Engine: 3.5-liter VTEC V6
Transmission: 9-speed automatic w/paddle shifters
Torque: 262 lb.-ft.
EPA ratings: 19/city, 24/highway, 21/combined
Base price: $42,470
As tested: $44,090
Overview: Honda is best known for dependable, comfortable, primarily on-road vehicles, not for off-roaders. But the Japanese automaker wants to change that thinking and is quietly skulking into the scene as it ramps up several rigs under its new TrailSport badge — the first being the 2022 Passport. The TrailSport was unveiled as a new midgrade trim level within the updated Passport lineup, sitting above the now base EX-L and below the top-spec Elite. However, except for some minor equipment upgrades, this is still pretty much the same Passport.
Walkaround: There’s LED headlights, taillights and foglights, with a new hood, gloss-black grille, model-specific front and rear bumpers with faux skid-plate inserts. The 18-inch wheels with a greater offset widen the Passport’s stance, and orange-accented TrailSport badging enhances its somewhat innocuous styling. The all-wheel-drive Passport has 8.1 inches of ground clearance, still enough to clear many smaller obstacles — but no lift system — and it can tow up to 5,000 pounds.
Interior: The Passport’s spacious interior feels larger than its dimensions, while the orange TrailSport theme moves inside, featuring contrast stitching and embroidered headrests, plus badged rubber floor mats to spruce up the sensible, cubby-laden cabin. There’s all the usual creature comforts — power everything — windows, door locks, rear liftgate, etc.; plus a power moonroof with a tilt feature, heated leather seats, 60/40 fold-down rear seats, tri-zone automatic climate controls, seven-speaker audio, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, satellite radio, USB ports and wireless device charging. Safety features include front and rear parking sensors, multiview rear cameras, blind spot and cross-traffic monitoring and vehicle-stability assist, among others.
Behind the Wheel: Honda is no stranger to off-road play, with its dirt bikes and other powersports machines somewhat legendary — plus its desert-racing Ridgeline pickup. In addition to driving the TrailSport comfortably to Spokane and back, we had a short off-road adventure and came away impressed with how well it utilizes its factory equipment. The Passport’s standard 3.5-liter V-6 delivers 280 strong ponies and works well with the smooth-shifting nine-speed automatic — especially when you toggle the sport mode. This midsize crossover nicely balances ride comfort and cornering due to the flexibility of its variable all-wheel-drive system and torque-vectoring rear axle. Off-road, the all-wheel-drive system helps provide steady traction over rough terrain, thanks to four terrain-management selections (normal, snow, sand and mud) for the myriad chassis and drivetrain systems.
Bottom Line: The Honda Passport TrailSport is the first of the Japanese automaker’s push into the four-wheeled vehicle off-road space dominated by Jeep, Ford and GM, offering an SUV that is comfortable on the highway, capable off-road and a dependable daily driver.