The 2023 Honda Pilot brings a new look and more power to the equation, but is it really better?
At its core, the fourth-generation Pilot is still a three-row, family-hauling SUV. It’s bringing quite a few new tricks for potential buyers, though, including a larger footprint, new V6 engine and a more honed, off-road focused TrailSport version.
You would expect any new car these days to get larger with each passing generation, and the 2023 Honda Pilot is certainly no exception. It’s grown by 3.4 inches over the outgoing car, and it gets a bit more power to compensate for the extra bulk. You still get a 3.5-liter V6 like before, but it now puts out a slightly higher 285 horsepower figure. Torque remains the same, at 262 lb-ft, but Honda is moving this model to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
While it’s not significantly more powerful, we are talking about an all-new engine from the outgoing third-gen model. The 24-valve, dual overhead cam engine has a unique (to the Pilot) all-aluminum block, as well as a “low-profile” cylinder head design to improve efficiency and reduce emissions.
The 2023 Honda Pilot also introduces the second generation of its i-VTM4 all-wheel drive system.
AWD comes standard on the new TrailSport and Elite and adds in a stronger rear differential that can handle 40% more torque and respond to slippage 30% faster than before. Up to 70% of the engine’s torque can be shifted to the rear axle, and 100% of that torque can go to either rear wheel. Models with i-VTM4 equipped get an updated sand mode, while the TrailSport really emphasizes the Pilot’s dirt-worthy capabilities in Trail mode. Like the old car, the new Pilot can also tow up to 5,000 pounds, when properly equipped.
While the whole Pilot range gets a stiffer chassis and reworked suspension, the TrailSport also gets a one-inch lift for improve ground clearance and approach, breakover and departure angles. The off-road trim also brings Continental TerrainContact A/T tires and a TrailWatch camera system.
More details on the space and tech
The 2023 Honda Pilot gets additional legroom in the second row, and it even has a party trick if you aren’t hauling seven passengers. You can remove the center seat altogether and stow it under the cargo area floor to make a more comfortable proposition for a six-passenger SUV.
Speaking of space, the largest Pilot yet gets more cargo volume. With the second and third rows folded, this 2023 model gets 113.7 cubic feet of capacity. That’s a modest increase of just under 5 cubic feet, sure, but every bit helps. You still get 22.4 cubic feet of cargo room, even with all rows in pace.
On the tech front, the 2023 Honda Pilot gets standard Hill Descent Control — a system that debuted earlier this year on the 2023 HR-V and CR-V crossovers. Top-end Elite models get a 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster, while all trims except the base Sport get a 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system. With that larger infotainment unit comes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, though you’ll still have to tether via USB on the base model. If you’re particularly interested in using it, Honda also simplified its onboard navigation system, on models that have it. Touring and Elite models get a 12-speaker Bost stereo system with a 15.7-liter capacity subwoofer box.
This being a family hauler, safety is a huge concern with the 2023 Honda Pilot.
As you’d expect, the standard Honda Sensing technology suite is still there. This time around, though, the camera gets a wider field of view (to 90 degrees), as does the radar system (to 120 degrees). that should improve crash prevention as well as blind spot monitoring and low-speed braking control in both directions. Honda also introduced a new-style passenger front airbag with a three-chamber design. The two outer chambers are designed to cradle the head in an accident and minimize rotation to mitigate the risk of severe brain trauma.
No pricing information just yet
For the time being, we don’t know exactly how much the 2023 Honda Pilot will cost. That will come closer to market launch later this fall. As before, Honda will manufacture its fourth-generation SUV in Lincoln, Alabama.