2023 Honda Pilot First Drive: Boxy, Rugged, and … Actually Kinda Cool? (2023)

| First Drives

Honda’s three-row family SUV gets edgier styling, a more-capable TrailSport model, and myriad improvements inside.

Miguel CortinaWriterManufacturerPhotographer

honda pilot Full Overview


  • Under $38K starting price
  • Smooth powertrain
  • Spacious cabin
(Video) The 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport & Elite Aren't NEARLY as Similar as You Think...Here's Why!

The new fourth-generation 2023 Honda Pilot certainly looks the part of a rugged SUV, marking a return of sorts to the boxy, go-anywhere style of the first Pilots to reach our shores. Not that the outgoing model was ugly, mind you, but when the Kia Telluride hit the scene, the three-row SUV market was effectively turned upside down. Families suddenly wanted something hipper, cooler, edgier.

According to Honda, the latest Pilot also has some increased capability to go along with its tougher, new-look duds, thanks in part to a TrailSport model fitted with enough hardware to get after it a bit when the going gets dirty. In an effort to find out how much the new 2023 Pilot lives up to the hype, we headed to the picturesque valleys of Sedona, Arizona, where we got a chance to be among the first to drive the new Pilot on- and off-road.

(Video) 2023 Honda Pilot EX-L: TEST DRIVE+FULL REVIEW

More Interior Space

The changes to the 2023 Pilot's cabin are as significant as if not more important than the updates to its exterior. A new horizontal design theme lends it a roomier look, one augmented by numerous storage spaces, including a huge center console stowage bin and the return of a tray above the glove box, which gives front passengers a handy place to stash some of their belongings. As was the case with the previous Pilot, the shifter remains a push-button style, which continues to allow for an airy center console, but the new model benefits from a deeper center storage area with a wider, more trucklike feel to it and room for two full-size phones.

Thanks to the Pilot's wheelbase expanding by 2.8 inches (overall length is increased by 3.4 inches, height by as much as 0.8 inch), the interior is more spacious than before. (Honda bills it as class-leading.) As a result, the second row offers plenty of head- and legroom for adults of any size (2.4 inches more legroom than before), and although the third row remains cozy for three adults, it offers decent legroom for those up to 6 feet tall (0.6 inch more legroom). Ingress and egress are easy—press and briefly hold a button on the second row, and the seats will slide forward to leave plenty of room to enter or exit. And as with the previous Pilot, there's a button on the back side of the seat's shoulder or on the side, so if you're seated on the third row, you don't need someone to bail you out.

Adding to the third row's usability, the 2023 Pilot finally gets two USB ports on EX-L and above trims, for a total of six in all, a number that still lags behind some competitors. The number of cupholders has been reduced from 16 to 14, but the ones that remain have been redesigned; eight of them can support up to 32-ounce jugs. The cargo area is also roomier than ever (114.3 cubic feet behind the first row, up to 60.1 cubic feet behind the second, and 22.4 cubic feet behind the third), and a deep underfloor storage area provides Pilot Touring and Elite models a segment-first ability to stow the second row's middle seat instead of leaving it in the garage. (TailSports don't get this feature and instead get a full-size spare tire located underneath.)

On the tech front, LX and Sport models get a 7.0-inch touchscreen, while EX-L, Touring, TrailSport, and Elite models get a 9.0-inch display. Those with the bigger screen come with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but those with the small display need to use a cord. Honda says the infotainment system has been redesigned in an effort to simplify the menus, but we'll defer our full judgment on it until we get to spend more time with it. We were somewhat disappointed with the small screen; a 7.0-inch display is tiny nowadays. Even the 9.0-inch screen is on the small side comparatively speaking, as the Ford Explorer, Telluride, and Hyundai Palisade all come with bigger screens.

