4 Great 2023 Honda Pilot Alternatives for Less Than $45,000

The Honda Pilot is all new for 2023, with all new styling inside and out. It’s safe to say that this hot SUV will be in short supply for a while at dealerships. But there are several great alternatives to the Honda Pilot that seat seven or eight people, with peppy engines, and comfortable interiors. What are some great Honda Pilot alternatives for less than $45,000?

The Honda Pilot is all new for 2023

2023 Honda Pilot in blue parked on dirt
The 2023 Honda Pilot | Honda

The base price of the new Pilot is about $40,000. The Pilot most will want, the slightly upgraded EX-L, should cost about $45,000, depending on options and seating. You can order the all-new pilot in a seven- or eight-seat configuration. The Honda has ample back seat room, tough new styling, and several driver’s aids.

Honda made the new Pilot larger, more powerful, and stronger. It now has a frame designed for off-road duty in the $48,350 all-wheel drive TrailSport package. The new V6 is also five horsepower more potent than last year’s, with 295 hp. All-wheel drive is a $2,000 option on any Pilot.

Kia Telluride is the obvious Pilot alternative

A black 2023 Kia Telluride parked in the desert.
2023 Telluride

The Kia Telluride is the bogey. It’s won tons of awards, including the 2022 MotorBiscuit SUV of the Year, for many of the same reasons the Pilot is in demand. The Telluride is about the same size, can be outfitted similarly, has similar driver’s aids, and has all-new styling for 2023. The Kia Telluride, however, starts at about $36,000, which leaves plenty of room for options like one of its special edition trims.

It has a 291-horsepower V6 and all-wheel drive is also a $2,000 option. For about $45,000 you can buy an upgraded EX trim with the off-road X-Line package, which adds a slight suspension lift, tires, and downhill brake control, as well as special seats and trim. The SX trim, however, adds niceties like heated seats, more charging ports and a power liftgate.

The Toyota Highlander is another great Honda Pilot alternative

A 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid midsize SUV with bronze wheels
2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid | Toyota

Toyota’s seven- or eight-passenger large SUV, the Highlander, is super popular because it offers several features, good looks, and Toyota reliability. For around $44,000, you can buy the mid-level XSE trim Highlander, which comes with many of the same options as the others on the list like heated seats and and more USB outlets than you’ll likely need. Though the Highlander stacks up well, the back seat is for kids or jockeys only, with just 28 inches of leg room.

For 2023, the Highlander was upgraded with a new four-cylinder turbocharged engine that, while it’s down on horsepower, has more torque than the previous engine and doesn’t hurt acceleration. We’re waiting for the new Grand Highlander, however, which will be a long-wheelbase version of the Highlander and should upgrade that third row’s space.

The Ford Explorer is the American alternative

The Ford Explorer seems to sail on under the radar. In 2020 Ford updated the Explorer and for around $40,000 you can find an upgraded XLT version of the Explorer that comes standard with heated seats, rear parking sensors, and Ford’s stain-resistant ActiveX leather-like seating. The Explorer doesn’t stand out like some other SUVs, and for some that’s a plus. It comes with Ford’s new 305-horsepower version of the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine.  

Or, stretch that budget a bit and try on the performance version, the ST-Line, which comes with a 400-horsepower engine, stiffer suspension, and an appearance package for $46,005.

Subaru Ascent is an unlikely Honda pilot alternative

These popular three-row SUVs include the Subaru Ascent.
A 2023 Subaru Ascent | Subaru

The Subaru Ascent, the brand’s first three-row SUV, impresses with its low (for the segment) base price of $33,895. Unlike the others on this list, all-wheel drive is standard on the Subie and its wagon-like proportions pay dividends in parking lots. It has usable legroom in the back, three inches more than the Highlander at 32, and it comes in seven- or eight-passenger configurations. It’s down a tiny bit on power from the others, with a 260-horsepower engine, and its cargo hold isn’t quite as generous.

For our $45,000 price target, however, the Subaru can come very nicely equipped. It is getting a bit old, and hasn’t been updated since 2019 according to Motor Trend. The Limited trim starts at $41,595 and the only option is the $3,550 Technology Package that adds multimedia navigation, a surround-view camera, and a moonroof, topped by leather seating and trim. It represents a lot of value.