By on September 23, 2021

Yesterday I ripped Honda a bit for producing a 2022 Honda Passport TrailSport that seems light on actual off-road chops.

Some time afterward, I received press materials about a Passport TrailSport project vehicle that is supposed to actually preview the TrailSport’s future off-road abilities.

As much as I’d like to think that myself and/or TTAC have the influence to cause an automaker to scramble to prove it has bigger plans for a product, it was clear the release was written well in advance of my mewling about the TrailSport being a cynical badging play. That said, Honda, if I really do have that kind of influence, well, I am willing to talk about a product-planning or executive job. Have your people call my people.

Normally we’d probably skip over a one-off project car (unless it was a slow news day or a really interesting project), but Honda claims the Rugged Roads project Passport really does preview what TrailSport may someday offer. So in the spirit of fairness after ripping the TrailSport yesterday, and because we’ve already covered the TrailSport basics, I figured we could take a look at this one.

The custom appearance bits are one thing, but we’re looking at the off-road bits. These include 3 mm thick stainless steel skidplates for the gas tank and oil pan, all-terrain tires, a suspension lift kit (1.5 inches up front, 3/4 an inch in the rear), and front and rear recovery points.

Other functional items that aren’t necessarily off-road-oriented include roof crossbars, 18-inch wheels, fender flares, tow-hitch tire carrier, cargo tray, and unique badging.

This, of course, begs the question — if a Honda enthusiast can build a one-off project car that showcases the off-road goods that the TrailSport should already have, why didn’t Honda just do that to begin with? I guess I can understand that the lifted suspension might have taken more time to bring to market, but was it that hard to bolt on some skid plates and mount all-terrain tires? And a couple of tow hooks?

Well, at least we have an idea of how a TrailSport Passport — or Ridgeline — could look in a year or two.

[Image: Honda]

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29 Comments on “Relax, Honda Has Real Off-Road Plans for the TrailSport After All...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    “may someday offer”

    Bet it won’t.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    “if a Honda enthusiast can build a one-off project car that showcases the off-road goods that the TrailSport should already have, why didn’t Honda just do that to begin with?”

    Because Honda knows perfectly well that nobody is buying these to bash rocks. They did what was necessary to keep up with current appearance trends, and the vehicle is fine for driving over bumpy two-track as is, which is all the off-roading that it needs to do.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      “…10,000 miles, the Passport visited the dealer for its first scheduled service, which included an oil change, tire rotation, and the changing of its rear-differential fluid for $134. (The dealer changed the engine oil without replacing the filter, as per Honda’s unusual service recommendations.) Car & Driver

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        Interesting on the oil filter. GM Powertrain guys told me they are typically good for 30,000 miles unless something is going wrong in which case it doesn’t make any difference anyway.

      • 0 avatar

        Hondas require a lot of fluid changes. The differentials transfer cases and transmission on my Pilot all list change intervals I would expect in the 1970’s not on a modern car. (well technically don’t list because it’s built into the computer). 15K miles on the differentials 30k on the transfer case and now Honda issued a TSB recommending the ATF every 30k too.
        Some people on the forums seem to think alot of this is because Honda does not cool the fluid enough and let’s it run hot.

        • 0 avatar
          Detroit-X

          Lots of reasons NOT to buy a Honda. Lots of excuses for Honda to point fingers for part failures out of the industry norm. No extra charge for the smug/arrogance of Honda.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “keep up with current appearance trends,”

      Passport Brougham Limited.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      For poseurs only, correct!! The most off-roading many of these things ever see is when the soccer mom at the wheel rides up a curb in the shopping center parking lot!

      Hell, at least the tires won’t be scuffed, unlike on the typical Accord! (My 2019 Accord Touring’s wheel & tire warranty has more than paid for itself at this point! The wheels leave zero room for the slightest error, as they stick out a couple inches beyond the rubber bands passing as tires! Of course that describes almost any modern-day car!)

  • avatar
    redapple

    Tim
    First impressions are usually correct. 90% of the time is my swag.
    And the adage, “as it begins is how it will go” (Michael Savage) has not steered me wrong.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I’ve seen Subaru’s with lift kits and more aggressive tires. This might just be the next trend for the hipster generation.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Woah, 0.75″ lift, 0.3cm skid plates, tires you can buy yourself, and recovery points every car already comes with!

  • avatar

    ISIS could not find use for Hondas. That’s all you need to know.

  • avatar
    wjtinfwb

    While we weren’t looking Honda appears to have morphed into GM… building mostly solid if boring products that use visual and trim tricks to try and appear to be something they are not. And like GM, the frustrating part is we know they have the chops to build exceptional products (Corvette, CT5-V) but on mainstreal products generally mail it in. Honda can do it as well (NSX, S2000, Civic Type-R) but generally they stop well short of perfection these days. They’ll sell a few of these phony off-road Passports and Ridgelines, but will never approach the fanatic like status of 4Runner, FJ Cruiser or HiLux/Tacoma. Hell the domestic pick-ups build stronger reputations and brand loyalty than Honda these days. Perhaps the new Integra will restore the mainstream faith, until then Honda appears content to mail it in in several segments.

  • avatar

    I have a 2016 pilot. They really do have great traction. On the street in snow I was very impressed.
    But last winter we had a lot of snow, and one day we were watching a house for a family with an old farmhouse. Their dirt driveway was covered with about 6-8 inches of snow with mud underneath. The pilot did Ok but I could feel the computer getting confused and not knowing what to do which lead it to cut power (even in the different offroad modes that are designed to prevent it) at inopportune times and led me to shoveling out in front of the wheel in drifts a few times. Part of the issue was tires and ground clearance but our old Durango I don’t think would have had the same issues.

  • avatar
    Slocum

    This is basically the Honda version of the ‘Outback Wilderness Edition’ or the Bronco Sport ‘Badlands’. The Honda AWD system is actually pretty capable for a crossover and this does some of the more obvious things for offroad use (smaller wheels with more sidewall, skid plates, mild lift, etc).

  • avatar
    3SpeedAutomatic

    On first seeing the picture, I thought it was the Chevy Trailblazer which is another vehicle that needs a dose of testosterone.
    The current Trailblazer is no better than the Ford Escape. Chevy needs to aspire to the Ford Bronco Sport to gain any creed.

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