2023 Honda Pilot Elite. Image by Robin Warner

2023 Honda Pilot Review: Grown and On its Best Behavior

The fourth generation Honda Pilot includes a new platform, V-6, and off-road friendly trim level.

What’s Good
A solid step up in refinement, noticeably better than 2022 Pilot. Quiet and comfortable on the interstate.
What Could Improve
The fourth generation Honda Pilot is bigger than ever, more horsepower would come in handy.
My Conclusion
Drives much like its Acura MDX cousin, which makes sense as they’re built from the same platform.

OVERVIEW

The Japanese brand built the new, fourth generation Honda Pilot from its latest “light truck platform” introduced to us on the 2022 Acura MDX. And you feel the difference at the first turn of the wheel. More solid and rigid than before, it allows the latest Pilot to travel down the interstate quietly and smoothly, while simultaneously engage the driver when the going gets twisty.

Styling also immediately distinguishes itself from the outgoing model. The front-end uses more straight lines, with a grille that drops near vertically to the ground. This is a big and welcome departure from the more minivan like three-generation Pilot. In Profile, you see the classic two-box SUV shape. In back, the change is more subtle, but still boxier than before.

NEW V-6, MUCH LIKE THE OLD V-6

For much of its history, the Pilot relied on the same single-overhead cam, 3.5-liter V-6, getting occasional updates over the years and eventually making 280 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft of torque. A decent amount of power, but not spectacular.

3.5-liter DOHC engine. Image by Robin Warner
3.5-liter DOHC engine. Image by Robin Warner

New for this year, Honda installed a double-overhead cam, 3.5-liter V-6 that—critically—emits much fewer emissions than the old single cam counter part. It runs smoothly and beautifully revs up to its 6500 rpm redline. But it only makes a total of 285 horsepower and the same peak torque.

On the plus side, you get a nice, quick shifting 10-speed automatic transmission that keeps you near peak torque or peak power at pretty much all times. And you get better fuel economy too, 19 mpg city, 25 highway, 21 combined for AWD models. But, all-in-all, you still only get decent power.

TRAILSPORT MEANS MORE

2023 Honda Pilot Trailsport. Image by Robin Warner
2023 Honda Pilot Trailsport. Image by Robin Warner

Just as before, there is a Trailsport trim level for the Honda Pilot, but now it really means something. Select that trim and you get standard AWD, an inch more ground clearance (8.3, instead of 7.3 inches), two skid plates (one in front, one for the gas tank), front and rear recovery points, and all-terrain tires. Legitimate equipment.

Moreover, Honda tuned the suspension to be more off-road friendly, added a full-size spare tire, and included a four-camera system called Trailwatch to give you a better view of the terrain you’re trying to driver through. If you want to take your family farther than a car camping trip, this is offers you that comfortably.

IN CONCLUSION

With a starting price of $37,245 for the base trimmed Honda Pilot LX, its competitively priced for its class. And the top, Elite trim offers plenty of luxuries for its $53,325 base price. For the money, you get huge amounts of space, just like a minivan. But in a much better looking and driving package.

Image by Robin Warner
Image by Robin Warner
Image by Robin Warner
Image by Robin Warner
Image by Robin Warner
Image by Robin Warner

Here’s my review of the Honda Pilot Trailsport I wrote for Gear Junkie: 2023 Honda Pilot

COMPETITORS
Ford Explorer
Mazda CX-90
Toyota Highlander

SPECIFICATIONS
2023 Honda Pilot Elite: 5-door, 7-seat, crossover SUV

Base price: $53,325

Powertrain:
Engine: 3.5-liter V-6
Power: 285 horsepower at 6100 rpm
Torque: 262 lb-ft at 5000 rpm
Transmissions: 10-speed automatic transmission
Drive: all-wheel-drive

Fuel Economy and Range
19 mpg City
25 mpg Highway
21 mpg Combined
18.5 gallon gas-tank for 388 miles of range

Dimensions
Length: 199.9 inches
Width: 78.5 inches
Height: 71.0 inches
Wheelbase: 113.8 inches

Weights and Capacities
Curb weight: 4660 lbs.
Interior volume: 158 cu ft
Cargo volume (3rd/2nd/1st rows up): 22/60/112 cu ft
Government classified size: Standard Sport Utility Vehicle 4WD

Performance
Calculated weight to power (lbs./HP): 16.4:1
Mfr’s claimed 0-60 mph: NA seconds
Mfr’s claimed Top Speed: NA mph

Test Car Options:
NA

Another SUV worth checking out: 2024 Mazda CX-90


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2 responses to “2023 Honda Pilot Review: Grown and On its Best Behavior”

  1. […] You rather join the trend and get a big SUV? Well, Honda sells those too: 2023 Honda Pilot Review […]

  2. […] we’ll learn more about the XRT Concept. At first glance, it appears to be Hyundai’s version of Honda’s Trailsport that we see offered on the Pilot. Evidence includes the Palisade […]

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