Honda’s Pilot enters its new generation this year. In addition to offering a new look, more space in the second and third rows, and more power from its (only) V6 engine, Honda has gone to great lengths to make the Pilot more of an off-road capable SUV. "The Honda Pilot has been a family favorite for two decades, and now we've made it even better with more space and refinement inside, cool new rugged styling outside, and substantially increased off-road performance to back it up," said Mamadou Diallo, vice president of Auto Sales, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "Topping it off, the new Pilot TrailSport is an authentic, off-road-capable SUV for true weekend adventures, without sacrificing comfort and on-road dynamics for daily driving."
Related Story: 2022 Honda Passport AWD Trailsport Review - Truth In Naming
Here is our rundown on seven features to note for those who want their Pilot to be able to take them beyond the pavement’s end. Our list focuses on the TrailSport trim, which is the most off-roady of the options.
New 2023 Honda Pilot Feature - All-Terrain Tires
Nothing makes a bigger difference to an SUV off-road than does a tire upgrade. The Pilot TrailSport's standard Continental TerrainContact AT (265/60R18) tires are well-rounded to handle sand, mud, and rocky terrain but are still quiet and comfortable on the road. Tire Rack rates this tire as an 8.9 out of 10 for dirt traction. Unique 18-inch wheels with a rugged look are cleverly designed with inset spokes to protect them from trail damage. What we like most about this tire choice is that they have a meaty sidewall and are not silly low-profile tires like so many SUVs wear. One wish we had was that the tires were more high-rated for snow and that they had the 3-peak mountain snowflake denoting severe snow duty.
New 2023 Honda Pilot Feature - Hill Descent Control
Honda was late to the party with hill descent control (HDC), but the new Pilot has it on every trim. We do take test vehicles beyond the pavement in our testing, and one of the most difficult challenges is descending a snow and ice-covered trail. HDC enables safer and more controlled descents.
New 2023 Honda Pilot Feature - Skid Plates
If you are not protecting your nether regions when off-roading, you should have stayed home. Skid plates help when you accidentally go over a rock or other obstruction that could damage a sensitive underneath part.
New 2023 Honda Pilot Feature - Ground Clearance
Honda’s outgoing TrailSport trim of the Pilot had 7.9 inches of ground clearance. According to the latest info from Honda, that will increase for 2023. Therefore, Honda’s TrailSport Pilot will have similar ground clearance to great three-row off-road crossover SUVs like the Ascent from Subaru.
New 2023 Honda Pilot Feature - Trail Torque Logic AWD System
Honda’s Trail torque logic AWD system controls the amount of torque going to the rear axle in certain situations. For example, when climbing a tough off-road trail with deep grooves that can cause a tire to lose contact with the ground temporarily. This new AWD system allows as much as 3/4s of available torque to be routed to the individual tire with the most traction. The remaining quarter is sent to the non-tractive wheel to allow for an instant transfer of drive force once that tire regains contact with the ground.
New 2023 Honda Pilot Feature - TrailWatch Camera System
Pilot now comes with a new camera system to help drivers navigate obstacles out of their line of sight such as blind crests, deep ruts, and the trail's edge. When operating in Trail mode at speeds below 15 mph, the forward view camera turns on and then deactivates when speeds rise above 15 mph. TrailWatch automagically reactivates if the vehicle speed dips below 12 mph.
New 2023 Honda Pilot Feature - Snow Mode, Sand Mode, and Trail Mode
We’re suckers for drive modes at Torque News. We like to be involved in deciding how the vehicle will be prepared for a given driving scenario. The 2023 Pilot has individual modes for Snow, Sand, and Trail driving.
We have not yet tested the new 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport, but we look forward to doing so and taking it on our favorite trails. Watch for an upcoming report.
Images of 2023 Honda TrailSport courtesy of Honda.
John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. John's interest in EVs goes back to 1990 when he designed the thermal control system for an EV battery as part of an academic team. After earning his mechanical engineering degree, John completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers, in the semiconductor industry, and in biotech. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American news outlets and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on TikTok @ToknCars, on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin
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