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2024 Honda Pilot Trailsport vs. Touring

Comparison between 2024 Honda Pilot Trailsport and Touring

1. Specifications

The Honda Pilot is a spacious and versatile SUV. It offers a pleasant ride while providing its owners with a well-designed and comfortable interior. The Pilot can comfortably seat eight and also has various features that can enable the vehicle to fulfill different utilitarian tasks. For the 2024 model year, Honda has launched a new trim of the Pilot - The Trailsport. This new addition to the Pilot family has created a buzz in the SUV market and this article will comprehensively compare the 2024 Honda Pilot Trailsport to the highest trim of the standard Pilot - The Touring. The Trailsport comes with a new 2.5L turbocharged inline 4 engine that produces 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. This is mated to Honda's tried and tested 9-speed automatic transmission. On the other hand, the Touring carries over the same 3.5L naturally aspirated V6 engine from the previous year that generates 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. This is paired with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. The first point to note here is that the engine on the Touring is also available on the lower trims of the 2024 Pilot. This may be a deterrent for people considering purchasing a Touring as they might not feel they are getting their money's worth in comparison with the lower trims. Step-mashing the throttle on both of these cars will produce similar acceleration. When driving normally, the 9-speed transmission on the Trailsport performs smoother gear changes and the turbocharged engine provides better torque and better fuel economy. This is not to say that the Touring has poor acceleration and fuel economy but the Trailsport has a distinct advantage with its powertrain. Overall, the Trailsport offers better engine performance than the Touring.

1.1. Engine Performance

The 2024 Honda Pilot Trailsport will be the first year the Honda Pilot offers a 9-speed transmission. It may have an all-new engine, but it's the same 3.5L V6 as the other Pilots. However, it's up 11 horsepower to 280hp and 12 lb-ft to 262 lb-ft of torque. The touring model has had a year with the 9-speed transmission and updated engine and boasts refinements in the transmission and engine to provide a quieter, smoother journey. How all this translates into precise performance varies across driving situations, in contrast to gasoline economy. The engine and transmission updates do make a difference in the touring's favor. The torque benefit, combined with slightly lower weight on the 2WD model, equates to better acceleration with the touring than the lower line models. In real-world terms, the acceleration is noticeable when taking off from a stop or in passing and merging situations. The 9-speed transmission, since its introduction, has made a big impact on drivability and smoothness during acceleration. While the engine and transmission updates for the touring translate to better efficiency, they have taken a little off the top from the gasoline efficiency. In the AWD model rankings, the lower line models are still rated at 19/26/22 city/highway/combined compared to the touring's 19/24/21. This is mainly due to the weight increase from the additional sound deadening materials used in the touring to make it quieter and the heavier 20-inch wheels. Overall, the engine and transmission refinements do make the touring a better performing and more refined driving vehicle compared to the lower line models. However, if you do more off-road type driving, those same updates could end up taking the touring further away from your intended use.

