2022 Honda Passport TrailSport: Impostor Syndrome

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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2 of 19 comments
  • 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.

  • 2ACL What tickles me is that the Bronco looks the business with virtually none of the black plastic cladding many less capable crossovers use.
  • IBx1 For all this time with the hellcat engine, everything they made was pathetic automatic scum save for the Challenger. A manual Durango, Grand Cherokee, Charger, 300C, et al would have been the real last gasp for driving enthusiasts. As it is, the party is long over.
  • MaintenanceCosts The sweet spot of this generation isn't made anymore: the SRT 392. The Scat Pack is more or less filling the same space but it lacks a lot of the goodies, including SRT suspension, brakes, and seats. The Hellcat is too much and isn't available with a manual anymore.
  • Arthur Dailey I am normally a fan of Exner's designs but by this time the front end on the Stutz like most of the rest of the vehicle is a laughable monstrosity of gauche. The interior finishes suit the rest of the vehicle. Corey please put this series out of its misery. This is one vehicle manufacturer best left on the scrap heap of history.
  • Art Vandelay I always thought what my Challenger really needed was a convertible top to make it heavier and make visability worse.