2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport: Adventure-Ready Family Hauler

582796 honda pilot trailsport 2023 1

The Honda Pilot is all-new for 2023, but the adventurous TrailSport model that was added to the lineup a year earlier is back and more capable than before.

A number of design cues separate it from other Pilots, such as Diffused Sky Pearl body paint and unique badges. Inside, orange stitching and embroidered TrailSport logos on the headrests are the main highlights. The most important things to remember, though, are the Continental TerrainContact AT all-terrain tires, underbody skid plates and 25mm raised suspension designed to tackle off-road conditions...

Comfortable and Versatile

The 2023 Honda Pilot isn't the most exciting SUV in its class, but it's a solid daily performer nonetheless. The TrailSport's off-road bias means the suspension is softer and creates a bit of nosedive under hard braking. Of course, it has an easier time soaking up road imperfections.

Steering is precise though a tad overly assisted. Some drivers will find it just fine, but from where we stand, more weight and feedback would be appreciated. Visibility is good all-around thanks to the large greenhouse. On the other hand, the seats lack some firmness and support. Also, the front passenger's bucket has four-way adjustment only.

Under the hood is a new 3.5-litre aluminum V6. Unlike its similarly sized predecessor, this one features a dual overhead camshaft design. Output is barely increased, going from 280 horsepower to 285 horsepower. Peak torque remains at 262 lb-ft. Acceleration is linear and smooth as engineers made revisions to Honda's 10-speed automatic transmission specifically for the Pilot. With regard to fuel consumption, our tester achieved a combined 11.5 L/100 km.  

The second-generation i-VTM4 all-wheel drive system at work in the 2023 Honda Pilot uses an upgraded, more responsive rear differential. It can send up to 70 percent of torque to the rear axle, then 100 percent left or right depending on traction needs. We didn't spend too much time off-road, but we've heard good things about it so far. Drivers have several modes to choose from--Normal, Eco, Snow, Sport and Tow/Haul. TrailSport, Touring and Black Edition models add Sand and Trail modes. Maximum towing capacity is rated at 5,000 lbs.

Somber Cabin

As rugged and adventurous as it appears to be on the outside, the redesigned Pilot is pretty dull and somber inside, even with the panoramic sunroof letting in an extra dose of light. As mentioned up top, orange stitching on the seats and dashboard and embroidered TrailSport logos on the headrests add some colour. There is comfortable space for up to eight, and the second-row bench can be replaced by captain's chairs if you only need seven seats.

The digital instrument panel is crisp and easy to read. Ditto for the nine-inch infotainment touchscreen. The menus are straightforward, allowing intuitive navigation. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is standard.

Speaking of technology, the latest Pilot comes with the Honda Sensing suite of advanced driver assistance features also as standard. The list includes lane keeping assist, collision mitigation braking, collision notification, rear cross traffic alert, road sign detection and more. As for the chassis, there's a 60 percent increase in front lateral rigidity and a 30 percent increase in rear lateral rigidity compared with the previous generation.

On long trips, we found the adaptive cruise control system to work like a charm, accelerating and braking in progressive fashion. Semi-autonomous driving is pretty limited: the Pilot seems to have a hard time staying in the middle of the lane even in gentle corners.

Our Verdict

Overall, the 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport is a sensible purchase due to its solid construction and high predicted reliability. It also deserves praise for its versatility and improved performance. The uninspiring interior and above-average price tag may put off some buyers, however.

Source: Dominic Boucher (Guide de l'Auto)

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