2019 Honda Passport
2019 Honda Passport
The 2019 Honda Passport slots between the popular CR-V and Pilot in the Japanese automaker’s SUV family, but it’s closer to one than the other.
The new crossover SUV should seem familiar; it’s basically a six-inch smaller version of the Honda Pilot. Lacking a third row, all of those inches come off the rear (giving it a length of 190.5 inches), which makes it look a bit like a Ford Explorer. It is well-packaged, so the interior space nearly matches the Pilot. And since its long 111-inch wheelbase is the same, it rides as well as the Pilot.
The Passport uses a 3.5-liter V-6 engine making 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission, three more gears than the base versions of the Pilot. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive available. The AWD Passport rides 0.6 inches higher, and can tow 5,000 pounds (compared to 3,500 pounds with FWD).
Gas mileage is EPA-rated at 20 mpg city, 25 highway, 22 combined with FWD, 1 mpg less with AWD.
In crash tests, the Passport rates five stars overall from the NHTSA. Automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control are standard on all models.
The Passport comes in Sport, EX-L, Touring, and Elite versions.
The front-wheel-drive Sport costs about $33,000, and comes with cloth upholstery, LED headlights, a power driver’s seat, two USB ports, a 5.0-inch screen for the infotainment system, 20-inch alloy wheels, and the active safety equipment.
All-wheel drive is a $1,900 option on all models.
The EX-L for about $37,500 adds leather upholstery, a power moonroof, a power liftgate, heated front seats, a third USB port, 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and blind-spot monitors.
The Touring at about $41,000 adds navigation, a hands-free liftgate, parking sensors, heated rear seats, and upgraded speakers.
The Elite costs $44,700 and comes only as all-wheel drive, adding cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, and a wireless charging pad.
The Passport’s styling is fairly clean, despite some adventurous touches such as standard 20-inch wheels. From the front, an unpainted chin on the bumper adds heft. LED headlights are standard.
From the side, it’s tidier than the larger three-row SUVs. The profile view might be its best angle. It looks balanced, with a strong character line running between the wheel wells. A large roof rack is optional, but it would be appropriate if it were standard with all-wheel drive for adventure-minded buyers.
From the rear view, there’s dark chrome strip running between smallish taillights and over two exhaust pipes.
The cabin is Pilot all the way, from the instrument panel to the rear seatbacks. The Sport comes with cloth seats and a 5.0-inch screen for audio. All other models have leather upholstery and an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
That driver has good forward vision from a comfortable, height-adjustable seat. The front row of models beyond the Sport have some nicely grained, soft-touch surfaces, but the second row reverts to hard plastics. However there’s good head and leg room in that second row, making it quite comfortable for three passengers, so the Passport is a full-time five-seater. And the rear doors open wide for easy climbing in and out.
With no third row, but the wheelbase to accommodate it, results in surplus cargo space. There is 41 cubic feet with the second row upright, and nearly 78 cubic feet with it folded flat. What’s more, a bin with two wells for hidden storage is located under the cargo floor, and models above the Sport have a power liftgate.
The V-6 makes a ton of power, so the acceleration is strong. That refined 3.5-liter engine produces and impressive 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It’s nearly silent, and feels luxurious.
Even with this quality, we would say the Passport’s biggest virtue is its smooth, composed ride. This is surprising, on top of those 20-inch wheels with narrow sidewalls–Honda chassis engineers apparently know something that others don’t.
Mechanically, the 9-speed automatic transmission is shifted via a bunch of buttons on the center console.
The Passport is no sports car, but its handling is confident on winding roads, at least with the Touring and Elite models which have wider tires. The four-mode drive system on all-wheel-drive Passports features Normal, Sand, Snow, and Mud settings that tailor the traction control system, throttle, and transmission for each type of terrain. It lacks a two-speed transfer case, so without that low gearing it remains a mere rugged SUV that can go over rocks and not get stuck in mud or snow, but that’s enough for most buyers.
With its strong and refined V-6 engine, smooth and composed ride, and confident cornering, the 2019 Honda Passport makes for a capable mid-size crossover. It adds in strong all-terrain capability with optional all-wheel drive, excellent rear-seat comfort and fabulous cargo space.