2023 Honda Pilot: Review — Cars.com

– This is the all-new fourth generation 2023 Honda Pilot. Riding on an all-new light truck platform, the Pilot is Honda’s biggest and most powerful SUV to date. And we are here in Sedona, Arizona to drive it both on and off-road. The last time we compared SUVs in this segment, the 2020 Pilot finished dead last in the field of seven. Now in its fourth generation with boxier looks and this an honest off-road version in the Trail Sport, has Honda done enough to freshen an SUV that may have gone stale? Let’s check it out. (upbeat music) This

is the Elite version, the top trim. We had just gotten out of a Pilot Trail Sport, which is their newish off-road trim. There was a Trail Sport available for 2022, but Honda has gone a little bit above and beyond that level of off-road readiness to make it a more actual off-roading vehicle. Extra protection, knobby tires, the usual bits. This is the nice one. This is the family hauler. Pricing for this with options is a little over $53,000. Honda went out of its way to claim that this is the best handling Pilot ever. It’s kind of

a low bar, gotta be honest with you there. Definitely noticing less body roll here in the Elite than I did in the Trail Sport on similar roads, which makes perfect sense. Trail

Sport sits higher. The off-road suspension is a little bit softer. Again, some knobby off-road tires. That all combines usually for a bit more of a sloppy feeling. This isn’t as sloppy, but it feels like a three-row SUV. Steering communication is pretty good. We’re in normal mode right now, so it’s not the tightest steering, but you still get a decent feel of where the nose

of the car is, and as you move the wheel, there’s good responsiveness. There are also cattle guards in the road. Sorry about that. I’ll put it into sport mode in a moment and shift the transmission into sport as well. And it’s a little better. Sport definitely tightens up the weight of the steering wheel, gives you less play. But again, you’re still getting that same sort of direct feedback and fairly immediate response. The 2023 comes with a 10-speed automatic instead of a 9-speed. Other upgrades this new Pilot has includes five more horsepower from its 3.5-liter V6

up from 280 to 285. Torque remains the same at 262 pounds-feet and it doesn’t actually change towing capacity either. That still maxes out at 5,000 pounds. Though according to Honda, you no longer need upgraded transmission cooling to get that max towing figure. We also got to take the pilot Trail Sport off-road, and while this isn’t a true hardcore Jeep Trail, we did get to experience some decent rock crawling off-camera stuff, slippery conditions, and the whole way I’ve been impressed. There’s a nice set of trail cameras that’s new for the Pilot this year. Provides you with

a nice number of camera views. Overall, very impressive. Also, honestly, 95% more than the average owner is probably going to do with one of these, but it’s nice to know you can. So here we are inside the 2023 Honda Pilot, specifically the Trail Sport. We’ve already done one up-close video, so I’ll try not to bore you. But I do wanna let you know how I feel about these design changes, and for the most part, big fan. The old Pilot wasn’t a bad interior necessarily, but it had a lot working against it. One of the reasons

it came in last in our most recent comparison test was its terrible Honda display audio system. We railed against that system for years. It cost it so much in that comparison test. And while this isn’t the latest and greatest that Honda has to offer, this new nine-inch touchscreen that’s available on most trims in the Pilot has wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto, physical audio controls. These are push button truck selectors. Not my favorite. I would’ve preferred another tuning knob. But physical controls. On the steering wheel you get some more helpful physical controls. You also

have heated steering wheel available here. As this is the Trail Sport, you don’t get the full digital 10.2-inch instrument display. Instead, you’re left with a sort of two-thirds digital, one-third physical speedometer. Works fine. I have no real complaints with it. Very easy to use, very easy to see. Other great things about this cabin, physical climate controls, heated seats. If this had ventilated seats, these would be here as well. But you have your fan speed, your temperature settings, all easily within reach. Simple-to-use drive mode selector, parking brake, Honda’s now standard hill descent control. There’s actually a

fair amount of storage up here as well, which is nice. Honda used larger water bottles as sort of their benchmark for the cup holders, so have no fear if you have, say, a Nalgene or something like that. That should likely fit there, but obviously test it out. Nice big cup holders here. Little bit more storage here next to the wireless device charging. That’s available on most trims. And then the return of the passenger shelf, which has a rubberized floor to keep things from sliding around. Not necessarily my favorite way to store things. This would be

