By on September 22, 2021

Honda

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.

Honda

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.

Honda

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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19 Comments on “2022 Honda Passport TrailSport: Impostor Syndrome...”


  • avatar
    eng_alvarado90

    Too bad for the owners who may find the missing off-road bits of this poser trim the bad way, but it may also hold true that 80% of these won’t see unpaved roads. How much is Honda going to charge for this trim while not having off-road bits? I mean, a Z71/FX4/ TRD Off-Road and the likes run for $2K-3K but they come with locking diffs, skid plates and upgraded shocks and tires.

    I hate when manufacturers “furnish” the front and rear bumpers to make them look like skid plates (and be unapologetic in their press release) with a passion.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Upgraded shocks and limited-slip (and lockers I guess) can be useful even if you aren’t going off-road.

      “skid garnish designs prominently painted silver” does not seem to have any use.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Heck I’d say half the macho trims on SUVs never see off-road action beyond a county maintained gravel road. So Honda makes a few bucks off these folks, what’s the harm.

    • 0 avatar
      Lynchenstein

      I think the outrage is partially due to the fact that many folks who buy “real” off-road trims know deep down that they are no more off-roady than Karen in her minivan in the Save-Rite parking lot, and they don’t like being reminded of that fact.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Weak sauce but I bet owners will not care. I can hear the conversation now: “no sir Billy Bob, I got me the real 4×4 one, dealer said it did the Rubicon and everything just like a Jeepers, even got them stickers right on it”.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Fine, Corinthian skidplates.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “…and the windshield wipers are heated so they can work in the cold.”

    The windshield wipers are heated, or the windshield glass where the wipers park is heated? This isn’t new – some Mopar minivans (and probably others) have used an element in the lower part of the windshield to melt snow under the wiper parking area.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    If I wanted a Passport (which I don’t) I’d buy this trim for the power folding mirrors alone. It’s a wonderful feature in cities that is the single thing I miss the most from my prior Lexuses.

  • avatar
    Socrates77

    Honda is acting like GM, all badges and nothing more.

  • avatar
    Socrates77

    Just like GM , all badges and nothing else.

  • avatar
    Dan

    I wish they’d go back to V8ing the things that didn’t need V8s.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    might as well just call it Z24.

  • avatar
    Socrates77

    Jalop1991, that’s hilarious

  • avatar
    FAHRVERGNUGEN

    Maybe like Jeep they misspelled the name and it was for lawyers only, the TRIAL SPORT package. Useful when chasing ambulances.

    (Jeep has TRIAL RATED. For itchy defendants on skid row. Or skid plates.)

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    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.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    “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.

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