What Is Honda's TrailSport?

A mix of off-road fun and simple appearance upgrades distinguishes Honda's trail-ready trim.

Close-up of the grille and badges on a blue 2024 Honda Pilot TrailSportHonda

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Although few drivers head off-road regularly, there is seemingly no end to the number of SUV customers who want a vehicle that looks like it can handle more than just the school drop-off line. Automakers at every level have rushed to satisfy this demand, building tough — or at least tough-looking — versions of vehicles that aren't traditionally known for their all-terrain prowess.

Honda's TrailSport trim level is a shining example of this trend. The TrailSport sits on both sides of the off-road divide: serving customers who occasionally need to ford water or splash through mud and those who want to look the part.

Front three-quarter view of a gray 2024 Honda Passport TrailSportHonda | Passport

The Differences Between the Honda Passport and Pilot TrailSport

The TrailSport trim is available on Honda's popular Passport and Pilot midsize SUVs. However, there are some significant differences between what the two-row Passport TrailSport and the three-row Pilot TrailSport offer.

The 2023 Honda Passport TrailSport primarily focuses on adding rugged looks into the mix. It features orange highlights on the seats and interior trim, a specific grille and hood, and 18-inch wheels. In terms of functionality, the TrailSport Passport gains standard all-wheel drive, and its new wheels and tires slightly widen out its track width. The changes, however, are primarily aesthetic.

Front three-quarter view of a blue 2024 Honda Pilot TrailSportHonda | Pilot

The 2024 Honda Pilot TrailSport includes similar styling elements, but the larger SUV goes much further in terms of adding legitimate all-terrain equipment. The Pilot TrailSport receives a full suspension tune intended to absorb off-road insults better, more aggressive knobby tires for extra grip in slippery conditions, a traction-enhancing Trail drive mode, and a suspension lift that provides 1 inch of additional ground clearance. You can also count on skid plating to protect the underside of the Pilot TrailSport from impacts with rocks and other off-road obstacles.

Rear three-quarter view of a blue 2024 Honda Pilot TrailSportHonda | Pilot

The Pilot TrailSport More Than Looks the Part

The TrailSport trim's functionality differs little from other AWD versions of the Passport when it comes to leaving the pavement behind. This is not to say it cannot get dirty, but the Honda's tough-SUV stance is more about looking the part.

The Honda Pilot TrailSport is a different story. Its combination of a taller suspension, more rugged chassis — especially its functional skid plate and suspension toughness — and trail-ready tires give it an advantage outside of daily commuting. Although not a hardcore, go-anywhere off-road SUV, the Pilot TrailSport is a significant upgrade over the standard model.

Side view of a gray 2024 Honda Passport TrailSportHonda | Passport

How Honda TrailSport Fits In With the Competition

The Honda TrailSport trims walk on both sides of the current light off-roading SUV divide.

On the one hand, the Pilot TrailSport's range of rough-and-tumble gear lines it up with models such as the Ford Explorer Timberline, Kia Telluride X-Pro, and the somewhat smaller Subaru Outback Wilderness.

The Honda Passport TrailSport, however, finds itself facing off against styling packages such as the Kia Sorento X-Line and the GMC Acadia AT4.

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Benjamin Hunting
Benjamin Hunting is a writer and podcast host who contributes to a number of newspapers, automotive magazines, and online publications. More than a decade into his career, he enjoys keeping the shiny side up during track days and always has one too many classic vehicle projects partially disassembled in his garage at any given time. Remember, if it's not leaking, it's probably empty.