(Video) 👉 2023 Honda Pilot AWD EX-L - Ultimate In-Depth Look

On the Road and Trail

Underpinning the 2023 Honda Pilot is the automaker's light truck crossover platform, which is shared with models such as the Acura MDX. What Honda is billing as a new 3.5-liter V-6 engine making 285 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque replaces the outgoing mill with the same displacement. Power is up a modest 5 hp, but the biggest improvement is the new 10-speed automatic, which replaces what we found to be a sluggish nine-speed transmission. The new powertrain is smoother and more polished than before—throttle inputs are more pleasant and easier to modulate, and shifts are slicker and less abrupt. The outgoing model felt like it was too eager when you pressed the gas; the new Pilot's acceleration is more mellow and civilized.

After driving a 2022 and a 2023 Pilot back to back, we can say the steering is softer in the new model. Although it's still precise and well-balanced, don't expect a lot of feedback. During our drive around Sedona's highways, we were impressed with how quiet the Elite model is and found its ride settled and pleasant. It was a bit of a different story driving the TrailSport, which was noisier and bouncier; it also exhibited more body roll than the Elite we drove—it's a sacrifice customers will make if they opt for the TrailSport.

On the traction front, the 2023 Pilot's updated torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system delivers 40 percent more torque at launch and is 30 percent quicker than before, according to Honda. For better off-road performance, the system can send up to 70 percent of the engine's torque to the rear wheels, and 100 percent of that torque can be apportioned to either the right or left wheel when traction demands it.

We headed to Broken Arrow trail to put these new improvements to test in the 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport, which also gets beefier all-terrain tires, a 1.0-inch suspension lift (up from a 0.5-inch lift in the 2022 TrailSport model), and high-strength steel skidplates—a big improvement over the outgoing TrailSport. With Trail mode engaged (a new mode for the Pilot) we started our ascent, climbing over the slick red rocks that define Sedona's landscape. Easy throttle inputs allowed us to get over the obstacles slowly and smoothly, with the all-wheel-drive system allowing some wheelspin while sending traction to the other wheels. When Trail mode is engaged, the front camera is automatically displayed on the infotainment screen, giving the driver a clear view of any major obstacles. A camera button on the side of the wiper stalk can switch to a side view, which was handy when the trail narrowed.

The new skidplates came in handy a few times, protecting the powertrain and gas tank from any damage, and the Continental TerrainContact all-terrain tires offered good grip during our adventure—we didn't have to lower their pressure when going off-road. Although most TrailSport buyers won't do this kind of off-roading, they'll be pleased to know their crossover is equipped to tackle family camping trips and some light overlanding when called upon.


The outgoing Pilot was already considered a safe SUV, but Honda made structural improvements to the 2023 model, targeting Top Safety Pick+ ratings from IIHS and five-star marks from NHTSA. Honda Sensing, the automaker's safety suite, has been updated and now includes a traffic jam assist feature, traffic sign recognition, and low-speed braking control. Honda Sensing is standard on every 2023 Pilot, though some features are reserved for trims EX-L and above.

(Video) 2023 Honda Pilot Touring: $50,000 For A Honda

How Much Is the New Honda Pilot?

The 2023 Honda Pilot starts at $37,295 for the base LX FWD trim and ladders all the way up to $53,375 to start for the top-of-the-line Elite trim. In a surprising move, the base 2023 model is actually cheaper than its outgoing 2022 Pilot counterpart, though top trims see about a $3,000 price hike. Regardless of trim level, the new Pilot continues to be a solid value for larger families, and thanks to the myriad improvements Honda has made to it (not to mention the TrailSport model, which offers more capability for camping trips and outdoor adventures), it not only looks cooler inside and out, but it's also more versatile and capable than ever.

Looks good! More details?
2023 Honda Pilot Specifications
BASE PRICE$37,295-$39,395
LAYOUTFront-engine, FWD/AWD, 7-8-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE3.5L/285-hp/262-lb-ft direct-injected DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION10-speed auto
CURB WEIGHT4,000-4,200 lb (mfr)
L x W x H199.9 x 78.5x 71.0-72.0 in
0-60 MPH7.0-8.5 sec (MT est)
EPA FUEL ECON18-19/23-27/20-22 mpg (est)
EPA RANGE (COMB)450 miles (MT est)
ON SALECurrently

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How much will the 2023 Honda Pilot cost? ›

2023 Honda Pilot Pricing

The 2023 Honda Pilot starts at $39,150. The rugged TrailSport starts at $48,350, while the top-of-the-line Elite kicks off at $52,030. For comparison, the Subaru Ascent, Chevrolet Traverse, and Hyundai Palisade all start in the mid-30s.

