2023 Honda Pilot Review: An Ace in the Hole
2023 Honda Pilot review:
- 2023 Honda Pilot $36,300 – $52,380
- IIHS Top Safety Pick+
- Pros: Plenty of pep, spacious interior for families, the TrailSport model is rugged and capable
- Cons: Weak fuel economy, small touchscreen, low camera resolution
- MotorBiscuit Score: 8.4 out of 10
The 2023 Honda Pilot needed a few upgrades to compete against the Kia Telluride and Toyota Highlander, and we must admit that this SUV seriously understood its assignment. You could call the 2023 Pilot the most improved SUV of the year.
It shed its old, rounded Honda Odyssey minivan look for a confident, boxy design that draws the eye. The interior features sleek upgrades as well.
Enhancements include a longer wheelbase for a smoother ride quality, more engine power for an enticing performance, improved space and comfort in each row, and the addition of the highly capable Honda Pilot TrailSport model.
While the Pilot is refined, spacious, and easy to operate, it could still use a few improvements. The tech is a little lacking, and the camera resolution is grainy. However, the adaptive cruise control system and infotainment software are intuitive and convenient.
Which 2023 Honda Pilot trim is best?
- Honda Pilot LX – $36,300
- Honda Pilot Sport – $39,500
- Honda Pilot EX-L – $42,300
- Honda Pilot Touring $46,800
- Honda Pilot TrailSport – $48,700
- Honda Pilot Elite – $52,380
The Honda Pilot Sport is a sweet spot in the lineup with comfort and convenience upgrades such as keyless entry/ignition, heated/power-adjustable front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, LED foglights, and extra safety features.
But if you’re looking to adventure, the Honda Pilot TrailSport has standard all-wheel drive, all-terrain tires, a suspension lift, protective skid plates, off-road recovery hooks, suspension upgrades, and off-roading modes.
The cream of the crop is the top-spec Elite trim with ventilated seats, a head-up display, a digital instrument panel, heated seats in the second row, a heated windshield, and a household-style power outlet.
The best Honda Pilot trim for any buyer will depend directly on their budget and how they plan to use the vehicle.
How does the 2023 Honda Pilot drive?
The 2023 Honda Pilot has plenty of pep in its step thanks to the standard 3.5-liter V6 engine with 285 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission and helps the Pilot accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. It’s a bit faster than the Kia Telluride.
At higher speeds, the transmission may stumble, but it doesn’t lag very often. Also, the breaks are a bit soft, but they’re predictable and easy to master. The steering has a nice weight to it, and the Pilot corners well. It’s well-planted and confident around steep curves.
There are small differences between the Sport, Normal, and Eco driving modes. But the Sport mode tightens everything up and provides stiffer brakes. The Eco mode is a bit more lethargic to save fuel.
We’re impressed by the 18.85 to 18.9-foot turning radius that helps the Pilot feel agile and smaller than it actually is. It’s easy to maneuver in tight areas of the woods and in crowded parking lots.
Can the 2023 Honda Pilot go off-roading?
Yes, the 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport is well-equipped for off-roading and surpassed our expectations in the woods. It has a ground clearance of 8.3 inches, which is a great start. Plus, it rides on 18-inch wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires.
Plus, you get an off-road-tuned suspension, tow hooks, steel skid plates, a softer front anti-roll bar, and a torque-vectoring rear differential with 20% more torque capacity. Off-roading modes include Trail, Sand, and Snow.
Trail mode suited our needs in the woods, and the Pilot provides plenty of grip and is extremely resistant to slipping and sliding. Plus, it has tons of power for climbing over obstacles and clearing mud and ruts. Hill descent control provides even more control.
The terrain camera system is helpful, but the camera resolution isn’t the best. It’s better than nothing, though. Also, the suspension flexes well, providing a surprisingly capable performance for a vehicle of this size.
Despite having larger tires and heavier equipment, the TrailSport doesn’t compromise the on-road performance. The tires are great in the wild and on the pavement.
Is the 2023 Pilot comfortable?
Yes, the 2023 Honda Pilot is pretty comfortable. The front seats are well-padded and supportive but may feel flat on longer jaunts. We will admit that the Kia Telluride has more comfortable seats, but the Pilot has more composure around tight bends.
The second-row seats are also large and spacious, with ample space for adults to stretch out. They slide forward and back as needed, which is a convenient feature that the Toyota Sequoia lacks.
Also, the third-row seats are tall are well-padded. The seats sit at a relaxed backrest angle with plenty of room for shorter adults. At 5’1”, I had plenty of room to enjoy trips comfortably.
Each row has air vents, and the climate control system is solid and effective during hot, humid summer afternoons. The controls rarely need to be adjusted.
