By Cars.com EditorsNovember 7, 2022
About the video
The 2023 Honda Pilot gets a thorough redesign for the new model year. It rides on a new, dedicated light-truck chassis and features more length, more wheelbase, more interior space, more power, more technology and more off-road capability.
It seems like everything is getting bigger these days from mortgage payments to pandemic affected waistlines to one of America's favorite SUVs. This is the new 2023 Honda Pilot and it's more of everything.
It's more space, it's more power, it's more cargo capacity. It's more off-road capability too if that's something you're looking for. It's more technology as well. Honda has basically taken the Pilot and given America more of just about everything, but is it too much more? There's certainly more styling involved with the 23 Pilot. The overall look of the thing has changed dramatically. They're really trying to give a lot of their SUVs a more butch and masculine, ruggedized look because that's where they say the market is going. People want something that looks beefier and more truck like and more off-road capable which is kind of a shift from where things used to be and that everybody wanted everything more car-like. But now it has a more truck like look to it starting with the front end which is completely different than the previous generation. You've got a lot more upright angles to the grill. You've either got black or chrome trim throughout the rest of the vehicle depending on really which trim level you've gotten. But it's got a longer hood and the base of the windshield has been moved back a little bit to give that longer hood a bit more of a boxy truck like proportion. Down the side, you've got either 18 or 20 inch wheels depending on which trim level you've selected. And the window treatment is also very different than it was in the previous models. There's a lot more angularity to it, a lot more interesting styling going on. In back, you've got a completely restyled rear end as well with new LED taillights across the board and a script panel between the two taillights. In this model, the elite, which is the top of the range of the new Pilot, it's in black trim. You've got a roof of spoiler as well that's pretty well integrated into the rest of the design in body color and in black trim as well. The overall styling changes to the Pilot. I really do think work. It hides this bigger vehicle size really quite well. The Pilot is almost three inches longer than the old one and almost all of that length comes in the wheel base which means it's got a larger interior than it did before. But being that it is a larger vehicle than it was before, you probably would think that, it should have some more power and it does. The new engine is still a 3.5 liter V6, but it is new and it delivers 285 horsepower and 262 pounds feet of torque. It's made it up to a 10 speed automatic transmission and it drives the front wheels or with the optional new all wheel drive system can drive all four. Now, that level of horsepower and torque does put it fairly competitive with other offerings like the Kia Telluride and the new turbocharge Toyota Highlander. But it does come in a little bit short of offerings like the Turbocharged Ford Explorer which does offer considerably more power from its turbocharged 3 liter V6. But what if you're one of these families that's now discovered the great outdoors and you want to go camping regularly or scale mountains or go find nature again in your eight passenger family battle wagon? Well, for people like that who are interested in more off-road capability, Honda has created this. The 2023 Honda Pilot Trail Sport. Now, you might have heard the trail sport name before. They've put that on the current Honda Passport, but it's really kind of just an appearance package for the Passport. It's got some junkier wheels and tires, but not really much else. For the Pilot, however, Honda has done its homework because trail sport is about to become their off-road more ruggedized trim level. Now, what have they done for the Pilot? Obviously, it sits a little bit higher. It's an inch higher than a typical 23 Pilot because it has a different off-road suspension. It's got different shocks, different springs, different stabilizer bars as well. The wheels and tires are also different. They're 18 inch wheels running continental altering tires. Now, they're a bit chunkier than you'd expect for an on-road vehicle, but they're meant to go in the dirt and we're told that they don't really create too much noise out on the road. We're gonna have to see for ourselves. But what really sets the new trail sport apart and what really does make it a bit more of an off-road capable vehicle is what's underneath. They've added a lot of skid plates and underbody protection to this vehicle so that it can actually endure abuse off-road. The skid plates themselves can withstand the entire weight of the vehicle actually crashing down on them without any damage according to Honda. So, the underbody bits of the new Pilot should be pretty well protected. It also does have some recovery points as well, but you're not going to see them up here in the grill. The front recovery points are actually integrated into the skid plate, and I'm not entirely sold on that because if the front end of your vehicle is stuck to the point where you need recovery points in order to get yourself out. Well, you are not gonna