Honda Pilot or Toyota Sequoia: Which Off-Road Package Is the Real Deal?

Honda and Toyota are starting to recognize that a lot of us buy SUVs because we like to travel on some unpaved roads. An SUV is perfect for going into the wild because you can equip one with all-wheel drive, a tall suspension, and of course you can bring several friends and camping gear. Now, there’s the new 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport and the Toyota Sequoia TRD Off-Road Pro seven-seaters. But are these new SUV packages the real deal, or just a set of off-road tires?

Honda Pilot or Toyota Sequoia: which costs more?

Let’s get the pricing out of the way first. The 2023 Sequoia TRD Pro costs $76,000, before options. That is a lot of scratch for an SUV. The 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport at $48,350 sounds like a bargain in comparison. Again, that’s before options. Fortunately, both of these SUVs in off-road trim come with most of the options you’ll already want, like heated seats and wireless connectivity. Both SUVs are all-new for 2023.

In base off-road trim, the Sequoia TRD Pro costs $28,000 more than the Pilot TrailSport, and for that money, you could buy a two-year old Jeep Wrangler if you really want to go off-roading. But, both of these SUV’s are much more refined than a Wrangler and will make your commute to work much easier.

What does off-road tuned mean on the Honda Pilot and Toyota Sequoia?

Honda says the TrailSport has an off-road-tuned suspension. In other words, it has a factory lift. In the TrailSport’s case, that means that it has about 8.27 inches of ground clearance. That extra height will certainly help get you over big rocks and through ruts.

The Sequoia is a bit taller, and it has 9.1 inches of clearance. But it also has coil-over FOX brand shocks that include a remote reservoir, so they rebound quicker and keep your wheels planted during higher-speed driving. Both SUVs also have skid plates under the engine.

Also, the TrailSport has new 18-inch wheels that have inset spokes. The deep dish to the wheels should keep rocks and other debris from dinging their black finish. The Sequoia, too, has similar off-road design wheels.  Both have knobs that set these SUVs into different modes. The Toyota, however, adds Crawl Control that uses the on-board computers to get you out of the stickiest situations.

Mall crawler or rock crawler?

There are two basic, but important differences in these two SUVs that can matter when going off road. The Honda is a unibody, so it’s built like a car, which means that the roof is part of the frame. The 2023 Toyota Sequoia is a traditional body-on-frame design, and it’s based on the giant Tundra truck. That means that its frame, under the SUV, can be made stronger. That translates to more towing capacity, and a different structure for modifying it for off-road duty.

The Honda has all-wheel drive. All-wheel drive systems do spin all four tires, but they’re made for inclement weather and light-duty off roading. The Sequoia has a four-wheel drive system that has a locking rear differential, and a low-speed gear for powering over obstacles. Sure, not all of us need those extra goodies for heading to a campsite, and Car and Driver says the TrailSport is more capable than the specs would suggest. However, the Toyota has more off-road ability on paper.

Is the Sequoia worth $28,000 more than the TrailSport?

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The Sequoia in TRD Pro trim is a very serious off-road machine, one that is designed to tackle the wilderness like a larger 4Runner. The TRD package, like the one on the Tundra truck, adds several key off-road features that are key in the woods, or for profiling around town.

But for most of us who only occasionally go off-road or never really tackle the tough stuff, but still want to have the option, the TrailSport could be a great option. Both SUVs seat seven, have safety systems galore, and both look the part. But the Toyota will likely be more capable.