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Sunday Drive: 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport a family adventure companion

By Craig and Deanne Conover - Daily Herald | Nov 22, 2023
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Deanne with the new 2023 Pilot TrailSport edition as we arrived for a long weekend stay in St. George, ready for some adventures in Southern Utah with the new Honda.
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At Zion National Park on the way home as we took the scenic route through the park on to Highway 89 and then northward toward our home in Springville. The new 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport proved to be a great traveling companion.
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The new 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport.
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Inside the new 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport.
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Inside the new 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport.
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Inside the new 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport.

The open road, along with a sense of adventure and the comfort of family — these are the elements that make road trips special. And when we had the chance to embark on a weekend adventure from Springville to St. George for fun in Southern Utah, what we really needed was a reliable, spacious and capable vehicle to accompany us.

Enter our friends at Honda with the opportunity for a weeklong test drive of the 2023 Pilot TrailSport, a versatile SUV designed for both on-road comfort and off-road exploration. It turned out to be the perfect SUV for handling this picturesque journey, along the way offering insights into its performance, features and suitability as a family adventure companion.

The journey begins

We made our way through a long Thursday morning while preparing for our weekend in the Pilot — and quite frankly we couldn’t wait to get out of the house and into the Honda to get started. Loaded with luggage, supplies and a sense of excitement, we set our course for St. George, nearly 300 miles to the south. Even as we were getting loaded, the Pilot, with its rugged TrailSport branding and striking color of Diffused Sky, seemed like the perfect vehicle for this journey.

On-road comfort

The initial stretch of our journey involved cruising along Interstate 15 to Southern Utah. The Pilot’s plush, spacious interior ensured that we both were comfortable and relaxed. The leather-trimmed seats and high-quality materials used in the cabin exuded an air of sophistication that impressed us for the segment.

The panoramic sunroof allowed plenty of natural light to flood the cabin, creating a pleasant and airy atmosphere.

One notable feature that contributed to our comfort during the long drive was the tri-zone automatic climate control. It allowed the driver, front passenger and rear passengers, if necessary, to set their preferred temperature zones, preventing any squabbles. We appreciated this thoughtful touch, especially considering the wide temperature swings we encountered on the journey in early October.

Infotainment and connectivity

Staying connected and entertained on the road is critical, especially on a longer road trip, and the Pilot didn’t disappoint. Its advanced infotainment system featured a 9-inch touch screen display with crisp graphics and intuitive controls. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility made syncing our smartphones easy, allowing us to access our favorite apps, navigation and music seamlessly.

Performance on the open road

As we left the city limits of Springville and hit the freeway, the Pilot showcased its on-road prowess. Equipped with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine generating 285 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, it had plenty of power for highway merging and passing slower vehicles. The all-new 10-speed automatic transmission was smooth and responsive; we loved this new experience in the Pilot.

The Pilot’s adaptive cruise control system, combined with lane-keeping assist, eased the burden of long highway stretches. It maintained a safe following distance from the vehicle ahead and kept us centered in our lane. This feature not only enhanced safety but also reduced our fatigue on the 250-mile trek.

Scenic detours and off-road exploration

While the Pilot excelled on the highway, our road trip to St. George wasn’t solely about reaching our destination quickly. We decided to take a few scenic detours and explore some off-road trails along the way.

One of our memorable stops was at the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area near Leeds. Here, the Pilot truly lived up to its TrailSport designation. Its intelligent all-wheel-drive system, enhanced ground clearance and specialized off-road tires provided the confidence to navigate gravel trails and rocky terrain. Engaging the available Terrain Management System allowed us to tailor the SUV’s performance to different off-road conditions, be it mud, sand or snow.

We were particularly impressed by the Pilots hill descent control, which expertly managed steep descents, keeping our speed controlled without needing constant brake modulation. It’s these off-road capabilities that make the Pilot stand out in this SUV segment.

The final stretch to St. George

After our detours into nature, it was time to continue our journey to St. George. As we approached our destination, the road opened into wide, sweeping curves as we descended into Utah’s Dixie, which provided an opportunity to test the Pilot’s handling in more dynamic driving conditions.

Despite its size, the Pilot was very agile on these winding roads. The steering was responsive, and body roll was well-controlled, enhancing the overall driving experience. The available all-wheel drive ensured that we had traction when needed, even when taking corners at higher speeds.

St. George

Our arrival in St. George marked the completion of a journey that had been both comfortable and exciting. The Pilot had proven itself to be a capable, family-friendly SUV that seamlessly transitioned from highway cruiser to off-road explorer.

In St. George, we enjoyed the SUV’s versatile cargo space as we unloaded our luggage and supplies. The third-row seats easily folded down, providing ample room for our gear. With all the rear seats folded flat, the Pilot offered an impressive 83.9 cubic feet of cargo space, making it ideal for family adventures, camping trips or any situation where extra cargo capacity is needed.

There was plenty of space to get everything home after three days of shopping, hiking and just enjoying the St. George atmosphere!

Final thoughts

As we pulled back into Springville, we couldn’t help but reflect on the Pilot and the remarkable journey it facilitated. This SUV seamlessly blended on-road comfort with off-road capability, making it an ideal choice for families with a spirit of adventure.

With its spacious and luxurious interior, advanced infotainment system and impressive safety features, the Pilot made our road trip enjoyable and hassle-free. Whether navigating highways, venturing into the wild or simply running daily errands, this SUV proved itself as a reliable and versatile companion.

We found the 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport to be a well-rounded, family-oriented SUV that’s ready for whatever adventures come one’s way. It strikes an excellent balance between comfort, capability and style, making it a top contender in its segment. So, if you’re planning your next family road trip or looking for an SUV that can handle both the daily commute and off-road escapades, the Pilot should undoubtedly be on your shortlist.

Base price: $48,350

Destination charge: $1,345

Price as driven: $50,150


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