Ask Nathan: Overlanding a Honda Pilot TrailSport and I’m Too Soft in My Reviews?

I'm on (and off) the road in the Honda Pilot TrailSport for this week's Ask Nathan column

In this week’s (special) Ask Nathan:

  • Why am I living inside a Honda Pilot TrailSport?
  • Am I too soft on my car reviews?

The first question comes from my own inner monologue. I have to answer for why I’m overlanding in a Honda Pilot TrailSport. Which is to say, why am I sleeping in one? It has something to do with this month’s Overland Expo West event in Flagstaff, AZ.

Q: What the hell was I thinking when I decided to spend several days in a Honda Pilot TrailSport?!

May 20 note: There will be a video documenting some of this, so stay tuned!

Think of this post as a report from the road, as I haven’t finished my time with the Honda Pilot TrailSport as of this writing.

About four months ago, I was contacted by Honda to see if I would be attending the Overland Expo West, which is happening right now. After talking, it seemed like a great opportunity to road-trip the brand new Honda Pilot TrailSport. Yes, we’ve produced several videos about it, but I haven’t had my playtime. As such, we thought it would be fun to add some real overlanding to the Pilot as I drove it to the event. Then I thought it would be cool if I slept in it – off the grid.

The funny thing about having an adventure: you need a bit of adversity to make it interesting – right?

After a brief and uneventful stint at the Saddlehorn Campground near Fruita, CO, I headed to Moab. There, I wanted to check out some soft sand, and a bit of rock, before spending the night at the local KOA campground. Initially, I was thinking about Fins n’ Things, as it’s challenging for something like the TrailSport.

Honda Pilot TrailSport

I forgot that the approach angle is 19 degrees. Even with a skid plate, I knew that the chances of shredding the front bumper were pretty good. Fortunately, Tommy suggested Hurrah Pass, an easyish ORV trail that we’ve taken many times before. Things were going great, and the Honda never struggled. I love those Continental TerrainContact AT tires, they worked a treat on everything I threw at them, and on-road handling is good too.

Unfortunately, Honda’s tire choice makes almost no difference in this situtation…

I blew it. With the recent rains, I was seeing plenty of big puddles, and parts of riverbed becoming active. As I pulled up to a huge mud hole, I thought I could make it. I carefully watched a side-by-side cruise through and I opted to follow his path. Unfortunately, I miscalculated my width, and also the side-by-side’s bow wake. As I made it to the center, my right side dropped down and the splash-back from the side-by-side hit me at the same time.

Honda Pilot TrailSport

The engine immediately shut off…

Knowing things could be really bad, I killed the power immediately and waded out in the muck to pop the hood. Fortunately, the air intake is pretty high, but I could see a lot of sludge on the top of the battery. I quickly stuffed my shirt in the intake, to keep in dry, and to pull out any possible water.

I wasn’t going anywhere under my own power…

As if the gods of good fortune took pity on a moron like me, a very nice man in a tricked out Wrangler quickly hauled me out of there. Many people with phones were recording me. It’s probably on YouTube or Instagram by now (again, we’ll have our own version up soon). Once I was out of the goo, I dried every component I could, like the battery and let the Pilot rest for a bit. After 15 minutes, I cranked the engine and the car came right back to life.

Meanwhile, I forgot that I was waist-deep in a mix of water, mud and probably cow manure. It took almost two hours to reach my campsite and I never needed a shower so much in my life. I brought my clothes into the shower to remove the rest of the mud and used the KOA’s laundry facilities to close out the day.

With the aid of an inflatable mattress, the Pilot became my home again. But forget about sleeping after a day like that.

I’m now on day 3 of 7. After nearly drowning the Pilot, barely avoiding lightning, and getting pelted with desert hail, I managed to finally make it to Flagstaff, AZ and to Overland Expo West. While I’m here, Andre and I will cover quite a few vehicles, so there will be plenty to check out on TFLoffroad.

The last question comes from a viewer who feels that I am too easy on some of the cars I review.

Q: I’ve noticed that you are less hurtful than other car journalists when it comes to certain cars.

I saw your VinFast post and remembered that you took it easy on cars like the s***box Mitsubishi Mirage. I can say that cause I had to drive one and it’s garbage. I’m not saying you’re wrong Nathan. It seems like you try to find the good in bad things. But you’re still honest.

– BuzzSaw99

A: Sometimes, I can be easygoing – but I always stand by what I say.

You brought up VinFast and Mitsubishi. If you read what I write and listen to what I say, you’ll notice that I do mention their shortcomings along with the positives. Simply saying a car is terrible with little to no context doesn’t do you, the consumer, any good. I like going into the helpful details, and I want to give you as much information as possible, while maintaining my TFL approach.

There are people that want to know more than complaints, some want an informed opinion from a trusted source – without recycling the rhetoric. I call them as I see them. As such, my perspective may not match some of the others, and that’s okay with me.

I dislike following trends.

Thanks for the message!

– N

Speaking of VinFast: