The mainstream three-row crossover segment in the United States is fiercely competitive, although generally speaking, the Ford Explorer is typically at or near the top of the segment in sales. But that doesn’t mean the company can remain in the dark when it comes to its rivals in that segment, which is why photographers have previously spotted the automaker evaluating the Jeep Grand Cherokee L and the Kia Telluride. Now, they’ve captured evidence that the company has the all-new 2023 Honda Pilot in its possession.
This particular 2023 Honda Pilot was spotted entering a Ford facility, and it would make sense why the company would want to check out the three-row, as it is an all-new design. The new model adopts more rugged styling than its predecessor, but beyond looks, the Japanese automaker also put the three-row on a new platform, which resulted in a longer wheelbase and increased cargo capacity behind the second row. Every Pilot features a redesigned 3.5L V6 as well, rated at 285 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, which is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Ford appears to be evaluating a 2023 Honda Pilot Elite, which is the most expensive trim in the lineup. With a $52,380 starting MSRP, it’s priced between the 2023 Ford Explorer ST ($50,005) and Explorer Platinum ($53,820). The Explorer King Ranch starts at $54,075. Key features on the Elite include heated and ventilated leather front seats, head-up display, Cabintalk in-car PA system, panoramic roof with moonroof, heated second row captain’s chairs, and a 10.2-inch driver information interface.
Later this year, the 2023 Honda Pilot will likely begin to face off against the refreshed 2024 Ford Explorer. As Ford Authority previously reported, the upcoming refresh is expected to add a new infotainment system that will incorporate Sync 4 or the next-generation system from Google, and the lineup will almost certainly feature Ford BlueCruise hands-free driving. Beyond those enhancements, the Explorer will also feature a revised front end and a rear liftgate that borrows styling elements from the previous generation and its refreshed counterpart from China.