The unveilings follow one another in quick succession these days at the Japanese manufacturer. Honda introduced the HR-V earlier this year and the CR-V, another important model for the brand, is now making its debut. This time, it’s the turn of the brand’s most imposing vehicle to be completely redesigned for the 2023 model year. The first 2023 Honda Pilots will be available this winter in five trim levels: Sport, EX-L, TrailSport, Touring and Black Edition.
The new SUV also gets an updated body style, the Pilot, which is reminiscent of the new CR-V with its very vertical grille and slimmed-down headlights. In fact, it’s at the rear that the Pilot differs from its peers with a different C-pillar design and that small sloping window at the back. Finally, at the rear, the Pilot adopts a more conventional signature design with large marker lights and a center stripe where the letters P-I-L-O-T can be clearly seen.
Unsurprisingly, it’s the TrailSport edition that gets the most attention from this redesign, as Honda has already confirmed its intention to put its “rugged” badge on several models. At the time of writing, only the Passport is entitled to this variant, which is a little more equipped to withstand off-road use. The good news for off-road enthusiasts is that the new Pilot comes with more off-road components.
Beyond the more serious look, the Pilot TrailSport benefits from a higher ground clearance than the other models, with an additional 25 mm not to be missed when crossing obstacles. The presence of off-road tires – Continental TerrainContact AT tires – shouldn’t surprise anyone, nor should the exclusive adjustments made to the SUV’s suspension. The 18-inch diameter wheels are also unique to the “adventurer” model, while the Pilot’s underside is protected by authentic skid plates.
In addition, the i-VTM4 torque vectoring all-wheel drive system can also be set to Trail mode, a function that manages engine torque distribution based on available traction. This system, called Trail torque logic, controls the amount of torque sent to the rear axle in certain situations, such as when a tire temporarily leaves the ground, and is even capable of sending up to 75 percent of the available torque to the tire with the most grip.
Mechanically, the big Pilot retains a naturally-aspirated 3.5-litre V6 engine under the hood, the 24-valve, dual overhead cam block delivering a very adequate 285 horsepower and an optimal 262 lb-ft of torque. Even better, the outgoing model’s transmission has been replaced by the Honda-developed 10-speed automatic unit. In fact, the new SUV will come standard with a pair of paddles mounted behind the steering wheel, while variable cylinder deactivation is also part of the formula for saving money at the pump. What’s more, the new 2023 Pilot offers no less than seven driving modes, including Tow, Sport and Trail, in addition to the brand’s more conventional modes.
A look inside reveals that the horizontal approach of recent models (Civic, HR-V and CR-V) has been adopted, as the Pilot also gets it, although the grill over the air vents has been replaced by a more conventional arrangement. Fortunately, the brand’s regulars won’t be disoriented, with that digital screen (Touring and Black Edition only) behind the steering wheel, the nine-inch wide touchscreen in the center with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (both in wireless versions) and those three knobs for temperature control below the center screen. Also note that the base model (Sport) has to make do with a seven-inch-wide center screen. In addition, the transmission is operated using this series of buttons, a solution that frees up space in the center console.
There’s also that second row of seats that can be removed, which enhances the possible configurations in the cabin. Unfortunately, this interior flexibility is only available in the more upscale Touring and Black Edition trims. Safety is also important in the new Pilot, with the Honda Sensing suite of safety features available in all trims, as well as a wide-angle camera and new radar.
Pricing for the multiple versions of the 2023 Pilot is not yet known, but it’s clear that the inflation of the last few months will have something to say about it when final pricing is announced shortly before its arrival in dealerships this winter.