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A red 2023 Honda Pilot is shown driving down a trail in the rain.

How to Find the Best Honda Pilot for Your Next Adventure

It’s hard to believe that the Honda Pilot has been around for 20 years—and yet, here we are. With its original release in 2003, the Pilot became the first three-row SUV to utilize a unibody platform, like that of a sedan. As a result, the Pilot is a spacious seven- or eight-passenger, three-row SUV that doesn’t handle like a massive tank. And, with the introduction of the new fourth-generation 2023 Honda Pilot, this driving experience is about to be taken to an entirely new level.

Touted by Honda as the manufacturer’s “largest and most powerful” SUV to date, the 2023 Honda Pilot is offered in ten different trim configurations. This might be overwhelming for some shoppers, but the good news is that drivers can easily select the Pilot that works best for their life and drive style without blowing the budget. With plenty of standard offerings and trim packages that make sense for many different drivers, the Honda Pilot may be the perfect SUV for your next big adventure.

Why the Honda Pilot?

We do not live in a world that is lacking in three-row SUV options, so what is it that makes the Pilot such a compelling buy? According to Lance Woelfer, assistant vice president of Honda National Auto Sales for American Honda Motor Co., the 2023 Pilot is truly an all-new vehicle that builds upon the formula that has kept drivers behind the wheel of this SUV for the past 20 years. “We’ve re-engineered the all-new Honda Pilot from the ground up to set a new benchmark in the midsize three-row SUV class. With more space, power, and capability, the new Pilot is more rugged than ever and ready for that next great family adventure.”

And that adventure is sure to be found, as under the hood of the 2023 Pilot is a brand-new 3.5L V6 engine that is making its world debut. It’s paired with a ten-speed automatic transmission tuned explicitly to the needs of this engine and the Pilot’s body and frame. As a result, the Pilot’s 285 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque are exquisitely directed to the right place at the right time for an unbelievably responsive ride.

Drivers who want a little more control can opt for Honda’s i-VTM4 torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system. Now in its second generation, the i-VTM4 includes a specialty rear differential and, as a result, has a 30% faster response to changing road conditions. Whether you choose to direct this feature to the trails or as a caution on slick roadways is up to you.

Additionally, each 2023 Pilot is equipped with the Honda Sensing package of driver assistance technologies, including some features you would expect—like a Collision Mitigating Braking System—and some that are unique to Honda. These include Traffic Jam Assist braking, Traffic Sign Recognition, and Road Departure Mitigation. Current features such as Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow and Lane Keeping Assist have been re-engineered by Honda to provide a smoother, more natural response to sudden changes.

The brown interior of the 2023 Honda Pilot is shown with one of the second row seats folded flat.

What Comes Standard?

While standard safety and driver assistance features are definitely appreciated by many drivers, it takes more than Traffic Sign Recognition to really unite a driver and their vehicle. Each 2023 Honda Pilot offers three rows of seating with durable cloth upholstery as standard, although leather trim and leather seating are available with higher trims. The second-row outboard seats are equipped with One-Touch and Fold-Flat technology, and all third-row bench seats feature a 60/40 split fold. As a result, the Pilot can provide space for 18.6 to 113.7 cu.ft. of cargo, depending on the trim and configuration selected.

Furthermore, each Pilot includes power-adjustable, heated seats for the driver and front passenger. Rear seat heater ducts with a tri-zone automatic climate control system featuring humidity control and air filtration ensure all three rows of passengers are comfortable in all weather. And, as a family-oriented vehicle, Honda has been careful to give passengers all of the features they need for the long haul, including a minimum of four cupholders for each row of seating, multiple USB-A and UBS-C charging ports throughout the vehicle, and infotainment compatibility with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Which Trim Is Which?

Technically speaking, there are five different trim levels; however, three trims come in multiple configurations. The base Sport trim, EX-L, and Touring trim are all offered as front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive models, whereas the TrailSport and Elite trims come in all-wheel drive only. Having decided what type of drive you want, you’ll also want to hone in on how many passengers you carry regularly. The EX-L is offered as an eight-passenger or seven-passenger model, and the rugged TrailSport trim is limited to seven passengers; the Sport, Touring, and Elite trim all offer seating for eight passengers.

The Sport trim starts things off nicely with the aforementioned standard offerings. The EX-L model, regardless of the number of passengers and drivetrain, includes an upgraded infotainment system with a 9.0-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity, and a nine-speaker audio system with HD radio and SiriusXM connectivity.

The Touring trim adds a second-row multi-function removable middle seat that can be easily extracted and stored in the dual-floor cargo area. Also on board are a 12-speaker custom-engineered Bose audio system.

The top-shelf Elite trim includes perforated leather seating, heated in the front and for second-row outboard passengers, and ventilated for front and outboard rear-seat passengers. A 10.2-inch digital instrument display and color head-up display are added to the driver’s resources, along with a camera system that provides a 360-degree view of the Pilot’s exterior.

A gray 2023 Honda Pilot towing a matching small camper is shown driving up an off-road trail.

The rugged TrailSport trim takes this SUV off the rails for your off-road adventure. Featuring an off-road-tailored suspension, extra ground clearance, and skid plates, this version of the Honda Pilot is prepared for the unexpected. Inside the cabin, drivers can use the TrailWatch exterior camera system to help take on obstacles and rough roads, while the Trail drive mode keeps the wheels and power where they need to be on rocky or uneven terrain.

Shopping for the 2023 Honda Pilot

Many drivers involuntarily grimace at the mere thought of driving a three-row SUV, given how customarily large they are. However, Honda has engineered the latest Pilot to drive more like a car, with precise handling. Furthermore, an above-par engine and an exceptional safety package provide drivers with even greater confidence and peace of mind. The Honda Pilot also comes equipped with more features as standards than most of its competitors. Of course, if you’re the type of driver who spends a considerable amount of time behind the wheel, higher trims provide even greater creature comforts and technology options.

The 2023 Honda Pilot manages to be an intelligent, enjoyable three-row SUV, which is more than can be said for many behemoths on the road today. In addition to being engineered to be safe, capable, and fun, there are many reasons why you should add the Pilot to your SUV shopping list. Consider your seating and driving needs, then slip graciously into the right level of luxury for your budget and style.