The nameplate returns after 16 years

Discontinued in 2002, the Honda Passport made a comeback for the 2019 model year. Introduced at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, the modern Passport fills the gap between the CR-V and the Pilot.

Based on Honda’s Global Light Truck platform, the SUV shares many of its underpinnings and drivetrain components with the three-row Pilot and Ridgeline pickup trucks. It has a similar unibody construction, but it’s presented as a more rugged, off-road capable crossover. More importantly, it’s Honda’s very own design and not a rebadge Isuzu, like the old Passport. Unlike other Honda SUVs, it also benefits from a range of accessories, much like Mopar is offering for FCA vehicles. Let’s find out more about it in the review below.

Exterior

  • Borrows Styling From The Pilot
  • Unique Taillights
  • Swept-Back Headlamps
  • Recognizable Design Overall
  • Shorter rear overhang
  • Accessories
  • Colored graphics package

*** Honda made efforts to set the Passport apart from the Pilot and designed a new grille ***

While it bears no resemblance to the smaller Honda SUVs, the Passport borrows many cues from the bigger Pilot. Sure, it stands on its own once you factor in all the little details, but there are plenty of similarities to talk about.

Up front, for instance, the headlamps look a lot like the Pilot’s in terms of shape and size. Granted, the design of the LED bars inside is different, but the small turn signals mounted toward the sides are taken from its bigger sibling.

Fortunately, Honda made efforts to set the Passport apart from the Pilot and designed a new grille. Instead of the chrome horizontal slats of the bigger SUV, the Passports showcases a mesh with small, oval outlets and a black trim at the top. This gives the crossover a more rugged look. The same goes for the bumper, which features a massive black center section and small foglamps and daytime running lights to the sides.

*** When viewed from the side, the Passport looks a bit like a smaller Pilot ***

When viewed from the side, the Passport looks a bit like a smaller Pilot, mainly because the glasshouse is very similar to the three-row SUV. On the other hand, the Passport boasts a heavily sculpted character line on the upper doors and a higher ride height. Ground clearance is up 0.5 inches on front-wheel drive models and 1.1 inches on all-wheel drive models compared to the Pilot.

This, coupled with the shorter overall length and shortened rear overhang, make the Passport a better crawler, as it improves approach, departure and breakover angles.

Around back, Honda retained many of the Pilot’s essential features. First up, the Passport features the same triangular headlamps on each side of the tailgate. The big difference here though is that Honda deleted the Pilot’s inner lights. This is a bit unusual as most crossovers now feature two-piece taillights, but it’s nice to see something different. The Passport also retains the trapezoidal license plate recess on the tailgate and a similar design of the bumper.

*** The Passport also benefits from a new range of accessories, including roof boxes of various sizes ***

On the other hand, Honda added a diffuser-like element below and a bigger spoiler on the tailgate. The black trim that runs across the entire width of the tailgate adds a bit of class, as do the chrome exhaust pipes at the corners.

The Passport also benefits from a new range of accessories, including roof boxes of various sizes, a roof basket, and roof-mounted bike, kayak and ski or snowboard racks. You can also order a colored graphics package, undercarriage welcome lights, and lighted door sills. There’s also an Adventure Package that adds running boards, a trailer hitch, and fender flares and an Urban Package with front and rear underbody spoilers, unique 20-inch wheels, and roof rails and crossbars.

All told, the Passport looks a bit mundane, but it does benefit from a more rugged look compared to the Pilot. It’s not as sophisticated as other Honda models, but it’s modern enough for 2019.

Interior

  • Borrows heavily From Pilot
  • Plenty Of Legroom
  • Spacious Trunk
  • Looks Modern
  • Honda’s Latest Tech
  • Eight-inch display
  • 4G LTE wi-fi on some trims

*** The dashboard looks like a perfect copy of the Pilot, with the infotainment screen flanked by A/C vents ***

If you were expecting to find a unique cabin layout in the Passport, you’ll be disappointed. Honda borrowed more than 90 percent of the Pilot’s interior for this crossover.

