The Honda Pilot first joined the automaker's lineup for the 2003 model year and it's been a popular choice for midsize crossover SUV shoppers 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 new-for-2023 off-road-themed TrailSport trim.
In comparison, the Hyundai Palisade is a relative newcomer among midsize three-row SUVs. Introduced in 2020, the Palisade made a name for itself thanks to its spacious cabin and many standard features. For 2023, the Palisade gets an exterior makeover along with a tougher-looking trim called XRT, an upgraded touchscreen interface and more available features.
The experts at Edmunds put these practical three-row SUVs in a head-to-head comparison to see which is the better choice.
PERFORMANCE AND DRIVING
The Honda Pilot's 3.5-liter V6 delivers 285 horsepower to the wheels courtesy of a 10-speed automatic gearbox. Going by the numbers, the 2023 Hyundai Palisade's 291-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 and eight-speed automatic are a match for its Honda rival. During Edmunds' testing, the Palisade needed 7.6 seconds to accelerate from zero to 60 mph, compared to 7.8 seconds for the Pilot. Outright speed is not the Palisade's or Pilot's strongest selling point. If towing is important, know that both the Pilot and Palisade have identical max tow ratings of 5,000 pounds.
They both have a pretty comfortable ride quality. Long highway drives will be easy in either SUV. The Pilot, though, does have a slight edge when going around turns. It feels planted on the road and 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 worked into the design of the dashboard. The base trim's center screen measures only 7 inches, and even the optional 9-inch screen is smaller than what's offered by most competitors. Thankfully it's simple to use and comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The 2023 Pilot has more passenger space in its second and third rows. The second row conveniently slides forward and back to create more space where it's needed. A removable middle seat, positioned between the optional second-row dual captain's chairs, is another available and very clever feature.
As 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 lots of tech goodies, but it also offers adult levels of room in all three rows. Comparatively, the Pilot's third row is more of a tight fit 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 to the Pilot costs $2,100 compared to $1,900 extra with the Palisade. Range-topping models for either SUV have prices of around $51,000.
Fuel economy is also close, 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. The Hyundai nudges ahead thanks to its greater number of standard features, along with its stronger warranty.
Hyundai attaches a five-year/60,000-mile limited warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty to every Palisade. 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 shoppers needing 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, tech and value, is the better bet.