The cabin is fairly quiet, with noticeable wind and road noise at highway speeds. Also, the engine emits an occasional deep roar that’s pretty satisfying.
How is the 2023 Honda Pilot interior?
The 2023 Honda Pilot interior is clean, simple, and spacious. Some might consider it to be bland, but others might enjoy the lack of distractions. It’s crafted with high-quality materials with soft-covered surfaces.
Large sections are covered in black or brown upholstery with subtle white or orange accent stitching. The TrailSport has more orange accents and embroidered logos to stand out more. Glossy trim pieces complete the package.
The layout is well-planned, with everything you need placed within reach. Visibility is abundant in the front thanks to a large windshield, and visibility in the rear is only hampered by the third-row headrests.
It’s easy to access each row, especially thanks to power-folding and sliding second-row seats. However, with the TrailSport model, the liftover height is a bit high. Also, the rear hatch opens wide, making it easier to load heavy/awkward items.
Does the Honda Pilot have good tech?
The tech in the 2023 Honda Pilot is adequate and covers the basics. The 7.0-inch infotainment screen is a bit small, but it’s intuitive. The Elite models have a 9.0-inch unit. Adjusting personal settings is quick and simple. The camera views are narrow with a low resolution.
Connecting phones to wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is fast and straightforward. Plus, the wireless phone charging pad is in a secure location, so phones don’t slide around.
The infotainment system has physical controls that are clearly labeled, so you don’t have to rely on the touchscreen. The second row has physical controls for the climate control system, too.
The digital guage cluster is a little basic but provides plenty of helpful driving information, such as navigation steps and miles until empty. The standard nine-speaker audio system is crisp and clear, but the Elite model has a premium Bose system.
How much cargo space does the 2023 Honda Pilot have?
The 2023 Honda Pilot features 18.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, 48.5 cubes behind the second row, and up to 87.0 cubes total. The seats are easy to fold and create a flat cargo floor.
It only falls behind the Kia Telluride in the third row, but the Telluride’s cargo hold is narrower and taller. The back of the Pilot is deep and wide, with a bonus cargo bin built under the floor, above the spare tire.
Plus, the Pilot excels with personal item storage. There are deep trays and cubbies throughout the cabin, with a large storage tray in front of the passenger seat.
The center console is generous, and the doors have shelving to take advantage of. The seat pockets are pretty big, and the cup holders can hold larger water bottles.
When properly equipped, the 2023 Pilot can tow up to 5,000 lbs, while the Kai Telluride X-Pro can tow up to 5,500 lbs.
How safe is the 2023 Honda Pilot?
The 2023 Honda Pilot is extremely safe. It’s an Insurance Insititute of Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick+ award winner. In most crash simulations, it earned a ‘Good’ rating, which is the highest score possible.
It earned a ‘Superior’ score for avoiding collisions with vehicles and pedestrians at 12 and 25 mph speeds. During the 37 mph test, the Pilot avoided a collision, and a warning was issued 2.2 seconds before impact.
The child seat anchors earned a G+ rating because the seat anchors are easy to find attach, and aren’t easily confused with other equipment. The headlights also provide excellent visibility without too much glare.
Standard safety features include:
- Forward collision warning
- Automatic emergency braking
- Lane-keeping assistance
- Driver attention warning
- Adaptive cruise control
How reliable is the 2023 Honda Pilot?
The 2023 Honda Pilot has an above-average reliability rating. J.D.Power gave it a score of 81 out of 100. Scores between 81 and 90 are above average, while scores between 91 and 100 are best.
An average Pilot model is expected to make it between 200,000 to 250,000 miles before needing serious repairs. However, some models have made it over 300,000 miles.
With the proper care and regular maintenance, your Pilot could provide 15 to 17 years of service on the road.
The average yearly maintenance cost for the Pilot is about $542. So, it has lower annual maintenance costs than the average new SUV, which hovers around $650.
MotorBiscuit awards the 2023 Honda Pilot with a score of 8.4 out of 10
The experts at MotorBiscuit have provided the 2023 Honda Pilot with a score of 8.4 out of 10. While the Honda Pilot is much improved compared to the outgoing generation, it falls behind on tech, and desirable features are limited to higher trim levels.
It has a smooth ride with occasional transmission hiccups. Plus, the interior is upscale and spacious, with plenty of storage cubbies. The design is simple but borders on bland with plenty of visibility.
The seats can be folded flat and with tons of adjustment controls, and the Pilot has a stout towing capacity. It’s a well-rounded package, and the TrailSport model has true off-roading grit.
Finally, the Honda Pilot is a more confident rival in the segment. We hope to see how the loaded Elite trim compares to the TrailSport model soon.