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2023 Honda Pilot Review: The Perfect 3-Row Family SUV

Image Source: Zoran Karapancev / Shutterstock

The previous generation Honda Pilot was a good choice for families needing a three-row SUV, but was criticized for its minivan-like appearance. The 2023 model year brings a redesigned Pilot that is more rugged and family-friendly than ever before.

Unlike before, current three-row SUVs are leaning towards a more adventurous design, with automakers like Ford, Nissan, and Subaru introducing off-road-oriented trims. Honda is following suit with its new TrailSport models, starting with the Passport, which represents a more adventure-ready variant.

Buyers now prefer three-row SUVs with traditional SUV aesthetics rather than resembling a raised minivan. Honda has answered this shift by giving the Pilot a more SUV-like appearance, featuring a longer hood and a more upright nose compared to its predecessor.

The updated Pilot boasts a more rugged look outshining its main competitor, the Toyota Highlander. Although Toyota recently introduced the Grand Highlander with blockier styling different from the regular Highlander.

Introducing the first-ever Pilot TrailSport variant, Honda aims at enhancing the SUV’s rugged capabilities. This version incorporates skid plates for underbody protection and a lifted suspension. It also adds two extra drive modes and equips 18-inch all-terrain tires on unique wheels.

Equipped with a new 3.5-liter V6 engine, the Pilot ensures an extra five horsepower, now generating 285 hp. Despite similar torque figures, Honda claims reduced emissions with this updated engine. Paired with a new 10-speed automatic transmission, fuel efficiency remains unchanged.

The standard Pilot achieves 19 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined. The all-wheel-drive version delivers 19/25/21 mpg, while the TrailSport variant is rated at 18/23/20 mpg.

While the Pilot offers sufficient power for daily driving, its efficiency could benefit from more engine performance. The driving experience is typical of three-row crossovers – comfortable and composed rather than sporty. If a more exciting drive is desired, Honda’s Acura MDX could be a better fit.

Internally, the updated Pilot boasts a modern look similar to other Honda models, with improved cabin materials and increased rear room. The option for an eight-passenger configuration allows easy removal and storage of the second-row middle seat.

Featuring a new 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster and a 7- or 9-inch touchscreen for infotainment, the Pilot’s interior showcases enhanced technology similar to the CR-V. Safety features include the standard Honda Sensing suite with additional capabilities like traffic jam assist.

Offered in various trims – LX, Sport, EX-L, TrailSport, Touring, and Elite – the 2023 Pilot’s price starts at $37,295 for the LX base model. All-wheel drive adds $2,000, while the top-tier Elite with all-wheel drive starts at $53,375, making the TrailSport model priced at $49,695.

The 2023 Honda Pilot improved on its predecessor’s shortcomings, making it a strong contender in the competitive three-row SUV market. With its rugged appearance, enhanced off-road capabilities, and updated technology, the Pilot is poised to compete effectively with its luxurious rivals like the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade.

Image Source: Zoran Karapancev / Shutterstock

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