A couple of years ago, tougher-looking Honda Ridgeline trucks started showing up in dealerships. With bronze wheels, flares, and some graphics on the box, the HPD packages announced that Honda wasn’t messing around. What does HPD mean? Like Toyota’s TRD badges or BMW’s M badges, HPD seemed to say “performance.” But we’re here to say that it doesn’t really mean much for the new 2023 Honda Pilot or the 2023 Ridgeline.
What does HPD mean?
HPD stands for Honda Performance Development. The HPD group designs Honda race cars and engines and has been quite successful. The US-based HPD team has won several IndyCar Manufacturers’ titles, and its cars have won the Indy 500, multiple drag races and more. The HPD team were also the wizards behind the factory-built race car, the Honda HPD Civic Si FE1, which was a $55,000 track-ready race car.
The folks at HPD are distinct from HRC, or Honda Racing Corp., which is the factory motorcycle racing arm. Honda entered a heavily refreshed Honda Ridgeline at the 2021 Rebelle Rally, which anticipated many of the styling cues the consumer HPD Ridgelines would soon see. A similar truck ran the 2023 rally.
Is the Honda HPD package worth it?
Sure, those race cars are the knees of the bees on the track and they are winning cars. But, for the Ridgeline and the new 2023 Pilot, HPD doesn’t mean faster. And unlike TRD, HPD trucks and SUVs don’t have super suspensions or superchargers. Instead, the HPD package is simply an appearance package.
You can order HPD decals for the Honda Pilot, but it simply includes bronze wheels, fender flares, and HPD decals. That is all. For the Ridgeline pickup, the HPD package adds a unique grille, HPD badging, flared fenders, similar bronze wheels and underbed graphics. The package costs $2,800. But, for $2,800, you can buy your own upgraded wheels and flares, and probably even have a bit of scrap left over for upgrades that improve the truck’s performance.
What else does HPD do?
the HPD group also makes an interesting crate engine called the Talon Crate Engine for Talon off-road racers. A box motor is so called because the motor arrives in a box. Talons are off-road racers that can clear just about any off-road obstacle with ease. HPD also built the new Acura ARX-06 race car. The new hybrid race car was designed to compete in IMSA and FIA endurance races.
HPD is also responsible for the completely irresponsible but very fun 306-horsepower Civic R. HPD boosted the engine and created a stiffer, lighter frame for the Type R. We might see some of that magic in the Ridgeline or Pilot, but not This Day.
The Pilot 2023 is quite capable without the HPD decals
The new Pilot is not an update. Instead, the company built an all-new chassis for the new 295-horsepower V6 engine. Honda says the new Pilot was designed to be off-road ready from the ground up and the goal was to make the Trailsport off-road version capable. The new Pilot also gets the latest version of Honda’s all-wheel drive system, called i-VTM4, which has a stronger, more responsive rear differential to help you when you’re off-pavement. However, it is also available as a family SUV for seven or eight passengers.
Honda says pricing for the new Pilot will start at $39,150 for the front-wheel-drive Sport version. The seven-passenger version has two captain’s chairs in the middle, while the eight-passenger version has a bench seat. Top-of-the-line Touring and Trailsport and Elite models start around $50,000. All-wheel drive is a $2,100 option on all trims.