1.2. Fuel Efficiency

A sound and efficient fuel system is an essential part of any vehicular experience, especially when gas prices keep going up. Both trims are tested in city and highway driving and returning data on a broad test loop. This information, also known as "mixed" driving, is utilized to create the customary mileage of the different trims and their conditions. Honda claims the Touring will deliver 20/27, with the mixed being 23 mpg. Our Touring test returned 23.6 mpg. Stepping on the gas of the Pilot "Elite," "ST-Line," or "Touring" AWD at hard throttle in the city may arouse a downshift to lower gears on the 9-speed automatic transmission and result in the engine spending more time in the higher RPMs, negating the minuscule fuel efficiency improvement from grades having a start/stop system. The "ST-Line" and "Elite" FWD/Touring are estimated to get 19/26 mpg (22 combined) - more on that with the ST-Line and company in a second. The TrailSport trim gets much lower ratings, expected to get 19/26 (21 combined), and the ST-Line gets 19/25 (20 combined). These trims are expected to get less fuel efficiency due to the AWD system they come with, as at low throttle intensities the AWD system is engaged to provide better traction in slippery conditions. This engages parts of the system that would otherwise not be used with the standard FWD offerings of other trims. This lost fuel efficiency may indeed be an acceptable tradeoff for those buying the TrailSport or ST-Line trim who intend to use the all-wheel drive system for its intended purpose - gaining the ability to access off-road areas that normal dirt trails and the like, as it is not substantially worse than what the current Elite/Touring AWD system gets in practice. They will also see some use in fuel as the sole overdrive gear in the 9-speed automatic is mechanically the same between all trims. This will likely lead to a programming update in the future that may prove to increase 9-speed automatic transmission fuel efficiency slightly for these 4 brand new AWD trims. Now let's try to put some numbers and sense behind these terms. Given the current national U.S. regular gasoline price of $2.88 per gallon, actually achieved fuel efficiency, the price per either the ST-Line, Elite, and TrailSport grades will be 13 cents per mile and 12 cents per mile for each of their top AWD offerings, and 12 cents per mile for the FWD Elite/Touring grades simultaneously. Now comparing to say a 3rd gen AWD Pilot which will effectively get around 20 mpg or the similar generation CR-V that gets around 27 mpg, it may be helpful to look at what would actually be paying compared to an older vehicle that is maybe being replaced. Using the same current national U.S. regular gasoline price, given a 3rd gen AWD Pilot and estimated fuel cost of 19 cents per mile, and 10 cents per mile for a similar CR-V and estimated fuel efficiency, an owner of these vehicles would be paying about 5 or more cents per mile less compared to the newer Pilots and CR-Vs. It may be fair to say that said Pilot or CR-V owner, motivated by vehicle fuel cost, now has a slightly more incentive to keep their current vehicles longer, although there are still non-economic factors that may lead them to look for new Hondas when the time comes. Overall, higher fuel cost is not a deal-breaker for a buyer because it works relatively linearly as an increased vehicle operating cost over time. In consideration that for either Pilot trim, the annual fuel cost for 8,000 miles of mixed driving at 23 @ $2.88/gal is about $1,100, it may not be a significant price to pay for the buyer who gets to enjoy the ample vehicle size and performance the Pilots offer compared to the smaller CR-V.

1.3. Interior Features

The new TrailSport trim level is based on the Pilot EX-L. This means the choice of seven or eight seats is available to the buyer. However, when choosing the seven-seat option, the second-row captain's chairs will now become standard on the EX-L. With the revised steering wheel, contrast stitching, and updated infotainment system, TrailSport pilots should feel they are in a more premium version of the Pilot. Now, you also get a wireless phone charger which is standard across all trim levels of the 2022 Pilot. Finally, for those who are choosing an SC trim or above, you will now have the option of choosing between Gray and Black for the leather seat color. Unfortunately for the buyers looking to purchase a 2022 Pilot with a DVD player for the second row, it looks like this option has been discontinued. On the Touring and Elite trims, the screen size for the Rear Entertainment System has also been reduced from 10.2 inches to 9 inches. This is an apparent push from Honda to reduce costs and conform the cabin to a more streamlined and modern option which forces buyers to be reliant on streaming services and integrated applications such as Disney Plus or Hulu. While polarizing, one cannot ignore that this is likely the future of in-vehicle entertainment systems in the modern internet age. Although subtle, Honda has made changes across other trim levels but none as evident from the top to bottom as when comparing the 2022 to the 2020 Pilot.

2. Safety Features

The intelligent traction management that comes with snow, sand, and mud modes helps modify power to each of the wheels to ensure that the required grip on the surface is provided. This works hand-in-hand with the vehicle's stability assist for superior handling in poor conditions. The nine-speed automatic also has a feature to switch to intelligent gear holding for engine braking on descents. For off-roading, the torque vectoring AWD functions with the intelligent traction management to dynamically send up to 70 percent of the torque to the rear wheels. From this, it can send 100 percent of that torque to either the left or right rear wheel to assist in better handling on dirt or snowy roads. This will revert to the usual 60 percent to the front and 40 percent to the rear when back on normal road conditions. This type of system is typically found on luxury Acura models and is a significant advantage over the competition. In comparison, the AWD system on the Touring is much simpler. Another useful feature exclusive to the TrailSport are flush-mounted roof rails to reduce overall wind noise and bulk. This will have a hidden rail for crossbars when needed. The tailgate is also powered hands-free to make loading cargo easier. In terms of aesthetics, there are 18-inch wheels which are unique to the TrailSport and new badging to differentiate from other Pilots. Lastly, the TrailSport can be had in an exclusive two-tone paint either in red with Platinum White Pearl or in black with Jet Black.

