2022 Honda Passport TrailSport Review: Semblance and substance

Cameron Neveu

Off-road vehicles are having a moment. Chalk it up to a logical outgrowth of the SUV boom or a general desire to escape civilization and experience the outdoors. Either way, car showrooms these days could pass as REI warehouses.

Joining longtime outdoorsy brands like Subaru—and, more recently, Ford—is Honda and its burgeoning line of TrailSport vehicles. At present, however, this young trim package amounts to more semblance than substance.

What is it?

Let’s recap. The midsize Passport was the first Honda SUV to wear the TrailSport badge, which made its debut for the 2022 model year. The Passport itself launched three years prior, essentially a shortened Pilot with two rows of seating instead of three and a more “adventurous” focus.

2022 Honda Passport TrailSport AWD rear badging
Cameron Neveu

The TrailSport trim offers further amped-up aesthetics compared with the standard Passport—orange and black badging, chunkier-looking tires, pewter-color 18-inch wheels, a trim-specific interior package with logo-embossed leather seating—and no major off-road upgrades.

Note the silver, front-end “skid garnish,” as Honda calls it; if you’ve ever ordered an omelette at a trendy brunch joint and immediately discarded the wee agglomeration of chives on top, you have a good sense of what the Passport TrailSport’s trappings bring to the table.

2022 Honda Passport TrailSport AWD interior headrest
Cameron Neveu

Honda, for its part, argues that the unibody Passport was already a capable off-roader, and that the TrailSport trim merely completes the package.

“Some may not realize the true rugged, off-road capabilities of our light trucks,” said American Honda’s Dave Gardner, executive vice president of national operations, in a press release. “Now they’re getting tough, rugged looks to match, and the addition of TrailSport will further enhance the off-road capability of our vehicles in the future.”

That future, Honda says, will include more aggressive tires, higher ground clearance, unique all-wheel-drive calibration, off-road-tuned suspension, and proper underbody protection.

These upgrades have already manifested in the new-for-2023 Pilot TrailSport. The 2022 model tested here is essentially a tougher-looking appearance package for what is a quite competent and well-executed midsize SUV. The standard 3.5-liter V-6 has plenty of shove, packing 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque, and the nine-speed automatic transmission helps return respectable fuel economy: 19/24/21 mpg city/highway/combined.

Starting at $44,265, the Passport TrailSport comes standard with Intelligent Traction Management (Snow, Sand, Mud, and Normal drive modes), onboard navigation, orange-trimmed leather interior, a power liftgate, roof rails, and 10-mm wider tracks (front and rear).

Our test vehicle included a few add-ons, including Sonic Gray Pearl paint ($395), a trailer hitch and crossbars ($616), and the Function Package ($288 for a cargo net, cargo cover, and first-aid kit).

2022 Honda Passport TrailSport AWD side profile action
Cameron Neveu


2022 Honda Passport TrailSport

  • Price: $44,265 / $45,564 (base / as-tested)
  • Powertrain: 3.5-liter V-6; nine-speed automatic
  • Output: 280 hp @ 6000 rpm, 262 lb-ft @ 4700 rpm
  • Layout: Four-door, five-passenger, unibody SUV
  • Weight: 4251 pounds
  • EPA fuel economy: 19 city/25 mpg highway, 21 mpg combined
  • 0 to 60 mph: 6.1 seconds (est.)
  • Rivals: Toyota 4Runner, Subaru Outback, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Hyundai Santa Fe

What it does well:

Honda sees the Passport as a direct competitor to the long-beloved Toyota 4Runner. The latter is a proper, body-on-frame SUV whose principal engineering was done about a decade ago, which means it handles and rides like … a truck from about decade ago. This is fine if you are regularly hitting dirt roads and rough trails, but for ordinary on-road driving, the unibody Passport is a far more fluid and comfortable vehicle.

2022 Honda Passport TrailSport AWD front three-quarter
Cameron Neveu

We piloted drove the Passport on an extended road trip from Michigan to Connecticut and found the Honda to be a stellar highway companion. The driving position is nice and tall, which helps all-around visibility in concert with generously sized side mirrors. Seats are plenty comfortable and supportive over many hours of driving.

