• Wed. Apr 24th, 2024

Honda Pilot TrailSport Luggage Test: How much space behind the third row?


Jun 5, 2023
Honda Pilot TrailSport Luggage Test: How much space behind the third row?


The previous-generation Honda Pilot greatly exceeded expectations in its luggage test. The specs said there was only 16.5 cubic-feet, which would make it one of the smallest in the segment, but in practice, the last Pilot turned out to be far closer to class leaders that were in the 18-21 cubic-foot range. How? The big reason was the usable underfloor storage area that I now strongly suspect Honda was not including in its official measurement. 

That’s because Honda is now indicating measurements with and without that extra storage space for the all-new 2023 Honda Pilot. There is 18.6 cubic-feet with the floor in place, which does mean the new one should be even bigger, and either 21.8 or 22.4 cubic-feet when the underfloor space is utilized. Most Pilots have the bigger number, but this would be the TrailSport, which means that its full-size, all-terrain spare tire chews into that underfloor space. That’s enough that the Pilot’s novel removable second-row middle seat cannot fit within that underfloor storage space. Not coincidentally, that middle seat is not available on the TrailSport, which is seven-passenger only. 

I will only be testing the TrailSport today, which means this is the worst-possible scenario for a 2023 Pilot. Turns out that’s still a pretty great scenario. Only one three-row family crossover can hold more stuff behind its raised third row. 

Here’s the space in question with the two floor heights. The floor itself neatly slides down into the storage space itself. You have to remove it completely from the Telluride and Palisade, or leave it flipped up in the Subaru Ascent (luggage test coming soon). 

There’s also Option C, which is flip the floor over to reveal a textured plastic finish well suited to carrying dirty items. You can drop this down into the underfloor, too, which makes it well-suited for hauling potted plants, for example. You can keep them in place, then easily wash the floor piece afterward. Clever.

This is not the potted plant test, though. 

Because the underfloor area is so easily accessed and you can keep the floor in the car, I didn’t bother testing with the floor at its highest position. That’s really only to achieve a fully flat floor when the third row is lowered, and this test is only about space behind the third row. 

As with every luggage test, I use two midsize roller suitcases that would need to be checked in at the airport (26 inches long, 16 wide, 11 deep), two roll-aboard suitcases that just barely fit in the overhead (24L x 15W x 10D), and one smaller roll-aboard that fits easily (23L x 15W x 10D). I also include my wife’s fancy overnight bag just to spruce things up a bit (21L x 12W x 12D). 

So far, so excellent. These is the smallest roller bag and one of the medium-sized bags on their belly within the underfloor area. This is almost like playing with house money in a luggage test.

Whatya know, all the bags fit behind the raised third row with the exception of the fancy bag. And you know what?

That can go right here if you really need it.

Now, I will say it was a tight fit and the tailgate barely fit around the them, but it still did so without touching the bags. 

Also, above right you can see what it’s like if I removed the floor panel completely. The gap to the window improved by an inch. 

Here’s the view out the back, so we’re A-OK here.

In short, the Honda Pilot offers the second-most useful cargo area behind its third-row among crossovers I’ve tested. Only the Kia Telluride was better (pictured below), but only just. It can hold the same bags, again minus the fancy bag, but there’s a decent amount of extra space left over. As a reminder, though, you’d have to leave the floor at home to achieve that in the Telluride. 

Now, is there anything better than the Telluride behind the third row? Yes. There’s the regular-length Jeep Wagoneer, plus every extended-length full-size SUV and every minivan.

That’s it in terms of my testing, but there’s something(s) notable I’ve never tested: the Chevy Traverse/Buick Enclave twins. Zac Palmer did and found it could hold more than the Telluride, but he used different bags and didn’t take advantage of underfloor storage areas. As such, I can’t include them at this time on the official luggage test leader board. Which I should totally have, by the way. Magnetic, in my office, like the old Top Gear lap time board. 

Any way, back to the Pilot. Good on Honda. Not only does the 2023 Pilot have seats for seven or eight people, it should have room for all their stuff as long as they don’t go crazy. And if they do …

… The TrailSport has real roof rails you can easily pop cross bars onto (and therefore a cargo box) as well as a proper hitch for bikes or maybe a Yakima EXO cargo system.  

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