Let’s play a game. If we say name an outdoorsy off-road manufacturer, what would you say?
Jeep? Land Rover? Toyota? How about Honda? Probably not. But that’s no fault of the vehicles, but one of perception. Honda has been making some tough, capable all-terrain vehicles for some time, but they haven’t been making a lot of noise about them.
Well, that’s about to change with the all-new 2022 Honda Passport TrailSport. Ready to get some mud on your boots? Let’s go!
We were already fans of the current Passport, a big and comfy, capable 5-spassenger SUV. For 2022, the whole line up gets a new look that’s more rugged and keeping in line with the capabilities under the sheet metal. The biggest changes include a revised front end that’s more rugged looking, with larger side vents and a prominent front skid garnish.
At the rear, a new rear bumper features cutouts for massive twin exhaust pipes, plus a rear skid garnish to reinforce that off-road vibe.
Our tester was the all-new TrailSport, and it’s in keeping with the trend of having an outdoorsy model like the Outback Wilderness and Forester Wilderness. And like the Subies we’ll be seeing more of the TrailSport name on other Honda products to come, but it starts here.
The Passport updates are a substantial improvement, and the TrailSport takes things further with chrome bling being replaced by painted gloss black, as well as a more aggressive front bumper and tough-looking hexagonal grille. Adding visual pop to the sea of black seriousness is an orange TrailSport badge.
The profile keeps the current vehicle’s handsome lines, with the big tell of newness on the TrailSport being a unique and handsome 18-inch alloy wheel with special tires that feature a bit of tread on the sidewalls. A wider track front and rear enhances stability and fills out the wheel wells as well. Other Passport models receive newly designed 20-inch alloys, but we appreciate the taller sidewall and lighter weight of the 18’s for it’s more focused off-road mission.
The rear view may be the TrailSport’s best, with an aggressive rear bumper and a cool blocky lower garnish. The best part has to be the massive cut-outs for the equally massive dual exhaust pipes. It’s the perfect finishing touch and the TrailSport really turns heads. Helping turn heads on our tester were blacked-out badging as well as our tester’s Sonic Gray Pearl paint, a creamy cement color that is super popular these days, and really adds a fresh look here.
Your Cabin for the Woods
Inside, the changes are much less sweeping, but that’s ok, the Passport already was large, comfy and nicely decked out.
Open the door, and things are handsome and modern. Anyone familiar with Honda’s latest crossovers and trucks will feel instantly at home. And even if you’re not, everything is laid out in a clear, simple manner that’s intuitive and easy to use.
A large central digital display handles most of the info, with an analog temp and fuel gauge on the sides for a simple look. All ’22 Passport models do feature new gray instrument cluster illumination and white needles, for a fresh look.
Info-tainment is served up on a handsome 8-inch touchscreen, with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, and as always, we’re thankful for a real volume knob!
The heated leather front seats are large and comfortable, and a massive center console has loads of room for storing stuff. Brightening things up on the TrailSport is some contrasting orange stitching, and we also like the model’s exclusive amber ambient lighting in the footwells, overhead console, door pockets and cupholders. Tasteful!
We’re still not fans of Honda’s pushbutton automatic transmission, though – why not a simple lever like the Audi A3 we tested? – but it does free up plenty of space for large cupholders and the like.
Space comes along with comfort, and there’s a rear seat with room for three adults, plus a class-leading 50.5 cubic feet of cargo space. The rear seats flop down to create a massive cargo hold, and the standard power tailgate makes access easy. Those who carry wet or muddy gear will appreciate the 2.5 cubic feet of underfloor storage compartments – fitted out in easy-to-clean plastic.
Up for some TrailSport, Sport?
You might expect a lot of changes like the Outback Wilderness model we recently tested, but in the Passport, the mechanical changes are minor. But it’s not really a drawback – you’ve got loads of great stuff to start with.
Under the hood is Honda’s familiar 3.5-liter V6, putting out a strong 280 horsepower, and 262 lb.-ft of torque. With the standard 9-speed automatic, you’re always in the right gear, and the big SUV moves easily and quickly. Shifting into Sport mode further brightens up the drive and using the paddle shifters gives a sporty and responsive feel.
Those going off road, or simply into slick conditions will appreciate the standard i-VTM4 torque vectoring all-wheel-drive, which also helps the Passport slice and dice a curvy road. No, it’s not a sport sedan, but for a tall SUV, the handing is excellent and confidence inspiring.
The AWD drive system lets you call up sand, snow, mud and paved roads to help you custom tailor your traction. Hit a bad patch of road or trail, and 8.1-inches of ground clearance is generous and should keep you from bashing into things. And if your getaway includes boating or camping, the 5,000 lb. towing capacity means you can bring all the toys along too.
In the regular world of daily commutes and school runs, the Passport also serves up an admirably smooth, comfortable and quiet ride. All in all, it’s a polished performer.
Is the TrailSport Your Passport for Adventure?
We think so. The Passport is a premium vehicle in Honda’s line up, so even the entry-level EX-L is well equipped, with Leather, Blind Spot warning, that powerful V6 and loads of room. Starting at $38,370, that’s excellent value for a large SUV.
A nice thing about the TrailSport is that Honda put it in the middle of the Passport line-up, in between the EX-L, and loaded Elite model. Our TrailSport stickered at $42,970, including all the style goodies, navigation and more. Fully loaded from the factory, there were no options. Add in $1,295 for Destination, and we rang the bell at $44,265.
Competitors would include the larger 3-row Kia Telluride, at $50,180 Toyota 4Runner at $52,727, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee comes in at $52,035. All are extremely capable off-road, but they are all significantly more expensive. We say go for the TrailSport and add the off road/Overlanding gear of your choice, and you’ll still be way ahead of the game.
Capable, comfortable, and great value, the all-new 2022 Honda Passport TrailSport adds some rugged looks to make a great all-around SUV!
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.