2023 Honda Pilot
Honda proudly named their three-row midsize Pilot SUV the “king of the carpool lane.” It has been since its introduction in 2002. It was Honda’s three-row answer to the growing SUV market that focused on taking families where they want to go.
For 2023, a new generation model was introduced. We want to know whether it remains the “king of the carpool lane.”
The new fourth-generation Pilot rides on a brand new platform shared by the current Acura MDX. It was specifically engineered to take the weight of a three-row SUV with a more solid construction. Exterior-wise, the Pilot incorporates Honda’s new blunt front-end design, including an enlarged grille area and narrow LED headlamp units.
The side profile is improved by giving the Pilot a true SUV look compared to last generation’s “minivan” design. It appears to be taut, especially at the C-pillar with its own glass pane apart from the door. Rear design is also a departure from the past with larger horizontal taillamp units bridged by a trim piece boldly proclaiming the Pilot name.
Our TrailSport tester adds more off-road details to the Pilot’s exterior. They include a rear skid plate-like trim on the bumper, additional lower vents up front, larger wheel arches and black trim all over. The finishing touch is a set of 18-inch black-finished alloy wheels with all-terrain tires.
The Pilot’s new interior also follows Honda’s latest design language. The instrument cluster is a digital system that incorporates an information screen to the left inside the tachometer. A nine-inch infotainment touchscreen sits on top of the center stack and offer tactile buttons and a knob for key controls. All other controls are tactile as found on most Honda models, including the push-button transmission controls on the center console.
Our TrailSport tester is a seven-seater, with second-row captain’s chairs. All three rows wear a durable synthetic leather upholstery in black with TrailSport stitched on the front seat headrests. The front seat themselves are supportive, but a bit on the firm side. You can adjust the lower lumbar on the driver’s seat. Second row room is great for adults, however third row room is best for children.
The third-and second-row fold flat to the cargo floor. Space available behind the third-row seats measures up at 18.6 cubic feet. Fold down the third row, and you can haul around 48.5 cubic feet. With all rows folded down, you can carry up to 87.0 cubic feet.
Powering the Honda Pilot is a familiar 285-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine that also puts down 262 pound-feet of torque. This engine is connected to a 10-speed automatic transmission sending power to all four wheels through an Intelligent Variable Torque Management system.
Snow, Trail, and Sand modes.
Performance is OK overall. It could use a bit more low-end performance, even with a solid shifting transmission. It also does well when you take it off the road, especially in Trail mode. As for fuel economy, we averaged 18.7 MPG.
The TrailSport’s ground clearance is increased by an inch compared to other Pilot models. Honda also added an off-road tuned suspension set-up, which softened the ride overall. That also softened the Pilot’s handling characteristics with some roll and lean at the limit. The all-terrain tires worked better off the highway than on. We found some increased tire noise when cruising on the highway.
The steering system took a bit of effort for normal turns. However, you can get out of tight situations pretty well. On-center feel is OK, as it can hold its own within the lane. The brake pedal felt soft, but the system can turn in some good stops in normal and panic situations.
Pricing for the 2023 Honda Pilot starts from $36,300 and you have a choice of six trim levels. Our TrailSport tester came with a sticker price of $48,745.
The new Pilot has plenty of company in a segment has seen some significant growth in recent years. Consumers have compared the Pilot to the Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, Jeep Grand Cherokee L, Dodge Durango, Nissan Pathfinder, Subaru Ascent, Mazda CX-9 and CX-90, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, and Volkswagen Atlas.
There will be some consumers that will bank on the Honda’s proven reliability and its ability to continue being the “king of the carpool lane.” The new Pilot TrailSport model adds another twist to this popular three-row SUV – the ability to take it off of the highway.
Credits: CarSoup Editors