The Honda Pilot first joined the automaker’s lineup for the 2003 model year and has been a popular choice for mid-size crossover SUV buyers ever since. Twenty years later, the 2023 Pilot enters its fourth generation with updated front and rear styling for a more truck-like shape than its predecessor. This more rugged design is highlighted by the off-road-themed Trailsport trim for 2023.
In comparison, the Hyundai Palisade is a relative newcomer among mid-size three-row SUVs. Introduced in 2020, the Palisade made a name for itself thanks to its spacious cabin and a host of standard features. For 2023, the Palisade gets an exterior makeover as well as a tougher-looking trim called the XRT, an upgraded touchscreen interface, and more available features.
The experts at Edmunds compared these practical three-row SUVs head-to-head to see which is the better option.
Performance and Driving The Honda Pilot’s 3.5-liter V6 sends 285 horsepower to the wheels, courtesy of a 10-speed automatic gearbox. By the numbers, the 2023 Hyundai Palisade’s 291-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 and eight-speed automatic are a match for the Honda rival. During Edmunds’ testing, the Palisade required 7.6 seconds to accelerate from zero to 60 mph, compared to 7.8 seconds for the Pilot. Outright speed isn’t the Palisade or Pilot’s strongest selling point. If towing is important, know that both the Pilot and Palisade have the same maximum tow rating of 5,000 pounds.
The ride quality of both of them is quite comfortable. Long highway drives would be easy in any SUV. However, the Pilot has a slight edge when turning. It feels planted on the road and is more nimble than the Palisade.
Interior space and technology Step into the Honda Pilot and you’re greeted by an attractive cabin that borrows styling elements from other Honda vehicles, including retro-inspired hidden air vents that work their way into the design of the dashboard . The base trim’s center screen measures just 7 inches, and even the optional 9-inch screen is smaller than those offered by most competitors. Thankfully it’s easy to use and comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.
The 2023 Pilot has more passenger space in the second and third rows. The second row conveniently slides forward and backward to create more space where needed. A removable middle seat, located between the optional second-row dual captain’s chairs, is another available and very clever feature.
For the Palisade, the 2023 model gets a cabin refresh with a new steering wheel design and a larger center touchscreen. The quality and design of the Palisade’s interior were already exemplary. These updates make a good thing even better. Not only does the Palisade come with plenty of tech goodies, but it also offers adult-level staterooms in all three rows. By comparison, the Pilot’s third row is more snug for adults.
Pricing and Value The base Honda Pilot LX in rear-wheel-drive configuration has a starting price of $37,295 including destination. For comparison, the base Palisade LX costs $37,235. Adding all-wheel drive for the Pilot costs $2,100, compared to an additional $1,900 with the Palisade. The range-topping model of any SUV costs around $51,000.
Fuel economy is up close too, with a Pilot equipped with all-wheel drive getting an EPA-estimated 21 mpg combined average in city and highway driving. An all-wheel-drive Palisade carries the same 21 mpg combined figure. Hyundai leads due to its strong warranty as well as its large number of standard features.
Hyundai gives every Palisade a five-year/60,000-mile limited warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. The Honda Pilot comes with a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
EDMUNDS SAYS: The latest Honda Pilot will easily please buyers who need a well-rounded three-row SUV. But we’ve found that it lacks any standout quality that makes it a must-buy. As such, the Hyundai Palisade, with its superior comfort, technology and value, is a better bet.
This story was provided to The Associated Press by automotive website Edmunds.
Nick Kurczewski is a contributor at Edmunds and ON Twitter
Nick Kurczewski, The Associated Press