Imagine this is being spoken by that guy who used to do the epic voiceovers for movie trailers: In a world where soccer field parking lots are flooded with SUVs, the 2022 Honda Pilot will be the ever-reliable hero suburbia needs to haul their kids and all their junk across town in style, ease, and comfort. The 2022 Honda Pilot, coming soon to a dealer near you.
End epic voice transmission
Of course, we all know the 2022 Honda Pilot has been on the lot for a good long while. It shares the same basic styling as it has since the 2019 model year and is one of Honda’s most reliable sellers, with over 143,000 sold over the past year alone. And, in a segment that’s absolutely swamped with options, Pilot stands out for its reliability, safety, strong resale value, and its spacious interior that can seat up to eight adults in relative comfort.
But for all the basic SUV elements Pilot gets so right, there is room in the market for ventures into the realm of special trims. New for 2022 are the Sport, which has replaced the LX, and the off-road TrailSport. Both trims come loaded with a variety of features, each catered towards their specific purpose. Before we dive into these new trims, we’ll first go over exactly what makes a Honda Pilot a Honda Pilot.
What Makes a Pilot a Pilot
What makes a Pilot is the same basic formula that makes all Hondas: logical design and reliability. Being a three-row SUV means that access to the rear seats shouldn’t be a chore. The 2022 Pilot comes standard with a grab handle and manual, easy-to-move second row; on higher trim levels, there is a power option. Both the second and third-row seats can lean backward, while the second row slides back and forth to provide more legroom for taller passengers. Rear legroom stands at 38.4″ for the second row and 31.9″ for the third. Storage space, too, is more than adequate. Folding both rear rows flat––and we mean flat––provides you a maximum cargo capacity of 109.2 cu.ft.
Powering all 2022 Pilots is a strong 3.5L V6 engine mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission. Output is 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque, which allows the Pilot to tow up to 3,500 lbs with FWD and 5,000 lbs with AWD. Speaking of drivetrains, Pilot arrives with standard FWD, with AWD being an available addition across all trim levels. Fuel economy ratings are 23 MPG combined for FWD and 22 MPG combined for AWD, so you won’t be sacrificing much in the way of fuel economy if you spring for the AWD.
One special feature that is available on Touring, Elite, and Black Edition trims is Honda CabinTalk, which allows the driver to speak through the vehicle’s speakers so that rear-seat passengers can hear them. Parents will enjoy this particular feature for two reasons: 1) no more shouting and 2) proof that the theory of Selective Hearing is 100% correct.
So that’s what you’ll get on any standard Pilot; honestly, any standard Honda. Still, we’re going to take a bit of a deeper look into those two new trim levels we mentioned, starting with the Sport. Replacing the LX as Pilot’s base trim level, the Sport is no slouch in terms of comfort and available features. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another midsize SUV that offers heated front seats on its lowest trim level. Apart from that, Honda is showing off its standard suite of features, which will not leave the driver wanting.
All Pilots are powered by that excellent V6, and with the addition of AWD, you’re looking at a vehicle that can very much hold its own when the going gets tough. Honda’s Intelligent Traction Management system and i-VTM4 AWD system deploy power and grip to all four wheels through torque vectoring and come standard. The selectable drive modes, when activated, allow the car’s electronic brain to actively adjust to the road conditions and modulate power as appropriate.
Exterior-wise, you’re not looking at anything too fancy, save for the standard 20″ wheels, LED headlights, and fog lamps. Otherwise, it’s the same standard look the Pilot has had for the last few years.
Okay, interior now. Honda seems to pride itself on giving drivers luxury and comfort in affordable packages, and the MSRP for a Pilot Sport is $37,580. For your money, you’ll get all we’ve already mentioned, plus Honda’s suite of onboard tech. This includes a standard 8″ display touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, three-zone climate control, multiple USB ports on the center console up front, and Bluetooth audio with a 7-speaker setup. Access to the third row is simplified via a one-touch button that controls the entry point through the second row.
Another key feature of the Sport is Honda Sensing, the onboard safety system. We’re giving it its own section mainly because it deserves it. Other auto companies are quickly adopting the notion of providing full-safety suites on the base models of their autos, but Honda goes above and beyond.
Honda Sensing includes blind spot information with cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking (the fancy way to say automatic emergency braking), and road departure warning. The cross-traffic alert displays via the side mirrors, while a multi-angle rearview camera is standard for backing up and alerts the driver to any hidden hazards they may not be aware of.
The All-New TrailSport
The TrailSport is another all-new trim level for 2022. Much in the way that Subaru and GMC are creating their own off-road sub-brands with the Wilderness and AT4, the TrailSport is Honda’s entry into the world of mud-soaked adventure. With an MSRP of $44,310, the Pilot TrailSport is on the more affordable end of the off-road trim spectrum.
The 2022 Pilot TrailSport gets a bit of a facelift to look more rugged and outdoorsy. Black trim runs across the whole vehicle, and roof rails with crossbars come standard. 18″ alloy wheels are paired with rugged tires that have reinforced sidewalls, while the suspension sees a small lift. As expected, this trim comes standard with AWD, and you have the full range of Honda’s Intelligent Traction Management, with all three modes––Snow, Sand, and Mud––available for use.
Inside, you have heated leather seats with orange stitching and TrailSport badges embossed into the headrests. The steering wheel is also leather-wrapped and shares the same orange stitching as the seats, allowing for a cohesive design throughout the cabin. A one-touch, power moonroof allows the outside to come in, while integrated sunshades for the second row can keep the glare out of the eyes of your passengers.
Honda Navigation comes standard on the TrailSport and is seamlessly integrated into the 8″ touch display on the center console. The navigation is satellite-linked, so it’ll work long after you’ve lost service on your cell phone. Terrain renderings are in 3D, while direction and elevation are included in the bottom corners of the screen.
While it may not look as rugged and tough as some of its competitors, the Pilot TrailSport is able to handle the dirt track down to the campsite while also taking on the more difficult road and trail conditions with ease. TrailSport will soon become its own subbrand, with the Honda Passport also getting an off-road tune-up for 2022.
A New Chapter for the Honda Pilot
Honda is an inoffensive company. It makes good, conservatively styled cars that appeal to the masses due to their reliability and simplicity. It has an excellent lineup, ranging from sedans and SUVs to trucks and minivans. The Pilot has long been a staple in the midsize SUV market, and it’s easy to see why. It’s affordable and adaptable to virtually any road situation and comes with advanced features like Honda Sensing. But as we see now, in 2022, the Pilot is looking to be a bit more than the suburban hero. It’s looking to take on some trails and have fun doing it.