SUV Review: 2025 Honda Pilot TrailSport | Reviews (2024)

Some suspension tweaks and all-terrain tires make this Pilot the more "off-roady" of the trims

Author of the article:

Jil McIntosh

Published Jul 02, 2024Last updated 4days ago7 minute read

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SUV Review: 2025 Honda Pilot TrailSport | Reviews (1)

When automakers first stuffed a third row of seats into their midsize SUVs, it’s likely no one figured most of them would wing past full-size sport-utes and minivans as the preferred people-haulers. But here we are, and here I am looking at the 2025 Honda Pilot, a midsize made to hold up to seven or eight passengers, depending on the trim.

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It’s the largest SUV that Honda offers – in descending order, it’s above the Passport, CR-V, and HR-V (there’s also the Prologue, but it’s all-electric). You can still get the Honda Odyssey minivan, and of course minivans are superior lots-of-people-to-haul haulers than any sport-utility; but they fell out of favour with most buyers a while ago, and so again, here we are.

What are the Honda Pilot’s trims and prices?

The 2025 Pilot comes in five trims, starting with the Sport at $53,350, before a delivery charge of $2,000; and then to the EX-L at $56,850. My trim is the TrailSport, at $59,850. From there, you can move up to the Touring at $63,600; and beyond that, the Black Edition, basically the Touring with gloss black trim and fancier wheels at $65,100.

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My TrailSport wore a coat of Diffused Sky Blue paint, which added $300, and it had a package of all-weather floor mats and cargo liners for $542. All of those prices are for the 2025 version and that’s what Honda is selling in dealerships right now. For disclosure, I was driving a 2024 model, but nothing has changed on the Pilot from ’24 to ’25 and so everything else here applies to both.

  1. SUV Review: 2025 Honda Pilot TrailSport | Reviews (8)
  2. SUV Review: 2025 Honda Pilot TrailSport | Reviews (9)
  3. SUV Review: 2025 Honda Pilot TrailSport | Reviews (10)
  4. SUV Review: 2025 Honda Pilot TrailSport | Reviews (11)
  5. SUV Review: 2025 Honda Pilot TrailSport | Reviews (12)
  6. SUV Review: 2025 Honda Pilot TrailSport | Reviews (13)
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  9. SUV Review: 2025 Honda Pilot TrailSport | Reviews (16)

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What powers the Honda Pilot?

All Pilot trims use a 3.5L V6 engine that makes 285 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, and it works equally well in slower city traffic or when you need passing power on the highway. It includes what Honda calls VCM, for Variable Cylinder Management, meaning it shuts off fuel to some of the cylinders when full power isn’t needed to help improve fuel economy. It’s mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, which is both a blessing and a curse. It tries to get to its higher gears as quickly as possible on acceleration, which helps with fuel economy; but on the down side, that eager-to-upshift can sometimes feel jerky. In this case, I think it might be more gears than this engine really needs.

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All trims come with all-wheel drive (AWD) and Honda calls the system i-VTM4, for intelligent variable torque management. It primarily drives the front wheels, but when extra traction is required, it can send up to 70% of the engine’s power to the rear wheels. From there, it can then prioritize power to the left or right rear wheel as needed – some or even all of it, if one back wheel is on a slippery surface and can’t make use of it. This all happens automatically, working with sensors that monitor such factors as wheel speed, steering angle, and yaw rate, which can determine if the vehicle isn’t going in the direction you intend and is sliding instead.

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So, what is a Pilot “Trailsport”?

All Pilot models can take you reasonably off-road, but the TrailSport is intended to be “more off-roady,” at least to a certain degree. Its AWD system is tweaked to maximize how quickly it moves engine power to or from a tire that isn’t gripping; and it has an extra 25 mm (1 inch) of ground clearance. It also has a smaller front stabilizer bar; its suspension is tuned for off-asphalt; it has more trail-friendly approach and departure angles (19.8 degrees front and 19.0 rear); and it has steel skid plates to protect the underbody should you try to go over something that’s taller than the 210 mm (8.2 inches) between the ground and the TrailSport’s belly.