The dashboard looks like a perfect copy of the Pilot, with the infotainment screen flanked between rectangular A/C vents and the rest of the center stack incorporated in black trim that extends toward the passenger side and behind the steering wheel. Both the control panel and the center console look identical, and even the start button is placed in a similar position.

At first glance, the door panels are identical as well, but the four-spoke steering wheel was redesigned and now include new controls mounted in gloss-black inserts.

*** The Passport comes wrapped in durable cloth as standard, but you can opt for perforated leather ***

As far as materials go, the Passport comes wrapped in durable cloth as standard, but you can opt for perforated leather on EX-L, Touring, and Elite models. The less expensive models are also fitted with a smaller five-inch infotainment display. The EX-L, Touring and Elite versions have the eight-inch display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The new infotainment system uses gestures common to smartphones and tablets, so you can swipe, tap, and pinch to access its features.

The range-topping Touring and Elite models also feature 4G LTE wi-fi for up to seven devices with a free 90-day/3GB trial period.

Like any new Honda, the Passport comes with a seven-inch digital instrument cluster that displays detailed trip computer data, audio system information, and phone information. You can navigate through the options using the controls on the steering wheel.

*** Honda claims the Passport offers best-in-class passenger roominess at 115.9 cubic feet ***

For added convenience, Honda included a multi-view rear-view camera as standard. Thanks to its overhead view option, it makes connecting the SUV to a trailer a lot easier.

As for passengers space, Honda claims the Passport offers best-in-class roominess at 115.9 cubic feet. Total interior volume is rated at 157.1 cubic feet. The crossover also features a large, 2.5-cubic-foot segmented underfloor cargo compartment for carrying dirty gear or for keeping valuables out of sight.

In the trunk, there’s 41.2 cubic feet of luggage room when the second-row seats are up. Fold them down and usable space increases to 77.9 cubic feet, enough to accommodate mountain bikes and camping gear.

Drivetrain

  • Pilot underpinnings
  • 3.5-liter V-6
  • 280 horsepower
  • 262 pound-feet of torque
  • Nine-speed automatic transmission
  • i-VTM4 AWD system
  • Intelligent Traction Management
  • Towing rating up to 5,000 pounds

*** The tried-and-true 3.5-liter V-6 generates 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque ***

Since it rides on the same platform as the Pilot, it’s not surprising that the two SUVs also share the same engine. The Passport not only features the same tried-and-true 3.5-liter V-6, but the mill also has the same rating as in the Pilot: 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. That’s good news, as it places the Passport above most of its competitors, which either have less powerful V-6 engines or smaller, four-cylinder units.

The V-6 mates to Honda’s latest nine-speed automatic transmission, also offered in the Pilot and other vehicles. The SUV has a two-wheel drive layout as standard, but you can opt for the i-VTM4 AWD system. Unlike most all-wheel-drive systems, it uses active vectoring to send up to 70 percent of torque to the rear axle and up to 100 percent of that to either the left or right wheels. This setup improves handling in wet or snowy terrain, and even when tackling sandy trails.

*** The Passport is just as capable as the Pilot, with a towing rating of up to 5,000 pounds ***

The Intelligent Traction Management (ITM) system is standard on both the front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive Passport models, further enhancing grip in all driving conditions.

When it comes to towing, the Passport is just as capable as the Pilot. Front-wheel drive models can tow up to 3,500 pounds, while AWD versions are rated at 5,000 pounds. These figures are available when both crossovers are equipped with the optional towing package.

Safety

The familiar Honda Sensing suite of safety features is standard on the Passport, regardless of trim. The package includes Collision Mitigation Braking System with Forward Collision Warning, Road Departure Mitigation with Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assistance System, and Adaptive Cruise Control.

