This is the new fourth-generation 2023 Honda Pilot, the automaker’s largest and most powerful SUV ever. Endowed with a new V6 engine, oodles of cargo space, a first-in-class hideaway seat in the second row, and a world-first new airbag type, the new SUV seeks to impress American families.
The 2023 Honda Pilot features squared-off styling penned by the company’s team in California. Overall, the new Pilot is 3.4 inches (86 mm) longer than the outgoing model. It also gets new lighting elements, a large grille, and 18- to 20-inch wheels, depending on trim.
For the first time ever, Honda will offer the 2023 Pilot with four post-production options, one of which was designed in collaboration with Honda Performance Development (HPD) that features bronze-colored wheels, fender flares, and HPD decals.
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Under the Hood
Honda claims that not only is the 2023 Pilot their most powerful ever, but it’s also one of the smoothest in its class thanks to an all-new 24-valve, double overhead cam, 3.5-liter V6 engine, which makes 285 hp (212 kW/289 PS) and 262 lb-ft (355 Nm) of torque.
Although that’s just 5 more horses (3.7 kW/5 PS) more than the 2022 Pilot’s 3.5-liter V6, the new engine’s all-aluminum block is unique, while low-profile heads with high-tumble ports and a narrow 35-degree valve angle help improve combustion. Overall, the new engine has fewer parts and the 10-speed automatic transmission helps make the package more refined.
Thanks to Honda’s second-generation i-VTM4 torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system (which is available on the TrailSport and the Elite models), up to 70 percent of the engine’s torque can be directed towards the rear wheels and 100 percent can be directed from one side of the vehicle to the other.
The 2023 Pilot can also be put into five drive modes, depending on the driver’s requirements: Normal, Econ, Snow, Sport, and Tow. The final mode will be useful, as the new model can tow up to 5,000 lbs (2,268 kg).
The New TrailSport Model Offers More Capability
Honda says that, with this new model, it had the off-road-ready TrailSport model in mind from the beginning. As a result, it engineered more stiffness into the chassis, extended the wheelbase (113.8-inches), and widened the track for improved stability.
In addition, the new Pilot is eight percent stiffer vertically, and 29 percent stiffer longitudinally at the back. Honda claims that this improvement, along with the retuned MacPherson struts up front and the all-new multilink suspension at the back, make the standard Pilot a more sophisticated vehicle to drive on the road.
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With the new TrailSport package, though, it will also be more capable than ever off the road. The model gets a one-inch lift for increased ground clearance as well as better approach, departure, and breakover angles. Unique stabilizer bars have been optimized for articulation and off-road comfort.
With exclusive spring rates and damper tuning, as well as standard Continental TerrainContact AT (265/60R18) tires, and a TrailWatch camera, the model is more than just an appearance package.
The TrailSport also gets some special visual details, too. The Diffused Sky Blue paint is exclusive to the model, which gets orange stitching inside, badging, and all-season carpets to protect the interior from muddy, sandy, or snowy boots.
More Cargo And Clever Tricks
Drivers of the standard 2023 Pilot and their passengers will be welcomed with a new cabin that can perform a small magic trick to seat up to eight people. The three-row SUV will be offered with a second-row bench with room for three passengers.
For those not looking to maximize seating, though, the middle row’s center seat can be folded down to form a large armrest with cup holders. If you prefer a pass-through, the center seat can be removed altogether and stored under the floor for maximum flexibility.
Whatever owners choose to do with that seat, the second row offers 2.4 extra inches (60 mm) of legroom over the 2022 Pilot and can recline by an additional 4 degrees, for a total of 10. Additional forward tilt range, meanwhile, makes it easier for third-row passengers to get in and out of the SUV.
If you’re looking to haul, rather than bus, the new Pilot is also the largest in the model line’s history. With 22.42 cubic feet (635 liters) of cargo space behind the third row, and up to 113.67 cubic feet (3,219 liters) behind the first row, it has a total of 4.67 cubic feet (132 liters) more cargo space than the model it replaces.
Modern Tech Inside
Honda says that it worked to create the “most upscale Honda SUV ever,” and added sophisticated materials. An up to 10.2-inch instrument screen (on the range-topping Elite model) and an up to nine-inch touchscreen, meanwhile, add to the SUV’s technological appeal.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, and Honda says it has simplified its own navigation system to make it cleaner while requiring fewer menus. A multi-use tray in front of the shifter allows two smartphones to be charged side-by-side. Touring and Elite models, meanwhile, get a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system with a 15.7-liter subwoofer box.
A World-First Safety Innovation
Since the 2023 Honda Passport can carry so much stuff and, more to the point, so many people, safety was essential. The new model features eight standard airbags, including front knee airbags, and a new, world-first unit.
The next-gen passenger-side front airbag uses a three-chamber design, with two outer chambers that are intended to cradle the head and minimize rotation. That is done to reduce the risk of severe brain trauma associated with oblique frontal collisions.
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Built on the latest version of Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering Architecture, the Pilot now gets a new structure integrated into the front sub-frame assembly for greater protection during those same front oblique collisions.
A suite of new Honda Sensing technologies is enabled by a new, wider 90-degree field of view camera, and a 120-degree wide-angle radar. These improve crash prevention performance and have a greater ability to recognize objects. Blind spot information, low-speed braking control, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and more will all be offered on the new model.
The new 2023 Honda Pilot will be produced in Alabama. Pricing will be announced closer to market launch.