Honda introduced the Passport in 1993 as its first entry into the then young American SUV market. The second generation ran from 1997 to 2002, but then the mid-ranger disappeared from our roads until 2019, and returned to be the company’s most off-road-friendly SUV.
The updated 2022 Honda Passport was revealed in December with the new TrailSport class, taking the model’s durability to another level. The Passport has four trim levels with the Trailsport placed in the middle at $43,695.
In addition to the Passport 2022’s standard one-touch sunroof, leather seats, power tailgate, and keyless entry, the model gets a 10mm increase in track width for improved stability, 18-inch wheels with off-road tires, a special grille treatment, and more front and rear bumpers. Aggressive skid plates to protect the underside during trail adventures.
The new TrailSport logo is inspired by nature and features orange badges on the grille and tailgate. Passport and AWD badges are painted gloss black in contrast to the chrome.
In the cabin, the 2022 Honda Passport Trail Sport gets orange contrast stitching on the steering wheel, door panels, seats, amber interior lighting and embroidered logos. The TrailSport also features electrically folding mirrors for narrow trails.
The 2022 Passport comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen display that features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It includes wireless charging as well, although not integrated with a wireless smartphone, and a voice switch attached to the screen for easy adjustment while driving.
The dual-zone temperature is controlled by the paddle shifters while the nine-speed automatic transmission is operated via buttons. It’s not very intuitive with dragging the reverse slider back to select the gear. Historically, turning back (at least from neutral) put the car in drive mode and moving forward puts the car in reverse.
There is only a small storage space in the center dashboard area, but it has a large center console that also serves as a horizontal surface to set phones, keys, etc., and large door pockets for drinks and other small merchandise. The low center console and small individual armrests make the cabin feel spacious and airy.
These orange trim seats look great, but they can use more under-knee support and more reinforcement to keep the driver in place. However, it is smooth over long distances.
The problem with driving those long distances is the powertrain. The 3.5-liter V6 produces 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. That’s plenty for normal off-road and off-road driving, but the automatic transmission isn’t a great combination.
Sometimes the Passport would look for gears when trying to overtake, and in Sport mode, it would pick up slightly in lower gears. Buyers shouldn’t expect a racing-car-like or sporty changeover, but TrailSport hasn’t proven the precision Honda is known for. The motor seems to be working hard, and it makes quite a bit of noise while doing so.
Even odd, sport mode seems to be the way to go with a bit more throttle sensitivity than normal. The all-wheel drive system has its own modes for mud, sand and snow and with 8.1 inches of ground clearance, the TrailSport has never been hung on light trails in mid-Michigan. It can pull 5,000 lbs.
The ride is comfortable on pavement and on dirt with soft suspension that absorbs just about everything modern roads have to offer. The steering is on the easy side and very few road imperfections make it hit the cabin whether in noise or movement. The brakes didn’t feel as smooth or progressive as some of its competition, offering a few inches of movement before any real bite.
Honda Sensing’s suite of driver assistance and safety technology is standard and includes forward collision warning and braking, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. For 2022, all passports also get a back seat reminder.
Honda calls Jeep Grand Cherokee ($38,325), Ford Edge ($37,145) and Toyota 4Runner ($38,105) as passport contenders. Only Ford comes with a four-cylinder engine, but Honda offers the most interior space. The 4Runner and Grand Cherokee have proven more off-road, while the Ford is one of the better off-road, averaging 29 miles per gallon (mpg) on the highway.
The Passport was rated at just 24 mpg on the highway, and practically returned closer to 22 mpg. The Jeep Grand Cherokee is rated at 25 mpg highway and the iconic 4Runner gets just 19 mpg.
The Jeep is hard to miss in this case, especially if off-road trips are a popular item on the list. The Toyota 4Runner is also legendary in its durability. However, the Passport will appeal to Honda fans who love adventure, while spending a lot of time in a comfortable and cozy cabin.