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The 2022 Honda Passport has been approved … for more roads.
The redesigned two-row midsize SUV features a rugged new look and is the debutante for Honda’s new TrailSport trim, which promises improved off-road performance and outdoorsy styling to go with it.
The Passport’s biggest change comes up front, where it has received a significant nose job. While the outgoing model resembled the larger Honda Pilot SUV it shares a platform with, the new one borrows its blunt grille and flatter hood from the Honda Ridgeline pickup that it’s also mechanically related to.
It gives it a unique identity more like a truck’s that better reflects the Passport’s edge in off-pavement capability over the more street-smart Pilot.
The Passport’s trim levels have also been shuffled around, and it now comes standard across the board with leather upholstery, a suite of electronic driver aids with adaptive cruise control, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration and a wireless charging pad to go with it. Honda’s familiar 280 hp 3.5-liter V6 and 9-speed automatic transmission combo is the only powertrain available in both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive models.
Prices start at $39,665 for an EX-L and run up to $47,225 for an Elite, but the $44,265 TrailSport is this year’s most interesting model.
Honda will be spreading the idea across its SUV lineup in the coming years, but the Passport is the first to get it. Cosmetic touches include yellow badges and bumpers with faux skid plates, but it stands slightly wider on its 18-inch wheels and tires and its traction management system provides its standard all-wheel-drive system with settings for snow, mud and sand.
Not for rocks, because the TrailSport retains the Passport’s 8.1 inches of ground clearance. That won’t get you too far off the trail, but should be enough to get you to most trailheads. Honda says future TrailSport models will be more mechanically well-endowed.
As it is, the Passport TrailSport does more than an admirable job on dirt and gravel roads. Its soft suspension soaks them up better than some more serious SUVs, even at high speed. People who live in areas with poorly kept paved roads will also appreciate this quality.
On smooth ones, the Passport TrailSport exhibits the neat and tidy handling Hondas are known for, even big land blimps like this one. The Passport’s fuel combined fuel economy rating of 21 mpg won’t break any records and its interior is starting to look a little dated, but the control layout is solid and leaves little to complain about, as long as you’re onboard with the pushbutton transmission selector.
It’s hard to pin down a direct competitor for the Passport TrailSport, but it’s roomier than the sort of similar Subaru Outback and Toyota 4Runner. This is thanks in part to its width. It’s so wide that that Honda decided to make retractable side mirrors standard to help squeeze into tight trails or, just as likely, parking spaces at the mall.
2022 Honda Passport TrailSport
Base price: $39,665
As tested: $44,265
Engine: 3.5-liter V6
Power: 280 hp, 262 lb-ft
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
MPG: 19 city/24 hwy