First Drive: The 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport Is a Comfortable and Competent On-Road SUV
Honda has been pumping out special editions of its vehicles for years, and the Pilot TrailSport is one of its latest creations. The Pilot TrailSport offers more than an appearance package. It rides higher, wears grippier rubber, and has a few off-road goodies to make it a little more rugged. I spent some time in the Pilot TrailSport and found that although it’s great off-road, it’s also very competent when driving on paved roads.
What’s different about the 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport?
Unlike the Honda Passport TrailSport, where the upgraded trim is mainly an appearance package, the Pilot TrailSport includes some off-road capability. It wears all-terrain tires, has a one-inch lift (8.3 inches of ground clearance), and a unique off-road-tuned suspension. The upgraded Pilot also has larger sway bars, steel skid plates, a terrain camera system, and front/rear recovery points.
Honda even modified the Pilot’s AWD system with a Trail Logic feature that sends power to the wheels with the least amount of traction. There are also orange-embroidered leather seats and TrailSport floormats to complete the look. Overall, it’s clear that Honda went all-out on the Pilot to make it suitable for off-road enthusiasts that like to get dirty on the weekends but need a stable three-row SUV for weekday commuting and errands.
How does the Honda Pilot TrailSport handle paved roads?
I was expecting the Honda Pilot TrailSport to ride a little stiffer and sound louder on regular roads, but I was wrong. Despite the grippier all-terrain tires and modified suspension, the Pilot TrailSport is surprisingly quiet at all speeds. It even handles well on tight corners, and parking lot maneuvers are made easy with its narrow turning radius and light steering feel.
I even drove through a heavy rainstorm in the Denver, Colo., area and found that Pilot was composed and stable no matter how hard the sky cried. If anything, the higher ride height made me feel more confident as the waves of water splashed up on the car on the highway. The ride is also very comfortable as the revised suspension soaks up road imperfections well.
Honda didn’t change anything under the Pilot’s hood as it’s powered by the same 285-hp, 3.5-liter V6 that provides plenty of low-end power. I expect to average around 20 mpg by the end of the week, which is decent for a car this size.
Is the Honda Pilot TrailSport trim level worth the extra money?
If you’re the type that needs some off-road capability for the light dirt roads, the 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport trim level is worth the extra cash. The base Pilot has a starting MSRP of $39,150, but the TrailSport trim (the third-highest trim level) comes in at $48,350 without the $1,345 destination charge.
Although that is nearly a $10,000 difference, the TrailSport is worth it, considering it comes with many off-road goodies and is well-equipped. Some of the TrailSport’s notable features include second-row captain’s chairs, a nine-speaker audio system, and a 9-inch infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
Ultimately, Honda’s inclusion of the TrailSport trim in the Pilot’s lineup makes sense. Semi-serious off-roaders can rejoice, but I wouldn’t take it on a serious rock-crawling adventure any time soon.