2023 Honda Pilot Earns IIHS Top Safety Pick

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The 2023 Honda Pilot recently earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) highest safety award – the Top Safety Pick+ (TSP+). This three-row SUV received top marks in the majority of IIHS crash tests and evaluations, showcasing Honda’s commitment to safety.

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Overview of the 2023 Honda Pilot

The 2023 Pilot is a fully redesigned model, featuring significant improvements over the previous generation in terms of design, driving dynamics, capability, and interior quality. Key upgrades include:

  • More upscale exterior styling with a bold new front fascia
  • Refined interior with higher-grade materials and added tech features
  • Enhanced on-road handling and off-road capability
  • Standard Honda Sensing suite of active safety features
  • New TrailSport off-road oriented trim level

The Pilot competes with other midsize 3-row SUVs like the Toyota Highlander, Ford Explorer, Hyundai Palisade, and Subaru Ascent. It aims to differentiate itself by providing family-friendly utility, driving refinement, and Honda’s reputation for reliability and retained value.

IIHS Testing Results and Ratings

For a vehicle to qualify for the TSP+ award, it must earn ‘Good’ ratings in the following IIHS tests:


  • Driver-side small overlap front
  • Passenger-side small overlap front
  • Moderate overlap front
  • Side
  • Roof strength

Crash Avoidance and Mitigation

  • Vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention
  • Vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention

Headlight Ratings

  • Headlights must be rated ‘Good’ or ‘Acceptable’

Here is how the 2023 Pilot fared in IIHS evaluations:

  • Earned ‘Good’ ratings in all crashworthiness tests except for a ‘Marginal’ in driver-side moderate overlap front. This test is not yet part of TSP+ criteria.
  • Received ‘Superior’ scores for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention when equipped with standard Honda Sensing.
  • Headlights received a ‘Good’ rating, providing adequate visibility on straightaways and curves.
  • ‘Good’ rating for child seat anchors and seat belt reminders.

Safety Improvements Over Previous Pilot

The 2023 Pilot is a significant upgrade over the 2019 model, the last year the previous generation earned a TSP award. Here are the key areas of improvement:

  • Small overlap front crash performance improved from ‘Marginal’ to ‘Good’. This test replicates hitting a narrow object like a tree or utility pole, stressing the vehicle structure.
  • Standard headlights went from ‘Acceptable’ to ‘Good’. Updated LED units provide better visibility at night.
  • Automatic emergency braking went from no credit to ‘Superior’. Latest Honda Sensing system reliably avoids or mitigates frontal collisions.
  • New side crash test performance rated ‘Good’. Simulates SUV being struck by another vehicle at 90-degree intersection.

These upgrades demonstrate Honda engineers’ focus on designing and validating the Pilot to better protect occupants in a wide range of real-world crash scenarios.

How Pilot Compares to 3-Row SUV Competitors

The Pilot joins an elite group of midsize 3-row SUVs that have achieved the TSP+ award. Here is how it stacks up against key rivals:

  • Toyota Highlander: Earned TSP+ with identical ‘Good’ and ‘Superior’ scores as Pilot. Top performer among mainstream 3-row SUVs.
  • Hyundai Palisade: Also achieved TSP+ but rated ‘Acceptable’ for headlights versus Pilot’s ‘Good’. Excellent safety but visibility could be better.
  • Kia Telluride: Like its corporate cousin, earned TSP+ although headlights are rated lower. Impressive showing from Kia.
  • Ford Explorer: Got TSP but not TSP+ due to ‘Marginal’ small overlap and ‘Acceptable’ headlights. Aging platform limits safety performance.
  • Nissan Pathfinder: Achieved TSP+ thanks to a 2022 redesign. Significant safety improvement over previous generation.

The Pilot holds its own against the competition, with safety ratings that match or beat rivals. Honda’s focus on collision protection and avoidance is evident.

What Could Be Improved for Safety

While the new Pilot aces most IIHS tests, there are a couple areas for improvement:

  • Moderate overlap front: Scored ‘Marginal’ in test that stresses rear seat occupant protection. Many vehicles struggle with this newer evaluation.
  • Child seat ease-of-use: Rated just ‘Acceptable’ for LATCH anchor accessibility. Better access would facilitate proper car seat installation.

Adjustments to side structure, body reinforcement, and anchor design could potentially improve performance in these two areas. However, neither are deal breakers for a Top Safety Pick+.

Key Takeaways

With the complete redesign for 2023, the Honda Pilot becomes one of the top-rated family vehicles for safety. Key highlights include:

  • Achieves IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award for first time since 2019
  • Excellent crashworthiness ratings for small overlap, moderate overlap, side impact
  • Superior front crash prevention scores with standard Honda Sensing
  • Good headlight rating provides ample nighttime visibility
  • Sets benchmark for safety among 3-row midsize SUV segment
  • Significant improvement over previous Pilot generation

For families seeking peace of mind on the road, the 2023 Pilot should be at the top of the shopping list. Along with its great safety credentials, it also provides generous passenger and cargo room, driving refinement, honed performance, and typical Honda quality and reliability. Kudos to Honda engineers for making comprehensive upgrades to earn the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ for the latest Pilot.

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