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  • REVIEW:  All-New 2023 Honda Pilot AWD TrailSport

    REVIEW: All-New 2023 Honda Pilot AWD TrailSport

    Once in a while as a car reviewer you evaluate a vehicle that surprises you - because you like it more than you thought you would. Such is this case with the all-new 2023 Honda Pilot. Honda engineers and designers deserve applause for such their outstanding redesign of Honda's largest SUV - which is the largest and most powerful and capable Honda SUV ever. It's certainly a fitting status given the nameplate's historic beginning. Honda says the Pilot was the industry's first three-row SUV developed on a car-like unibody platform when it was introduced in 2003.

    Deciding between a new or used Pilot? Here's links to our reviews of the 2016 model and the 2019 model.


    My test vehicle in the new-for-2023 TrailSport trim which claims the title of most off-road capable Honda SUV ever. The Pilot also comes in LX, Sport, EX-L, Touring and Elite trims.


    The fourth-generation Pilot is both bigger and wider than the outgoing model.  In fact, Honda says the Pilot's new hood is the longest and widest hood ever produced at Honda's Alabama plant. The doors are wider, too.  

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    In the TrailSport trim, the Pilot's rugged style fits its most capable Honda SUV ever status. My test vehicle is painted in an exclusive to TrailSport Diffused Sky Blue Pearl color. The TrailSport gets the glossy black treatment with elements that include a gloss black front grill with an active shutter along with gloss black door handles, heated power-folding side mirrors and roof rails. It rides on exclusive 18-inch Shark Gray Alloy wheels, which Honda says are designed to reduce the likelihood of trail damage. 

    The lineup is equipped with LED headlights, tail lights and brake lights as well as a  body-colored roofline spoiler. The TrailSport also sports available LED fog lights.  


    The Pilot lineup offers one engine:  an all-new 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 285-horsepower (up 5 from 2022) and 262 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with a new-to-the-Pilot 10-speed transmission.  All but the base trim have remote engine start. 

    The Pilot also introduces Honda's new 2nd-generation variable torque management all-wheel drive system ( i-VTM4 ). It's standard on the TrailSport and Elite and available on other trims.

    As for fuel economy, it's not wonderful but expected: 20 mpg combined.


    The TrailSport designation comes with a bunch of exclusive off-road hardware that make it the most powerful, rugged, off-road capable Honda SUV ever to hit the road. 

    To start with, the TrailSport features a higher off-road tuned suspension that gives the TrailSport an inch more ground clearance. It's also the first Honda SUV with all-terrain tires for improved off-road traction.

    Other special features include all-terrain tires, thick steel underbody skid plates designed to protect the engine and fuel tank as well as expanded all-wheel drive system capabilities.  It's one of only two trims with the Honda TrailWatch camera system. It's also the only trim equipped with an Integrated Class III trailer hitch.

    Additionally, a unique TrailSport feature of Honda's i-VTM4 system is Trail Torque Logic. Honda says it enhances the SUVs ability to keep moving over extremely uneven surfaces.


    Honda designers get my thumbs up for the TrailSport interior which I found quite impressive in its design, comfort and overall appeal. 

    With three rows,  the Pilot is super roomy, and that includes the 3rd row which can fit adults. The TrailSport seats 7, but 8-passenger seating is also available.

    The durable synthetic leather looks and feels better than the words "durable synthetic" might imply. TrailSport orange elements jazz up the black interior. You'll see orange TrailSport logos on the front headrests and orange contrast stitching on the heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel, dash, and seats.

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    The comfortable 10-way power driver's seat with 2-way power lumbar is a highlight.  The passenger features 4-way power adjustment. Both front seats are heated. All but the top trim are equipped with a 7-inch color driver info display that's bright and easy to read.

    I'm amazed at the headroom in here and the panoramic moonroof is wonderful.

    The wide center console is where you'll find an easy to use Shift-By-Wire gear shift along with drive mode controls, cupholders, and an easily reachable wireless charger.  

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    Passengers will enjoy comfortable fold-flat Captain's chairs, though the armrests are on the slimmer side.  Here's a cool feature: smartphone pockets in the seat backs. The second row has A/C vents and manual sunshades.

