The path has changed into a slop of iron-rich mud, the final of the night time’s snow slowly melting off within the shadows. It’s the right kind of climate to take the 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport out for a primary drive.
Launched in late 2002, the Honda Pilot has been a fairly standard providing for the Japanese automaker. The outgoing mannequin is extra of a minivan for individuals who don’t wish to be seen in a van, than a real SUV. Not so, the fourth-generation mannequin simply now starting to roll into showrooms.
Whereas nonetheless based mostly on a car-like crossover platform, it adopts a extra rugged look backed up by extra critical chops — particularly if you happen to go for the off-road-oriented TrailSport package deal. To get a way of what it might deal with, TheDetroitBureau.com headed out to Sedona, Arizona for a mixture of on- and off-road driving in each the 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport and Elite fashions.
A midsize, three-row crossover, the Honda Pilot made its first look in 2002 for the 2003 mannequin 12 months. The outgoing utility automobile has been round since 2016, so a makeover was clearly due, particularly if the automaker hopes to face out in an more and more crowded section.
Regardless of being a fairly strong vendor, Honda officers readily admit the third-generation Pilot fell brief in some areas. It seemed extra like a minivan than a rugged SUV, and didn’t actually ship the kind of efficiency and capabilities many potential consumers have been on the lookout for.
The 2023 makeover addresses these shortfalls in a lot of methods, beginning with a extra rugged design, with its bigger, upright grille and flared fenders, a shorter entrance overhang, and each wider tracks and bigger tires.
Honda has upgraded the brand new mannequin with a wide range of tech and creature options, particularly within the top-line Elite package deal. However nothing reveals off Honda’s aspirations for the gen-four Pilot greater than the brand new TrailSport trim.
Like a lot of rivals, Honda has acknowledged the rising marketplace for trail-ready automobiles. We’ve seen the debut of devoted sub-brands from mainstream marques like Ford, with its Timberline trim, in addition to Subaru’s Wilderness line. Honda bought into the sport final 12 months with fashions just like the Passport TrailSport, and it ups the ante with the Pilot TrailSport package deal.
Amongst different issues, it will get an additional inch of floor clearance, together with new all-terrain tires. And several other added drive modes, together with a specifically tuned model of Honda’s i-VTM4 all-wheel-drive system, yield markedly higher off-road capabilities.
Automakers attempt to comply with a inflexible timetable when rolling out new merchandise — all of the extra so with updates of essential mannequin strains like Pilot. So it was a major determination for the automaker to halt work on what was to change into the fourth-generation SUV and ship the event staff again to their drawing boards. An preliminary look means that was transfer.
The 2023 Honda Pilot is now not a gussied-up minivan. Whichever model you’re taking a look at, the brand new mannequin adopts a boxier and decidedly extra rugged design, with a big, upright grille and flared fenders, an extended hood and shorter entrance overhangs, in addition to wider tracks and bigger tires.
Relying upon which of 5 trim packages you’re inspecting, the brand new Pilot grows to wherever from 199.9 to 200.2 inches in size, about 3 inches longer than the outgoing SUV. It’s a few half-inch wider, as nicely. Except for the higher-riding TrailSport, the brand new ute boasts roughly the identical top whereas the TrailSport package deal features an inch in trip top.
The 2023 Pilot’s added size — and, specifically, the longer wheelbase — interprets right into a roomier inside, particularly for rear passengers. It additionally boosts cargo area by as a lot as 5.1 cubic ft. There’s 22.4 cf with all three rows up, rising to as a lot as 114.3 cf with the second and third rows folded over.
Honda has a factor about versatile seating and that’s particularly apparent with the brand new Pilot. In its eight-passenger configuration the second row’s center seat could be eliminated — after which saved within the cargo bay in case you may want it later whereas away from residence.
The 2023 Pilot additionally provides new “Physique Stabilizing Seats” up entrance which, the automaker claims, “assist(s) cut back fatigue on lengthy drives.”
There are a variety of helpful options, together with a complete of 14 cupholders — eight giant sufficient to carry 32-ounce beverage containers. And Honda introduced again a characteristic discovered on the gen-2 Pilot, a storage shelf constructed into the instrument panel.
A 7-inch digital gauge cluster is normal, besides on the Elite mannequin the place it grows to 10.2 inches. The bottom infotainment show measure 7 inches, as nicely, although that jumps to 9 inches on higher trims. Kudos to Honda for bringing again quantity knobs — and there’s additionally a tuning knob on the smaller touchscreen.
Honda up to date Pilot’s 3.5-liter V-6 for the 2023 mannequin and it’s now essentially the most highly effective engine provided in any of the automaker’s SUVs, at 285 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. That’s 5 hp greater than with the outgoing Pilot, and offers the SUV sufficient energy to tow 5,000 kilos in all-wheel-drive trim, 3,500 lbs with the front-wheel-drive package deal.
There’s additionally a brand new 10-speed computerized that replaces the 2022 Pilot’s 9-speed gearbox. And paddle shifters come normal. For those who go for the i-VTM4 AWD you’ll discover it capable of ship about 40% extra torque at launch. And the up to date system now can shift as much as 70% of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels. Energy additionally could be directed left or proper to make use of torque vectoring to assist steer by tight corners.
Pilot provides a lot of totally different drive modes to assist alter automobile capabilities, reminiscent of steering, shifts and throttle response for particular street circumstances and driver conduct. In TrailSport it provides a number of new modes, together with Tow and Path, seven in all.
