Honda brings back the Passport for 2019
By Christopher A. Randazzo
The Honda Passport is back. Trivia buffs may remember the first Honda Passport being nothing more than a rebadged Isuzu Rodeo SUV. That was back in the 1990’s when Honda didn’t have an SUV of their own. Now they have four SUV’s in their lineup, the latest addition being the all-new Passport.
The 2019 Honda Passport is a slightly shorter version of the three-row Honda Pilot. Slotted above the CR-V and below the Pilot, the Passport lacks a third row. It competes against other two row SUVs like the new Chevrolet Blazer, Ford Edge, Hyundai Santa Fe and Nissan Murano.
When it comes to appearance, the Passport can easily be mistaken for a Pilot. But look closely and you’ll notice not only is the Passport slightly shorter than the Pilot, it’s also taller – and has better ground clearance. Honda has made the Passport a little more off-road capable with the higher stance, shorter approach and departure angles and more use of plastic on the body for taking on the outdoors.
Under the hood, the Passport uses the same 3.5-liter V6 that is found in the Pilot. Making 280 horses and 262 lb-ft of torque, the Passport feels much livelier than the Pilot, most likely due to the Passport being a slightly lighter. The Passport is front-wheel driven, but Honda’s all-wheel-drive system, dubbed i-VTM4 (Intelligent Variable Torque Management), is optional, and features drive settings for Normal, Sand, Snow, and Mud. A nine-speed automatic is the sole transmission. The Passport has a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds – which is 1,500 more than the larger Pilot is rated at.
The Passport is offered in four trim levels: Sport, EX-L, Touring and Elite. The test vehicle that I was recently in was a top-of-the line Elite with a gray interior.
All Passports benefit from a modern, refined cabin. Entering and exiting the Passport is easy, and once in, all the passengers benefit from an abundance of room, bins and of course cupholders. Due to the lack of a third-row seat, more interior space is dedicated for its second-row passengers. And on Elite models, those backseat passengers will appreciate the pull-down window sunshades. Except for the base Sport model, every Passport uses an 8-inch touchscreen interface to control most features and controls. While it’s still not as easy and intuitive to use as some others, it’s an improvement from other Hondas.
On the road, the Passport delivers excellent road manners. The nine-speed transmission, criticized in the past for not being the smoothest at shifting, has been improved upon and now delivers seamless shifts. The driving experience is very tight and solid with power from the V6 being quite impressive (0-60 mph in 6 seconds). The gauge cluster is a mix of analog gauges for the engine temperature and fuel gauge and digital for the speedometer and tachometer. A bar at the top of the cluster indicates how environmentally friendly you are driving. Go easy on the gas pedal and the bar lights up in a happy green. Smash the pedal down, and well, the bar simply goes away.
The 2019 Honda Passport starts at $31,990 for the front-wheel drive Sport model while the Elite, which comes standard with all-wheel drive starts at $43,680.
For Honda lovers that think the CR-V is just a little too small yet the Pilot is a bit too big, the Passport is their ticket. It’s easy to think of the Passport as a quicker, smaller and more enjoyable Pilot. However you look at it, it’s good to have the Passport back.
By The Numbers:
2019 Honda Passport AWD Elite
Base Price: $43,680.00
Price as Tested: $44,725.00
Layout: front-engine / all-wheel drive
Engine: 3.5 liter VTEC V6
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Horsepower: 280 hp
Torque: 262 ft-lbs
EPA Fuel Economy: 19 city / 24 highway mpg
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