Nice interior layout. Plenty of cargo space. Ideal for adventure seekers.
Overly Sensitive Safety Systems
You may not remember, but the original Honda Passport was a rebadged Isuzu from the 1990s, but the Passport now is a totally different and new model. The 2019 Honda Passport slots between the smaller CR-V and three-row Pilot. The Passport and the Pilot ride on the same platform but the Passport has two rows and is six inches shorter.
Think of the Passport as the adventure vehicle for outdoor enthusiasts. It has an inch greater ground clearance, but with identical room inside as the bigger Pilot. (And some interior specs are even the same).
This week, we drove the top-trim, 2019 Honda Passport Elite with all-wheel drive.
What’s New For 2019
The Honda Passport is an all-new model for 2019. The Passport is based on Honda’s uni-body, midsize light-truck platform. Highlights include a fully-boxed floor structure and the latest generation of Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering structure to increase safety. Trim levels include Sport, EX-L, Touring, and Elite.
Features & Options: Comfortable & Connected
The top-of-the-line, 2019 Honda Passport Elite AWD ($43,680) comes standard with LED exterior lights, 20-inch alloy wheels, push-button start, keyless entry, and an eight-inch screen that’s integrated nicely into the dash. Leather seats, heated and ventilated front seats; heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, and three-zone climate control will help keep everyone comfortable.
The 2019 Honda Passport Elite also comes with a sunroof, hands-free lift-gate, front and rear parking sensors, a 115-volt power outlet, auto-dimming side mirrors, and LED interior lighting. Connectivity features consist of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, extra USB ports, a 10-speaker sound system, navigation, and a wireless smartphone charging pad. The Passport also gets the Honda Sensing safety suite, which includes forward collision, blind spot, and lane departure warnings.
Total MSRP including destination: $44,725. By comparison, the 2019 Honda Passport starts at $31,990.
Interior Highlights: Plenty of Room
The interior of the 2019 Honda Passport looks a lot like the Pilot but with a sportier and more active vibe. It seems a little more able to handle the tough-use cases: weekend warriors who are taking it off-road, for example. Instead of three rows of seating like the Pilot, the Passport is a two-row, five-passenger SUV. There’s plenty of headroom and legroom and the same adjustable rear seats as the Pilot.
Sporty as it may be, we think the materials and quality are high for a non-luxury vehicle. The soft-touch plastics on the dash, combined with high-gloss black trim and matte-finish secondary controls, look and feel good. The fit and finish is top notch.
You can get away with sitting three adults in the back in comfort, and you’ll find the Passport extremely useful for hauling stuff. It offers plenty of utility for hauling gear and people, which make it ideal for weekend warriors. The cargo area is large and offers a multitude of interior storage bins. For example, the Passport’s underfloor storage, near the rear bumper, is easily accessed by lifting the rearmost floor section. With the rear seatbacks folded, there’s a cavernous 77.9 cubic feet of space.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The 2019 Honda Passport is powered by the same 3.5-liter V6 you get in the Pilot. The six-cylinder engine is rated at 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft. of torque and comes mated to a nine-speed automatic. The Passport’s transmission allows for second-gear starts which will help when it comes to towing. When properly equipped, the 2019 Honda Passport can tow 5,000 lbs., making it a true adventure machine for the weekend warrior.
Our tester came with Honda’s Intelligent Variable Torque Management system, otherwise known as all-wheel drive. The system rotates the outside rear wheels faster than the front ones. This creates a “yaw” motion that guides the Passport in a way that reduces understeer while still improving traction through corners.
EPA fuel mileage estimates with all-wheel drive come in at 19/24 city/highway and 21 combined. By comparison, front-wheel drive models do a little better at 20/25 city/highway and 22 combined.
The 2019 Honda Passport offers up four driving modes: Normal, Snow, Mud and Sand, depending on the conditions. The Passport can go off-road but there are no underbody skid plates, so things are limited to softer terrain. Most will use it for normal weekend getaways to the trailhead for hiking, mountain biking, and kayaking. And the new Passport will get you there with no issues.
The Passport is a higher-riding SUV than the Pilot, but manages to pull off a lighter and more nimble feel. We made quick lane changes with ease, and it’s a breeze to maneuver in the tight mountain corners.
Driving Dynamics: Quick & Quiet
Honda’s V6 delivers smooth and punchy acceleration when you need it, and it never left us feeling like we need more power. Steering wheel shift paddles are on hand to give you manual control, a nice feature for driving enthusiasts.
The ride in the 2019 Honda Passport is not as comfortable as the Pilot, but this SUV is designed for those wanting to use it more for off-road use. The suspension feels a bit stiffer as it seems tuned for those who want to get away from civilization. With acoustic laminated windshield glass and additional sound-insulating treatments throughout the chassis, the new Passport is still a good vehicle for commuting during the week. However, you will definitely want it for use on the weekend.
Conclusion: Perfect For The Weekend
The 2019 Honda Passport is for those who think the CR-V is a little too small and under-powered, and for those who don’t need three-rows of seating. The benefits of the Passport are numerous, but they will really come to life for those who take their vehicle off-road and need to tow a trailer on the way there.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his firsthand reviews are archived on our test drives page. Follow Denis on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy