2023 Honda Pilot Vs Subaru Ascent: A Comparison

Honda Pilot Vs Subaru Ascent

Table of Contents

When it comes to finding the perfect family SUV, the decision can be quite challenging with the multitude of options available in the market. Two vehicles that have been making waves are the 2023 Honda Pilot and the Subaru Ascent. Both SUVs offer a combination of style, comfort, and practicality, but which one is the right fit for your family? 

In this breakdown, we will delve into the unique aspects of each vehicle, helping you understand its strengths and weaknesses so that you can make an informed decision.

Exterior Design

Both the 2023 Honda Pilot and the Subaru Ascent offer appealing exterior designs, with each manufacturer adding their unique touch to the look and feel of the vehicle.

The Honda Pilot has a more modern and streamlined appearance, with clean lines and an attractive front grille. The LED headlights and taillights are not only visually appealing but provide excellent visibility. The 2023 Pilot is available in a variety of colors, allowing buyers to choose the one that best suits their personal style.

The Subaru Ascent, on the other hand, has a more rugged and adventurous look. The raised roof rails and distinctive front grille give it a bold presence on the road. The Ascent is also available in various color options, ensuring there’s a hue to match everyone’s taste.

Interior Design

Stepping inside, the 2023 Honda Pilot and the Subaru Ascent both provide comfortable and stylish interiors, though they differ in some aspects.

The Pilot’s cabin is refined and luxurious, featuring high-quality materials and soft-touch surfaces throughout. The available leather-trimmed seats and panoramic sunroof add to the upscale feel, while the tri-zone automatic climate control ensures everyone stays comfortable.

The Ascent’s interior also offers a pleasing environment for passengers, with comfortable seating and an emphasis on functionality. The Ascent features a more rugged design with durable materials, making it ideal for families who enjoy outdoor adventures. The available panoramic moonroof adds an open-air feel to the cabin.


When it comes to seating, both the 2023 Honda Pilot and Subaru Ascent provide ample space for passengers.

The Pilot comes standard with seating for eight, featuring comfortable and supportive seats. The second-row captain’s chairs, available in higher trims, provide easy access to the third row and additional comfort for passengers.

The Ascent also offers seating for up to eight passengers, with available second-row captain’s chairs in higher trims. The Subaru’s seats are comfortable, and the higher trims come with available heated and ventilated front seats for extra luxury.


SUVs are designed with families in mind, and storage is a crucial aspect. Both the 2023 Honda Pilot and Subaru Ascent excel in this department.

The Pilot boasts a generous cargo area, with up to 83.9 cubic feet of space when the second and third-row seats are folded down. The hands-free power tailgate, available in higher trims, makes loading and unloading a breeze.

The Ascent also offers impressive cargo capacity, with up to 86.5 cubic feet of space when the second and third rows are folded. The available power rear gate simplifies the process of loading and unloading cargo.


Performance is an essential factor for many SUV buyers. The 2023 Honda Pilot and Subaru Ascent both offer strong engines and capable handling.

The Pilot comes equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine, producing 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission, ensuring smooth and responsive acceleration.

The Ascent is powered by a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, generating 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. It features a continuously variable transmission (CVT), providing a seamless and efficient driving experience.

Both vehicles offer all-wheel drive (AWD) options, with the Ascent including Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive as standard across all trims, while the Pilot offers it as an available upgrade.

Fuel Efficiency

Fuel efficiency is a vital consideration for many buyers, and both the 2023 Honda Pilot and Subaru Ascent deliver competitive numbers in this department.

The Pilot offers an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway for the front-wheel drive (FWD) models, while the AWD models achieve 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.

The Ascent’s fuel efficiency is slightly better, with EPA-estimated ratings of 21 mpg city and 27 mpg highway for the standard AWD models. These numbers give the Ascent a slight edge in terms of overall fuel economy.


Safety is paramount when it comes to family vehicles, and both the 2023 Honda Pilot and Subaru Ascent excel in this category.

The Honda Pilot comes equipped with Honda Sensing®, a suite of advanced safety and driver-assistance features that includes Collision Mitigation Braking System™, Road Departure Mitigation System, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Lane Keeping Assist System.

The Subaru Ascent also offers a comprehensive suite of safety features through its EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology package. This includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking, Lane Departure Warning, and Lane Keep Assist.

Both SUVs have received top ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), making them excellent choices for families prioritizing safety.

Trim Levels

The 2023 Honda Pilot and Subaru Ascent are available in various trim levels to cater to different budgets and preferences.

The Honda Pilot offers five trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L, Touring, and Elite. As you move up the trims, you’ll find additional features such as leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a rear entertainment system, and a premium audio system.

The Subaru Ascent is available in four trim levels: Base, Premium, Limited, and Touring. Higher trims offer features such as leather-trimmed upholstery, a Harman Kardon® premium audio system, heated and ventilated front seats, and a 180-degree front-view camera.