2.1. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems

Related to the Honda Sensing package, HondaLink Assist is also very beneficial. HondaLink Assist is standard on the guided tour and is a feature that is designed to help summon aid in the event of an emergency. While unsure if the existence of this feature has a direct correlation to pricing on trim levels loaded with other features, it could be a reason to steer away from an "obsolete" HondaLink version on previous generation vehicles for safety-concerned customers.

Adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist are standard features on both trims as part of the Honda Sensing package. Low speed follow and rear seatbelt reminder are also standard, including forward collision warning and collision mitigation braking system. With the sensors on the guided tour, auto high beams and blind spot monitoring with cross traffic monitor by camera are standard. The guided tour also comes with pedestrian safety and headlight washers. Although the Pilot Assist feature is nice, there's an argument to be made that just waiting for the next generation of the Honda Sensing package would be better, as the Pilot Assist is the closest thing to being "semi-autonomous" but is currently not designed to replace a human driver, unlike systems in other vehicles such as Tesla's Autopilot. Higher level trims of the current generation Honda vehicles that have the Pilot Assist feature will also gain a disadvantage by the future move to level 3 autonomy, as described by the Society of Automotive Engineers, as a combination of automated mode and driver with systems in vehicles like the 2021 Acura RDX becoming outdated. Although level 3 autonomy for city driving is still several years away and a lot of changes in Honda's vehicles are possible, this will be something to take into consideration for the purchase of a future vehicle if availability of new features can limit depreciation of vehicle pricing. As of 2023, there are no changes regarding the initial question about how Honda's Advanced Driver Assistance Systems available on the guided tour will affect the pricing difference or if they will be downsized.

2.2. Crash Test Ratings

The 2024 Honda TrailSport model has not been rated for its crashworthiness by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It is not uncommon for new model vehicles to not be tested until after their first release. The 2023 Honda Pilot model was awarded as a 2022 Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) with the highest rating of Good in all six of its crashworthiness tests. Certain trims of the 2023 Honda Pilot received higher awards depending on the type of headlights equipped for the specific trim. The 2023 Honda Pilot model was also rated 5 stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with an overall frontal crash rating of 4 stars for the all-wheel drive 2023 Pilot and 5 stars for the front-wheel drive counterpart.

3. Technology and Infotainment

Connectivity options are similar in both Pilot trim levels. Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity are standard, and the Touring trim level is equipped with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. The Touring trim level has an advantage with the extra 2.5 amp USB charging ports and AUX jack. These ports are located in the front and middle console. Both Pilot models have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities. Cell phone navigation is a practical way of transitioning a mobile phone to the car and is done by connecting the phone via USB cable. The driver can then pull up their phone's navigation on the top display screen. This is particularly advantageous for the TrailSport trim, as it does not come equipped with Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System. Changes to the 2021 TrailSport entry will allow for a second screen, as the original interior design was meant for a single screen. This is a push in the right direction; however, it is limited as the cabin is only capable of fitting an eight-inch display instead of the standard 8.6 inches. This slightly restricts the interior space available to the driver and front passenger seat.

3.1. Connectivity Options

The 2024 Honda Pilot Trailsport offers more connectivity options in comparison to the Touring model. Both variants offer a 12-volt power outlet which can be used to charge or power any devices, but the Trailsport offers a 115-volt/150-watt power outlet which is more powerful. In terms of USB ports and charging options, the Trailsport offers a total of 2.5-amp ports (2.1 and 1.0) and 2.5-amp 3rd row ports (2.1) whereas the Touring offers regular 1.0-amp ports. Wireless connectivity is also superior in the 2024 Honda Pilot Trailsport with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto features, whereas only the Touring model offers the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System featuring voice recognition and Honda HD digital traffic. Wireless phone connectivity is better in the Trailsport as the HondaLink Subscription Services are standard and Touring has a 3-month trial of these services. Audio options remain the same with 8 speakers in both variants, using either regular vehicle speakers in the Trailsport or the acoustic vehicle speaker system in the Touring. The rear entertainment system is also the same in both variants. The Touring and Trailsport offer HDMI compatibility as well as a display audio interface and 2nd row audio controls.

3.2. Audio System

The 2024 Honda Pilot Trailsport and Touring have audio systems that differ slightly in technology, but not in sound quality. The Trailsport has a 215-watt audio system with 7 speakers, Plus One tweeters, and a subwoofer. The Touring has a 246-watt audio system with 7 speakers, a subwoofer, and 5.1 Surround Sound. At first glance, it may appear the Touring has a higher quality system and is a better deal than the Trailsport, but remember the numbers do not guarantee better quality. An additional difference between the two models is the fact that the Touring's audio system has an integrated AM/FM radio tuner with the 7 speakers. The Trailsport has XM radio capability but may opt out of the tuning option to cut costs on one less feature. Both models have controls for MP3 playback and Auxiliary inputs and are set up for an iPod. The sound quality from the two systems will be very similar and likely unnoticeable to the average listener. This is due to the fact that the speakers in both systems are largely similar, and there is a subwoofer in both systems that will deliver the bass. Additionally, Trailsport and Touring model drivers alike will be able to please the audiophile inside with their premium audio options. With available CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-A, Dolby Pro Logic II, and more to come, Honda has made music and sound quality a high priority and not just in their high-end models. With continuing technological advances and the plummeting quality of terrestrial radio, the AM/FM radio integrations may soon become a thing of the past. For now, however, there are still hundreds of AM and FM stations to enjoy across America, and the Touring model offers an integrated solution to this taste in audio media. The added feature of the 5.1 Surround Sound is a definite bonus to the Touring model, which likely cannot be found in other Honda 7-seaters without any aftermarket audio work. The premium audio features will be very appealing to a certain group of buyers, and the availability of these features in the high and low-end models presents a great buying incentive for new Pilot consumers.

3.3. Navigation System

The Honda Pilot is commonly known to be a family-friendly vehicle and the choice of many families around the world. It has almost every feature that a family would like to have in a car, and the most important feature for a family may be the car is equipped with a navigation system. This feature comes in the EX trim with Honda's satellite-linked navigation system while in the EX-L and Touring trim, it is equipped with a more sophisticated version with voice recognition and rearview camera. The old 2013 Honda Pilot only has the navigation system available in the EX-L and Touring trim, however, the newly designed 2024 Pilot has the navigation system available in the EX trim. An easier accessibility for a beneficial feature. The voice recognition feature is said to be improved from the old version, and this advanced feature is available in TrailSport and Touring while the lesser trims excluded the rearview camera and the user experience can be said to be less satisfying. Moving on to the 2024 Honda Pilot Touring trim, it comes with a similar satellite navigation system but dissimilar to other trims, the Pilot Touring comes equipped with a 10.2-inch Head-Up display (HUD). The HUD gives the driver navigation instructions which can be directly seen on the windshield making it convenient for the driver to navigate the car without having to look at the display screen in the middle console. The same feature but with dissimilar interests to cater for different kinds of families, both good prospects for those who are interested in getting a Pilot, to have a better experience.

4. Pricing and Options

The Honda Pilot Trailsport starts at $44,840, meanwhile the Touring begins at a slightly elevated $48,420. Both price tags are marginally increased compared to their respective trims from the 2021 model year, and the discrepancy in cost between the two trims was greater last year in favor of the Pilot Touring. While the difference in MSRP is not an insignificant amount, additional costs can be rolled into financing or leasing the vehicle instead of purchasing the car outright, so they should not be considered a deal breaker when choosing between the two trims. The Honda Pilot Trailsport offers a single additional package to supplement the standard equipment and optional all-wheel-drive. The HPD package adds a cosmetic upgrade in the form of unique 18-inch bronze wheels and a distinct grille, while also making Trailport exclusive features such as the hands-free access power tailgate and a heated steering wheel more readily available to customers. Pricing for the HPD package is not yet announced, but the benefits it provides make an already price-efficient package even more appealing to consumers. Buyers should note that the value of the HPD package can be factored into pricing between the two trims when considering what each trim has to offer compared to one another.

