Highlighting The Passport’s Already Credible Off-Road Abilities
Perhaps it’s what we’ve all been through the last couple years, but it seems like just about every carmaker has their eyes set on adventure; cranking up the capability of their utility vehicles for people who truly do venture into the backwoods to get away from it all, or at least want to look like they do. Honda is the most recent, with this new Passport Trailsport.
For those following the sporty utility market these days, the 2022 Honda Passport TrailSport will not come as a surprise, as it follows the recent trend of outfitting existing models with a more rugged vibe; sort of the automotive equivalent of wearing hiking boots to the mall. And, since this is obviously not a big departure from the Passport we’ve come to love, it mostly comes down to doing the little things right; and all of the small details here are quite nice.
There’s no suspension lift, but there is a 10mm wider track thanks to the unique 18-inch wheels wearing 245/60 tires with tread that creeps onto the sidewall a little more than before. Other additions include a gloss black grille with orange and black logos, and simulated skid plates integrated into the front and rear bumpers. Black roof rails are standard.
So, with no additional lift or suspension upgrades, and tires that aren’t actually A/Ts-- just made to look like them-- the end result is more of a highlighting of the Passport’s already credible off-road abilities than necessarily improving upon them.
As in all Passports, there’s over 8-inches of ground clearance and well-programmed i-VTM4 all-wheel-drive with selectable off-road specific settings for sand, snow, and mud. Off-roading in the TrailSport is the typical stress-free Honda experience, with power moving between wheels almost undetectably to provide plenty of grip for getting through moderate off-pavement excursions. Though front-wheel-drive based, it can send as much as 70% of engine torque to the rear wheels, and can even send it all to one of those rear wheels if it’s the only one getting good traction. And it works on pavement, too, much like Acura’s Super-Handling all-wheel-drive, torque vectoring power to outside wheels in corners to tighten up handling. That gives the TrailSport a nimble feeling you won’t find in any truck-based utility.
And, lest you think this TrailSport trim package is all Honda has accomplished in the Passport department for this year, you should know that all Passports are sporting new sheet-metal forward of the A-pillars for ‘22, sharing the Ridgeline’s taller hood, and more upright truck-like face.
Limited updates inside the TrailSport, essentially just some new logos, heavily applied orange stitching, and heavy duty rubber floor mats; but again, very well executed. Perhaps due to its 7-passenger Pilot origins, the Passport feels incredibly roomy for a midsize 5-passenger utility. The atmosphere of the TrailSport is not exactly premium as it does reside in middle level territory; but like all Hondas, well put together, and there are more standard features this year than before, including comfortable heated and power adjustable front seats and even wireless phone charging. There’s abundant space for cargo too, 41.2-cubic-ft in back, expanding to 77.7; plus underfloor storage and the ability to tow 5,000-lbs. of whatever you can’t fit inside.
Nothing changes under the hood, still 280-horsepower and 262 lb-ft. of torque coming from the 3.5-liter V6 engine; attached to a 9-speed automatic transmission with push-button selectors we’ve gotten used to, but are still not fond of.
Put to the test at Mason Dixon Dragway, there was decent power off the line, which had us hitting 60 in a quick 6.4-seconds; a tenth quicker than we got a few years back when the Passport made its 2019 return. Power delivery stayed very linear throughout the 14.9-second ¼ mile, with the only pauses on our way to the 93 miles-per-hour trap speed, being the forcefully quick shifts of the 9–speed transmission. In our braking runs, there was significant nosedive and a tendency to pull to the right; but ABS was very smooth in operation, and stops averaged a good 116-feet.
Through our handling course, steering was quite direct, but there was a noticeably top-heavy feel. The off-road oriented tires conspired against Passport’s on-road handling as body roll was moderate. But, all in all, there was plenty of grip to be had.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 19-City, 24-Highway, and 21–Combined. We averaged a good 22.5 miles-per-gallon of Regular. Still it rates a worse than average Energy Impact Score using 14.2-barrels of oil yearly and emitting 6.9-tons of CO2 emissions.
Pricing for the TrailSport comes in mid-pack at $44,265; with base Passports starting at $39,665.
The 2022 Honda Passport TrailSport is a fine all-around utility that looks more distinctive and rugged than before. Yet even with that macho new outfit, it’s still not the most exciting vehicle in its class, but you could say that about most Hondas. What you can also say is that they deliver the reliability, comfort, and practicality that makes Honda buyers some of the most loyal fans to be found.
Engine: 3.5L V6
Torque: 262 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 6.4 seconds
1/4 Mile: 14.9 seconds at 93 mph
60-0 Braking: 116 feet
EPA: 19 City / 24 Highway / 21 Combined
MW Fuel Economy: 22.5 mpg