2019 Honda Passport First Review
- Midsize SUV slots between Honda CR-V and Honda Pilot
- Comfortable on road and capable off-road
- 280-hp V6 engine with an advanced all-wheel drive system
- Honda Sensing standard across all trims
- Pricing starts at $33,035
The 2019 Honda Passport is a 5-passenger 2-row SUV that fills a void between Honda’s CR-V and Pilot, with an entry cost of $33,035 for the base model Sport trim. The Elite trim, which includes AWD, starts at $44,725.
While both the exterior and interior on the 2019 Honda Passport look similar to the Pilot, the Passport is six inches shorter with the same wheelbase, about an inch wider and rides almost an inch higher. Other major differences? A steeper back window angle gives the rear a sportier look and all the exterior sheet metal is different. Boasting standard 20-inch wheels and a sportier face, it definitely looks more rugged than a Pilot.
Inside, the 2019 Honda Passport feels capacious; second row leg- and headroom are good. Size-wise the Passport is a bit of a tweener, bigger than the compacts, smaller than the bigger midsize models, which could give it an advantage for anyone looking for more size but not needing three rows.
Four trim levels
Three trims above the base Sport are offered. They include EX-L, expected to be the volume trim for Honda, a high-tech Touring, and finally the fully equipped Elite. All models except the line-topping AWD-only Elite can be configured with front- or all-wheel drive, which will cost $1,900 extra.
Call the Passport’s interior storage space both creative and plentiful. There’s up to 77.9 cubic feet of cargo room, more than the competing Ford Edge, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Nissan Murano. It’s just a cubic-foot shy of the 3-row Toyota Highlander’s total space. Under the cargo floor in the rear can be fitted with optional removable plastic bins. This extra 2.5 cubic feet of basement storage is a perfect spot to stash gear.
The cockpit looks like a direct lift from the Pilot. It’s well designed with a good balance of touch screen and physical buttons for key functions such as volume and HVAC control. The base Sport trim on the 2019 Honda Passport comes standard with a 5-inch display but on the higher EX-L, Touring and Elite trims that’s upgraded to an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.
A 7-inch display in the instrument cluster is customizable with driver information such as speed, engine rpm, as well as audio info, a trip computer or navigation instruction. The 2019 Honda Passport Elite and Touring trims offer other niceties like Wi-Fi hotspot and wireless charging as well as Honda Link cloud-based services.
When it comes to safety the 2019 Honda Passport delivers, too. Honda Sensing, Honda’s extensive suite of safety features, comes standard across all trims and includes features such as automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and a collision mitigation braking system.
This spacious, reinforced unibody SUV comes with only one powertrain, a direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 that makes 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft torque. On the road, unlike those knobby-tired off-road beasts, the Passport has excellent road manners. The 9-speed automatic transmission doles out smooth shifts making power delivery linear. The steering is a bit sportier than on the Pilot, precise and communicative. Inside the cabin is quiet. Overall, the driving experience of the Passport doesn’t offend in any way.
Thanks to a sophisticated torque vectoring all-wheel-drive system with 4-mode Intelligent Traction Management, the 2019 Honda Passport’s got some robust off-road chops. This i-VTM4 system also comes on the Pilot, but with the Passport’s increased ride height and improved approach and departure angles it makes more sense and better delivers.
We test drove the Passport in one of the best places on earth to off-road, Moab, Utah. Now, the Passport isn’t going to be doing any serious rock crawling on Poison Spider Trail any time soon, because it doesn’t have a low gear or locking differentials, but on unpaved roads and in rougher conditions like sand, mud, or snow, the traction kicks in nicely and gets through a lot of tough terrain.
Due to conditions during our test drive, we set the traction management system to mud mode, which pulls back the throttle at lower speeds for grip, splits the torque 50/50 front to rear for balanced power to all four tires while delaying transmission to better use low-range torque.
In snow mode, the torque split increases power to the rear and starts the transmission in second gear. This mode was best on the slickrock of Utah. While the rear wheels might slip a little initially, once the torque loads up on the rear axle, it almost feels like the Passport’s got a rear locking differential.
Smaller wheels, please
The only bone of contention on the Passport is the wheels. While 20-inch wheels might look cool or sporty and rugged, in reality they’re not. On-road, larger wheels do not make for a more comfortable driving experience. Off-road, because of the smaller sidewall, there’s less tire to use over obstacles, meaning they’re more vulnerable. If Honda is truly determined to attract a more adventurous customer with the Passport, they’d be wise to offer a smaller wheel size (17- or 18-inch) at no additional cost so customers can add all-terrain tires in place of the standard lower-profile all-season ones that aren’t much good for anything.
There is no doubt this is more of an on-road driver even though Honda marketing materials would have some believe otherwise, but for a true crossover, the Passport is incredibly successful. Off-road capable, on-road comfortable.
The Passport also has a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds, but that’s upgradable to 5,000 pounds with an optional towing package and all-wheel drive. Expect both of those to cost extra.
Plenty of options
Other than trailers, there are plenty of additional goodies you can hitch onto the Passport depending on trim, include a power tailgate with available handsfree operation, moonroof, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, rain-sensing wipers, wireless phone charging, navigation, and premium audio.
EPA estimates are competitive in the set and exactly where we’d expect. For the two-wheel-drive version you’ll see 20 mpg city/25 highway, with only a small penalty at the pump for that killer all-wheel-drive capability at 19 city/24 highway.
Honda has put together a good-looking 2-row SUV with excellent tech and safety features, Honda’s amazing cost-to-own pedigree, and fun off-road capabilities. If you like getting out in the world, don’t forget your Passport.
2019 Honda Passport Interior and Exterior Photos