The arrival of the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Tulluride changed the game when it came to three-row crossovers, and competitors such as the Honda Pilot had to up the ante. The Pilot gets fully redesigned for 2023 and becomes a stronger rival to the class leaders.

Base Price: $48,700
As Tested: $50,500
Horsepower: 285
Mileage: 18 mpg city/23 mpg highway/20 mpg combined

The Pilot debuted for the 2003 model year and became the first three-row, mainstream crossover (built on a car-like unibody platform). For 2023, the Pilot gets a makeover and is now in its fourth generation. Honda says it’s the largest and most powerful SUV in its history.

Improvements include a longer wheelbase which makes for more passenger room, updated exterior and interior styling, and the addition of the TrailSport trim, which is capable of some real off-roading.

The 2023 Honda Pilot comes in six trims: LX, Sport, EX-L, TrailSport, Touring and Elite. Starting prices range from $36,300 to $52,380. The price for the top trim is more than what you’ll pay for similarly equipped rivals. All-wheel drive is available on the LX, Sport, EX-L and Touring trims and standard on the TrailSport and Elite trims.

The Pilot has room for seven or eight passengers depending on whether you get captain’s chairs in the second row.

Honda says the TrailSport trim is the most off-road capable Honda SUV ever. It comes equipped with standard all-terrain tires, steel skid plates, higher ground clearance, and an off-road tuned suspension. The TrailSport isn’t meant to go head to head with the likes of a Jeep or Ford Bronco, but it can handle light off-roading when the family wants to go camping off the beaten trail.

All trims have the same powertrain: a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 285 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. The transmission is a 10-speed automatic.

Driving the 2023 Pilot is easy, which is what you want in a family hauler. While it’s not super quick, there’s plenty of smooth power for accelerating from a stop and at higher speeds for merging and passing on the freeway. The 10-speed shifts smoothly and quickly. Steering is surprisingly responsive and the brakes have a good pedal feel. Body roll is minimal so the Pilot feels planted around corners. Ride quality is excellent with the suspension absorbing bumps and potholes. Visibility is good all the way around.

Fuel economy is about average for a three-row crossover. EPA ratings for my TrailSport test vehicle are 18 mpg city and 23 mpg highway with a combined rating of 20. I got 20 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.

The cabin is roomy with good build quality. It’s not as high-end as the Palisade and Telluride, but still very nice. Materials are mostly soft-touch. The design has a modern look, similar to what you’ll find in other new and/or redesigned Honda vehicles. The cabin is quiet with engine and road noise barely noticeable. Seats are comfortable and supportive. Front- and second-row passengers enjoy good leg- and headroom. The third row is best suited for kids but a couple of adults can squeeze back there if necessary.

Standard features include proximity keyless entry, push-button start, remote start, rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, manually adjustable front seats, seven-inch digital gauge cluster with an analog speedometer, infotainment system with seven-inch touchscreen, seven-speaker audio system, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, four USB ports, ambient lighting, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Available features include a surround-view camera system, head-up display, tri-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, power adjustable front seats, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, heated second-row seats, 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster, infotainment system with nine-inch touchscreen, navigation, 12-speaker audio system, HD Radio, satellite radio, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, wireless device charging, Wi-Fi hot spot, two additional USB ports, in-car intercom, rear sunshades, a household-style 120-volt outlet, and panoramic moonroof.

Standard driver assistance technologies include forward collision warning, forward automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, traffic-sign recognition, driver-attention monitoring, and rear-seat alert.

Available driver assistance technologies include blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and front and rear parking sensors.

Cargo space is above average for the class. The Pilot has 18.6 cubic feet with all three rows of seats in place, 48.5 cubes with the third row folded, and 87 cubes with both rows down. The third row split-folds 50/50, providing flexibility in hauling passengers and gear. There’s a large underfloor compartment – models with the second-row bench seat have a removeable middle section that can be stashed in that underfloor area. A manual liftgate is standard and a power liftgate and hands-free power liftgate are available.

The infotainment system gets the job done and is user-friendly but lags behind class leaders. The standard seven-inch touchscreen is downright puny, and the available nine-inch touchscreen still looks tiny compared to what you’ll find in several rivals. Handy physical controls make it easy to adjust common functions such as audio and climate settings.

The good:

Refined driving dynamics

New TrailSport trim is suitable for light off-roading

Comfortable, roomy interior

Lots of standard and available features and tech

Standard wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

Above average cargo space

The not-so-good:

Tech not as good as segment leaders

Standard infotainment screen is puny

Some rivals provide more value for the money

Pricing info:

My tester starts at $48,700. Diffused Sky Blue paint is $455. Destination fee is $1,345 bringing the grand total to $50,500.

Bottom line:

The redesigned 2023 Honda Pilot is a strong choice among three-row crossovers with its easy-to-drive handling, spacious and comfortable cabin, and plenty of cargo space. But the tech and infotainment system lag behind class leaders. This segment features some excellent rivals so you’ll want to shop around before making a choice.

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