Honda’s shiny new SUV has no problem getting dirty

Honda is under no illusion on how it’s going to market the new Passport SUV. Slotted between the CR-V and the range-topping Pilot, the Passport takes its turn in the spotlight as Honda’s do-it-all SUV, the kind that carries enough space inside for the family and has the performance chops to be the go-anywhere ride that can tackle whatever road surface it finds itself on. The Passport is also rich in add-ons, packages, and accessories, giving all of you a lot of leeway on how to customize your Passports depending on your tastes and preferences. The Passport is on the clock for an early 2020 launch. Honda has yet to give the specifics on a timetable, but it did say that the SUV will be offered in four trim levels, including the range-topping Elite trim. Pricing for the SUV drops closer to launch. Considering where it’s slotted, expect the Passport to cost a little cheaper than the top-level Pilot, which starts at $31,450.

The 2019 Honda Passport Makes a Strong Re-Entry into a Crowded Segment

Honda Touts The New Passport SUV As its Resident Off-Roader Exterior
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The Honda Passport has arrived, and it is, for all intents and purposes, meant to be driven to the ground. Honda is making no bones about the Passport’s off-road identity. As it should, too, because the Passport looks like its ready to tackle any road surface it faces with performance chops that should make its segment rivals sweat.

Honda Touts The New Passport SUV As its Resident Off-Roader Exterior
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Let’s start with the Passport’s 3.5-liter V-6 engine. Honda says that the V-6 produces 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. Those numbers make the Passport more powerful than the 240-horsepower Ford Edge, the 260-horsepower Nissan Murano, and the 270-horsepower Toyota 4Runner.

The only SUV in its segment that’s more powerful than the Passport is the 290-horsepower Jeep Grand Cherokee.

That said, you can argue that the Grand Cherokee is more of a rival to the Pilot than the Passport. Either way, Honda’s new SUV is well-equipped in this department, and that doesn’t even take into account that the Passport’s V-6 mill is paired with Honda’s nine-speed automatic transmission. Good stuff there. As for the driveline, the Passport gets standard front-wheel drive, but you don’t have to worry about buying a higher trim model to get the optional all-wheel drive with i-VTM4 torque vectoring. This system is available on all trims. More importantly, a Passport equipped with torque vectoring provides improved off-road ability, a characteristic that fits right into the SUV’s wheelhouse.

Honda Touts The New Passport SUV As its Resident Off-Roader Exterior
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It’s hard to understate the functionality of the Passport. This SUV, after all, shares a lot of characteristics with the Pilot and the Ridgeline, including the aforementioned i-VTM4 torque vectoring system.

The Passport posts an impressive towing capacity of 3,500 pounds, more than double of what the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano.

In fact, the Passport’s towing capacity is identical to the Grand Cherokee, the same SUV that should be considered more like a competitor to the Pilot. The only SUV in its class with a higher towing capacity is the Toyota 4Runner, which can tow an impressive 5,000 pounds. Don’t sleep on the Passport, though, because it could get on that level of towing up to 5,000 pounds if it’s equipped with four-wheel drive.

As good as the Passport looks on paper, it’s too early to tell if it’s touted capabilities are going to translate in the real world. That’s for all of us to decide in the future, but the early returns look promising for Honda’s new addition to the SUV family. It was developed with the goal of being the adventurous one in Honda’s SUV lineup — it even rides an inch higher than the Pilot — and the numbers, so far, at least, reflect that.

Honda Touts The New Passport SUV As its Resident Off-Roader Interior
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That said, don’t confuse the Passport as a purely utilitarian, go-anywhere SUV. It boasts some fancy digs, too. The interior, for example, is well-appointed. The dashboard layout is clean, and Honda’s new digital infotainment system comes standard, at least from the EXL trim and above.

The eight-inch touchscreen controls a suite of tech features, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

There’s even a small volume knob sitting on the lower-left corner of the touchscreen. It’s a small detail, sure, but it’s a nice callback to the identity of the Passport that Honda’s promoting. The Passport also joins the Accord as the two models where the Honda Sensing driver assistance system comes standard.

Honda Touts The New Passport SUV As its Resident Off-Roader Interior
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Space isn’t an issue with the Passport, either.

According to Honda, it has the best passenger space in its segment with 115.9 cubic feet of space available in the interior, edging out — no pun intended — the Ford Edge with 113.9 cubic feet of interior space.

The Passport also boasts a cargo space of 41.2 cubic feet. That figure would be a segment-leader if not for the Toyota 4Runner’s 47.2 cubic feet of cargo space. The Passport does have a basement cargo hold, a feature it borrowed from the Ridgeline’s own in-bed trunk.

The Honda Passport is scheduled to arrive sometime in the early part of 2020. With everything that Honda’s touted about its new SUV, you can bet that a lot of people will be eager to see if the Passport is as good as its creator says it is. Count us in among those people who are looking forward to trying this new baby out.

Further reading

Honda Is Reviving the Passport Name Plate for 2019 at the L.A. Auto Show
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Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Honda Passport.

1994 - 2002 Honda Passport
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Read our full review on the 1994 - 2002 Honda Passport.

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