Will the Honda Pilot be redesigned in 2023? ›

Model Preview

Honda is introducing a fully redesigned Pilot for the 2023 model year. The midsize SUV arrives with Honda's more upscale design, a redesigned V6 engine, and a new TrailSport trim for increased off-roading capability. The full redesign ushers in the fourth generation of the Pilot.

Is Honda Pilot fun to drive? ›

We don't often think of a midsize three-row SUV as being sporty or fun to drive, but the new 2023 Honda Pilot can be both. These SUVs usually work well for families puttering around from one place to another, but the Pilot brings a more engaging driving experience to be a bit more fun.

Will 2023 Pilot have a hybrid option? ›

This three-row Pilot is the largest, most powerful Honda SUV in history, with a 285-hp V6 engine. There is no hybrid version.

Is Honda Pilot a luxury car? ›

Check out the luxury-filled Honda Pilot. Designed for the modern family the Pilot efficiently hauls up to eight passengers plus it's loaded with upscale amenities. Choose from seven trims starting with the Sport LX and ending with the top-of-the-line Black Edition.

Is it worth it to buy a Honda Pilot? ›

The Honda Pilot is space-efficient and smooth-riding, and it provides ample power along with decent fuel economy. You also get plentiful features, a useful cargo area and smart interior storage. This Honda is one of the most well-rounded three-row SUVs you can get.

Do Honda pilots last long? ›

A Honda Pilot can last upwards of 200,000 miles if properly cared for by Lexington drivers. However, there are many factors that can affect the lifespan of a Honda Pilot from climate to regular maintenance.

What is the difference between 2022 and 2023 Honda Pilot? ›

Like the 2022 Pilot, the all-new 2023 model comes with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine. However, in the new generation SUV, it makes 285 horsepower, a 5-hp increase over last year.

Is the Honda Pilot a smooth ride? ›

And the vehicle rides relatively smoothly when loaded with people and stuff. The Pilot's lack of body control makes it seem disconnected from the road at times. And its light steering makes it easy to maneuver at parking-lot speeds, but it also contributes to the detached feel on the highway.

Does the Honda Pilot drive smooth? ›

Enjoyable to Drive

Its smooth ride is ensured by a pulse-quickening 3.5-liter V6 making 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a silky-smooth 9-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel-drive is standard in the top Honda Pilot trims.

Does being a Pilot ever get boring? ›

"You are always watching, monitoring, and managing the flight's progress, as well as keeping an eye on the airplane's various systems, but yes, it can get boring up there."

Is Honda Pilot or Passport bigger? ›

Is the Honda Pilot bigger than the Passport? Yes, the new 2022 Honda Pilot SUV for sale is bigger than the new 2022 Honda Passport SUV. The Honda Pilot has three rows of seating for seven or eight total occupants. The Honda Passport SUV has two rows and five seats.

Will hybrid cars be allowed after 2030? ›

The petrol and diesel car ban only affects sales of new vehicles, so yes, you'll still be able to buy and sell used cars that are powered by combustion engines after 2030, and you'll also be able to buy and sell used hybrids after 2035.

Where is the 2023 Honda Pilot made? ›

Described as the largest and most powerful SUV Honda has ever built, the fourth-generation model challenged the Alabama Auto Plant's 1,500 associates with the most changes of any Pilot since the first model was introduced in 2003, the automaker says.

What is the nicest Honda model? ›

Best Honda Cars, Trucks & SUVs
  • 2023 Honda CR‑V. Pros. Roomy interior trimmed with high-quality materials. ...
  • 2023 Honda Pilot. Pros. Large cargo capacity. ...
  • 2022 Honda Accord. Pros. A joy to drive. ...
  • 2023 Honda Civic. Pros. Modern, comfortable interior. ...
  • 2023 Honda Odyssey. Pros. Seats eight comfortably. ...
  • 2023 Honda HR‑V. Pros.

