One of the big new additions to the current generation Honda Passport has been the TrailSport trim. This all-new family member for the 2022 model year line-up has been the big talk of the town, given that the refreshed 2022 Honda Passport has been promoted as having a much more aggressive stance, a bolder design with more rugged capabilities. That’s not to mention its more pronounced and stylish fascia. However, do all of these changes and tweaks to the midsize SUV make for the right kind of purchasing choice for those off-road enthusiasts and trail-bound drivers out there?
Just because some model years receive what’s claimed to be an off-road-ready trim doesn’t necessarily mean that those trims are actually as rugged or off-road-ready as they’re advertised to be. The real trick, however, is finding that balance between having a vehicle that can safely and competently provide you with the adventures you want but without breaking the bank. There’s a fine balance between opting for a thoroughly functional choice and an economical one.
MSRP Versus the Competition
The 2022 Honda Passport TrailSport starts at $42,470. That puts it around the price of the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Altitude trim, the 2022 Wrangler Rubicon trim, and the 2022 Ford Bronco Badlands trim. Those are the benchmarks for high-end off-road SUVs, and that puts the Passport TrailSport in a very competitive space among highly esteemed rivals.
In that regard, the Passport TrailSport certainly seems like it could be a worthwhile choice based on pricing alone. But it’s not just the price that has to be attractive; it’s also the features that need to be attractive as well. In short, the question becomes: do the features justify what you’re paying for the vehicle based on what you want?
So it’s important to look at what new additions have been implemented into the Passport, as well as what sort of performance you expect from the vehicle for adventure-related driving, whether you’re doing so casually or as a dedicated pastime. If you’re fine with the price, then your next step is going to be figuring out if the Passport sports the basic amenities that make it worth the price of entry. The necessary or expected features can range from ground clearance and tire size to volume and performance.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty related to some of the off-road or rugged-related features, it’s important to talk about one thing that the 2022 Passport TrailSport has as an advantage over some of its other off-road competitors: space. While arguments can be made about the size classifications of other off-road SUVs on the market, the Passport TrailSport – regardless of its attempts to be a rugged-ready off-road vehicle – is still a midsize SUV. Compared to SUVs like the Wrangler and Bronco, the Passport features nearly 23% more cargo volume than the Bronco and approximately 28% more maximum cargo volume than the Wrangler. That can be a difference-maker for some people, especially when you consider how close in price the TrailSport is to its competitors.
As a family vehicle, the Passport still comes out on top compared to its other off-road rivals. The extra space would also make for a great vehicle to load up the SUV with camping, diving, climbing, or fishing equipment. If the interior cargo volume is all used up thanks to luggage and passengers, the Passport has a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. So any vacation you planned to take or adventure you plotted out that required several thousand pounds worth of cargo, you can hitch it to the TrailSport and make the journey without a problem.
The standard implementation of the roof rails for the TrailSport is another big advantage for those who like to take their vehicles off the beaten path. This means that if you’re keen on canoeing, fishing, rafting, skiing, biking, surfing, or any number of other outdoor activities that require traveling equipment, you can very safely and securely store your paraphernalia on the roof rails. It makes for an extra incentive when weighing the options of price-versus-features.
Upfront, it must be said that while the Passport TrailSport is promoted as an off-road capable midsize SUV, it doesn’t feature a transfer case, which means it doesn’t have full-time four-wheel drive capabilities. Although to be fair, the Cherokee Altitude also doesn’t come with the terrain management system or Quadra-Trac system, either. However, Honda has utilized its engineering prowess to make the most use of its V6 engine and the torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system for the 2022 Honda Passport. The rugged-themed trim comes with the Intelligent Traction Management system, which puts the all-wheel drive system to effective use with four different drive modes, including Sand, Snow, Mud, and the standard mode.
Working in conjunction with an all-digital driver display cluster, you can actually see how the torque vectoring is being utilized for traction control and stability management between the front and rear axles. This gives you an idea of where the vehicle has the most traction or where it may need to gain traction. If you’re finding it difficult trudging through several inches of sleet, you can switch to Snow mode for extra grip, or if you’re finding it tough getting through soft sand while you make a trip to the beach to surf or the desert to ride your ATVs, you can opt to make use of the Sand mode.
The TrailSport also features some off-road specific modifications to its suspension, including stiffer dampers, a slightly wider track width at 67.1-inches instead of 66.7-inches, and 8.1-inches of ground clearance. The TrailSport manages a 21.1-degree approach angle and a 24.3-degree departure angle. It’s only available in all-wheel drive, but you can configure the other trims of the 2022 Passport for front-wheel drive if you would prefer to take advantage of the fuel-economy savings.
What’s interesting is that the TrailSport is actually equipped with 18-inch all-season tires, whereas the EX-L and Elite come with 20-inch tires. However, the TrailSport’s tires are specifically designed for rugged off-road wear and tear. Additionally, being two inches smaller than the other tires means more room in the well for wheel travel, tighter cornering, and better utilization of low-end torque.
Rugged Enough for the Right Price
As is the case with any consumer product, you will have to weigh the pros and cons of the 2022 Honda Passport TrailSport in comparison to any other vehicle you may have been eyeing for off-road activities or adventurers outside of the paved city streets. More than anything, if you weren’t a huge off-road enthusiast, but maybe you do occasionally hike, camp, or go rafting, then having a vehicle that can hang with your active lifestyle is essential. The thing is, do you need an overtly expensive, high-end, active four-wheel drive off-road machine for occasional outdoor activities?
If you don’t plan on rock-climbing with your SUV, heading through steep inclines, or fording through active rivers, then an entry-level rugged vehicle like the Passport TrailSport makes for a good middle ground. You get more space and comfort features than dedicated off-road vehicles, but it’s still small enough to maneuver and handle on trails and tightly packed pathways that aren’t traditional two or four-lane roads. Of course, if you want to do more hardcore off-roading, you will need a more dedicated vehicle for that. If, however, you just needed something for light adventuring and plenty of active, outdoor lifestyle activities, the Honda Passport TrailSport seems to be more than adequate for the task at hand, especially at its current price point.