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2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport Preview Drive: Honda tries its hand at terrain

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – Until today, Honda’s motobike never built one lord level Body-on-frame SUV, the kind that serious off-roaders will really consider off-road. And no, protest Isuzus Not count for. So you might think that making a machine optimized for terrain from a Honda Pilotbut the company was founded by a rebellious racer Who built what? still the world’s largest motorcycle word maker Superfortress-and-earthquake devastation His first business was never wiped out.

The Pilot TrailSport is still one intersection and it’s unlikely that serious off-roaders will come close to it, but this rugged version of the next-generation Honda Pilot 2023 is a more accomplished attempt than the previous one. You might have missed it, but TrailSport really has been out in 2022 for a long time Previous Generation Pilot as a three-row praise for Passport TrailSport. It has stiffer tires, slightly higher ground clearance, and an enhanced look that can make you fall in love with a REI parking lot. It’s competent enough for the casual outdoor adventurer, but the 2023 Honda Pilot Trailsport gets a significant technical upgrade that makes it more likely to hit that distant trail and back in one piece. Honda didn’t try to make it a crawler, but would anyone expect a Pilot to be one?

To be clear, this is in fact Autoblog’s Driving the next generation Honda Pilot 2023 for the first time. However, we only have information on the TrailSport, and even that is slim. Basic dimensions and specifications will still be announced, as well as details on other trim levels. We don’t even know what it actually looks like beyond the teaser photos below. Honda kept the camouflage wraps during our driving, which is off-road-only. It’s an odd way to introduce a new generation, but we wouldn’t say no to peeking between Colorado’s peaks on Middle Fork Swan River Road near Breckenridge.

After doing my share of backpacking trips to remote parts of the Mountain West, I’ve learned that the goal of such trips is to stay away from the noisy crowds that make destinations accessible. closer to smaller cities. With the dispatch of the pandemic even more people come to the great outdoor activity, a car that can leave conventional four-wheel-drive machinery behind and surmount an exhaust system, oil-punched roadway on more challenging trails will allow you to hit the trails and more unique campsite. Honda’s American engineers designed the new Pilot TrailSport to do just that for the weekend, even as the exterior designers made it look more rugged for the weekday dropout crowd. (even with camo, that’s obvious). It’s possible that most people who buy this SUV will never hit any surface harder than the gravel road leading to the lake house, but that’s the idea. you can if you want.

The head of the powertrain team for the 2023 Pilots spends his spare time obsessively recovering FJ40 Land Cruiser (about a pure production off-road vehicle as seriously as you’ll see on the planet), while Pilot TrailSport Suspension Potentate (not his real name) assembles the parts to build a modern car chemistry MGB-GT with one Honda KY engine swap. There was a remarkable atmosphere of Mickey Thompson-style American cannibalism around the engineers that reinforced this. crossover SUVprobably when Soichiro Honda stared at the strict bureaucracy of the Japanese government when he started building cars.

The new fourth-generation Pilot once again lives on a unibody platform, but it will get a major hardening in 2023 (Honda says stiffness increases from 20% to 60%, depending on region). The Pilot TrailSport’s suspension is the same as what would be found on the regular Pilot 2023, mechanically, albeit with an extra inch of ground clearance plus stiffer shock absorbers and swing bars. Tires are Continent TerrainContact A/Ts, are said to be fairly quiet on your local sewers, while resisting rock punctures in the wild. And there’s a full-size widget, which is great to have for tire problems in bundles. The 18-inch TrailSport-only wheels have spokes to avoid ugly scars from obstacles. The all-torque all-wheel drive system has been redesigned so that in the new Trail drive mode, it sends most of the torque to the wheel with the most traction. The Pilot’s exhaust system and drive shaft are respectfully hidden to prevent harm.

Most notably, the Pilot TrailSport has a couple of bad steel skids underneath, one protecting the engine/wheelbase and the other protecting the fuel tank. Each can bear the full weight of the vehicle, which is interesting when you’re looking for jack positions. The front plate has a reinforced opening for a drag hook, you will appreciate it if you get stuck somewhere. Another equally sturdy recovery point is incorporated into the trailer segment.

How did all this work on a rocky road at 11,000 feet above sea level? I was never a truck guy, even though I booked some two-wheelers through the penalty of not being designed for that trail during camping trips, which gives me the same level of off-road skill as most American SUV shoppers today.

The heavy rain the night before made the road a bit slippery, which shouldn’t really cause any problems for the TrailSport’s improved all-wheel drive system; I just put the gear in D, selected the Trail mode, and went. At first, I was afraid to pass rocks the size of a watermelon and a dog at any speed but the most terrifying, but after a few hard (but harmless) bumps on the slide, I gained confidence. Continental TerrainContacts burst out laughing at the hip poking from the sharp rocks. The TrailWatch camera system proved surprisingly useful when wriggling between rocks and fallen tree trunks; you press the button at the bottom of the wiper control body to switch the view between forward and side low, making it easy to set the wheel exactly where you want them. I tried to beat the exhaust a bit, but it eliminated the blow and let the skids bear the worst brunt of my off-road failure.

To sum it up, the 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport is a comfortable three-row SUV that looks quite comfortable and allows the average American driver to hit moderate trails en route to destinations most likely to drive. Commuting crossovers such as the regular Pilot cannot be reached. Of course, the full story of that 2023 Frequent Flyer will still happen.

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