If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then Toyota should feel honored as Honda took a page out of its playbook for the 2022 Honda Passport.
Rather than simply give this midsize SUV a minor redesign, Honda also inflected an entirely new persona onto this otherwise forgotten vehicle by adding the rugged TrailSport trim (think: Toyota TRD). We know the TrailSport will be added to other vehicles in the future, including the Honda Ridgeline, but since the Passport gets it first, we’ll consider this SUV the the guinea pig of the TrailSport experiment.
One of Honda’s talking points about the Passport is “All-new from the A-pillars forward.” This means the bolder look of the Passport starts with a whole new exterior look from front to back. This is not considered a redesign per se, but the difference from last year to this year is significant.
Honda is quick to tout to the overall more rugged appearance of the Passport including a squared-off nose and upright grille and new-look front fenders. A skid plate is a new addition as well, and it makes you take a double take. Clearly, Honda is trying to take the Passport off the beaten path, which makes sense as overlanding and ruggedness is a common theme with today’s SUVs. And the Passport gets in on that action.
The TrailSport is more than just a new trim, it’s a movement for Honda as the automaker is adding this trim to most of its light-duty SUV lineup. On the Passport the TrailSport has a 10-millimeter increase in track width to improve stance and stability. Plus, 18-inch wheels are showcased along with the fender flares and a trim-exclusive grille.
Orange TrailSport badges grace the grille and tailgate, while the Passport and AWD badges are painted gloss black instead of the chrome used on the rest of the lineup.
One of the fair criticisms of the Honda product line is the automaker often plays it too safe, which leads to conservative styling. Honda sells a lot of vehicles, so it clearly understand its customer, but it was still a pleasant surprise to see the interior of this Passport Trailsport looking fresh. It had a “Jeep” vibe in that it was both playful and youthful but also rugged.
Similar to how Toyota’s TRD feels different from the other interiors, so too does the TrailSport. And in this case, different is better. The TrailSport interior has orange contrast stitching on the steering wheel, door panels and seats. The TrailSport logo is emblazoned on the headrests. The overall feel of this trim helps to breathe new vitality into the Passport.
The Sport and Touring trims are discontinued for the 2022 model year and the TrailSport trim is added. Only the EX-L trim comes with two-wheel drive (2WD) standard. Otherwise, the other trims come with all-wheel drive (AWD) standard.
Here’s the price (with destination fee) per trim and the EPA mileage for the 2022 model year.
From a drivetrain standpoint, the 2022 Passport returns unchanged. It still uses the same V-6 found in the Honda Pilot. My wife thoroughly enjoys her 2020 Pilot, but she was quick to point out how much different this Passport felt compared to her Pilot. She said it felt like a totally new look for Honda.
My guess is, that’s exactly what Honda was hoping for with the addition of the TrailSport. I can only anticipate it will have the same impact on the Ridgeline and other SUVs from Honda.