hard for me to reach if I were just by myself in the car, but it’s not the worst. You do also get a nice big compartment here as well. I would like to see a little bit more. This is sort of a family SUV. We are trying to replace the minivan. So maybe some storage down here, like a pass through for a bag or something would be nice. But an improvement overall compared to the last-gen Pilot. Visibility was a strong suit in the last generation. The little bit less good here, these A-pillars are a bit

thicker and can block some of your line of sight, but still fairly good upright seating position. Forward visibility was not too bad for me while I was driving. One other complaint that I do have is this wireless charger has a hard time with my phone at least and its case, keeping things in place and consistently charging, but it’s not the worst I’ve used. There are also USB A and C ports here. The C port, however, is only for charging. For data you have to use USB A. That’s starting to become a little bit more outdated,

but I think most people these days still do have a USB A cord that they can use. One thing that was noticeable to me driving both the Trail Sport and the Elite on-road is that the Elite, despite its larger wheels and more street-oriented suspension, didn’t really ride any less comfortably. Granted the roads we were on were fairly smooth, but 20-inch wheels compared to eighteens and street tires compared to all-terrains, and without the Trail Sport’s off-road tune suspension, bumps imperfections weren’t really felt any more than in the Trail Sport. So that was very impressive. One of

the bright sides of having a similar powertrain throughout the lineup is easy fuel economy comparisons. Some trims of the pilot are all-wheel drive only. Some are all-wheel drive optional. You either get front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The front-wheel drive is going to be your most fuel-efficient, at 22 miles per gallon combined. Most all-wheel drive versions are 21. And then this, the Trail Sport, with all its extra weight off-road tires, et cetera, drops down to 20. So those aren’t great numbers, but they’re all within sort of the normal range for a V6-powered SUV of this size.

So not really shocking. As Honda has enlarged the Pilot, that also comes with increased interior room, including extra leg room for second-row passengers. Wasn’t really a complaint to begin with, but it’s always nice to have more. The seats are very comfortable. I have a decent amount of head room even with this large panoramic roof. And according to Honda, the Pilot is the only vehicle in its segment that offers an opening panoramic roof and seating for up to eight. So this, as the Trail Sport, is only available with second row captains chairs, so two in front,

two in the second row, three in the back. But on other trim levels, you can get a second-row bench seat. And on the range topping Elite, normally captains chairs are considered sort of the height of luxury when it comes to interior seating for three-row SUVs. But the Elite does something special where it can be a bench seat or you can fold that middle seat down, have cup holders for the second-row passengers. Or, if you want want to pass through, you can totally remove it and then just stow it in the back in a little cargo

compartment under the cargo floor. And that’s great because, if you don’t want to use the seat, you don’t have to, but if you need it later, it’s right there with you. Whereas in most vehicles with removable seats like that, you kind of have to leave it behind or take up real usable cargo space. The nice thing also is that this Trail Sport, with its second-row captains chairs, still has that underfloor compartment, which is just some handy extra storage out of sight for extra gear, whatever you may need. Other nice features, you get your climate control

and some charging ports here, these are USB A. And one feature I really like is these storage pockets on the back of the front seats, include a little device-size pocket where you can pop a cell phone, just leave it there. One of the important things when it comes to three-row SUVs is actually getting into the third row. In the Pilot’s case, that’s fairly easy. On the side of the seat here, there’s just an easy one-touch button, folds the seat forward, helps it slide forward. You shove it all the way, and then you have, well, as

you can tell from my voice, not the best entrance, but it’s fairly easy for someone of my size. And then getting in, not terrible. I will say I don’t have a lot of leg room back here. This is not ideal. The second road does slide forward, so you can do some passenger negotiation. But for the most part, not exactly the best place to put someone of my size. Now, I’ve only had the chance to drive both the Trail Sport and the Elite, which is the highest trim level in the Pilot lineup, so I can’t speak

to how the entire lineup stacks up. But I can say that now the Pilot is certainly much improved and it may not be a standout in a crowded segment of three row SUVs, but it’s certainly not an also-ran. For more on the 2023 Pilot, be sure to check out cars.com.

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