Honda TrailSport SUVs Tackle the Rebelle Rally: Ultimate Off-Road Test
Three Honda TrailSport SUVs will take on the grueling challenges of the Rebelle Rally. This race is an eight-day off-road competition in the American Southwest.
The Rebelle Rally takes place in the extreme environment of Nevada and California across 1,500 miles of desert. The three Honda SUVs competing in this race are two Pilot models and one Passport. In addition to being Hondas that don’t often compete in off-road challenges, this competition is an all-women event that takes place in October. From October 12-21, three teams will put these Honda TrailSport SUVs to the test and see if they can pass.
The Passport brought Honda to the Rebelle Rally
When these Hondas take the starting line in October, it will mark the fifth year that women engineers from Honda take on this amazing off-road challenge to test their SUVs. When the Passport first came to the Honda lineup, it was offered as an off-road, midsize SUV with a shorter wheelbase than the Pilot, which made it more rugged and capable on the trails. For the 2023 model year, the Pilot added a TrailSport trim to the mix, making it an off-road performer capable of tackling this long and grueling challenge.
What makes these Hondas special?
The three Honda TrailSport SUVs competing in the Rebelle Rally this year feature steel skid plates as part of the standard equipment. This feature was first tested during a similar off-road rally in previous models of the Passport. Today, every version of the Honda Pilot TrailSport comes with these skid plates as part of the standard packaging. This Pilot off-road SUV also features a raised off-road-tuned suspension, trail-ready all-terrain tires, and an improved AWD system to make it more capable and ready to take on the challenges of 1,500 miles of desert driving.
Who are the participants driving these Honda TrailSport SUVs?
All three of the Honda SUVs will participate in the X-Cross category. Each team includes a driver and navigator made of Honda associates. The team from the Ohio-based plant includes Liz Long and Hillary Tate. Liz Long is a chassis reliability test engineer at the Honda Auto Development Center (ADC) in Ohio, and Hillary Tate is a project administrator of design and construction for Honda across North America. This team is also part of the Honda of America Racing Team (HART), which is a racing program run by Honda associates throughout the United States.
The second team comes from the Honda Performance Development team in Southern California. This is the North American racing arm of the brand, and this team will pilot the Honda Passport TrailSport. The team is comprised of Serena Halterman and Nicole Rotondo. Both are HPD trackside race engineers for INDYCAR. This will be the first Rebelle Rally for both of these women.
The final team piloting a Honda Pilot TrailSport SUV will be two veterans of the Rebelle Rally. Award-winning automotive journalist Mercedes Lilienthal and her teammate Emily Winslow pilot this final Honda. These two women are based out of Portland, OR, and Seattle, WA. For Lilienthal, this will be her fourth Rebelle Rally and the fifth for Winslow.
How is the Rebelle Rally performed?
The teams competing in the Rebelle Rally perform a race that’s not for speed but to navigate to specific checkpoints along the path. The teams accrue points each day, and when crossing the finish line, the team with the most points takes the lead. Each team must rely on traditional paper maps, compasses, and headings to navigate the course. GPS and cellular navigation are not allowed during this competition. This race is a test of both the navigation talents of the teams and the rugged dependability of the vehicles they drive.
What do all of these Hondas have in common?
Not only are all three Honda TrailSport SUVs wearing the same trim name, but they also all enjoy the benefits of Honda off-road tech and the traditional 3.5-liter V6 engine under the hood. This engine mates to an excellent 10-speed automatic transmission and delivers power to all four wheels through the advanced AWD system. These SUVs all enjoy 285 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. This powertrain is a tried and proven model that has performed well at previous Rebelle Rallys.
Will any of the Honda TrailSport SUVs make it to the top of the list and win the Rebelle Rally? What will these Honda teams learn from their SUVs during this 1,500-mile off-road desert race?