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Honda introduces rugged TrailSport trim for light truck line


When you think “rugged” and “trucks,” Honda is not the first brand that comes to mind. Honda hopes to change that in some ways with the announcement of a new rugged trim line for its light trucks called TrailSport.

In a quick teaser video, you can make out what appears to be a Honda Passport, blazing a trail through a desert road, dust kicked up. You can make out the TrailSport badge, but not the specific vehicle. So which vehicles will get the trim? Honda said: “TrailSport will bring a more rugged design and off-road capability, applied step-by-step, to certain models within the brand’s light truck lineup.”

Since that wasn’t the specific answer we wanted, we reached out to Honda PR, which declined to comment. However, we will point out Honda classifies CR-V, Odyssey, Passport, Pilot and Ridgeline as light trucks. While an Odyssey with a TrailSport badge is intriguing, we anticipate Honda would start with Passport and Ridgeline first.

We won’t have to wait long to see which “light trucks” get the TrailSport treatment, however, as Honda said these vehicles would be available later this fall (2021).

“The first models to incorporate the TrailSport treatment will feature rugged front and rear styling, durable cladding and exclusive interior touches, including high-contrast orange stitching and signature all-weather mats that are easier to clean,” Honda provided in a press release.

Hondas getting dirty

From the cryptic video Honda released and a short press release, the TrailSport is taking aim at other competitors such as Toyota’s TRD, Ford’s new Timberline announcement and GM’s new AT4 offering.

As Honda rolls out the TrailSport more vehicles will be added and even more TrailSport-specific features will be added. Some of these features to come down the road (literally and figuratively) include more aggressive tires, increased ground clearance, off-road tuned suspension, underbody protection and expanded all-wheel drive capabilities.

All of this fits the expanding light-truck segment which seems to be exploding with more vehicles and more variants from Ford’s hybrid Maverick to the playful Hyundai Santa Cruz. Hyundai even announced a rugged trim called the XRT package for some of their SUVs in the 2022 model year.

As such, Honda is hoping to establish a foothold in this re-emerging segment where the Ridgeline has existed, but has yet to gain much traction.

The bottom line on the Honda TrailSport

Certainly Honda isn’t the first brand you think of when you dream about driving off the road. But, the auto manufacturer has a long history in the world of motorcycles, ATVs and side-by-sides. So it’s not far fetched to add such a legacy and reputation to their SUVs.

As this light truck segment continues to blossom, the consumer wants and demands will change. It is wise for Honda to position its vehicles accordingly with the TrailSport. It may not be the right trim for everyone, but there will certainly be a demand. And Honda appears primed to meet that demand.

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Jimmy Dinsmore

Jimmy is News Editor for PickupTruckTalk with an expertise in new vehicles. He is also a Ford Mustang historian having authored the book Mustang by Design (available on Amazon). His second book, about the history of Ford's F-Series truck comes out next year.

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