won’t make it too complicated, but when the Trail drive mode is activated, the setting effectively directs traction to the appropriate wheels. Also useful in this mode is the aptly named TrailWatch camera system, which provides four different angles not otherwise visible to the driver. It can be turned on manually or displayed on its own at speeds below 15 mph. Speaking of low speeds, combined with sloping surfaces, every Pilot 2023 features descent control for the first time.

Internal work

Sure, a model that can transport the whole family into the desert is cool, but that’s not a full-time pilot’s job. He is a man on the move. And it is much easier to move people when the space inside is large and comfortable. Well, Honda says there’s 2.4 inches of extra legroom in the second row, and half an inch of legroom is added in the third row. For those sitting in the middle row, these seats recline further.

The 2023 Pilot still has room for eight people, and the middle seat in the second row can be removed. However, instead of leaving that seat in the back, there’s now room for it under the rear cargo area. The latter is also bigger than ever, with 22 cubic feet behind the third row and a massive 114 cubes with the second and third rows folded. Honda also improves small-item storage by bringing back a useful package shelf built into the dash. No one should have trouble finding a cup filler either, as the Pilot can hold up to 14 of them.

Overall, the new Pilot looks more stylish inside. The materials feel more premium and the design is undeniably more mature. The standard cluster is part digital, part analog (as seen in other Honda models). Those who choose the top-spec Elite get an exclusive 10.2-inch digital cluster and projection display. In addition to the base Sport, which has a 7.0-inch touchscreen, every Pilot has a 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Availability and pricing

Honda has not yet told us how much it will charge for the 2023 Pilot, which will be offered in Sport, EX-L, TrailSport, Touring and Elite trim levels. The previous generation ended up with starting prices between $39k and $53k, and we expect those costs to rise by a couple thousand dollars across the board. We’ll likely know the exact MSRPs before the new Pilot goes on sale next month.

This content is imported from a survey. You may be able to find the same content in a different format, or you may be able to find more information on their website.

This content is imported from a survey. You may be able to find the same content in a different format, or you may be able to find more information on their website.


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