What is the major problem of Honda Pilot? ›

The most common problems owners of the 2022 Honda Pilot complain about relate to forward collision avoidance and the vehicle's brakes and braking system. Drivers report that the SUV frequently flashes BRAKE when there is no reason to brake. There are also major issues with auto braking.

What is the top model for Honda Pilot? ›

What Driving Assistance Features Are in the 2022 Honda Pilot? According to Car and Driver and Edmunds, the Special Edition (SE) model is the best version of the Pilot.

Can a Pilot be Millionaire? ›

Pilots have high salaries that can reach up to $7 million. Find out how! Due to the constant high demand for pilots and their rising salaries, the aviation industry is a great option for your future career.

Is Honda Pilot a true SUV? ›

Find your next adventure in the all-new Pilot TrailSport, a fully equipped SUV with uncompromising capability.

Does Pilot hold its value? ›

Hondas have always had excellent resale value, mostly due to their outstanding reliability ratings. The Honda Pilot is no exception in this right. Receiving top picks from accredited raters the Pilot has proven itself to be an outstanding, practical third-row SUV.

Is Honda Pilot bigger than Toyota Highlander? ›

Spacious interior: The Honda Pilot has more interior space than the Toyota Highlander. The Honda has an extra 4.2 inches of third-row legroom and 2 more cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row than the Toyota.

Is a Telluride bigger than a Honda Pilot? ›

The Kia Telluride and the Honda Pilot are pretty similar when it comes to their sizes. The Kia Telluride is 196.9 inches long and 78.3 inches wide. The Honda Pilot, for its part, is 196.5 inches long and 78.6 inches wide.

Is a Honda Pilot quiet? ›

With seating for eight in the EX-L and Sport tims, a choice of seven or eight in Touring trim, and seven in the Elite and Black Edition models, the 2022 Pilot is spacious and comfortable. It's quiet, civilized, and bearable on long road trips as well.

How many miles can a Honda Pilot go on a full tank? ›

The 2022 Pilot has a max range of over 520 miles on a full tank. For any SUV this large, this range is incredible and the envy of many, non-Honda, SUV drivers. The EPA estimates the 2022 Pilot gets 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 highway mpg, creating an estimated 23 miles per gallon on all models using AWD.

Are Honda Pilots nice cars? ›

The 2022 Honda Pilot ranks well among midsize SUVs thanks in part to its solid acceleration and handling, roomy interior, and vast cargo space.

What year Honda Pilot has transmission problems? ›

They were part of the huge recall in 2004. Sadly, many of the Honda Pilot's that were repaired as part of the recall had their transmissions fail a second or even a third time. The 2004 Honda recall covered about 1.1 million of Honda's most popular models. Cars covered in the recall included 2003, 2003, and 2004 Pilot.

Is 2023 Pilot bigger than 2022? ›

The 2023 Honda Pilot has been completely restyled and has slightly larger dimensions. The nose is subtly flatter and holds a larger, more up right grille and rectangular, horizontal headlights.

Can a Honda Pilot Go 300000 miles? ›

On average, you can expect your Honda to last around 200,000 miles, but when maintained properly, these cars can hit over 300,000 miles.

Is there a Honda bigger than the Pilot? ›

The Passport is 1 inch taller than the Pilot, and 6 inches shorter length wise. The width and wheelbases are the same for both models, as for cargo space, the Pilot offers nearly double the volume!! 83.9 cubic feet to be exact, yet the Passport only offers 41.2 cubic feet.

What suspension gives the smoothest ride? ›

The smoothest riding shocks you can get would be ones identical or nearly identical to factory tuning, typically something like the Bilstein B4 series, KYB Excel-G Series, or Monroe OE Spectrum. All of these have the most forgiving valving for road handling and comfort.

Does Honda Pilot have road noise? ›

While the Honda Pilot is an extremely reliable vehicle, it is another one that's louder than customers expect. The most common complaints for the Honda Pilot are road noise, cabin noise, tire noise, and engine noise.

Why is the Honda Pilot so popular? ›

As a three-row SUV with a solid engine and quality mechanical components, the 2022 Honda Pilot has the space and capability that many buyers are looking for. For many years, the Pilot has remained popular, not necessarily because of its style but more so because of its practicality and reliability.

