Why J.D. Power Thinks the Honda Pilot Redesign Only Got the SUV up to Par
The Honda Pilot has been completely reworked for the 2023 model year with new looks, larger dimensions, a revised drivetrain, and a new all-terrain capable trim dubbed TrailSport. Though the 2023 iteration of the Honda Pilot serves as a step forward for the model, some automotive experts feel the improvements made didn’t go far enough.
J.D. Power isn’t overly impressed with the new 2023 Honda Pilot
J.D. Power’s recent review of the 2023 Honda Pilot includes some notable praise for the model’s new generation, including its more rough-and-tumble looks, and that it is “significantly more satisfying than driving the old one.” The review also commends the Pilot’s comfortable demeanor, accommodations, refinement, and “sophisticated” all-wheel drive system.
However, the review suggests that the Pilot’s overall improvements aren’t enough to put it on par with the leaders of the three-row, midsize SUV segment. Compared to its rivals, “the 2023 Pilot is merely up to par and, on the technology front, falls short of the segment leaders,” the review states.
A sticking point of J.D. Power’s criticisms was the 2023 Pilot’s technology, stating the Honda doesn’t stand out from its segment in any notable way. Much of the Pilot’s competition offers better tech and systems. For instance, the review states the standard 7.0-inch and optional 9.0-inch touchscreens are “underwhelming.” Additionally, the Cabin Talk feature, effectively a microphone/speaker system aimed at allowing easier communication between front and rear passengers, isn’t effective as rear passengers can’t hear the driver.
Though these complaints are valid, they might not be enough to sway many buyers from the Pilot’s camp.
Tech features are far from the Pilot’s only selling point
The Honda Pilot was due for an upgrade considering the previous generation was introduced in 2015 and went relatively unchanged during its lifespan. However, that did not appear to detract many buyers.
According to Honda, the automaker sold 143,000 Pilot models in 2021 despite a turbulent market and production issues. Many of those issues persisted into 2022, but nearly 100,000 Pilots were still sold. This suggests that plenty of midsize three-row SUVs were still content with the Honda, even if the model was comparatively outdated against some rivals.
It could be surmised that many of these buyers prioritize overall user-friendliness, comfort, and of course, Honda’s warranted reputation for reliability versus having the latest cutting-edge technology.
And that’s not to say the Pilot is necessarily lacking in technology. The 2023 model still offers a suite of driver’s aids and tech, including automatic forward emergency braking, lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control. Upper models are fitted with blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, a 9.0-inch infotainment screen, a surround-view camera, navigation, and a head-up display. These 2023 Honda Pilot features still fit the needs of most buyers.
Safety is also a vital factor among family-oriented SUVs, and though the 2023 Pilot has yet to be tested by the NHTSA, the 2022 model earned a five-star overall crash rating.
Although tech is crucial for many buyers, not all are interested in the latest and greatest. As a prime example, the Toyota 4Runner, which is the relative dinosaur in the three-row SUV segment, is still a strong sales generator. The 2023 Honda Pilot is a step in the right direction, but it has a few more steps to go.