Honda didn’t have much to say about other passive or active features, but said it targets an Euro NCAP 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score safety rating and an IIHS Top Safety Pick rating. Given that all 2019 model-year Honda vehicles achieved an NCAP 5-star Overall Vehicle Score safety rating, it’s safe to assume that the Passport will follow suite.

Pricing

The Passport will be offered in four trims: the base Sport, a better appointed EX-L, the high-tech Touring, and the range-topping Elite. All models except the Elite can be configured with two- or all-wheel drive. All trims also feature 20-inch alloy wheels and tires, the Honda Sensing package, LED lights, Smart Start and Smart Entry, and three-zone automatic climate control.

Pricing information is not yet available, but since it will be positioned between the CR-V and the Pilot, the Passport should bridge the gap between the two crossover pricing-wise. The CR-V starts from $24,350 and the Pilot from $31,450, so the Passport should retail from anywhere between $27,000 to $29,000.

Competition

Subaru Forester

2019 Subaru Forester Adds Size And Safety, Scraps Turbo And Manual Gearbox Exterior
- image 775812

As an inbetweener, the Honda Passport will find its way on cross-shopping lists with both compact and the midsize crossovers that are fun to drive off the beaten path. The Subaru Forester is one of them. Luckily, Subaru just replaced its dated crossover with a fifth-generation model for the 2019 model year. Although it remains familiar, it sports a fresh design, and it grew a bit larger, so it might turn out to be the perfect competitor for the upcoming Passport. It’s equipped with all the modern tech you need, and it has a spacious trunk, plus all sorts of premium-like optional features. Power comes from a 2.5-liter boxer engine rated at 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. This might be the Forester’s only problem as there’s no V-6 option, but Subaru’s iconic Symmetrical AWD system makes it a fun SUV when you leave the tarmac. It’s not very expensive either, starting from $24,295.

Read our full review of the 2019 Subaru Forester.

Nissan Murano

2016 Nissan Murano – Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 687622

Well, the Murano is actually a midsize SUV, and it’s should be a bit bigger than the Passport, but its sleek design makes it look a bit more compact than it really is. The Murano is a bit older though, having been launched for the 2015 model year. Praised for its sharp exterior style, the Murano is also a solid vehicle when it comes to equipment, offering navigation and a big touchscreen in ever trim. On the other hand, if you’re looking for premium features, you won’t get too many. For instance, there’s no wood trim, an option the Passport might have. The good news is that the Murano comes with a powerful 3.5-liter V-6. The mill cranks out 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque and sends it to the wheels through an Xtronic CVT transmission. Needless to stay, it has a better shot against the Passport than the Subaru Forester. It’s a bit more expensive though, coming in at $31,000 before options.

Read our full story on the 2018 Nissan Murano.

Final Thoughts

With more than half of the Hondas sold in the U.S. in 2018 being SUVs, it’s no surprise that the Japanese automaker added yet another hauler in its lineup. Sure, it’s a bit strange that Honda chose to squeeze a vehicle between the CR-V and the Pilot instead of making a full-size SUV, but the Passport’s off-road-oriented nature sets will prevent cannibalization with the Pilot. Historically, the Passport doesn’t have a very solid name, as the previous generation was plagued with serious issues. In 2010, eight years after the Passport went out of production, the NHTSA issued a recall for almost 150,000 units due to severe corrosion issues to the frame. Hopefully, the new-generation Passport will be more reliable.

  • Leave it
    • Weird market

Further reading

Honda is Bringing Back the Passport Name to Fill the Gap Between the CR-V and Pilot
- image 764187

Honda is Bringing Back the Passport Name to Fill the Gap Between the CR-V and Pilot

2017 Honda CR-V High Resolution Exterior
- image 699097

Read our full review on the 2017 Honda CR-V.

2016 - 2019 Honda Pilot High Resolution Exterior
- image 616594

Read our full review on the 2017 Honda Pilot.

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