An all-new generation of Honda’s three-row Pilot SUV is on its way for the 2023 model year and it’s been improved from grille to tailgate. The new Pilot’s styling is boxier and more truck-like this time around, which gives it a more rugged overall appearance. A 285-hp 3.5-liter V-6 and a 10-speed automatic are standard and come with either front- or all-wheel drive. The interior can be set up with room for seven or eight passengers, with upscale Touring and Elite models coming standard with a panoramic sunroof and a 12-speaker Bose stereo system. An off-road oriented TrailSport variant sits at the middle of the lineup and offers all-terrain tires on unique 18-inch wheels and tweaks to the all-wheel drive system that allow for more torque transfer to the rear wheels. When it goes on sale in December, the Pilot will be a new challenger to segment leaders such as the Kia Telluride, the Hyundai Palisade, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee L.
What’s New for 2023?
Pricing and Which One to Buy
The all-new Pilot grows in price, now starting just over the $40k hill. We recommend the Pilot EX-L due to its balance of price and features. The EX-L trim adds leather seats, the bigger 9.0-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 15W wireless smartphone charging, and a power tailgate. Whether or not you need all-wheel drive is a matter of personal preference. For us, we think the increased towing capacity is worth the money.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Like the 2022 Pilot, the all-new 2023 model comes with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine. However, in the new generation SUV it makes 285 horsepower, a 5-hp increase over last year. The 2023 Pilot has ditched the old nine-speed automatic transmission for a new 10-speed unit, although the SUV remains a front-wheel-drive-based model with all-wheel drive available as an option. We got a chance to sample a prototype of the most rugged Trailsport model on real-world off-road trails near Breckenridge, Colorado. The Trailsport proved itself capable of the moderately-difficult terrain we encountered but Honda admitted they haven’t created a rock-crawling super-machine that’s intended to tackle Moab alongside Broncos, Wranglers, and 4Runners. The Pilot Trailsport has a special suspension with a 1.0-inch lift, steel skid plates, all-terrain tires, a hill-descent control system, and a specially tuned all-wheel drive system with a Trail driving mode.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA hasn’t released fuel economy estimates for the new Pilot yet, but we expect it to be similar to the outgoing model at 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway for front-wheel drive models. When we get a chance, we’ll test the 2023 Pilot for ourselves on our 75-mph highway fuel economy route and update this story with its results. For more information about the Pilot’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Being a family-friendly SUV, the 2023 Pilot’s cabin is designed with that use case in mind. All models are capable of sitting up to eight in the three rows but the EX-L trim can be had with optional second-row captain’s chairs that reduce passenger capacity to seven; captain’s chairs are standard on the TrailSport. The Touring and Elite models come with a second-row seat design where the middle seat portion can be removed and stored under the floor in the cargo area when not needed. Honda boasts that eight of the Pilot’s cupholders are capable of holding big 32-ounce water bottles and that its cargo area is more voluminous than ever before. When we get a chance, we’ll see for ourselves how many suitcases can fit inside the Pilot’s cargo area and update this story with test results.
Infotainment and Connectivity
A 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen and an accompanying 7.0-inch digital gauge cluster are standard on the 2023 Pilot. Honda’s latest infotainment interface is easy to use and features both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. TrailSport, Touring, and Elite models get a larger 9.0-inch infotainment display with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability; the Elite also comes with a 10.2-inch gauge cluster. Honda hasn’t said what the standard stereo will be in the Pilot, but the Touring and Elite models come with a 12-speaker setup from Bose.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Honda equips all Pilot models with a comprehensive suite of driver-assistance features it calls Honda Sensing. The bundle includes automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlamps, and more. For more information about the Pilot’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Standard adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
- Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance