The 18th annual Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase (HBOB) provided the perfect opportunity to review the carmaker’s newly designed 2023 Honda Pilot and drive it from Atlanta, GA, to Montgomery, AL. Since their last showcase of marching bands and dancers in 2020, renowned carmaker Honda maintained their support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) at Alabama State University on February 18.

Photo by Dennis Malcolm Byron aka Ale Sharpton

Making history as the first HBOB hosted on an HBCU campus, six schools in total—Langston University, Morgan State University, Savannah State University, Texas Southern University, Virginia State University, and host Alabama State University—exhibited electric performances and marched away with a $50,000 grant for their educational programs thanks to Honda. (Honda also donated $120,000 in grants to local nonprofits.)

Hosted by comedians Loni Love and Alabama State alumni—Rickey Smiley and a special celebrity performance by 2 Chainz—completed this memorable event. 

With so much happening in the heart of Alabama that weekend—plus a visit to the Lincoln, AL-based plant where the Pilot is built—it was just the motivation needed to drive from Georgia’s capital to Alabama’s capital and experience the fourth generation of this reinvented SUV. And if you can, visit The Legacy Museum in Montgomery, it will move you.

Photos courtesy of Honda.

Besides being the biggest and most powerful SUV in their portfolio, Honda also boasts Pilot’s TrailSport version of five trims as “the most off-road capable Honda SUV ever.” At first glance, the refreshing, more rugged look of the TrailSport physically confirmed the claim. Dressed in the optional (and highly recommended) Diffused Sky Blue Pearl exclusive to this trim, the all-terrain, 18-inch tires embellished with an intimidating dark gray; steel skid plates; gloss black grille; LED lighting package; roof rails; integrated trailer hitch; and ground clearance growing a vertical inch for the new, off-road tuned suspension immediately catch the eye. 

Under the hood, the TrailSport’s all-new 3.5-liter V6 engine flexes 285 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft torque of muscle, resulting in 5,000-lb towing capacity. Complemented by a 10-speed transmission, i-VTM4 all-wheel drive system, paddle shifters, and seven driving modes, the ride is responsive, yet smooth, and nimble handling makes the doubt of maneuvering through virtually any road condition nonexistent. 

Photos courtesy of Honda.

The spacious interior can fit up to eight passengers including a removable center seat to create second-row captain’s chairs. Everyone will appreciate the tri-zone climate control, panoramic roof for stargazing, a household-style 120-volt outlet, and numerous USB ports in all three rows. The front passengers get plenty of perks as well, including heated, power front seats covered in synthetic leather and orange contrast stitching; wireless phone charger; Bluetooth; wireless Apple CarPlay/Android compatibility; and a nine-speaker, 245-watt sound system. The TrailSport also comes with a nine-inch screen using a multi-view camera system coupled with a TrailWatch option to get a 360-degree perspective of the immediate terrain. The driver will also appreciate the numerous safety features that come standard; the Honda Sensing Suite, eight airbags, Hill Descent Control, and the hidden compartment under the rear cargo space are just a few of the many standouts to help keep owners worry free. 

Photos courtesy of Honda.

Overall, Honda was successful with upgrading the 2023 Pilot and justly planting their flag into the off-road segment, while perfectly balancing the desires for comfort and technology. This SUV delivers a truly fun driving experience for every passenger, whether it’s to a neighboring state for the next Battle of the Bands or across the country. 

Fuel Economy: 18 city/2o highway /23 combined miles per gallon

Price: $48,350 starting MSRP for the TrailSport edition

For more information, visit

Photos courtesy of Honda.

Note: Look out for more HBCU support from Honda, including the upcoming Honda Campus All-Star Challenge academic competition for HBCU students. The 2023 HCASC National Championship will be held April 15-19. Visit for more information.