Video: I Drive the New 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport Off-Road Up a Challenging Mountain Trail!

This isn't the full-on production model, but this gives us a first impression of Honda's next off-road-focused SUV

(Images: Honda, unless otherwise noted)

No, it’s not a Jeep — but the 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport does pack some off-road kit to tackle the trails.

Hot on the heels of its smaller Passport sibling, the upcoming Honda Pilot TrailSport aims to expand the automaker’s influence in the off-road crossover space. In the video below, Tommy actually gets the opportunity to drive a pre-production version up a challenging trail. Even better, that challenging terrain is right in TFL’s back yard, outside Breckenridge, Colorado. Not to boast or anything, but some of the best off-roading terrain is right here in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, and it’s an opportunity to actually put the Pilot TrailSport into some tricky situations to see how it copes.

Now, despite Tommy’s prototype hunting moment at the start of today’s TFLoffroad video, we’re obviously not talking about a Jeep here. To this day, Honda hasn’t built a tough as nails body-on-frame SUV to compete with the likes of the Wrangler and Bronco. Nevertheless, the TrailSport brand jumps right into the fray of ruggedized crossovers. So, think along the lines of the Toyota RAV4 Adventure/TRD Off-Road, the Subaru Forester and Outback Wilderness, the Ford Explorer Timberline, Hyundai Santa Fe XRT…you get the idea.

What sets this new Pilot apart?

That idea, strictly speaking, is to build a more capable crossover to take up into the backcountry, as so many are wont to do in this neck of the woods. Most folks won’t take their SUV anywhere near the Rubicon, but it’s good to know you can get out some more technical rutted out gravel roads and light to moderate trails.

To that end, Honda gave the 2023 Pilot TrailSport an inch of extra ground clearance beyond the everyday variants. You also get beefier (though still street-tolerable) Continental TerrainContact A/Ts, mounted on bespoke 18-inch wheels. With the rest of the 2023 Honda Pilot lineup, the new TrailSport’s body is stiffer, while the off-road variant gets a new Trail drive mode that reworks the torque-vectoring i-VTM4 all-wheel drive system to send traction where it’s needed on loose surfaces. You even get a full-size spare, which is a thoughtful touch for this sort of vehicle. Steel skid plates also come as part of the package, as do reinforced front and rear recovery points.

At this point, more technical information on the 2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport is TBD. Since this was more of a prototype drive, we’ll have to wait on more tangible figures for a while yet. Nevertheless, this is certainly the most capable among the new Pilots in the dirt, and worth keeping an eye on as we inch closer to this car’s on-sale date.

The upcoming Honda Pilot TrailSport should hit dealers by the end of this year, and of course we’ll have more information by the time it arrives.