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Honda has always been at the top of its game in producing commuter cars, trucks, and SUVs. As opposed to building a hardcore body-on-frame truck, like a Ford F-150, Honda produces a unibody Ridgeline that’s comfortable and pragmatic. Also, instead of producing an off-road-ready SUV like a Ford Bronco, Honda has the Pilot.

Don’t get me wrong, the 2023 Honda Pilot is a capable SUV as it is, but most off-road enthusiasts would argue that it’s a little too soft for the dusty trail. However, the all-new TrailSport adds a rougher edge to the smooth Pilot. In my experience, it’s one of the vehicles in Honda’s current line that you can take anywhere, even off-road.

2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport front view on the trail
2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

How does the 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport drive?

2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport side view on the trail
2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

After spending a week with the 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport, I am very impressed with how comfortable and smooth it is on paved roads. The TrailSport trim wears all-terrain tires, has a higher ride height, and has an off-road suspension, which I thought would hinder the SUV’s inherent smoothness. But it didn’t.

Instead, the Pilot TrailSport felt every bit as supple as a non-trail-ready trim, albeit a little louder at highway speeds. After all, you can’t put grippier tires on an SUV and not expect at least a little more noise. Also, the one-inch-higher ride height gives the driver a slightly more commanding view of the road, which is nice.

I also took the Pilot TrailSport on a dirt trail, and it handled it with ease. There are a few different drive modes, which mainly adjust the throttle and steering responsiveness, but I found that driving it “normal” was fine for most occasions.

One neat feature is the TrailWatch camera system, which shows the front and side views of the trail on the infotainment screen. I’m sure it comes in handy when you’re driving on a cliffside or need to navigate down a steep hill, but I didn’t need it for the tame roads I was on. Nonetheless, the Pilot TrailSport does well off-road, and I’m sure it can handle some pretty rough stuff that off-road enthusiasts like to drive on.

The Pilot TrailSport’s interior is comfortable

The Honda Pilot TrailSport is the third-highest trim level you can opt for, so it comes with a few high-end interior features buyers might want. Some of them include a synthetic leather interior with orange stitching, second-row captain’s chairs, and tri-zone auto climate control. There’s even a household 110-volt outlet in the second row for anyone that wants to dry their hair while hitting the trails.

Overall, the Pilot’s interior is spacious and comfortable. The two front seats provide plenty of support, and the 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system is easy to reach and navigate. However, I mainly utilized the wireless Apple Carplay feature, as most drivers would. Also, the 245-watt sound system is better than you think it would be.

The second-row captain’s chairs are almost as comfortable as the front seats and nearly as spacious. Additionally, the third row is surprisingly roomy. I’m 5 feet, 8 inches tall and could fit back there well with the second-row seats pushed back. Getting back there is easy with the push of a button, and once you’re in, you’ll be treated to your own cupholder, vent, and USB port. How fancy!

The Pilot’s gas mileage isn’t all that great

2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport rear view on the trail
2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

Although the 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport is smooth, comfortable, and ready to tackle moderate off-road trails, I will say that its fuel efficiency isn’t that great. Under the hood is the same 285-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine that powers every Pilot trim level. It’s a good engine that provides plenty of torque and power when you need it, but it likes to drink gas.

I averaged 19.8 mpg during my time with the car, which is on par with the EPA’s estimate of 20 mpg combined. However, it did feel like I had to put gas in the car more often than other SUVs I’ve had, like the Nissan Armada and Toyota Highlander.

Ultimately, the 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport is worth the extra money if you need an SUV that can go off-road on the weekend and transport kids to soccer practice on the weekdays. After all, Honda is great at building commuter vehicles, but the Pilot TrailSport proves that it can build a dual-purpose vehicle just as well.


First Drive: The 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport Is a Comfortable and Competent On-Road SUV