A silver 2025 Honda Pilot TrailSport driving on a dirt trail.

The 2025 Honda Pilot Trim Lineup Gets Shuffled

For more than 20 years, the Honda Pilot has been an important player in the crossover SUV market. Introduced in 2002, it was the automaker’s biggest SUV splash to date, and it remains their largest such vehicle. Now in its fourth generation, the Honda Pilot remains a strong contender, regularly selling more than 100,000 vehicles annually to US customers.

When you go to the dealership to look at a 2025 Honda Pilot for sale, though, you’ll notice the options are a little different than before. Although there are still six Honda Pilot trims to choose from, one long-standing option has been (re)sent to the archives with a new trim in its place. Intrigued by this seemingly subtle but important change, I decided to look more at the incoming 2025 Honda Pilot trim, how the hierarchy has changed, and what it means for the continuing evolution of Honda’s flagship SUV.

The Honda Pilot Black Edition: Meet the New Boss

For the last two years, the king of the Honda Pilot lineup had been the Elite trim, which featured the best standard tech, seven driving modes, heated second-row seats, and numerous other add-ons. Now, though, there’s a new trim on the throne: the 2025 Honda Pilot Black Edition, which returns after previously appearing from 2020 to 2022, slots one step above the Pilot Elite, offering everything the Elite does and then some for midsize SUV enthusiasts.

The Black Edition is Honda’s version of a “blackout” package, which is when the automaker or a customizer replaces as many chrome accents as possible with black accents. This gives the vehicle a unique, bold, and sporty appearance that sets it apart from other vehicles on the road or the trail. Here’s a closer look at the blackout features and add-ons:

  • The 20-inch alloy wheels now have a gloss black finish, as do the side mirrors and front grille.
  • The front fascia ducts, door and rear bumper accents, and window trim are now black.
  • The leather seats, steering wheel, door panels, and seats have red trim and stitching.
  • The dash panel, center console, and door trim have red LED accent lights.
  • The Black Edition logo is on the grille, tailgate, floor mats, and front seats.

Again, these embellishments are in addition to what was already great about the Honda Pilot Elite. Previously, many features had only been available on the Elite and perhaps the TrailSport trim, including the 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster, Multi-View Camera System w/TrailWatch, ventilated front seats, WiFi hotspot, and stowable second-row center seat. It’s also only sold as an all-wheel drive (AWD) like the Elite and TrailSport and has no front-wheel drive (FWD) option. Essentially, Honda has added another “crème de la crème” Pilot trim that also has a stylish look to match its advanced design.

A blue 2025 Honda Pilot TrailSport off-roading down a rocky mountain.

Re-Retiring the LX: The Sport Becomes the Entry-Level Pilot

Rather than expanding the lineup to seven trims, Honda decided to keep it at half a dozen. This meant that with the Blackout Edition’s arrival, one trim had to go—and it was the LX getting the boot. The Honda Pilot LX was previously retired in 2022 but came back after a one-year hiatus to be the entry-level offering of the fourth generation.

Now, though, the LX is gone again. If I’m being honest, though, I’m not sure many people will miss it. This was the barebones edition of the Pilot, meaning it was missing a lot of key features. The LX only had four drive modes (Normal, Economy, Snow, and Tow) and limited interior comforts and safety assistance; you even had to manually adjust the seat. On the other hand, with the Sport as the introductory Pilot, the following features are now standard or available on all trims:

  • Blind-spot and cross-traffic monitoring is included as part of the Honda Sensing driver assistance package, increasing the standard safety features to 13 total.
  • The i-VTM4 variable torque management AWD system maximizes grip on all surfaces.
  • A Sport driving mode optimizes the automatic transmission for more aggressive driving habits.
  • A 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and a four-way power-adjustable front passenger seat are also heated for nighttime and winter comfort, regardless of body type.
  • A leather-wrapped steering wheel gives you a stylish grip.
  • Seatback pockets on both the front seats let people store easy-access items.
  • LED fog lights offer improved visibility in harsh conditions.

Furthermore, shark gray alloy wheels are now on every Pilot except the EL-X and the Black Edition, and 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels are standard for four out of six trims. Effectively, Honda has placed the Pilot one step higher on the SUV stairwell. It might not seem like much, but in a cutthroat market where they continue to battle offerings from Chevy, Ford, Toyota, Hyundai, Mazda, and others, these small details can have a big impact.

Close-up of the TrailWatch view on the infotainment screen in a 2025 Honda Pilot Elite for sale.

Honda Changes Perceptions of its Three-Row Crossover

In taking away the previous bottom rung on its Honda Pilot trim ladder and adding a new top rung to the top, Honda continues to shift how people view its North American three-row crossover. The Honda Pilot is now on its fourth generation, and the first three generations emphasized the practical, family-friendly aspects of an SUV—beginning with its unibody construction to handle more like a car.

However, the fourth generation introduced for the 2023 model year was a notable throwback to the statement-making adventure roots of sport utility vehicles. By giving the vehicle an updated all-wheel drive (AWD) system, MacPherson front struts, new towing and Trail & Sand driving modes, legitimate off-road modifications on the TrailSport trim, a more rugged body design, and other features, Honda showed they were serious about having an all-purpose vehicle that drivers could take on a variety of terrains.

The new trim lineup further emphasizes this transformation. It’s a way to reposition the Honda Pilot, if ever so slightly, as a higher-end SUV with a broader reach. You still have trims like the Sport, EX-L, and Touring vehicles that offer various forms of everyday convenience and comfort. But with the Blackout Edition joining the Elite and TrailSport at the top end and the LX put out to pasture on the bottom end, the Honda Pilot is now a vehicle that can offer something for passionate off-roaders, luxury seekers, and those who dare to be bold. Honda appears to be trying to appeal to as many SUV buyers as possible with a single nameplate.

The Future of the Pilot

Will this approach pay off? The early returns are promising. After total sales took a sharp downturn in the final year of the third-generation Pilot, they rebounded somewhat in 2023, and the first several months of 2024 saw another significant uptick. While this still could be a carryover from the general excitement about the new generation, we will see if the trim shuffling has a noticeable impact in the future.

If nothing else, Honda has demonstrated its commitment to the Pilot even in the face of stiff competition—not to mention in-house developments like the ZR-V and all-electric Prologue. The Pilot appears to have plenty of life left and has shown it isn’t afraid to learn a few new tricks. When you see the Blackout Edition rolling your way, it may even be hard to believe it’s the same vehicle that families have counted on for over 20 years.