Honda’s fourth-generation and top selling 2023 Pilot 3-row midsize SUV comes with a new larger design, roomier interior, increased power, added technology and an adventure-ready styling in the TrailSport model that we were privileged to test.
The Pilot TrailSport not only has a macho, rugged look, but it’s shod with Continental 18-inch all-terrain tires that are nine inches wide that aid in giving it a one-inch higher ground clearance. Combine that with steel skid plates over the gas tank, transmission and oil pan, plus an off-road tuned suspension, and you get true off-roading capability with the best of them.
Pilot is also offered in LX, Sport, EX-L, Touring and top-tier Elite that carries an MSRP of $52,380.
Pilot TrailSport is not only larger and bolder in design, but its interior is equally as bold with hefty and heavily padded, heated leather front seats, heated steering wheel, a vivid 9-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto connectivity, satellite radio, TrailWatch camera system with rearview, front and side view cameras along with overhead views. The display also serves a host of apps, satellite radio, mode selections and more.
In place of a transmission shift handle for the 10-speed automatic trans, Honda engineers standardized their popular SUVs with a push button gear selector for P, R, N, D/S gearing. It takes a little getting used to if coming off a shift handle. But once acclimating to them, you’d wouldn’t want to go back to the handle. Paddle shifters supplement the push button selectors.
Sharing the console with the electronic shifter is a rocker-style switch for Econ, Normal, Snow, Sport, Trail, Sand and Tow modes. Selections display on the touchscreen and on the digital tachometer within the gauge cluster. There’s also wireless phone charging on the console.
Speaking of the gauge cluster, the speedometer is analog and between it and the tach is a Driver Information Display for alerts, features and functions.
Pilot’s one of many alerts is the lane departure warning that vibrates the drivers’ seat along with a visual warning when crossing the center highway line.
With a low 19-inch step-in, the rear captains’ seats are as comfy as the fronts and they too are heavily padded. They also power slide for/aft for spacious third row access that can seat three youngsters for seven passenger TrailSport seating.
Back in the spacious cargo area and with the third row upright there’s 21.8 cu. ft. of space that measures 19 inches deep, 46 wide and 31.5 high. Flip the third row and capacity expands to 48.5 cubic feet for 50 inches of cargo loading depth. Need more space? Power down the second row and cargo capacity offers 113.7 cu. ft. for 81 inches of cargo loading depth. That’s over six feet that can accommodate a mountain bike with the front wheel off and stacked atop the bike.
Beneath the cargo floor is a 7-inch deep, full-width bin for small item storage. And beneath it is a full-size spare, not a tire inflator kit as standard on some SUVs.
The 2023 Pilot comes with a new engine of sorts that produces more power to the AWD system that’s standard in the TrailSport model. The 3.5-liter V6 now generates 285-hp and 262 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of 18 city, 23-highway mpg when routed through the new 10-speed automatic transmission with engine auto off technology. So powered, Pilot carries a tow rating of up to 5,000 pounds which can handle a small boat, ATV or utility trailer. Half and full throttle acceleration is quick and exhilarating.
As a larger and heavier SUV, Pilot offers a smooth and quiet ride. Highway tar strips are merely ripples. It remains planted in sharp, tight turns and its upgraded suspension smooths off-road nasties. And it parks easily with a tight 37.7 foot turning radius.
In addition to a long list of safety features such as collision mitigation braking, lane keeping assist and road departure systems Pilot comes with some nifty niceties like Traffic Jam Assist that operates the accelerator, brakes and steering in an automated-type mode. Walk Away Close is also helpful in that the tailgate will automatically close behind you if your hands are full of packages as you walk away - provided the fob is on you.
The Pilot TrailSport had no extra cost options because all the aforementioned and then some were standard. The only charge was for delivery that took the base price of $48,350 to $48,745. A reasonable price for a lot of SUV.
Adding to its attractiveness, Pilot received IIHS’s 2023 Top Safety Pick-Plus for its Honda Sensing suite consisting of Crash Avoidance and Mitigation, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Cruise. And NHTSA gave Pilot its 5-Star Overall Vehicle Safety Score.
With all these accolades and capabilities, Pilot TrailSport is a compelling choice for the outdoors and off-road oriented family. It will also excel during deep snow that we may get this winter according to the Farmers Almanac.
And less I forget, the Pilot TrailSport received several comments by folks on its attractive Diffused Sky Blue Pearl paint job when I was filling it at local gas stations.