The instrument cluster is a mix of analog and digital elements, with physical gauges for engine temperature and fuel level. The cluster screen primarily showcases engine speed via an easy-to-read horizontal tachometer, and the speedometer is a digital readout rendered in large, legible numbers.

In a lot of ways the Passport speaks to traditional Honda values of simplicity, thoughtfulness, usability, and durability. There are multiple options for storage on each of the SUV’s front doors, including multiple cupholders for beverages of different sizes. The center console features a large storage bin with a sliding cover that is easy to open and close. The primary display screen is a little dated, but it’s functional and there is a volume knob as well as physical climate controls. Second-row seating is plenty spacious even for taller passengers, and the trunk’s wide opening makes for straightforward loading and unloading of equipment.

Nothing about the vehicle feels especially cheap or cost-cut. The cushioned leather armrests on the doors (not to mention the handy fold-down armrests on the inner side of the front seats) seem like they’d hold up to reasonable abuse. As Aaron Robinson noted in his first drive of the Passport in 2019, one of this SUV’s biggest strengths is its quick steering, which makes the Honda downright enjoyable to flit through city streets and across country roads alike.

2022 Honda Passport TrailSport AWD front three-quarter
Cameron Neveu

Changes we’d make:

Not a lot. (If Honda’s goal is to poach 4Runner customers, however, the lack of meaningful off-road hardware is a problem.) If there’s one major weakness in the Passport TrailSport, it’s the nine-speed transmission. Upshifts are not especially crisp or smooth in the lower gears, and the programming is so eager to maximize fuel economy that downshifts often come too late or not at all.

The TrailSport styling is judiciously executed and helps dress things up, but the Passport’s overall shape and body lines are a bit anodyne compared to those of the purposeful 4Runner or the handsome Jeep Grand Cherokee. In short, nobody is going to buy a Passport because it looks great or has the power to impress potential romantic partners. Boxier, more squared-off body lines would do wonders here.

2022 Honda Passport TrailSport AWD side profile
Cameron Neveu

Who’s it for?

At just under $45,000 and with no “gotcha” options in its order sheet, the Passport TrailSport is a solid value. It boasts a spacious interior that a family of four can fill with sports or camping equipment and pile into for road-trip vacations.

Though we only hit a few basic dirt trails while in rural Connecticut, we were impressed with the Passport’s sure-footedness and maneuverability. The torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system and 8.1 inches of ground clearance should make it a more than capable workhorse on one-lane roads, snowy mountain passes, and mildly rocky landscapes, the latter of which it conquered in our 2019 test drive.

2022 Honda Passport TrailSport AWD front wheel tire
Cameron Neveu

Those looking for true rock-crawling and mud-slinging capability will not find the Passport equal to, say, a Jeep Wrangler, but the Honda is a heck of a lot more livable than that 4×4 and can still hold its own in a variety of conditions.

When the Pilot’s more substantial off-road upgrades inevitably migrate to the Passport, the TrailSport name will mean a lot more. For now, it’s a good-looking appearance package that only increases the Passport’s appeal as a functional, versatile, all-weather midsize crossover. That’s reason enough to give it real consideration.


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    I’d love a Honda Accord version of the Passport. A wagon with this kind of dimensions but lower to the ground, without all the fake offroad bits, and a lower roof. Keep the tow hitch, the garnish underbody shields (running over junk in the road happens all too often), the AWD system, and the V6 but just make it a car. Please? (I know, I’m dreaming but I’m not asking for it to be brown or have a manual transmission!)

    They kind of tried this, with the Accord Crosstour. Honda is, weirdly, ahead of the curve on a lot of trends for such a conservative company. Remember the Acura ZDX, way before anyone was ready for a luxury crossover coupe thing? Now, BMW will happily sell you an X4 or MB a GLC Coupe.

    That’s true, I forgot about the Crosstour (boy was it ugly!). It’s too bad that the station wagon is pretty much dead now.

    Just got my 2022 Trailsport, wondering if I should add side rails? I cannot touch the ground getting out (I’m decently tall at 5’9″, but feel like I am crushing down the driver seat every time I exit my vehicle and I worry about crushing or wrinkling the leather seat (do not want it to crack b/c of that motion, over time).

    Have not seen any w/ the side rails, so I am not sure how it will make my vehicle look and if it would be overkill and once they are on, I do not like them.

    Any advice, please 🙂

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