Copying Jeep’s Trail Rated Badging, Honda Debuts the Trailsport Line

We know that most Jeeps are great off-roaders, but a Trail-Rated badge signifies that they mean business. These vehicles are tested extensively for articulation, water fording, ground clearance, maneuverability, and traction control in harsh environments. It looks like Honda is aiming to piggyback off Jeep’s success with its all-new Trailsport badge.

The Drive notes that several automakers are getting in on the trend, evidenced by the new Subaru Wilderness models. You can even have an off-roading minivan with the Toyota Sienna Woodland edition. How will the Honda Trailsport line prove itself amongst so many rivals?

A chrome Honda logo on a black background.
Honda logo | Getty Images

Which Jeeps are Trail-Rated?

A Trail-Rated Jeep model can reportedly safely handle any off-roading situation. Testing takes place at the Rubicon Trail in California, a wonderland filled with miles of rock pilings and unpredictable weather. A Jeep must be 4×4 to quality for a Trail-Rated badge, so the Wrangler 4xe is currently exempt.

Current Jeep SUVs with more conventional designs have a dedicated off-roading trim, like the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk. This one is rough-ready with all-terrain tires, a limited-slip rear differential, and an adjustable suspension. There’s also a Trail-Rated Trailhawk trim for the Compass, Cherokee, and Renegade models.

However, every trim of the Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator receives the Trail-Rated badge. The Jeep Gladiator Mojave even adds a Desert-Rated badge for its exceptional capabilities in the sand and high heat.

What do Honda Trailsport models have?

Honda has yet to detail the Trailsport testing requirements, but these models will have unique styling. Additional body cladding and perhaps skid plates will be added to protect the car against the elements. These cars will also have all-weather floor mats, suggesting that they’ll have good water fording abilities.

Honda says that these models will receive upgraded tires as well as a full-size spare tire on board. The AWD system will be updated to withstand various off-roading challenges but will reportedly still be a smooth daily driver. Honda also says to expect upgraded suspensions, underbody protection, and higher ground clearance.

Which vehicles will be included in the Trailsport lineup?

The Trailsport lineup hasn’t been revealed yet, but MotorTrend says the Honda Ridgeline is a likely contender. The Ridgeline has more agile driving manners thanks to its unibody construction, plus it has standard torque-vectoring AWD. This truck is also already reasonably rugged with a terrain management system and 7.5 inches of ground clearance.

The midsize Honda Pilot will probably also get the Trailsport treatment. This vehicle was updated with torque-vectoring AWD for 2019, paired with an electronically-controlled rear differential. MotorTrend says that this system gives the SUV power in any terrain, even when a wheel lifts off the ground.

The trailer also revealed that the Honda Passport is a definite Trailsport candidate, later officially confirmed by Honda. In addition to AWD, the 2021 Passport also has over eight inches of ground clearance and an intelligent traction management system. The optional Adventure bundle can outfit this SUV with roof rails, running boards, and fender flares.

If these vehicles are successful, Honda could expand the Trailsport badge to its smaller SUVs. The Honda CR-V is a reliable and comfortable cruiser, but its dull handling doesn’t suggest it would be much fun off-road. The HR-V feels livelier, but its suspension feels rough even when going over-civilized roads. Both of these SUVs also don’t have as much ground clearance as their larger siblings.

The Honda Passport Trailsport should be released around Christmas or possibly early next year. Pricing isn’t available, but we expect it will be a little over or under Elite’s $44,180 price tag. We’ll probably also get more information about the entire Trailsport lineup when the new Passport drops.

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