Honda Is Going Off-Road with New TrailSport Models

by Jon D. B.
(Photo by Zhao Guangliang/VCG via Getty Images)

Outsider Ready: Honda is stepping up their outdoors game to match Subaru’s recent Wilderness rollout with the announcement of their TrailSport vehicles.

The brand-bearing vehicles are pending release, but Honda makes it official this week: the industry-leading manufacturer is looking to break into the everyday off-road game with a new line of TrailSport vehicles. Each is to feature “rugged” off-road styling, gear, and later – tech.

According to Gary Gastelu, Automotive Editor covering the car industry and racing for Fox News, we can expect the following rollout from Honda (below).

In their first wave, Honda’s TrailSports offerings will include:

  • Protective body cladding
  • Unique interior appointments
  • All-weather floor mats

Not too terribly exciting, right? No Outsider in their right mind is going to take a Honda off-road simply because it has “unique interior appointments” or (I’m laughing typing this) “all-weather floor mats.” C’mon, guys! These are gimmicks, not off-road qualities.

Thankfully, Honda cites a second rollout with “later examples” that will add:

  • Increased ground clearance
  • Beefed up suspensions
  • Underbody protection
  • All-terrain tires
  • Specially-tuned all-wheel-drive systems

Now we’re talking. Hopefully. Fox News‘ Gastelu says “The idea is in the same vein as Subaru’s new Wilderness line along with Toyota’s Adventure and TRD Off-Road trims.”

He adds that Honda isn’t sure which existing models will get this “adventure-ready” treatment. But rest assured, they are coming. The trade’s tweet above includes a teaser image with the TrailSport branding present on a Passport SUV.

Honda to Finally Offer True Off-Road Vehicles?

As followers of the car giant know, however, Honda does not offer any true off-road vehicles. Some, like their “light trucks” and CR-V and Ridgeline are taken off the pavement anyway, but are not suited for it by design. I love Honda’s motorcycles and dirtbikes and will rarely invest in another manufacturer’s make, for example. But if I’m going off-road, it’s going to be in my Wrangler and not a CR-V.

Gastelu does cite that both the Passport and Ridgeline models hold “some off-pavement” design. Or, at least, Honda had this in mind when marketing them. But these offerings pale in comparison to their wide-breadth of ATV, UTV, and dirtbike offerings. Depending on who you ask, Honda dominates the small vehicle off-road scene. So why not bring this expertise up to full-sized SUVs and trucks? Perhaps even a station wagon and hatchback or two?

Unfortunately, Honda does not offer a timeline for these releases. If the comments over on their announcement are to be believed, however, there’s some serious buzz building. Not all of it is good, though.

“What bothers me about this is that this TrailSport moniker is a gimmick,” comments Jeff K. “Jeep has created a brand image clearly aimed at the adventurer in everyone. Like Harley Davidson, Jeep sells a lifestyle.”

Can’t argue with that – and neither can Honda. But one only has to look at their ATV/UTV/Bike game to see that the company is ready to roll if only they put in the effort.