4.1. Base Price

For the base price of the Honda Pilot TrailSport, it starts at around $37,000. The Honda Pilot Touring holds a higher base price at around $44,000. The large difference in price comes from the fact that the Touring is top of the line when it comes to Pilot models. While the TrailSport is a newer vehicle that tops a regular base model, EX, and EX-L. With the base model Pilots not having a large price difference, the major difference in base price is expected due to the type of vehicle the TrailSport is compared to the Touring. Base models are only about a $2,000 difference. The upgrades that come with a Touring pilot such as improved interior features, parking sensors, and a navigation system are very attractive, but all can be found in the TrailSport which holds additional features because it is the top model in the Pilot series. Pricing should attract you to what your main use for this vehicle is. If it is something that you plan to mostly use on pavement, the Touring may be more suited for you with the smaller price jump being offset by improved features. For those planning to use the Pilot for off-road trails and camping but still want a family friendly version of the vehicle, the TrailSport price is worth it given its similarities to the Touring in basic features plus the off-road capabilities.

4.2. Available Packages

The Pilot TrailSport Backcountry Package is designed to provide everything a family needs to get out into the great outdoors and stay there. This includes the ability to tow a camper to remote places, so a high level of capability is still necessary. To that end, the Backcountry Package includes a tow package, black 18-inch wheels and all-terrain tires, fender flares, roof rails, crossbars, off-road running boards, a trailer hitch, and wider fender flares. Inside, the package adds wireless phone charging and redesigned upholstery with an emphasis on durability. The Backcountry Package will be available in either an MSRP package that requires a $36 monthly surcharge, or an a la carte option where the base MSRP remains the same. Step upgrades with the a la carte option add features from higher trims to the Black Edition or take away features from the Elite trim that add weight or reduce off-road capability.

The 2022 Honda Pilot TrailSport has fewer option packages compared to the regular trims, but they're all designed to make it a highly capable and durable off-road vehicle. The Backcountry Package turns Pilot TrailSport into the ultimate family-friendly overlander and the Urban Package adds off-road capability and rugged style to the Pilot that's at home around town or on the trails.

4.3. Additional Features

The 2021 Honda Pilot TrailSport edition encompasses a myriad of new features that coincide with its increased capabilities. The exterior offers a more aggressive stance true to TrailSport branding, featuring aggressive 18-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, a new aggressive front grille and bumper, accompanied by a 2-tone gloss black roof. It also incorporates standard torque-vectoring all-wheel drive and increased maximum horsepower and torque due to revised tuning of its 9-speed transmission and intelligent traction management system. These features undoubtedly give the TrailSport a competitive edge over the regular Pilot in terms of performance in rougher conditions. The interior follows with custom contrast stitching and TrailSport badging on the front seats and floor mats, a rubber floor and cargo tray, and high-contrast interior LEDs add to the rugged yet luxurious appeal of the TrailSport. Finally, a hands-free power tailgate works to round out the package as a convenience feature. With a starting price of $44,090 for the AWD version, the Pilot TrailSport will offer consumers premium value in features, performance, and capability.

Standard equipment for the Honda Pilot Touring featured a Black Forest Pearl finish and will now be provided for all trims above the EX-L. The advanced all-wheel drive, drive statement terrain management console, as well as second-row sunshades, are included. Elite trim models are providing a stylish new greystone leather that fills the interior, a pass-through second-row captain's chairs configuration, and a new 20-inch wheel exclusive to the 2021 Pilot Elite. The Pilot Black Edition boosts innovation with a new red ambient interior lighting in all four doors, adding to its appeal. Under the hood, pilot trims above the EX will come equipped with the i-VTM4 torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system. All of these additional features mirror an increase in value, which increases the price and options of the vehicle.