It wears 18-inch wheels, as does the EX-L, while all others are 20-inch. But the TrailSport exclusively wraps those rims with all-terrain tires, which have a more aggressive tread. All of that does give the TrailSport some advantage if you want to take it a bit beyond an average cottage trail – but be aware that there is always some compromise when any vehicle’s designed for that. In the Pilot’s case, the TrailSport’s softer suspension can wallow a bit on pavement, with more side-to-side movement over asphalt imperfections. It’s certainly not unbearable, but if you never plan to go into the rougher stuff, you might want to consider one of the Pilot’s other trims.

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  1. SUV Review: 2025 Honda Pilot TrailSport | Reviews (22)
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What’s the Honda Pilot like on the inside?

All Pilot models have three rows of seats, but the TrailSport is the only one with second-row captain’s chairs instead of a three-passenger bench. The front seats are supportive and comfortable, with 10-way driver and four-way passenger power adjustment on all trims. Those front chairs are heated, of course; and on all but the base Sport, so are the second-row seats. While some trims have leather upholstery, the TrailSport has faux “leatherette” with orange accent stitching.

As with most midsize sport-utes in this segment, the Pilot’s third row is hard and flat, although it does have enough space for most adults to tolerate it back there on shorter trips. The captain’s chairs are helpful because you can enter that row and then step between them into the back, rather than squeezing past them when they’re flipped ahead. While the other trims have that second-row bench, the middle position is actually a separate small seat that can be removed on all but the Sport, and it can be stored under the cargo floor.

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With the third row in place, cargo volume is 618 litres; and those seats fold flat for 1,685 litres. The second row also folds flat for carrying even longer items.

The Sport has a seven-inch centre touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while everything else gets a nine-inch version and wireless connection. I like the simplicity of the systems: The screen icons are large and intuitive; there are hard buttons to bring up the menus or go back; and there’s a volume dial for the stereo.

Tri-zone climate control is standard, and on all but the base Sport, the second-row passengers can determine their own temperature and fan speed using controls on the back of the centre console. The driver can also adjust that rear climate from the front, which is handy if passengers back there are too young to do it themselves. All of the driver’s controls are easy to use, with climate and drive modes handled by dials and buttons. That said, I’m still not a fan of Honda’s button-and-toggle gearshift selector, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to go away in favour of a lever.

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SUV Review: 2025 Honda Pilot TrailSport | Reviews (33)

What about features on the Honda Pilot?

All Pilot trims come with driver-assist technologies including adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, emergency front braking, multi-angle rearview camera, and tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) with fill assist – when you’re putting air in a tire, the vehicle lets you know when you’ve reached the recommended pressure.

All trims also have a power liftgate, auto up-down windows, remote starter, and heated steering wheel. The TrailSport includes an auto-dimming mirror, front and rear parking sensors, second-row sunshades, and CabinTalk, which broadcasts the driver’s voice through the stereo speakers so those in behind can hear you (with no guarantee they won’t ignore you anyway, of course). You have to move up to the Touring or Black Edition to get such items as a head-up display, ventilated front seats, Bose audio, and a hands-free liftgate that closes automatically when you walk away from the vehicle.

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What are the Honda Pilot’s competitors?

Among its three-row competitors with AWD, the Honda Pilot can be cross-shopped with these rivals listed below. Prices are the MSRP before delivery fees, and we’ve noted where the 2025 prices haven’t yet been announced. The prices are for gasoline only, as some are also available as hybrids.

