2023 Honda Pilot: New Design, Rugged TrailSport Trim, Potent V6 Engine & More

The 2023 Honda Pilot premieres as the much-anticipated fourth-generation model of the Japanese automaker’s largest SUV in America. The all-new Pilot is longer and broader than its predecessors, and Honda calls it the most powerful SUV made by the brand. It also ditches the soft-roader vibe of the outgoing variant to deliver a more rugged, go-anywhere countenance while remaining civil enough for daily use.

“The Honda Pilot has been a family favorite for two decades, and now we’ve made it even better with more space and refinement inside, cool new rugged styling outside, and substantially increased off-road performance to back it up,” said Mamadou Diallo, Vice President of Auto Sales, American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

2023 Honda Pilot: What’s New?

The fourth-gen Honda Pilot rides on an all-new light truck platform derived loosely from the underpinnings of the fourth-generation Acura MDX, which Honda claims is the stiffest and most rigid body structure for its Pilot SUV to date. The architecture boasts a 60 and 30 percent increase in front and rear lateral rigidity, respectively, while the overall roll stiffness has improved by 12 percent.

The new Pilot has a 2.8-inch longer wheelbase and wider front and rear tracks than the third-gen variant. It rides on a re-engineered MacPherson front and new multilink rear suspension to increase ride comfort and handling. Meanwhile, Honda gave the entire architecture a generous sprinkling of sound insulation and thicker carpets to provide a quieter, near-luxurious ride on any terrain.

The 2023 Honda Pilot will arrive at dealerships in five trim variants near the end of 2022: Sport, EX-L, TrailSport, Touring, and Elite. Honda said the 2023 Pilot is the only vehicle in the segment with an opening panoramic sunroof and flexible seating arrangements for up to eight passengers.

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Standard V6 Engine

All trim variants of the 2023 Honda Pilot have an all-new 3.5-liter V6 engine under the hood. The all-aluminum motor has 24 valves, double overhead camshafts (DOHC), hydraulic lash adjuster rocker arms, and low profile cylinder heads to pump out 285 horsepower and 262 lb-ft. of torque, five more horses than before but with the same amount of twist.

The engine connects to a new 10-speed automatic (with paddle shifters) that turns the front wheels. Honda’s optional i-VTM4 torque-vectoring all-wheel drivetrain is optional. The trick AWD system has a more rigid rear differential that handles more torque while offering a 30 percent faster response when optimizing traction. The system can send 70 percent of the available torque to the rear axle and distribute 100 percent of that twist to either the left or right rear wheel.

Honda’s i-VTM technology lessens the likelihood of “fishtailing” during mild off-roading, something that is common with rear-wheel drive vehicles if you give them too much gas.

2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport.
2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport. Photo: Honda North America.

How Much Can The 2023 Honda Pilot Tow?

The 2023 Honda Pilot with the optional i-VTM4 has a max tow rating of 5,000 lbs. when properly equipped, the same as the 2022 Pilot. Honda failed to mention the Pilot FWD’s towing capacity, but the outgoing 2022 Pilot FWD could pull up to 3,500 lbs. when properly equipped.

Enhanced Exterior Design

The 2023 Honda Pilot is refreshing with its long hood, pared-back A-pillars, upright front grille, and bulging fenders. Other unique styling features include redesigned LED taillamps and a body-color roof spoiler. We think the new body style is not as rugged-looking as Honda describes it, but we’re glad the Pilot has shed its CR-V design idiom befitting a flagship SUV.

The base Honda Pilot Sport has gloss black exterior trim, a chrome exhaust, black roof rails, and 20-inch gray wheels. Meanwhile, Pilot EX-L gets chrome trimmings and machined 18-inch alloy wheels. The Pilot Touring and Elite differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack with an upscale gloss black mesh front grille and bespoke 20-inch machined-finish alloy wheels.

Honda will offer the new Pilot with four option packages, including an HPD package that adds fender flares, Honda Performance Development (HPD) decals, and bronze alloy wheels.

Honda Pilot TrailSport

The 2023 Honda Pilot will arrive with a more off-road capable TrailSport version. We first caught wind of the TrailSport in the 2022 Honda Passport and liked what we saw. For the Pilot, Honda uses the same formula: a lifted off-road suspension (an inch higher than stock), new stabilizer bars, adjusted spring rates, and exclusive dampers.

Other goodies include skid plates (for the oil pan, gas tank, and gearbox), front and rear tow hooks, 18-inch wheels wrapped in Continental TerrainContact all-terrain tires, a new Trail driving mode with “trail torque logic” software, and a TrailWatch camera system.

Moreover, Honda tested Pilot TrailSport on the most challenging terrain in the American outdoors, like the deep sands of California, muddy trails in Kentucky, and the red rocks in Moab, Utah, to guarantee the SUV’s off-road smarts.

2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport interior layout.
2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport interior layout. Photo: Honda North America.

Upscale & Versatile Interior

Beneath the 2023 Honda Pilot’s handsome expression is an upscale interior with premium materials and lots of room. There’s more legroom for the second and third rows of seats, and the second row can recline up to 10 degrees for better comfort. In addition, Pilot Touring and Elite models get Honda’s new and innovative removable middle seat, offering room for seven or eight passengers. Other family-friendly features include body-stabilizing front seats, 14 cupholders, a giant console bin, and standard heated seats.

The base Pilot Sport has a seven-inch digital instrument display, a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and four USB ports. In comparison, higher trim variants get a nine-inch infotainment touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless smartphone charging, and two additional USB ports for the third row. Moreover, Touring and Elite trims have a Bose premium audio system with 12 speakers and a subwoofer.

Standard Safety Features

The fourth-gen Honda Pilot is a paragon of advanced safety with eight airbags and updated Honda Sensing tech with a new 90-degree camera and a 120-degree wide-angle radar system. The advanced driving assistance package includes blind-spot monitoring, traffic jam assist, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and a rear seat reminder, to name a few.

Honda Factory Warranty

All Honda vehicles leave the factory with a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, and a five-year/unlimited mileage rust perforation warranty. An extended warranty could prove beneficial if you drive more miles than the average person.

2023 Honda Pilot MSRP

The MSRP of the 2023 Honda Pilot has a fairly broad range, with the Sport FWD starting at $40,445, while the top-of-the-line Elite AWD begins at $53,325. The rugged, off-road-oriented TrailSport starts at $49,645, while the EX-L models float between $43,000 and $46,000, depending on the configuration. Those MSRP figures include the $1,295 destination charge.

Our free and easy search tools* will narrow down which dealers in your area offer the best pricing on a 2023 Honda Pilot. Honda will manufacture the 2023 Pilot in Lincoln, Alabama.

Alvin Reyes is an Automoblog feature columnist and an expert in sports and performance cars. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.

Photos & Source: Honda North America.

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