The fully redesigned 2023 Honda Pilot improved on its predecessor in myriad ways, with a nicer interior, more handsome styling, more off-road capability and better on-road driving dynamics. It turns out that safety has improved, too. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the three-row SUV its highest award, the Top Safety Pick+.
This is the first time since the 2019 model year that the Pilot has earned any level of Top Safety Pick from the IIHS, let alone the Pick+ award. The main improvements were in passenger small overlap crash testing, headlight performance and automatic emergency braking for pedestrians. The small overlap score went from “Marginal” to “Good,” headlight performance from “Acceptable” to “Good,” and automatic emergency braking from “No Credit” to “Superior” both during the day and at night. All of the automatic emergency braking technology receiving that high score is standard on all Pilots, as are the highly rated headlights. Furthermore, the Pilot earned top marks the nearly every overlap test as well as the difficult updated side crash test. Seat belt reminders and LATCH child seat anchor use got that top Good rating, too.
There is still a bit of room for improvement, though. The IIHS tested the new Pilot in the updated moderate front overlap test, and it only received a Marginal rating. This test, which factors in rear occupant safety, isn’t yet part of the organization’s rating criteria, but it likely will be in the near future. It’s also been flummoxing plenty of current car models in all variety of segments.
Still, it’s a strong showing for the new Pilot, and with how many three-row SUVs also earn a Top Safety Pick+ rating, it’s an important one for the Honda. Competitors with the award include the Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Nissan Pathfinder, Subaru Ascent and Toyota Highlander. Close behind with just the basic Top Safety Pick rating are the Ford Explorer and the Mazda CX-9.