  • Chevrolet Traverse: $47,999 – $62,899 (2024)
  • Ford Explorer: $50,535 – $69,135 (2025)
  • Hyundai Palisade: $54,699 – $58,299 (2024)
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee L: $60,270 – $87,270 (2024)
  • Kia Telluride: $50,645 – $63,345 (2024)
  • Mazda CX-90: $49,300 – $63,300 (2024)
  • Mitsubishi Outlander: $34,958 – $44,898 (2024)
  • Nissan Pathfinder: $46,898 – $58,098 (2024)
  • Subaru Ascent: $41,995 – $$54,995 (2024)
  • Toyota Highlander: $46,790 – $55,050 (2024)
  • Toyota Grand Highlander: $50,490 – $57,690 (2024)
  • Volkswagen Atlas: $50,495 – $60,495 (2024)

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SUV Review: 2025 Honda Pilot TrailSport | Reviews (34)

Final Thoughts

The Pilot is a comfortable vehicle that does a good job of doing the job it’s supposed to do. Its biggest issue is that it has a lot of competitors that also do a good job, and the Pilot holds its own but doesn’t stand head-and-shoulders above them. You’ll have to test-drive it and its rivals to see what fits your needs. As mentioned, if you never go off-road, you may want to look at trims other than the TrailSport; but if the great outdoors is your thing, this could potentially be the Pilot that you want to pilot to get out there.

Pros

Comfortable seats
Engine performance
Sophisticated AWD

Cons

Transmission can be jerky
TrailSport’s ride is better off-road than on
Pricier than many rivals

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SUV Review: 2025 Honda Pilot TrailSport | Reviews (35)

Jil McIntosh

Jil McIntosh specializes in new-car reviews, auto technology and antique cars, including the two 1940s vehicles in her garage. She is currently a freelance Writer at Driving.ca since 2016

Summary

· Professional writer for more than 35 years, appearing in some of the top publications in Canada and the U.S.

· Specialties include new-vehicle reviews, old cars and automotive history, automotive news, and “How It Works” columns that explain vehicle features and technology

· Member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) since 2003; voting member for AJAC Canadian Car of the Year Awards; juror on the Women’s World Car of the Year Awards

Education

Jil McIntosh graduated from East York Collegiate in Toronto, and then continued her education at the School of Hard Knocks. Her early jobs including driving a taxi in Toronto; and warranty administration in a new-vehicle dealership, where she also held information classes for customers, explaining the inner mechanical workings of vehicles and their features.

Experience

Jil McIntosh is a freelance writer who has been writing for Driving.ca since 2016, but she’s been a professional writer starting when most cars still had carburetors. At the age of eleven, she had a story published in the defunct Toronto Telegram newspaper, for which she was paid $25; given the short length of the story and the dollar’s buying power at the time, that might have been the relatively best-paid piece she’s ever written.

An old-car enthusiast who owns a 1947 Cadillac and 1949 Studebaker truck, she began her writing career crafting stories for antique-car and hot-rod car club magazines. When the Ontario-based newspaper Old Autos started up in 1987, dedicated to the antique-car hobby, she became a columnist starting with its second issue; the newspaper is still around and she still writes for it. Not long after the Toronto Star launched its Wheels section in 1986 – the first Canadian newspaper to include an auto section – she became one of its regular writers. She started out writing feature stories, and then added “new-vehicle reviewer” to her resume in 1999. She stayed with Wheels, in print and later digital as well, until the publication made a cost-cutting decision to shed its freelance writers. She joined Driving.ca the very next day.

In addition to Driving.ca, she writes for industry-focused publications, including Automotive News Canada and Autosphere. Over the years, her automotive work also appeared in such publications as Cars & Parts, Street Rodder, Canadian Hot Rods, AutoTrader, Sharp, Taxi News, Maclean’s, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes Wheels, Canadian Driver, Sympatico Autos, and Reader’s Digest. Her non-automotive work, covering such topics as travel, food and drink, rural living, fountain pen collecting, and celebrity interviews, has appeared in publications including Harrowsmith, Where New Orleans, Pen World, The Book for Men, Rural Delivery, and Gambit.

Major awards won by the author

2016 AJAC Journalist of the Year; Car Care Canada / CAA Safety Journalism award winner in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2013, runner-up in 2021; Pirelli Photography Award 2015; Environmental Journalism Award 2019; Technical Writing Award 2020; Vehicle Testing Review award 2020, runner-up in 2022; Feature Story award winner 2020; inducted into the Street Rodding Hall of Fame in 1994.

Contact info

Email: jil@ca.inter.net

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jilmcintosh/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JilMcIntosh

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