These days, image is everything. And if you’re a maker of SUVs, toughening up your image seems to be the priority. Honda has already been down this trail with last year’s Passport TrailSport, and now they’re gearing up the new Pilot to join in the adventure.

It says a lot about the current state of things in the SUV world that Honda would send us this TrailSport as an example of their all-new 2023 Pilot, instead of the usual top of the line Elite. It’s all about adventure marketing these days. But before we venture too far down that trail, let’s investigate some of the highlights of this 4th-generation Pilot.

The midsize standard bearer for Honda since it debuted 20-years ago, the Pilot remains a car-based unibody utility with 3-rows of seating standard, for either 7 or 8-passengers. This TrailSport comes with super comfortable captain’s chairs, but Touring and above get a 2nd row bench-style seat with a removable center section that stores under the floor in the cargo area. There’s additional space in both 2nd and 3rd rows this year, and more room for cargo too, growing from 16.5 cubic-ft. to 18.6 behind the 3rd row; 48.5 behind the 2nd row, and a max 87.0 cubic-ft. with all seats folded.

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Most things inside are located in the same general area as before, but the dash itself takes on a much slimmer shape, and the infotainment screen moves from in the dash to sitting on top of it. This is the 9-inch touchscreen; a 7-incher is standard. There are more actual buttons to push, and the interface nicely streamlined. A 7-inch TFT meter display is standard for instrumentation, Elites come with a 10.2-inch full digital display.

There’s still a 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V6 under the hood, but technically it’s a new one; now sporting dual overhead cams and at 6,500 rpm, the rev limiter kicks in 300 rpm sooner. All to make 5 additional horsepower, now 285; with the same 262 lb-ft. of torque as before.

The automatic adds another gear to make it an even 10; all with the push button electronic shifter we still feel is slow to respond in many situations. Honda’s VTM4 all-wheel drive is optional for most trims, but standard here in the TrailSport.

At our Mason Dixon test track, it all came together for a respectable 6.8-second sprint to 60, and 15.3-second ¼-mile at 90 miles-per-hour. Even with the off-road focus of this TrailSport, it was quite easy to maintain speed through our cone course, only moderate body roll and very direct steering, too. But the Pilot has always been a confident and capable handling utility. It’s only gotten better this go around thanks to revised geometry for the MacPherson strut front suspension, and a more thorough revamping of the rear multi-link setup.

2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport Interior

Now, as for the off-road chops of the TrailSport; they are indeed quite impressive. That probably speaks more to the overall capabilities of all Pilots, than just the upgrades made here. Though they are more significant than previous TrailSports.

Indeed this TrailSport gets real steel skid plates, a lifted suspension and unique tuning for an additional inch of ground clearance. 18-inch wheels wear actual all-terrain tires for the first time on a TrailSport, plus there’s specific Trail Torque Logic programming, and it’s the only Pilot that will come with a full-size spare. Plus, the macho makeover is not just for the off-road crowd; all Pilots take a more rugged turn, as the grille is fully vertical for a flatter face, which means a longer hood and more truck-like profile.

Pricing starts with LX trim $37,295, with all-wheel-drive a $2,000 option, topping out at the Elite’s $53,375; TrailSport just below it at $49,695.

The 2023 Honda Pilot is an example of giving people what they want; more space, more power, and a return to rugged style, all while still being more practical than ever, easier to drive, and nicer to live with all around. From bland to bold, bigger and better, that’s the new Honda Pilot.


  • Engine: 3.5L V8
  • Torque: 262 lb-ft.
  • 1/4 Mile: 15.3 seconds at 90 mph
  • MW Fuel Economy: 21.2 mpg (Regular)
  • Horsepower: 285
  • 0-60 mph: 6.8 seconds
  • EPA: 18 City / 23 Highway / 20 Combined
  • Starting Price: $49,695