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2023 Honda Pilot Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons.

2023 Honda Pilot Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons: Sport vs EX-L, TrailSport, Touring and Elite

What 2023 Honda Pilot Trim Should You Buy? What is the Difference Between Trims?

When families look at their options for a new vehicle, many find themselves drawn to midsize three-row SUV options. They offer the space and versatility found in a minivan, but they are typically nicer to look at. As a bonus, many midsize SUVs have the ability to handle some driving off the beaten path.

Honda has the 2023 Pilot to offer those seeking a three-row midsize SUV. It is launching a brand-new generation this year. Buyers will notice that there are rugged styling differences that make the Pilot look more like the rest of the Honda SUV family. For this new generation, Honda makes the Pilot in five distinct trim levels.

The price range for the 2023 Honda Pilot spans nearly $12,000. This is why it is so important that drivers familiarize themselves with what each trim level has on its standard equipment list. Those interested in a new Pilot can use the following guide to determine which Pilot model has the features they need at a price they are willing to pay.


Compare the Sport vs EX-L Trims. What is the difference?

Every 2023 Honda Pilot comes with a 3.5L V6 engine. This is the same one that the previous generation utilized, but it now makes 285 horsepower rather than 280 horsepower like before. A 10-speed automatic transmission is now standard, replacing the nine-speed used in previous years. The Pilot is a front-wheel-drive SUV, but even the Sport model can be upgraded to all-wheel drive.

There are many fancy exterior features to be found on the Pilot Sport. This base model comes with brilliant LED headlights, foglights, and taillights. The headlights are equipped with an automatic on/off feature as well. There are also handy black roof rails and dual chrome exhaust outlets, giving the Pilot an athletic and aggressive look. Power-adjustable side mirrors round out the standard exterior feature list.

A push-button start is waiting for drivers inside the cabin, and they will also discover a leather-wrapped steering wheel. A dual-level cargo floor is included on all models. Further adding to the convenience of the Pilot Sport is a multi-function center console.

Tri-zone automatic climate control is a nice touch that every Pilot gives drivers, along with cozy heated front seats. Even the entry-level Sport has a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat along with a four-way power-adjustable front passenger seat. This model is only available with a second-row bench seat, meaning it has room for up to eight people inside.

A 7-inch touchscreen and a seven-speaker sound system make up the base of the Pilot Sport infotainment system. There is also a 7-inch driver information center. Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Bluetooth are all among the standard tech features here as well. There is a USB-A and a USB-C charging port up front, plus a 12-volt power outlet.

Honda Sensing is a standard bundle of high-tech safety features that are found equipped on every 2023 Pilot. Automatic high beams, a popular feature for those who do a lot of highway driving after dark, are included. Honda Sensing also has favorites such as blind-spot monitoring, forward-collision mitigation, and a road departure mitigation system. Driver attention monitoring is standard as well.

Next, buyers can consider the EX-L. While the entry-level model had normal, econ, sport, and tow drive modes, the EX-L further adds trail and sand modes when all-wheel drive is equipped. This trim level is missing the roof rails and dual exhaust ports found on the Sport model. It does gain an acoustic glass windshield and a programmable power liftgate, however.

Several convenience features are added by the EX-L trim of the Pilot. It starts out by adding second-row controls to the tri-zone automatic climate control system. From there, it adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror and comfort-enhancing sunshades in the second row. Illuminated vanity mirrors are also added to the sun visors up front.

The EX-L is available with second-row captain's chairs. Going with this option will mean only having seating for seven, but gaining much easier access to the third row. There are two-way memory settings for both the driver's seat and side mirrors, and this trim level gains leather-trimmed upholstery.

When it comes to technology features, the Pilot EX-L has even more to offer. It starts out by upgrading to a 9-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system and adding the option of customizing the interface for easier use. There is also a nine-speaker sound system, plus wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Further adding to the appeal of this trim level are things like HD radio, satellite radio, and a compass.

Honda does not stop there. The EX-L is the first trim to provide drivers with a wireless charging pad, and it also has the added benefit of an in-cabin intercom system that makes communicating with rear passengers easier. As for safety features, this model adds front and rear parking sensors along with low-speed brake control.

The price increase when moving from the Sport trim to the EX-L model is $2,800. While this is a lot, there are plenty of tempting features that make it worth it.

Compare the EX-L vs TrailSport. What is the difference?

Next, Honda offers the Pilot TrailSport. It does not get the dual exhaust ports back, but it does have roof rails again. To reflect its more off-road-oriented nature, the TrailSport comes with underbody skid plates that protect the engine and fuel tank. There is also an integrated Class III trailer hitch along with front and rear recovery points.

