Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A blue 2023 Honda Pilot is shown descending on a rocky slope.

Is the Honda Pilot as Rugged as It Looks?

Like many vehicles on the streets this year, the Honda Pilot has embarked on a brand-new generation, which means exciting changes for this legendary three-row SUV. From a dazzling new design, featuring more truck-inspired elements, to a revamped powertrain, the 2023 Honda Pilot commands your attention from the moment you catch a glimpse of it. If you’re searching for your next rugged SUV, you’ve likely been enthralled by the Pilot’s durable new look, but it may have you wondering: is it all just a show or can it really perform in the elements? Well, it’ll be quickly apparent that the Pilot looks and acts the part of a true explorer with all the features and capability to prove it.

Choose Your Terrain

You may be loading up the kids for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the desert or planning an epic road trip through windy mountain roads. If you’ve got the 2023 Honda Pilot by your side, you’re going to be in for one epic ride, no matter what type of environment you happen to find beneath your tires. Its seven-mode drive system comes in handy for tackling the elements, from snow and ice to sand and mud, which means that you’re able to take on anything you come across during your adventure. All you need to do is utilize the toggle on your center console to select which drive mode you wish to engage and you can let loose on any type of terrain imaginable.

You’ll also find that its i-VTM4 all-wheel drive (AWD) system has been vastly improved for 2023, providing you with even more stability and control when the road ahead gets unruly. Whether you’re embarking on a ride on the trails or you’re just trying to make it home in a snowstorm, this enhanced AWD system heightens your control over the Pilot. If you find yourself in a steep situation, rest assured that the Pilot can handle this too, with Hill Descent Control at the ready to help you maintain a safe speed as you maneuver down a steep incline, allowing you to remain secure in dangerous environments. Whether you’re venturing out on the trip of a lifetime or you’re navigating through bad weather, there’s no terrain that the 2023 Honda Pilot can’t conquer confidently, making it easy for you to enjoy every second that you’re behind the wheel.

Ready for a Rowdy Ride

There’s no telling what will greet you out in the wilderness, but when you’re driving the 2023 Pilot, you’re much more prepared for it. Advanced technology makes it easy to be ready for anything, with its all-new available TrailWatch system at the helm to provide you with clear views around your vehicle, even when the environment is a bit hostile. Displaying a live feed of what lies around you on its nine-inch color touchscreen, you’ll be able to avoid obstacles and maneuver through the terrain like a seasoned veteran. Whether you’re climbing over rocks or navigating around dense pockets of forest, TrailWatch has your back every step of the way.

When the ride gets a bit bumpy, the Pilot’s specially tuned suspension system comes in to help cushion the bumps along the way to make for a more enjoyable experience for your fellow adventurers. This fully-independent suspension system provides a smooth and controlled ride, even when you’re climbing over rocks and debris on your way through nature. After all, no one wants to deal with a rough ride when they’re trying to enjoy the sights. In the Pilot, you won’t have to, because this SUV is designed to handle any type of unruly ride.

A gray 2023 Honda Pilot Trailsport is shown parked on a beach near a family adventure.

Daunting Durability

The 2023 Honda Pilot is intimidating at first glance, but its design isn’t just about making a statement, it’s also about providing the level of durability you need in the elements. Its TrailSport model is ready for anything you get yourself into out on the trails and beyond, with additional ground clearance to roll over obstacles easily, steel skid plates to protect its internal parts, and an off-road-tuned suspension to conquer any terrain it finds itself on next. As the most rugged Pilot in the lineup, the TrailSport won’t hesitate to get dirty. With roof rails, recovery points, all-terrain tires, and an integrated trailer hitch, the TrailSport is geared toward those who take adventure very seriously.

You’ll immediately notice that the 2023 Honda Pilot is more rugged than ever, but did you also know that its body structure has been reinforced to provide even more control during your off-road escapades? Improvements to its overall composition and weight distribution not only provide a more enjoyable ride on the pavement, but a more controlled experience when you venture off the pavement as well. Its new front end and grille deliver a bold stare that captivates drivers, while dramatic LED lighting elements not only provide an alluring presence but also come in handy when you’re exploring the wilderness.

Its athleticism is further enhanced by sharp body lines and a rugged profile, with large alloy wheels propelling you forward, no matter where your journey takes you next. Loading up your Pilot is simple, with helpful cargo solutions designed for maximum convenience. From its available hands-free power tailgate to its cavernous cargo hold, with enough room to load up camping gear, luggage, backpacks, and more, the Pilot’s durability and functionality shine brightly inside and out.

Powerful Engine

When you’re taking on some of the most challenging terrain imaginable, there’s no time for a powertrain that can’t take the heat. Fortunately, the 2023 Honda Pilot is equipped with a powerful engine that’s ready to help you escape into nature with a fearlessness that can’t be rivaled. Armed with a 3.5L V6 engine, you’ll be able to enjoy ample acceleration, with 285 horses pushing you forward to your destination. Plus, with the ability to tow up to 5,000 lbs, the Pilot can pull your camper, boat, or trailer anywhere you wish to explore next. Pair this strength with the Pilot’s ability to navigate through some of the most dangerous terrains in existence, and you’ve got an absolute winner when it comes to your next exhilarating adventure.

This incredible powertrain is now paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, which delivers a smooth and quiet ride so that you and your passengers can enjoy the sights and sounds of nature in absolute tranquility. Shift-By-Wire and paddle shifters also come in handy to add greater precision and an extra level of excitement to the journey, allowing you to take control of the ride and make it your own. More energy, more control, and an overall better ride await in the 2023 Pilot, regardless of the terrain that you find yourself navigating on any given weekend out in nature.

The black and gray interior and dash of a 2023 Honda Pilot is shown.

The Rugged & Capable Pilot

As you can see, the 2023 Honda Pilot isn’t just alarmingly rugged this year, but it’s also extremely capable of delivering the ride you’ve always wanted. No matter where you’re heading, the Pilot can handle it, which is especially appealing to those who yearn to get off the beaten path and lose themselves in the moment. Whether you’re traveling with your family to some of the hidden gems of the country or you’re letting off some steam on trails in your area, the Pilot is equipped to amplify the feeling you get in the driver’s seat. So, is the Pilot as rugged as it looks? The answer is a resounding “yes,” especially when you take into consideration its durable build, jaw-dropping capabilities, and aura of confidence that it exudes, no matter what challenge it’s tackling next.