Going out in the wilderness has become an extremely popular activity. So much so that manufacturers are now making off-road ready trims of their popular models. The latest to introduce an off-road trim is Honda with the 2022 Passport Trailsport.
Engine – Like many other mid-size SUVs, the 2022 Honda Passport Trailsport is powered by a V6 engine. It displaces 3.5L and can produce 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque (208 kW & 355 Nm). Though it’s not as powerful as the engines in the Chevrolet Blazer or Jeep Grand Cherokee, this V6 has enough pulling power and it also has character. It is a VTEC engine and once it goes past 5,000-ish rpms, the engine screams into life. The peak torque is reached at 4,700 rpms with peak power at 6,000 rpms. This engine can also allow the Passport to tow up to 5,000 lbs when properly equipped.
Fuel Economy – The 2022 Honda Passport Trailsport is rated for 12.5 L/100km (18.8 MPG) in a city and 9.8 L/100km (24 MPG) on a highway. Like the Honda Odyssey I tested a while back, it is very easy to reach, and in some cases beat, the highway fuel economy rating. But in a city environment, it’s much harder to reach the 12.5 L/100km rating. However, I drove the Passport a bit more often than usual on highways during my time with it so my overall average fuel economy was a respectable 11.2 L/100km (21 MPG).
Transmission – Unlike the Odyssey, the Passport still has to make due with the older 9-speed automatic transmission. It’s not a bad performing transmission though. Shifts are smooth and fairly quick to change if left to the computer. There are paddle shifters if you choose to take over but don’t expect Porsche PDK reaction times.
Braking – The brakes are average for an SUV of this size. They provide good stopping power and are easy to modulate in everyday traffic. However the soft-ish suspension allows for quite a bit of nose dive under emergency situations.
Handling – First, looking at the Passport as an on-road SUV, it is a capable mid-size SUV. It’s not quite on par with the Mazda CX-9 or Acura MDX in terms of driving dynamics around corners but it is very close. The Passport Trailsport is equipped with Honda’s i-VTM4 AWD system which has clutch packs in the rear differential that allows for real torque vectoring. Steering response is good with a hefty feeling steering wheel through corners.
Now looking at the Passport as an off-road ready SUV and I’m sorry to disappoint you. The Trailsport is essentially an appearance package. The only – minor – off-road features that the Passport receives are slightly more knobbly tires, but just on the very edge of the tires, and a front & rear track extension by 10 mm (0.4”). That’s it. No locking differentials, no raise ride height, no skid plates. So while it may look a bit more rugged than the other trim levels of the Passport, the TrailSport can’t go any further off the beaten path than they can.
Ride Comfort – Back on paved roads, the 2022 Honda Passport Trailsport is as comfortable as mid-size SUVs get. The ride is superb. Potholes and road imperfections are absorbed with ease by the suspension. This is an excellent long distance SUV.
Interior Space – The Honda Passport is one of the largest mid-size SUVs on sale today. Front occupants are treated to a lot of legroom and headroom. My only minor complaint about the front seat comfort has to do with the arm rests. I always feel my elbows slipping off them.
In the second row, the Passport has an ample amount of space even for someone as tall as myself at 6’4”. On paper, the Hyundai Santa Fe has just a tiny bit more 2nd row legroom but it hardly makes a difference. The 2nd row seats can slide forwards and aft and can recline as well.
Essentially the Passport is a 2-row version of the Honda Pilot and with the removal of the 3rd row, it has a lot of cargo capacity. 1,430 L (50.5 cu-ft) of space behind the 2nd row and 2,852 L (100.7 cu-ft) of space with the 2nd row folded. No other mid-size SUV comes close to offering as much cargo space.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – Wind noise is negligible in the cabin of the 2022 Honda Passport TrailSport. Road noise is more evident at highway speed though. The engine can be a bit noisy at higher rpms but it’s not too bad and when the VTEC switchover happens, there’s a deep induction howl that sounds better than some sports cars.
Odds and Ends
Pricing – The 2022 Honda Passport starts at $45,570 CAD ($37,870 USD, EX-L) for the Sport trim with this Trailsport trim costing $49,270 CAD ($42,470 USD).
Gadgets – The TrailSport is the mid-range trim level of the 2022 Passport and as such it comes well equipped but it doesn’t have every feature in the catalog. However, it still has leather upholstery, heated seats, heated steering wheel, sunroof, backup camera, power liftgate, 3-zone climate control, heated rear seats, wireless phone charging, and power front seats.
Interior Design – Because the Passport shares the same architecture with the Pilot (and the Ridgeline, and the Odyssey), the interior design is nearly identical to those other vehicles. All the controls are straightforward with a logical arrangement, as in, everything is where you expect it to be. There’s also very little use of gloss black plastics, unlike some of its brothers, coughOdysseycough.
Exterior Design – The 2022 Passport received a mid-cycle update which included revised styling. The front looks more rugged with a larger grille, new headlights, and reshaped bumper.
Safety – The base trim level of the Honda Passport receives all of the available advanced safety systems. Moving up in the trim levels does not get you any more safety system than the base model. Automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with lane keep, blind spot sensors, rear cross traffic alert, and so on. It’s all there.
However, Honda still has some fine tuning to do as I experienced one false emergency braking situation. I was driving down a mountain road and as the car was going from an area of direct sunlight to tree covered shadows, the automatic emergency braking system flashed and the brakes were briefly applied. Thankfully there was no other car behind me and this happened for a split second but it’s an uneasy feeling that I also experienced before in the Honda Pilot.
Warranty – The 2022 Honda Passport TrailSport is covered by a 3 year / 60,000 km new vehicle and 5 year / 100,000 km powertrain warranty. For more information on Canadian warranty, click here. For information on USA warranty, click here.
Conclusion – As an off-road mid-size SUV, the 2022 Honda Passport TrailSport doesn’t really work. The Jeep Grand Cherokee or Toyota 4Runner TRD are far better suited for serious off-road adventures. However, Honda has said that future TrailSport models will be more off-road capable but we’ll just have to wait and see.
As an on-road mid-size SUV, the 2022 Passport is one of the best ones out there. The engine has a lot of character and is a blast to drive hard. The interior space is unrivaled by any other mid-size SUV. The Passport is everything that a modern family would ever need.
Thank you to Honda Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Honda.ca