Does AWD feel better than FWD? ›

All-wheel-drive vehicles have better traction than front-wheel-drive vehicles, since every wheel gets power. If one tire begins to slip, there are three others that can work to regain traction. For similar reasons, all-wheel-drive cars tend to have better acceleration than front-wheel-drive cars.

Is the Honda Pilot a gas guzzler? ›

However, the 2022 Honda Pilot is one of the rare large SUVs that isn't quite the gas guzzler as some of its competitors. Yes, it isn't as efficient as a compact hybrid, but it is rated for an estimated 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 miles per gallon on the highway.

Does Honda Pilot require premium gas? ›

Use of unleaded gasoline of 87 octane or higher is recommended. Honda recommends TOP TIER Detergent Gasoline where available. Do NOT use gasoline containing more than 15% ethanol.

What is the hardest thing to pilot? ›

1) Aircraft Systems

One of the toughest topics for private pilot students is aircraft systems.

What is the hardest part about being a pilot? ›

1) Weather And Maintenance Delays

Just like being a professional pilot, weather and maintenance delays will affect your training. You will have plenty of flight lessons cancelled outside of your control, and that's a reality you'll need to get used to as a student pilot.

Which is bigger Chevy Traverse or Honda Pilot? ›

The 2021 Chevrolet Traverse obviously bests the 2021 Honda Pilot as far as freight space. It offers 23 cubic feet of room behind the third column, which is significantly more than 16.5 cubic feet for the Pilot. As such, bigger families are probably going to be more agreeable in the Chevy.

Is a Honda Pilot bigger than a minivan? ›

As these models both feature standard three-row seating, their interiors are quite similar in overall size. However, you'll find that the Odyssey minivan is slightly bigger than the Pilot inside, both in passenger space and maximum cargo volume.

Which is bigger Honda Odyssey or Pilot? ›

Overall, the 2021 Odyssey is 205.2 inches long with a wheelbase of 118.1 inches. The 2021 Pilot is a bit smaller, measuring in at 196.5 inches long, with a wheelbase of 111 inches. It also offers 7.3 inches of ground clearance for your next family adventure.

How long will gas cars be around? ›

Cars last around 15 years, so it will take us to 2050 before we get rid of most of the gasoline-powered cars.

What is the lifespan of a hybrid car? ›

Since hybrids have both regenerative batteries and a fuel engine, both are used proportionally less — meaning both are likely to last longer. Roughly speaking, though, hybrid car drivers can expect to drive their car from anything between 5 and 15 years if suitable maintenance is carried out on them.

How much is it to replace hybrid battery? ›

How much does a hybrid battery cost? Generally, a hybrid battery replacement cost can range from $2,000 to $8,000. The price can ultimately vary depending on the %%di_make%% model or even the service center.

How much bigger is the 2023 Pilot? ›

The fourth-generation Pilot measures about 3 inches longer, riding on a 2.8-inch longer wheelbase. This makes for a more imposing presence, while enabling more passenger and cargo space.

When can i order a 2023 Honda Pilot? ›

Pricing And Release Date. The 2023 Honda Pilot will go on sale Dec. 12. FWD is standard, and available AWD adds $2,100.

When can I buy 2023 Honda? ›

The all-new 2023 Honda CR-V will begin arriving in Honda dealerships this month, starting with turbocharged models on Sept. 22, followed by hybrid models in October.

How much should I pay for a 2022 Honda Pilot? ›

2022 Honda Pilot Pricing

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a front-drive 2022 Honda Pilot Sport is $37,580. All-wheel drive is another $2,000. The destination charge is $1,225. EX-L starts at $39,810, SE is priced from $40,410, and the new TrailSport version begins at $44,310.

How much is a fully loaded 2022 Honda Pilot? ›

The fully loaded 2022 Honda Pilot costs a total of $54,455. This includes a destination and handling fee of $1,225. The all-wheel-drive Honda Pilot Elite with a 3.5-liter V6 engine in Deep Scarlet Pearl with 20-inch black alloy wheels puts the total cost at $51,643.


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