2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport: Jalopnik First Drive


Image: Honda

Honda Pilot transformed from a venerable suburban conveyor to a light-duty off-road explorer. This fourth-The next-generation Pilot has a more rugged and rugged look, and there’s legitimate content to back up that style. From steel skid plates and a full-size spare tire to a set of off-road controls 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport equipped with material improvements that will be useful for occasional off-road excursions.

The growing popularity of off-roading has led to several manufacturers offering rugged trim packages for their vehicles. Subaru’s Desert sub brand. Honda announced that TrailSport trim level at the end of 2021, but the company’s initial offerings were mainly cosmetic additions to the existing car lineup. The new Pilot on the other hand Honda offered the TrailSport package a valuable off-road upgrade.

Full disclosure: Honda flew me to Phoenix, AZ, then drove me two hours north to a scenic and snow-kissed resort. Sedona, AZ. There, with a few other journalists, I advertised the 2023 Pilot TrailSport in what could have been a “Visiting Arizona” ad.

I can't believe I didn't run this Pilot over a cliff.

I can’t believe I didn’t run this Pilot over a cliff.
Image: Ryan Eric King

The TrailSport has the same 3.5-liter V6 engine and 10-speed automatic transmission as each. other 2023 Honda Pilot models. This engine produces 262 lb-ft of torque in addition to 285 hp, a 5-hp increase over its predecessor, and the transmission can be controlled via paddle shifters for manual control. According to EPA fuel economy ratings, this iteration of the Pilot will get 18 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway, similar to the 2022 Kia Telluride.

Difficult Traverse

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Image: Honda

In terms of off-road capabilities, the Pilot TrailSport checks off many firsts for Honda. It’s the company’s first SUV to come with a set of 265/60R all-terrain tires from the factory.18 Continental TerrainContact AT. Those wheels wrap around it 18-inch wheels with internal gears to prevent them from breaking off-road. The Pilot is also equipped with a rear-mounted full-size spare.

It is also the first Honda SUV to feature underbody steel skid plates. Two plates protect the oil pan, transmission and gas tank. The thickness of the front skid plate is 4 millimeters, and the thickness of the gas tank is 2.8 mm.

A set of steel skid plates used during the development of the Pilot TrailSport.  Better to break the skid plate than the fuel tank or oil pan.

A set of steel skid plates used during the development of the Pilot TrailSport. Better to break the skid plate than the fuel tank or oil pan.
Image: Ryan Eric King

But don’t be too ambitious; these changes do not make the Pilot a purpose-built off-roader. The TrailSport has 8.3 inches of ground clearance, just one inch more than the standard Pilot, resulting in 19.8-degree approach, 19.6-degree break, and 19-degree departure angles. This will make it a bit easier to navigate and pass obstacles on dirt roads, but more so than the basic Pilot.

Novice Offroader

Image for article titled 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport is a light off-road family SUV

Image: Ryan Eric King

The Pilot TrailSport has a number of features to make off-roading accessible. Two of the most prominent of these are TrailMode and TrailWatch.

TrailMode is an off-road torque logic function that controls the power distribution of the all-wheel drive system. This torque vectoring technology can send 75 percent of available power to either rear wheel if the opposite wheel loses contact with the ground. The remaining 25 percent remains on the idler wheel to transfer power quickly after regaining traction.

Image for article titled 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport is a light off-road family SUV

Image: Honda

The throttle is easy to modulate, helping smooth off-roading and encouraging the gradual inputs required for traction.. Moreover, the electronic traction control system is invisible in its operation. There is excellent communication through the steering wheel and pedals to help judge the level of traction at each wheel.

That’s where TrailWatch comes into play if you’re unsure about your exact tire placement. TrailWatch is a four-camera system that will help you detect obstacles beyond your line of sight. The camera system opens automatically at the following speeds TrailMode accelerates to 15 mph when activated and uses three low-landscape views and a 360-degree view above to convey more information about your work. surroundings as possible. This is very useful when navigating in tight spaces.

Impression and Outcome on the Road

Image for article titled 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport is a light off-road family SUV

Image: Honda

Despite its off-road capabilities, the 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport is still very complex on paved surfaces. Driving around Sedona, Arizona, the crossover is smooth and stable and has minimal body roll on winding mountain roads no matter how hard I push it. he Honda’s usual suite of driving aids, including adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and lane keeping assist; is standard, and there’s a new Traffic Sign Recognition system that uses a camera to register roadside signs and draft. put that information on the Pilot’s head-up display.

The 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport is currently available here MSRP of $49,695 including $1,345 destination charge. While avid off-roaders will spend money on a more purpose-built off-roader, the Pilot TrailSport is a great off-roader for buyers who want to play with their daily driver on the weekends.



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