The new TrailSport trim adds an off-road focus to the fourth-generation Honda Pilot.
After an endless array of teasers, the all-new 2023 Honda Pilot has been revealed as the brand's largest and most powerful SUV yet. The fourth-generation model debuts a new design direction but also follows the rest of the Honda lineup's move to a more upmarket direction. It also packs in new technology, spacious seating for up to eight occupants, and new powertrain innovations, perfect to try and challenge the class-leading Hyundai Palisade.
Built on Honda's new light truck architecture - which will also underpin new Passport and Ridgeline models going forward - the 2023 Pilot is larger than the midsize three-row SUV it replaces. Honda has compensated for the enlarged dimensions with a more powerful engine. Honda says the 3.5-liter V6 is all-new, producing 285 horsepower and 262 lb-ft to make it the brand's most powerful SUV ever built.
That additional power may come in handy given the new model's more sizable dimensions. The new Pilot is 3.4 inches longer than its predecessor at 199.9 inches and now boasts a 2.8-inch longer wheelbase than before at 113.8 inches. While we don't yet know how much it weighs, it's safe to assume it'll be heavier than the model it replaces.
The engine deals its power to either a front- or all-wheel drive system via a ten-speed automatic transmission. The AWD system - Honda's i-VMT4 setup - is standard on the TrailSport and Elite models and optional on others and features a rear differential with a 40% higher torque capacity and 30% quicker response times. More than this, the system can apportion up to 70% of the engine's torque to the rear axle and up to 100% of that to either side for enhanced torque vectoring.
With AWD equipped, the Pilot has a towing capacity of 5,000 lbs, with the assistance of a new Tow driving mode. The latter is joined by Normal, Econ, Snow, and a new Sport mode, while AWD models get Sand and Trail modes.
Added to the Pilot lineup for 2022, the TrailSport name returns for 2023 as an off-road-focused trim akin to the Wilderness version of the Subaru Outback, or perhaps more relevant, the rugged Kia Telluride X-Pro, which is one of the Pilot's toughest rivals. Its off-road-tuned suspension has a one-inch lift for extra ground clearance and improved approach, departure, and break-over angles. The rugged Pilot also gains model-specific stabilizer bars for enhanced off-road comfort and superior articulation.
Unique styling traits for the TrailSport - which is 0.3 inches longer and an inch taller than other derivatives - include skid plates to protect the transmission when crawling over rocks and trim-specific 18-inch alloy wheels shod in Continental TerrainContact all-terrain tires with a 265/60 profile. Other visual highlights include the trim-exclusive Diffused Sky Blue paint and a panoramic sunroof, while inside, orange contrast stitching and embroidered TrailSport logos identify the model.
Trail Torque Logic combines brake- and differential-based torque vectoring to maximize traction when one or more wheels lose contact with the terrain, diverting up to 75% of the available torque to the wheel with the most traction. A TrailWatch camera system utilizes four exterior cameras to help negotiate tight trails.
Technical highlights across the entire Pilot family include increased stiffness, with vertical stiffness up 8%, rear longitudinal stiffness up 29%, and roll stiffness improved by 12%. These improvements allowed Honda to retune the suspension for greater comfort and composure, while the wider track, both front and rear, adds more stability.
Stopping power has also increased thanks to larger-diameter front brakes measuring 13.8 inches (up from 12.6) with larger calipers.
When the going gets rough, standard hill descent control on every model helps navigate slippery slopes with a grade of more than 7%.
The Pilot range looks more rugged than ever, borrowing a sleek new design inspired by the new CR-V.
The upright radiator grille is flanked by two angular headlights. Honda says the elongated hood and pulled-back A-pillars have created a sportier look. Around the back, you'll find new LED taillights and a body-colored roof spoiler.
Five trim levels will be made available, all with varying equipment levels and styling details. Sport models, for example, have blacked-out exterior styling elements, while the EX-L replaces this with chrome and a different grille design. Wheel sizes range from 18 inches on EX-L and TrailSport derivatives to 20 inches on the Sport, Touring, and Elite.
Customers will also be able to equip the 2023 Pilot with optional packages, including a Honda Performance Development (HPD) Package that introduces bronze-colored wheels, HPD decals, and fender flares.
Inside, you'll find the cabin has followed in the footsteps of the latest Civic and the newly-introduced CR-V. Honda says the 2023 Pilot is the most upscale Honda SUV yet, but the big news is the improved interior space. Due to the longer wheelbase and larger exterior dimensions, second-row legroom has increased by 2.4 inches, and the third row gains 0.6 inches.
The second-row seats can now be reclined up to 10 degrees and feature an increased tilt-forward range, allowing easier access to the third row. Front passengers haven't been forgotten either, thanks to the new body-stabilizing front seats, which are said to reduce fatigue on longer journeys.
The Pilot retains its eight-seater configuration, now with greater practicality thanks to the removable second-row middle seat. This can be stored in the rear of the cargo floor and can be added whenever an extra seat is required.
Cargo space has also been improved, with up to 113.7 cubic feet behind the first row. Make full use of all seating positions, and 22.4 cubic feet are still available. Throughout the cabin, 14 cupholders can be found.
Feature highlights include leather seats from the EX-L with ventilation and a heated steering wheel added to the Elite model. Screen estate is vital in this segment, with the Pilot boasting a standard seven-inch digital driver's display and a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen. Both screens can be enlarged, with the former growing to 10.2 inches on the Elite trim with a head-up display, while the infotainment screen measures nine inches on all but the base model. Both systems feature standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility (wireless on the larger screen). The sound system is also bumped up on Touring and Elite models with a 12-speaker Bose system with a 15.7-liter subwoofer box.
Pricing of the new model is not yet available but will be disclosed before the new model reaches showrooms later this year.