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A couple of years ago, tougher-looking Honda Ridgeline trucks started showing up at dealers. With bronze wheels, flares, and some graphics on the bed, the HPD packages announced that Honda wasn’t playing around. What does HPD stand for? Much like Toyota’s TRD badges or BMW’s M badges, HPD seemed to say “performance.” But we’re here to say it doesn’t really mean much on the all-new 2023 Honda Pilot or 2023 Ridgeline.

What does HPD stand for?

HPD stands for Honda Performance Development. The HPD group designs Honda race cars and engines and has been quite successful. The U.S.-based HPD team has won several IndyCar manufacturer’s titles, and its cars have won the Indy 500, several endurance races, and more. The HPD team were also the wizards behind the factory-built race car, the Honda HPD Civic Si FE1, which was a $55,000 track-ready competition car.

The HPD folks are distinct from the HRC, or Honda Racing Corp., which is the factory motorcycle racing arm. Honda entered a heavily made-over Honda Ridgeline in the 2021 Rebelle Rally, which previewed a lot of the styling cues that consumer HPD Ridgelines would soon see. A similar truck ran the 2023 rally.

Is the Honda HPD package worth it?

A red Honda Ridgeline
2021 Ridgeline Sport with HPD Package | Honda

Sure, those race cars are the bees knees on the track and are winning cars. But, for the Ridgeline and the all-new 2023 Pilot, HPD doesn’t mean faster. And, unlike with TRD, HPD trucks and SUVs don’t get super suspensions or superchargers. Instead, the HPD package is simply an appearance package.

You can order the HPD decals for the Honda Pilot, but it simply includes bronze-colored wheels, fender flares, and HPD decals. That’s it. For the Ridgeline truck, the HPD package adds a unique grille, an HPD emblem, fender flares, similar bronze wheels and graphics on the bed. The package costs $2,800. But, for $2,800 you can buy your own upgraded wheels and flares, and probably even have a bit of scratch leftover for upgrades that improve the performance of the truck.

What else does HPD make?

Acura ARX-)6 race car
Acura ARX-06 race car by HPD | Honda

The HPD group also makes an interesting crate motor called the Talon Crate Engine for off-road Talon racers. A crate motor is called that because the engine arrives in a crate. Talons are off-road racers that can tackle almost any off-road obstacle with ease. HPD also built the new Acura ARX-06 race car. The new hybrid race car was designed to compete in IMSA and FIA endurance races.

HPD is also responsible for the completely irresponsible but tons of fun 306-horsepower Civic R. HPD boosted the motor and created a stiffer, lighter frame for the Type R. Maybe we will see some of that magic on the Ridgeline or Pilot, but not today.

The 2023 Pilot is plenty capable without the HPD stickers

2023 Honda Pilot off-road
Honda Pilot Trailsport | Honda

The Honda Ridgeline Tried Off-Roading and Surprised Everyone

The new Pilot isn’t a refresh. Instead, the company built an entirely new chassis for the new 295-horsepower V6 engine. Honda says that the new Pilot was designed to be off-road ready from the start and the target was to make the off-road Trailsport version capable. The new Pilot also has the latest version of Honda’s all-wheel drive system, called the i-VTM4, that has a stronger and quicker-responding rear differential to help when you’re off the pavement. However, it’s also available as a family-friendly seven- or eight-passenger SUV.

Honda says the new Pilot prices will start at $39,150 for the front-wheel drive Sport version. The seven-passenger version has two captain’s chairs in the middle, while the eight-occupant version has a bench seat. The top-line Touring and Trailsport and Elite trims cost around $50,000. All-wheel drive is a $2,100 option on all trims.