Price is always an essential factor when choosing a vehicle. The 2023 Honda Pilot and Subaru Ascent both offer competitive pricing for their respective segments.

The Honda Pilot’s base LX trim starts at around $39,000, with the top-of-the-line Elite trim coming in at around $50,000.

The Subaru Ascent’s base model starts at a slightly lower price point, around $33,000, while the top-tier Touring trim is available at approximately $47,000.

Key Differences

Exterior Design:

The Honda Pilot features a more modern and streamlined design, while the Subaru Ascent showcases a rugged and adventurous look. This difference in design aesthetics may appeal to different buyer preferences.

Interior Design and Luxury:

The Honda Pilot’s interior leans towards luxury with high-quality materials and a more refined feel. In contrast, the Subaru Ascent focuses on functionality and durability, making it more suitable for families who enjoy outdoor adventures.

Cargo Space:

While both SUVs offer ample storage, the Subaru Ascent has a slight edge with up to 86.5 cubic feet of cargo space compared to the Pilot’s 83.9 cubic feet.


The Honda Pilot is equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine and a 9-speed automatic transmission, while the Subaru Ascent features a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Pilot offers more horsepower, while the Ascent has more torque.

Fuel Efficiency:

The Subaru Ascent offers better fuel efficiency with 21 mpg city/27 mpg highway (standard AWD) compared to the Honda Pilot’s 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway (FWD) and 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway (AWD).

All-Wheel Drive Availability:

The Subaru Ascent comes standard with Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive across all trims, while the Honda Pilot offers all-wheel drive as an available upgrade.

Safety Suites:

Both vehicles offer comprehensive safety suites – the Pilot comes with Honda Sensing®, and the Ascent features EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology. While both systems provide a high level of safety, the features and technologies differ slightly.

Trim Levels and Options:

The Honda Pilot offers five trim levels (LX, EX, EX-L, Touring, Elite), while the Subaru Ascent has four (Base, Premium, Limited, Touring). The availability of features and options varies between the trim levels of each vehicle.


The base model of the Subaru Ascent starts at a lower price point (around $33,000) compared to the Honda Pilot (around $39,000). Similarly, the top-tier Ascent Touring trim is priced at approximately $47,000, while the Pilot Elite trim is around $50,000. The Subaru Ascent may be more budget-friendly for some buyers.

Final Thoughts

After carefully examining the 2023 Honda Pilot and Subaru Ascent, it’s evident that both SUVs have a lot to offer in terms of comfort, performance, and safety. While the Pilot leans more towards luxury and refinement, the Ascent boasts a rugged design and slightly better fuel efficiency. Ultimately, your choice will depend on your specific needs, preferences, and budget. Be sure to test-drive both vehicles and consider their unique attributes to determine which one will be the ideal choice for your family adventures.

Features Breakdown:

2023 Honda Pilot:

  • Exterior Design:
    • Modern and streamlined appearance
    • LED headlights and taillights
    • Variety of color options
  • Interior Design:
    • Refined and luxurious cabin
    • High-quality materials and soft-touch surfaces
    • Tri-zone automatic climate control
  • Seating:
    • Standard seating for eight passengers
    • Optional second-row captain’s chairs
  • Storage:
    • Up to 83.9 cubic feet of cargo space
    • Hands-free power tailgate (available in higher trims)
  • Performance:
    • 3.5-liter V6 engine (280 horsepower, 262 lb-ft of torque)
    • 9-speed automatic transmission
  • Fuel Efficiency:
    • 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway (FWD)
    • 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway (AWD)
  • Safety:
    • Honda Sensing® suite of safety features
    • Top ratings from NHTSA and IIHS
  • Trim Levels:
    • LX, EX, EX-L, Touring, Elite
  • Pricing:
    • Base LX trim starting at around $39,000
    • Top-of-the-line Elite trim at around $50,000

2023 Subaru Ascent:

  • Exterior Design:
    • Rugged and adventurous look
    • Raised roof rails
    • Variety of color options
  • Interior Design:
    • Comfortable and functional cabin
    • Durable materials
    • Available panoramic moonroof
  • Seating:
    • Standard seating for up to eight passengers
    • Optional second-row captain’s chairs
  • Storage:
    • Up to 86.5 cubic feet of cargo space
    • Power rear gate (available in higher trims)
  • Performance:
    • 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (260 horsepower, 277 lb-ft of torque)
    • Continuously variable transmission (CVT)
  • Fuel Efficiency:
    • 21 mpg city/27 mpg highway (standard AWD)
  • Safety:
    • EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology package
    • Top ratings from NHTSA and IIHS
  • Trim Levels:
    • Base, Premium, Limited, Touring
  • Pricing:
    • Base model starting at around $33,000
    • Top-tier Touring trim at approximately $47,000

About Marcus The Car Guy

I've been in car sales and finance for over 20 years, working at the highest volume dealerships in the nation including Fletcher Jones, DCH and more. Want to pick my brain on finding cars, negotiating cars, and structuring car deals?

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