be able to reach them if they're under the vehicle, it's really usually better when they're upfront and easily accessible. The rear recovery points are actually integrated into the rear trailer hitch. So, Honda has done its homework in creating a really ruggedized off-road version of the new Pilot. And let's just take a moment to appreciate this diffuse sky blue paint. It's exclusive to the trail sport and it is fantastic. With all new styling in an all new platform comes in all new interior. It is larger than the one that it replaces and there is much more room in here for people and cargo. The styling is also new on the inside. You've got a new instrument panel, but the real story is a lot of the electronics that are in that instrument panel. You've got a 10.2 inch digital gauge cluster behind the steering wheel here, which is fairly reconfigurable and easy to see and easy to use. And there is a choice of either a seven-inch touchscreen on the lower trims or an optional nine-inch touchscreen on the higher end trims that also offers wireless Apple car play and Android auto. The rest of the interior is pretty much some standard Honda stuff, including the push button transmission which is the push button transmission. And you've got the climate controls, which are actual buttons instead of touchscreen controls like we're seeing on so many competitors. So, you know when some lose some, but we still applaud them for actually keeping buttons. We just weren't really necessarily wishing that, they were in the transmission. Really, the bigger story about the Honda Pilot though is in the back. Maybe, the best thing about the new longer wider Pilot is that you've got more room in the second and third row. The second row now has 2.4 inches more leg room than it did before, which is a generous increase over the previous model. And the third row has about a half inch more leg room than it did before. So, not all that much, but having that additional room in the second and third rows is nice and helpful. You can get either a seven or eight passenger version of the Pilot depending on which trim that you get. The lower trims get an eight passenger interior with a rear bench seat, whereas some of the models will get an eight passenger interior with a removable middle seat and using these two captain's chairs. If you get a seven passenger model, you just get the captain's chairs. But that eight passenger with a removable middle seat is really more interesting because that middle seat actually removes and stores in the vehicle back there. Where'd that third seat go? Well, ah, there it is. This is the removable third seat that fits between the captain's chairs and the second row. Now, why would you want to take out the third seat and put it in the back of the vehicle? Well, the beauty about this is that, you can keep your child's seats locked into the second row and now still have access to the third row for additional family or cargo or whatever you need to do. So, you don't have to remove the child's seat, you don't have to tilt them forward with the baby in the seat. You can actually just remove this, put it in the back, lock it down and still have that flow through passage to the third row. But maybe you get where you're going and you need that extra capacity of one extra person. Maybe someone's left their kid at the soccer game and you need to take them home. Take the seat out, lock it in, and you have that full eight passenger capacity with seat belts for every position. And again, with this extra length and extra width for the new Pilot comes more interior cargo room as well. And when you put all of these seats down, well it's got just a ton of room inside. Now, if you opt for a trail sport your interior is going to look a little bit different. You've got the one color, the dark colored interior, but you've got orange stitching on the dash on the steering wheel, on the center console, on the doors, on the seats as well plus the trail sport embroidery and the headrests. One of the other really neat features about the new trail sport is the trail watch camera system. You see there's a number of exterior cameras around the vehicle, but they're aimed at places that you can't normally see when you're out on the trail. So, when you have the vehicle in the trail mode for that comes with the four-wheel drive system. You could push a button that allows you to activate the trail watch cameras and as long as you're below 15 miles an hour you can see things like if you're cresting a hill and can't see over the front end of the vehicle, the camera will actually show you the view forward on the multimedia screen. That's pretty useful when you're going off-road and don't necessarily have the best visibility of what's around you. It'll enable you to hopefully avoid damaging your new trail sport. Now, we don't have any pricing or fuel economy data for the new 23 Pilot just yet. That's gonna be coming closer to its on sale date sometime this winter according to Honda. Given the changes that they've made to the new Pilot, the styling changes, the space changes, the power changes, and the addition of the really fascinating new trail sport model, I think Honda has really done a great job in updating the new 23 Pilot. Now, if you'd like to learn more about the new 23 Pilot and when we have all the pricing and availability information and fuel economy data as well, you'll find all of that on cars.com.