    Note: Touring and Elite models get a new removable second row middle seat that can be stowed underneath the rear cargo floor.

    The Pilot's third-row will fit adults and boasts amazing headroom.  Third row passengers have A/C vents, cupholders and USB ports. 


    The TrailSport does not lack for utility. Open up the power (but not hands-free) lift gate and you'll find a nice amount of cargo space, even with the third row up.   If you need more space, just pull the third row seat straps and they easily fold-flat and out of the way. 

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    A dual-level cargo floor also adds extra space. (AND you get a spare tire.) Add to that you'll get four tie-down anchors.  So a lot of nice things happening in the cargo area.

    Other rugged, utility-minded  features include nice all-season floor mats with the TrailSport logo.


    The largest multimedia screen offered in the Pilot is a nine-inch screen, which is small by today's standards especially when you consider the Pilot's size. On the bright side the TrailSport is one of four trims with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability as well as HD Radio, Sirius XM and Cabin Talk In-Car PA system. Also take  note: There is no WiFi hotspot offered in the TrailSport.

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    The TrailSport's 9-speaker system sounds pretty good, but an option for the premium Bose system would be nice.

    Connectivity includes several USB-A ports and one USB-C port as well as two 12-volts. The TrailSport is one of two trims with an additional 110-Volt.

    Note that the TrailSport does not come with WiFi Hotspot capability or Honda's satellite-linked Nav systems with voice recognition or subscription services. You'll need to step to the Touring or Elite for those. 


    All 2023 Pilots come standard with Honda Sensing driver assistance technology that includes Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Collision Mitigating Braking, Road Departure Mitigation, Lane Keeping Assist System.  Traffic Jam Assist, Driver Attention Warning, Auto High-Beam Headlights, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow and Traffic Sign Recognition. Blind Spot Monitoring is standard on all but the base trim.

    TrailSport is additionally equipped with Front and Rear Parking Sensors,  a Multi-View Camera system with front camera washer and TrailWatch.

    Also for 2023,  rear seat reminder and rear seatbelt reminder are also new and standard across the lineup.

    Ride and Drive

    The Pilot is a very enjoyable daily driver with really nice on-road dynamics and handling. The suspension feels great. Acceleration feels good and the transmission shifts smoothly. Drive modes include: Normal, ECON, Snow, Tow, Sport, Trail & Sand. The Pilot is an all-around easy to drive and maneuver SUV, despite its three-row size.

    What You'll Pay

    My test vehicle did not come with a Monroney for official pricing. The lineup starts from $36,300. The TrailSport trim starts from 48,700. My test vehicle's only option seems to be the paint hue bringing the total just over $50,000. While I'd like a larger infotainment system for the price, it still seems reasonable for an enjoyable on-road SUV as off-road capable as the TrailSport.


    You don't have to be an avid off-roader to like the TrailSport. It's sporty, with a great interior and offers an inch more height than the rest of the lineup, great for those who enjoy a higher view of the road. It's on-road dynamics are enjoyable as is the TrailSports comfortable interior.  The only thing on my wish list would be to upgrade the Pilot's multimedia.

    1. What I liked most:  The overall interior and comfortable seats. On-road driving dynamics.
    2. What I would change:  Offer a larger multimedia touchscreen.
    3. MSRP:   Base price: 48,700. As equipped : $50,500 with destination.
    4. Fuel Economy:  18 city/ 23 highway/20 combined.
    5. Odometer reading when tested:  2,703 miles.
    6. Weight:  4,685 pounds.
    7. Spare Tire:  Full-size spare.
    8. Length-Width-Height:  200.2" long/ 78.5” wide/72” high.
    9. Ground Clearance: 8.3".

    10. Fuel Tank Capacity:   18.5 gallons with capless filler on the driver's side.
    11. Official Color:  Diffused Sky Blue Pearl. ($455).   
    12. Towing Capacity:  5,000 pounds.
    13. The 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport in a few words: A surprisingly enjoyable SUV with great on-road dynamics as well as off-road capability.
    14. Warranty:  3-year, 36,000 mile Basic Warranty; New Honda Service Pass complimentary 2- year/24,000-mile Maintenance Service.
    15. Final Assembly Location:  Lincoln, Alabama.
    16. Manufacturer's website:  Honda