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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

New Honda Pilot revealed as forbidden-for-South Africa ‘XL’ CR-V

Flagship SUV now also the most powerful Honda has ever made.

Introduced almost exactly 20 years ago, Honda, overnight, officially unveiled the fourth generation Pilot that sits above the CR-V in its global SUV/crossover line-up.

Designed from the ground up as a new model after its predecessor remained on-sale for almost seven years, the seven or eight-seat Pilot also debuts a new off-road focused TrailSport derivative similar to the Passport that bowed in 2018.

Generation four

Externally more inspired by the Passport than the new CR-V, the Pilot now holds the distinction of being the most powerful SUV Honda has ever made, with power being provided by a normally aspirated V6 that has remained the sole engine option since inception.

Based on a new unibody platform that is said to the stiffer than before and further boosted by new brakes and retuned steering, the Pilot now measures 5 077 mm in overall length, with its wheelbase stretching 2 891 mm.

ALSO READ: Stylish, Passport-inspired new Honda CR-V revealed

Standing 1 800 mm tall and measuring 1 994 mm wide, the Pilot is 71 mm longer on the wheelbase front than before, with boot space ranging from 132-litres with all three-row up to 635-litres with the third folded down. With the middle-row down, space increases to 3 219-litres.

Hitting the trail

Unsurprisingly, the TrailSport takes centre stage for being the most capable iteration of any generation Honda has made, thanks to a series of off-road touches and tweaks.

Positioned above the entry-level Sport and EX-L, but below the Touring and top-spec Elite, the TrailSport receives model specific 18-inch Shark Grey alloy wheels wrapped in Continental TerrainContact all-terrain tyres, thicker front and rear skidplates, revised suspension and stabiliser bars, an off-road tuned LaneWatch camera system comprising of four cameras for a surround-view display and a unique colour option called Diffused Sky Blue.

In addition, Honda has added torque vectoring, increased the overall height by 29 mm and re-engineered the all-wheel-drive system by fitting a new rear differential that detects and cuts slip faster.

New 2023 Honda Pilot revealed
Diffused Sky Blue a new colour option limited to the newly added TrailSport.

Besides the TrailSport, the rest of the Pilot’s underbody tweaks comprise revised MacPherson struts at the front, a completely new multi-link layout at the rear and better sound insulating materials aimed at reducing both wind and road noise.

Able to tow 2 268 kg, and equipped with a drive mode selector offering five modes; Eco, Normal, Sport, Tow and Snow, with the TrailSport boasting a Trail function and the Elite a Sand mode, Honda has overhauled the interior so that it now resembles that of the Civic.


Apart from the seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system being reserved, all of the other trim grades receive the bigger nine-inch display with both still being Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible.

A wireless smartphone charger and six USB ports feature on EX-L models and up, while a 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster is exclusive to the Elite with a seven-inch being standard on the Sport, EX-L, TrailSport and Touring.

New 2023 Honda Pilot revealed
Interior has a design and layout similar to the new Civic.

The flagship derivative, which additionally gets a new Heads-Up Display is, however, joined by the Touring in being the only other model to come as standard with a 12-speaker Bose sound system.

On the safety front, items, model dependent, comprise Traffic Jam Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition, Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Rear Seat Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring and a new camera system capable of detecting pedestrians and cyclists.

Up front and when

Up front, the mentioned free-breathing V6 retains its 3.5-litre displacement, but now delivers 212kW/355Nm instead of the 206kW/355Nm made by previous generation Pilot. The transmission though is new and comes with ten ratios as opposed to nine.

Going on-sale next year with production taking place at Honda’s Lincoln Plant in Alabama, sales remain limited to North America and therefore left-hand-drive with no plans in the pipeline to offer the steering gear to the right.

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