Security and Expertise
All variations of the 2023 Pilot change to a 7-inch digital gauge cluster, besides the Elite package deal which enjoys a ten.2-inch display screen. The SUV’s infotainment display screen options Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which go wi-fi within the Elite trim. It’s 7 inches on base packages, 9 inches on higher trims, together with the Elite.
The Pilot will come normal with the Honda Sensing suite of superior driver help programs. It additionally will get Hill Descent Management as a regular characteristic. It’s, successfully, a low-speed cruise management system significantly helpful when descending steep hills on again trails.
The brand new Pilot TrailSport additionally makes use of 4 cameras to provide you a birds-eye view whereas negotiating trails — or pulling into a decent parking spot. It comes on mechanically if you’re in Path mode, or could be activated by tapping a button on the appropriate steering wheel stalk.
The 2023 mannequin additionally turns into the primary model of Pilot with a branded, high-end Bose audio system.
I break up my day between a collection of on-road loops round scenic Sedona within the 2023 Honda Pilot Elite and a mixture of on- and off-road driving within the Pilot TrailSport.
The Elite is a well-equipped package deal that dealt with the winding mountain roads round Sedona with aplomb. The steering generally is a little mild till you’re in Sport mode. But it surely’s straightforward to carry your line and there’s surprisingly little physique roll, regardless of the SUV’s heft, due to a stiffer physique and revised suspension geometry.
The TrailSport proved an much more nice shock. I’d anticipated to endure by a a lot rougher trip and extra cumbersome dealing with with the package deal’s 265/60R18 Continental all-terrain tires and better trip top, nevertheless it maintained cheap poise on among the similar paved roads I’d traveled with the Elite mannequin.
It was after I turned off onto Damaged Arrow Path that TrailSport actually confirmed off its stuff, nonetheless. Improvement Chief Stephen Frey took pains to emphasize that Pilot is designed to deal with “reasonable” trails. I’ve heard that earlier than, and it often means nothing rougher than gravel and a few mud and ruts. However Damaged Arrow is harder than that, showcasing Pilot’s capabilities. Solely as soon as did the tires briefly lose grip, as I assaulted a steep, rocky hill. Backing up a pair ft, I picked a brand new line and rapidly made it to the highest.
Afterward, as I headed again down from the awe-inspiring surroundings at Rooster Level, I switched on the brand new Pilot TrailSport’s Hill Descent Management system. Consider it as a low-speed cruise management system significantly fitted to off-roading. It allowed me to regulate my velocity wherever from 2 to 12 mph with out continuously having to leap from throttle to brake.
If I’ve any gripes, I’d wish to see Honda ship much more energy out of that 3.5-liter V-6. Even with the upgraded transmission, it simply doesn’t have fairly sufficient grunt off the road. And the drivetrain will get a bit raucous when you’ve gotten your foot nailed to the ground.
2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport Specs
|Dimension||L: 200.2 inches/W: 78.5 inches/H: 72 inches/Wheelbase: 113.8 inches|
|Powertrain||3.5-liter V-6 engine, 10-speed computerized transmission and all-wheel drive|
|Gas Economic system||18 mpg metropolis/23 mpg freeway/20 mpg mixed|
|Efficiency Specs||285 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque|
|Worth||Base value: $39,150; As examined: $48,350 earlier than $1,345 vacation spot cost.|
|On-Sale Date||Obtainable now|
When you may describe the 2022 Honda Pilot as “sufficient,” it was, at finest, someplace in the course of my checklist amongst mainstream three-row SUVs. The 2023 mannequin, nonetheless, clearly strikes up among the many high choices within the class, regardless of my complaints concerning the V-6. The remainder of the drivetrain is spectacular and most consumers gained’t push issues practically as laborious as I do.
The 2023 Honda Pilot in the meantime provides a cushty and safe trip. And the TrailSport, simply my favourite package deal, sacrifices little to achieve its strong off-road capabilities. No, you probably gained’t take the brand new Pilot to Moab or out on the Rubicon Path. However it may well readily deal with the kind of off-road expertise that can thrill the everyday driver. And with its varied driving modes, Pilot makes it straightforward to arrange for a wide range of totally different circumstances.
For those who haven’t been within the new automobile market shortly, particularly if you happen to purchased a Pilot up to now, you could be shocked by the crossover’s beginning value of $39,150 — earlier than including in $1,345 in supply charges. The Elite line begins pushing into luxurious territory, at an MSRP of $52,030. And also you’ll begin out at $48,350 for the TrailSport.
Then once more, these are comparatively cheap numbers in as we speak’s cost-inflated market. And all of the extra so contemplating all of the options and capabilities of the 2023 Honda Pilot. The automaker has delivered a package deal that lastly stands out from the gang.
2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport — Often Requested Questions
Is the 2023 Honda Pilot being redesigned?
The fourth-generation Honda Pilot will get a serious makeover. It’s longer and wider, with a extra rugged exterior design and a bigger, extra lavishly appointed inside that additionally introduces new “fatigue-reducing” seats.
When can you purchase the 2023 Honda Pilot?
The primary of the brand new, fourth-generation Honda Pilots are simply now rolling into supplier showrooms throughout the U.S.
Does the Honda Pilot maintain its resale worth?
Used automobile values, usually, have gone up the final couple years, however Honda merchandise, together with the Pilot, have performed particularly nicely relating to resale worth because of their options and their reliability.