2023 Honda Pilot Brings More Rugged DNA and Poise To SUV Wars

The Honda Pilot has always served as the ultimate example of what bad timing can do to a model. While the first generation model was one of the pioneering models responsible for ushering in the current SUV sales race, fate would not be kind to it for its second generation. Honda decided to go for a boxier look, but an increase in fuel prices and pedestrian exterior styling helped blunt demand. The third generation tried to return to its roots, but the same styling woes didn’t help. Honda is hoping that the 2023 Pilot will be the one that helps right the ship and moves things back on course for the 2023 Pilot.


Going Back To Its Roots In An Evolutionary Way

As mentioned, the exterior styling goes back to what made the first-generation Pilot click with buyers, but customers looking for a revolutionary ground-up revamp will not find it here. Instead, the 2023 Pilot is evolutionarily doing things, with the styling reverting slightly to a boxy shape once more. That said, Honda didn’t go too far down the rabbit hole, and the Pilot still retains some of its sleek urban DNA.

The Pilot is three inches longer than before, and that extra length allowed Honda engineers to offer more space in the interior. That extra space allowed the team to use the Odyssey’s nifty removable center seat in the second row, which allows the space to morph between a traditional bench and two separate chairs. When the center seat is not being stored in the back, it can be folded down to create a center console. This seat is only available in Touring and Elite models, but it does give the Pilot a unique party piece that others in its segment don’t have. The infotainment system is also upgraded and is the same used in the CR-V, Civic, and HR-V. That’s a welcome development since the outgoing Pilot’s infotainment system was not the sharpest tool in the tech shed when it first came out. The rest of the cabin adds more polish but at the cost of some utility which may irk Pilot buyers looking to upgrade to the 2023 model.


Same Displacement, Different Hardware

The Pilot is all-new mechanically, with the platform being shared with the Acura MDX. While the 3.5 liter naturally aspirated V6 may seem like its been carried over (partly due to the shared displacement), it’s actually an all-new engine that makes five more horsepower for a revised total of 285 hp. A 10-speed automatic continues to be the lone transmission but Elite and TrailSport models benefit from Honda’s second-generation iVTM4 torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system. A stronger differential helps the system cope better with off-road stresses while still sending 70 percent of the engine’s power to the rear wheels, with 100 percent also being sent to a long wheel when it needs maximum traction.

The Trailsport is arguably the one model that will benefit the most from the system. While it’s a far cry from besting a Jeep Wrangler out on the Rubicon Trail, it still comes loaded with gear like off-road suspension and meaty all-terrain tires, as well as improved approach and departure angles. Honda also equipped the TrailSport with skid plates and claimed that they could support the entire weight of the SUV if it hits a rock. Gloss black trim is the key differentiation item here with all Trailsports also getting a trim exclusive shade called Diffused Sky Blue Pearl.



When Can I Buy One?

Honda will reveal official pricing for the 2023 Pilot closer to its official launch. However, the Japanese auto giant did confirm that the model will be available in Sport, EX-L, TrailSport, Touring, and Elite trims. This pricing is a slight increase over the outgoing model due to the discontinuation of the LX trim as well as the Sport’s slightly higher base MSRP before destination charges are factored in.