The Honda image is one of the roadworthy vehicles that are long-lasting and safe. The brand is associated more with families and sensible drivers than it is with adventure seekers. However, Honda is clearly seeking to broaden its scope by introducing a Trailsport line of SUVs.
The Trailsport moniker has been given to the second trim level of the Passport and the third trim level on the Pilot. These two SUVs were created for different audiences. The Passport is an overlander with a large cargo hold and a big cabin. The Pilot has three rows and obviously is designed to ferry families to school, extracurricular activities, and ballgames.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of All-Wheel Drive
Unlike Ford and Jeep, Honda doesn’t have four-wheel drivetrains that are incredibly rugged. At this point, there is no crawl mode on a Honda SUV. So how is the brand aiming to capture the market?
Honda’s all-wheel drive is an especially smart system that has some tricks to keep a Honda SUV moving even in sand. In fact, the new Trailsports are excellent desert runners and beachcombers. The system can move 70 percent of its torque to the back wheels to get a grip and allow the Trailsport to move forward.
To deal with mud and other trail slow-downs, the system can also move the torque from one side to the other. This was done as an alternative to a locking differential. It works pretty well and allows the Trailsport models to handle a rough forest trail or a muddy campsite road.
In the snow, the all-wheel-drive system shows off an all-weather capability. Every Honda AWD SUV has that, however. So it’s not special to the Trailsports.
The Style and Stature of the Trailsport Line
The Pilot Trailsport probably can’t achieve quite as much as the Passport Trailsport, but that’s a matter of size, departure angles, and so forth. However, the Pilot trim gets 0.06 inches in extra height to allow it to roll over debris more easily. Ground clearance is 8.1 inches.
At 8.1 inches of ground clearance, the Passport Trailsport gets rugged tires and a wider track. This width is for greater stability off-road. These changes are in addition to the bulkier grille and other muscular changes for the 2022 Passport model year. Other than that, the two Trailsports have special badging and some other exterior style upgrades.
For the interiors, Honda has chosen orange-accented leather upholstery. This may be surprising in an off-road vehicle, but it is in keeping with the upscale materials that Honda chooses for its premium SUVs.
Where’s the Trailsport Headed Next
The Honda Ridgeline is the most logical model to become the next Trailsport. It’s already got the all-wheel drive and the height for some off-roading. It’s hard to imagine the serious CR-V with this treatment, but it is their most popular model. The sporty HR-V is a likely candidate, given that Trailsport aims to compete with Trailhawks like the Jeep Renegade.
The competition is truly fierce from Jeep and Ford, which has introduced its Explorer Timberline, Bronco, Bronco Sport, and its Tremor off-roading editions of its trucks. The Hyundai Santa Fe XRT is another rival, and the brand may be expanding the XRT packaging to other models.
Can Honda break out of its smart-guy image to include Overlanding and off-roading? The Trailsport editions clearly are breaking the ice for what’s next.