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Honda Pilot TrailSport 2023: test drive of the week

2023-05-18

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The Honda Pilot has undergone a complete makeover for 2023, and I took the opportunity to test the brand new TrailSport version. However, before we dive into that, let's talk about the model change as a whole because the Japanese automaker has opted for a rather radical approach, and it's a very good thing. They have clearly hit the "reset" button to start with a clean slate. I won't hide the fact that the 2023 Honda Pilot takes a lot of inspiration from other new models like the CR-V in terms of aesthetics.

 

The manufacturer's SUV has finally traded its minivan look for a square silhouette. In fact, the 2023 Pilot not only appears more imposing but its dimensions have indeed been enhanced with the arrival of the new generation.

 

Lineup and Engine Options

 

Unfortunately, as you probably guessed, it's not just the dimensions that have increased for the 2023 model, but also its price. The 2023 Honda Pilot starts at a base MSRP of $52,765, and the price gradually rises with each version, reaching a peak with the Black Edition at $64,965. Some may argue that it's outrageous, and from the perspective of a brand enthusiast, I agree. However, just take a look at other models in the category, and you'll realize that the 2023 Pilot is not ridiculously expensive and is even among the most affordable models in its segment.

 

Sport – $52,765

EX-L – $56,565

TrailSport – $59,565

Touring – $63,465

Black Edition – $64,965

 

In terms of mechanics, we stick to familiar grounds with a new 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers 285 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels as standard. Honda announces an average fuel consumption ranging from 11.0L to 11.8L/100 km depending on the chosen version. Of course, the TrailSport version remains the thirstiest of the bunch. During my test, I was able to maintain an average fuel consumption of 10.9L/100 km without paying particular attention. Considering that vehicles tend to be more fuel-consuming in winter, I believe we can say that the Japanese manufacturer's figures are quite accurate and maybe even slightly overestimated.

 

The Test Vehicle

 

SUVs with enhanced off-road capabilities are in high demand, and Honda has certainly done its homework by offering us a brand new TrailSport version for the 2023 Pilot. It was precisely this version that I had the chance to test, and let me tell you that the Japanese manufacturer did not hold back.

 

The TrailSport version stands out from the others with numerous exclusive elements, such as its 18-inch wheels fitted with all-terrain tires. Honda has also taken the opportunity to eliminate all chrome accents for a sportier and darker finish. The test vehicle was dressed in a veiled sky blue pearl coat, a unique color for the TrailSport version. To be honest with you, I was a little apprehensive about my first encounter with the 2023 Pilot when I learned it would be this color, but the reactions were very positive during my week of testing.

 

The First Impression

 

I won't hide from you that I really like the new look of the 2023 Honda Pilot. The Japanese manufacturer has clearly made the right decision by opting for a more robust and muscular design, which is reminiscent of what was offered in the first two generations. Additionally, the TrailSport version is truly eye-catching.

 

The transition between the exterior and the interior of the Japanese manufacturer's SUV is smooth and natural. The dashboard of the 2023 Pilot is simple yet elegant. The elements are well arranged, and I really like the fact that the center console is quite wide. The steering wheel offers a good grip, and the driving position is very comfortable. The rear seats are also very spacious, and this applies to the third row as well, where I would honestly be very comfortable even on a journey of several hours.

 

The Driving Experience

 

Regarding my driving experience, I have decided to divide it into four categories because the 2023 Pilot behaved differently in each of them.

 

City driving - The 2023 Honda Pilot is an imposing vehicle, and it makes itself felt on narrower streets. However, the high driving position and the shape of the windows allow for excellent visibility, making it certainly easier to maneuver. The only thing that really bothered me about the Pilot here is the transmission, which doesn't seem to know when to shift gears at the right moment. However, this may be only a programming issue that can be easily resolved.

 

Highway - On the highway, you feel like you're floating on a cloud, and that's a very good thing. However, the Pilot lacks a bit of power during overtaking, and it's a vehicle that doesn't hide its heaviness even in more dynamic driving modes.

 

Country roads - If we disregard off-road driving, country roads are undoubtedly the preferred routes for the 2023 Pilot.

 

Off-road - The 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport quickly instills confidence when venturing off the beaten path, and that's a good thing because it allows us to truly appreciate the driving experience. The trail mode programming changes the Pilot's behavior enough to make a significant difference in its driving, and it's simply perfect.

 

Recommendations

 

With a more flexible price range and all the technologies at its disposal, Honda could clearly offer a hybrid version of the Pilot, and that is perhaps my biggest criticism of the model, apart from the need for reprogramming the transmission. As for the rest, the 2023 Pilot is a model that I highly recommend. The new generation has been thoughtfully designed, and its design is significantly more appealing. As for the TrailSport version, it's a personal favorite of mine. The Japanese manufacturer's SUV certainly delivers when it comes to off-road driving. Add to that its solid reputation for reliability, advanced technologies, and you get a sport utility vehicle ready to accompany you on your adventures for the next 10 or even 20 years.

 

Jean-Sébastien Poudrier

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