A lot of off-road capable SUVs are bought for the impression that they can be taken off-road—less so for the idea that they actually will.
The TrailSport badging signals the outdoorsy halo models in Honda’s light-truck lineup, and Honda operates with the assumption that those who get the Passport TrailSport midsize crossover aim for going well beyond where the pavement ends.
According to Honda, the Passport gets taken off-road about as much as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Nissan Pathfinder, two market competitors that measure up within inches and are seemingly built on off-road imagery.
Introduced on the 2022 Passport, the latest iteration of the TrailSport grade builds on the Honda Pilot TrailSport introduced last year and sets the pace for the Ridgeline TrailSport midsize pickup truck also on the way. Now with a few improvements for 2024, Honda is underscoring that the Passport TrailSport is truly ready to get you to that most remote trailhead or launch point—without letting those riding inside know about it inside with a harsher ride.
Hitting a sweet spot was important. As the most rugged-looking version of the Passport lineup, if you want to wrap in a few of those poseurs along the way, the TrailSport adds up to around one-third of Passport sales.
Is the Passport TrailSport ready for off-roading?
Honda said that it tested the new setup at California’s Imperial Dunes and around Dubai, UAE. Rock crawling is likely still not its forte—although Honda also notes that an expanded lineup of official accessories now includes skid plates.
The TrailSport gets standard General Grabber A/TX 245/60R18 all-terrain tires on machined 18-inch wheels with pewter-painted highlights. There’s 8.1 inches of ground clearance and no change in ride height, but the wheels and tires boost the track widths front and rear by 0.3 inches.
Other than that, Honda engineers retuned the suspension, so as to give the TrailSport better off-road capabilities without sacrificing on-road ride comfort. That means softer springs front and rear, a stiffer (solid) anti-roll bar, and revised damper valving. The end result should allow more wheel articulation and aid traction.
All Passport models retain an all-wheel-drive system that sends up to 70% of torque to the rear wheels, modulated by an electronically controlled clutch pack. It can send all of that portion to either rear wheel depending on traction needs—if one rear wheel is off the ground, for instance. Honda says its system helps assure delivery has the right level of finesse.
Passport to 2024: mostly carry-over
The rest of what’s under the hood also carries over, including the 280-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 and 9-speed automatic transmission. In its enhanced TrailSport guise, the Passport’s tow rating remains the same, at up to 5,000 pounds.
Otherwise, the Passport lineup received an extensive refresh for 2022, and it’s carrying forward into 2024 mostly unchanged—with one very significant exception. Honda has completely redone the center console, making it wider than before and redesigning how it functions. The large compartment of the center console is now large enough for a full-size tablet, and up on top the cupholders are claimed to be able to securely store everything, from a 32-ounce Nalgene bottle to a small coffee cup. The tray area now has space to store two phones side by side, with a wireless charger on one of the sides.
TrailSport models get the orange contrast stitching with TrailSport embroidered into the headrests and the logo on exclusive rubberized all-season floor mats. There’s now also USB-C charging in the front, with two more in the rear, all for charging rather than connectivity. The same 8.0-inch infotainment system carries over, including standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.
The Passport TrailSport includes power folding mirrors, heated windshield wipers, adaptive cruise control, and a suite of driver-assistance items including automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warnings.
Last month, while getting a first look at the upcoming Honda Prologue EV, The Car Connection was able to see these changes to the Passport up close, and be reacquainted with the roominess of this SUV. Wide-opening doors provide plenty of back-seat space, and with the rear seats up in place, cargo space is up to 50.5 cubic feet. Fold them down for up to 100.8 cubic feet; it’s a lot of space for outdoor gear.
Standing back and taking it in, the nubbier new tires do give it a somewhat more serious stance—one that the off-road crowd is a little more likely to take seriously, perhaps.
2024 Honda Passport Black Edition
Separately for 2024, Honda has brought out a new Black Edition, replacing the Elite trim (the EX-L is the starting point). It gets 20-inch black-painted wheels, and blackout treatments throughout, including at the grille, headlights, side trim, door trim, and fog lights. The Black Edition will also get badging at the grille and tailgate, and red contrast stitching with red perforation holes on black leather upholstery—heated and cooled in front, and heated in back.
Customers can now also spice up the Passport’s appearance with a second package from Honda Performance Development (HPD). Termed the HPD+ package, it adds a unique grille plus black fender flares and 20-inch wheels.
The Passport is made in Alabama. Pricing details on these revamped 2024 models are on the way soon.
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