Honda TrailSport trim elbows into off-road segment

September 7, 2021

A new TrailSport trim will buff up Honda's light trucks by the end of the year, the automaker announced Tuesday. The cosmetic appearance package will be followed in subsequent years by increased ground clearance and off-road suspensions, unlike any Honda passenger vehicle on sale today. 

The TrailSport treatment is expected on the Honda Ridgeline mid-size pickup truck and Honda Passport mid-size SUV, which is due for a 2022 refresh. It could even bolster the Honda Pilot three-row SUV. Without the addition of an entirely new model, the TrailSport likely ends there, on Honda's largest vehicles. 

From the teaser video posted on YouTube, it appears the Passport TrailSport will be the first unfortunately named model. 

The first TrailSport models sport bumpers bedecked with black cladding that is also expected to run around the body of the vehicles. Borrowing liberally from the off-road playbook, Honda calls the cosmetic upgrades "rugged" and "durable." Honda's all-wheel-drive system will come standard, and we expect it to be teamed witih Honda's 280-hp 3.5-liter V-6 and 9-speed automatic transmission, which are used in the Passport, Pilot, Ridgeline, and even the Odyssey minivan.

A TrailSport model of the Odyssey could give it the rugged durability to compete with SUVs and the AWD to compete with the Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Pacifica. Just sayin'.

In recent years, Honda has burnished its off-road mettle with more rugged and durable cosmetic upgrades. The redesigned 2021 Honda Ridgeline had a more rugged and durable look, and an available HPD package from Honda Performance Development added fender flares and bronze-colored wheels with fake bead-locks. An overlanding Passport concept spiked some off-road interest in 2019.

Honda joins other automakers capitalizing on vehicles that pretend to go anywhere. Subaru expanded its Wilderness trim to the 2022 Forester, and Hyundai began selling the 2022 Santa Cruz small pickup. 

Honda promises to add more genuine off-road capability in the next few model years, with full-size spare tires, more ground clearance, skid plates, and "expanded all-wheel-drive system capabilities."

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