The TrailSport has a distinct look compared to other models of the 2023 Pilot. It comes with a gloss-black front grille to show off, plus rugged all-terrain tires. This model comes standard with a panoramic moonroof. The TrailSport also has a convenient heated wiper zone.

Moving inside, the TrailSport comes equipped with a heated steering wheel to keep hands comfortable. This version of the Pilot upgrades to all-weather floor mats, perfect for protecting the cabin from muddy feet. When drivers choose the TrailSport, they automatically get the second-row captain's chairs, whether they want them or not. To set this trim apart, it has synthetic leather upholstery with bright orange contrast stitching that pops.

Tech features remain the same, with one minor exception. The 2023 Pilot TrailSport has a 110-volt power outlet that it adds to its standard feature list. To help with off-roading, the Honda Sensing bundle gains a multi-view camera system, plus a feature known as TrailWatch. It gives drivers four camera views that are specifically designed for seeking hidden obstacles when out exploring the trails.

It costs a whopping $6,400 to move up to the TrailSport from the EX-L. Some of this increase can be explained by the standard all-wheel drive. Still, unless off-roading is a regular family activity, this trim level can likely be skipped.

Compare the TrailSport vs Touring Trims. What is the difference?

The dual exhaust outlets reappear when looking at the Pilot Touring. Further adding to the luxury is the hands-free power liftgate. Off-road-oriented features added by the TrailSport, such as the skid plates, are gone on the Pilot Touring. It also loses the heated wiper zone, although it maintains the panoramic moonroof.

Interestingly, the Touring model does not come with the heated steering wheel found in the previous model. It does get LED interior lighting and front door courtesy lights. The Touring has seating for up to eight, and it goes back to the leather-trimmed upholstery found in the EX-L model.

A few nice tech upgrades are made by the Touring trim, including a premium Bose sound system with 12 speakers. This model also has a Wi-Fi hotspot and satellite-linked navigation, plus a subscription to HondaLink. With that last feature, drivers can remotely start their Pilot. There is no 110-volt power outlet in this model, however.

The Touring trim level does not have the TrailWatch or multi-angle camera system. Due to the deleted features, plus the fact that front-wheel drive comes standard, the Touring actually costs nearly $2,000 less than the TrailSport. It has features that may appeal more to the average family, making it a more enticing option.

Compare the Touring vs Elite Trim Levels. What is the difference?

The 2023 Pilot Elite has exclusive features to try to tempt buyers into spending more money. On the outside, it has power-folding side mirrors and rain-sensing windshield wipers. It also gets back the heated wiper zone that was originally seen on the TrailSport model.

Choosing the Elite also means getting a heated steering wheel to increase hand comfort. This is the only Pilot to have a 4-inch head-up display that shows drivers things like their turn-by-turn directions, phone info, compass, speedometer, and more. LED door trim lighting is also added to increase the upscale feel of the cabin, and the digital instrument panel grows to 10.2 inches.

One might expect the top Elite trim level to have the captain's chairs, but it actually comes standard with the second-row bench and seating for eight. The front seats are perforated leather and gain ventilation to help on warm days. This trim is very similar to the Touring when it comes to tech, although it does gain the 110-volt power outlet back.

Ultimately, the Elite model of the Pilot combines the sophistication of the Touring trim with some of the off-road capability of the TrailSport. For example, it regains the extra camera angles and comes standard with all-wheel drive. With that in mind, it is no surprise that the Elite is the priciest 2023 Pilot by far. It costs $5,500 more than the Touring, and it costs over $3,500 more than the TrailSport.


Final Thoughts

It is not terribly common to see a non-luxury vehicle come standard with upscale features like heated and power-adjustable front seats, but these are something that even the entry-level Pilot brings to the table. For that reason, many drivers may not really feel inclined to go any higher on the trim list. After all, higher trims have the exact same engine, and the safety features remain mostly the same throughout the lineup. Why not take the opportunity to save some money?

With all of that in mind, drivers should still consider going up just one trim level. The EX-L has tech upgrades and several extra convenience features, such as integrated sunshades, making it better suited for keeping up with busy families. Choosing this trim will also mean getting to decide between the second-row bench and second-row captain's chairs, allowing drivers to get the configuration that works best for their needs.

True off-road enthusiasts may want to consider the TrailSport. The extra skid plates and standard all-wheel drive make it capable of handling decently rough terrain. Unless money is not an issue, most shoppers can avoid the Touring and Elite models.

The 2023 Honda Pilot EX-L is a nice combination of features as well as price, making it the smart choice for families.

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Previous Year Trim Configurations:

2022 Honda Pilot Trim Levels