2022 Honda Passport TrailSport: Impostor Syndrome

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
2022 honda passport trailsport impostor syndrome

We wrote recently about Honda’s new TrailSport trim. I theorized it would first go to Ridgeline and perhaps be a competitor for other brand’s off-road truck trims (Chevy’s ZR, Ford’s FX4, etc) and then perhaps go to Passport as a trim with some light off-roading features.

Turns out “light” is an overstatement.

It’s all part of a Passport refresh that sees the five-seat SUV get a more rugged grille — a la the Ridgeline. It also gets a different rear bumper with larger exhaust cutouts.

If you opt for the TrailSport trim, you’ll get unique interior and exterior styling. You’ll also get what the press release calls “skid garnish designs prominently painted silver.” WTF is that? We read that as underbody paint that makes it look like there’s a skid plate. Other than that you get unique badging and trim accents, 18-inch wheels, and a wider track (10 mm). The tires get sidewall tread in order to look more rugged. You can also fold the mirrors with the touch of a button and the windshield wipers are heated so they can work in the cold.

When it comes to off-road goodies, that’s about it. Honda suggests that maybe, possibly, in the future, TrailSport models could get an off-road-tuned suspension or off-road tires.

That’s not good enough. For now, the TrailSport package strikes us as a poser package.

The other changes for non-TrailSport Passports are more in line with mid-cycle refreshes. A rear-seat reminder is added to the suite of safety tech, the EX-L and Elite trims get new 20-inch wheel designs, the EX-L gets different interior trim, and an HPD appearance package is available.

To be clear, I liked the Passport when I drove it a few years ago, and I like the current gen’s styling. This update also looks good to me, in photos. So I am not just dismissing this Trailsport out of hand.

But Honda needs to do better than just a cynical appearance play if it wants to truly sell customers on off-road adventure. A true off-road package would include skid plates, all-terrain rubber, special suspension tuning, and perhaps some electronic trickery via drive modes. Ford got it right with the Bronco Sport Badlands. There’s no reason Honda can’t follow that lead.

Instead, they slapped a few badges on and called it a day. Disappointing.

[Images: Honda]

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  • Indi500fan Indi500fan on Sep 22, 2021

    As I said several weeks ago, this is easy money and what took Honda so long? This is cred at the local soccer field parking lot, not trips to Moab.

  • Land Ark Land Ark on Sep 22, 2021

    "But Honda needs to do better than just a cynical appearance play if it wants to truly sell customers on off-road adventure." My prediction - they don't and this sells really well. It's exactly what the people in the suburbs want. A butch-looking SUV that the people in their neighborhood will mistakenly think means they are outdoorsy. It's the same thing as people putting hood scoops on unmodified cars, the Altezza tail light craze, and pretty much every exterior modification made on cars for all of time. Looks matter. Performance ultimately doesn't to the crowd this thing is aimed at.

  • Sayahh Is it 1974 or 1794? The article is inconsistent.
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  • JamesGarfield What charging network does the Polestar use?
  • JamesGarfield Re: Getting away from union plantsAbout a dozen years or so ago, Caterpillar built a huge new engine plant, just down the road here in Seguin TX. Story has it, Caterpillar came to Seguin City council in advance, and told them their plans. Then they asked for no advanced publicity from Seguin, until announcement day. This new plant was gonna be a non-union replacement for a couple of union plants in IL and SC, and Cat didn't want to stir up union problems until the plan was set. They told Seguin, If you about blab this in advance, we'll walk. Well, Seguin kept quiet as instructed, and the plan went through, with all the usual expected tax abatements given.Plant construction began, but the Caterpillar name was conspicuously absent from anywhere on the site. Instead, the plant was described as being a collective of various contractors and suppliers for Caterpillar. Which in fact, it was. Then comes the day, with the big new plant fully operationa!, that Caterpillar comes in and announces, Hey, Yeah it's our plant, and the Caterpillar name boldly goes up on the front. All you contractor folks, welcome aboard, you're now Caterpillar employees. Then, Cat turns and announces they are closing those two union plants immediately, and will be transporting all the heavy manufacturing equipment to Seguin. None of the union workers, just the equipment. And today, the Caterpillar plant sits out there, humming away happily, making engines for the industry and good paying jobs for us. I'd call that a winner.
  • Stuki Moi What Subaru taketh away in costs, dealers will no doubt add right back in adjustments.... Fat chance Subaru will offer a sufficient supply of them.