Cleared for Takeoff: Honda Introduces 2023 Pilot

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
cleared for takeoff honda introduces 2023 pilot

The Honda Pilot has been with us for four generations now, showing up for duty after the suits at Honda finally figured out two decades ago that Americans were serious about their thirst for XL SUVs. For 2023, the model earns new looks, a revamped interior, and a more powerful V6 engine.

Now, while Honda is touting this rig as “the most powerful SUV in Honda history” – a claim being parroted by a couple of other outlets – don’t expect the 2023 Pilot to be a fire-breathing monster making 500 horsepower. Or 400. Or even 300, for that matter. The output of the 3.5-liter V6 engine has jumped by, erm, five horses to 285 ponies compared to last year’s car. Torque remains steady at 262 lb-ft of twist but the transmission does gain a cog, improving its count to an even 10. 

The all-wheel-drive system has been fettled, with TrailSport and Elite models earning a new take on their standard i-VTM4 system. Honda says this variant has a stronger rear diff which can handle up to 40 percent more torque while providing a faster response in sorting out power delivery. Up to 70 percent of the engine's torque can be sent to the rear axle, and 100 percent of that torque can be distributed to either the left or right rear wheel. Lesser trims will be offered in either front- or all-wheel drive. Towing prowess is capped at 5,000 pounds when properly equipped.

Speaking of the TrailSport, this is a trim that is jumping on the bandwagon which currently carries cars like the Outback Wilderness and Cherokee Trailhawk. Yes, your author is aware those examples reside in another size class compared to the Pilot but the so-called ‘ruggedized’ trims are the point here, not overall dimensions. TrailSport’s all-wheel drive system has its own off-road setting baked into its digital brain as a selectable option, along with a new TrailWatch camera system and a one-inch lift for additional ground clearance plus increased approach, departure, and break-over angles compared to workaday Pilots. All-terrain tires are standard kit and skid plates pepper the underside.

You’ve all noticed the updated styling by now, a look that takes some pages from the Ridgeline book as if that model went ahead and shared its self-care tips with its brother. The SUV is 3.4 inches longer than last year with a similarly stretched wheelbase. Newly available are a quartet of post-production option packages, including one from Honda Performance Development which brings wheel flares and bronze wheels for those unsatisfied with the stock amount of off-road cred.

Inside, that extra length has been put to good use in the second and third rows which gain 2.4 and 0.6 inches of legroom, respectively. Up to 8 passengers can be shuttled, with a first-in-class multi-function removable middle seat able to be conveniently stored underneath the rear cargo floor instead of being left at home in the garage. Storage dimensions jump from 18.5 to 22.4 cubic feet of space behind the third row, and from 109.2 to 113.6 cubes when just the driver and front-seat passenger are on board. 

Pricing? That’ll show up later, apparently. The 4th-gen Pilot will be built in America using domestic and globally sourced parts at Honda's plant in Alabama. It goes on sale next month.

[Images: Honda]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by subscribing to our newsletter.

Join the conversation
4 of 14 comments
  • Carrera Carrera on Nov 09, 2022

    Better looking than the current generation. Glad to see they added direct injection to the venerable J35 ( yes, I know Honda says it's a new engine). I wish it was dual port/direct injection like Toyota and Ford but I haven't heard of any Honda direct injection issues yet. I owned for 16 years a 2006 Honda Pilot purchased new and took it to 275,000 miles just with brake pad changes, rotors, fluids and timing belts ($$). Sadly it was totaled but what a great car it was.

    If I would need another rather large midsize SUV this would go to the very top of my list over the competition. Glad to see the central console coming back and the ridiculous front seat arm rests going away. What a terrible design that was.

  • Carrera Carrera on Nov 09, 2022

    I rather take 17-22 mpg than a screaming hybrid 4 cylinder that's too small for the size of the vehicle. These are family vehicles that often get loaded up and go on family trips.

    • See 1 previous
    • Zarba Zarba on Nov 14, 2022

      Our 2017 EX-L AWD 6-Speed Auto regularly gets 28 or so on the highway. 19-21 around town. Not bad for a 4,200 lb. 8 passenger SUV.

  • RHD The Skoda Enyaq is priced at 34,600 Euros in Germany. If Skoda would like to dip their toes in the water at the other side of the pond, now would be the time.
  • Roadscholar Safety, shmafety....I love it.
  • RHD Goodbye. We won't miss you much... actually, we won't miss you at all. Toyota, please send something better (although almost anything would be better).
  • RHD Those cameras would be made non-functional if they were sprayed with aerosol bedliner. So please, do not do that. And definitely do not tell the good folks in Oxford to spray the cameras with bedliner.
  • Dusterdude Whatever the UAW advises should always be taken at face value , we all know they are honest and transparent , so no debate even required .