By Derek Price
After a long absence, the Honda Passport is back as an all-new 2019 model.
While it comes with some styling differences — including black wheels and wheel arches, along with a sinister grille and smoky headlights — the new two-row Passport is essentially a shorter version of the three-row Pilot.
Assuming you don’t need the passenger capacity from the Pilot’s third row of seating, the Passport gets some key advantages that make it one of the best SUVs in its class.
For starters, because it comes with the same 3.5-liter, 280-horsepower V6 engine as the Pilot — but with less weight to lug around — the Passport is ridiculously quick. It feels wonderfully fast when you stomp on the gas pedal, making it feel more competent merging into freeway traffic than its many less powerful, four-cylinder competitors.
It also comes with the look, feel and practicality of a legitimate SUV.
Inside, it’s luxuriously spacious. Not only do all five seats feel roomy and comfortable, if a bit firmly cushioned, but there are storage spaces hidden in every conceivable nook and cranny, a typical Honda trait. There are storage spots in the doors, in front of the gear selector and in a massive center console with a rolling lid.
Like the Pilot, the Passport can do some meaningful off-roading when called upon. It rides slightly higher than the Pilot, giving it more than eight inches of ground clearance along with approach and departure angles of 21.4 and 27.6. That means it’s designed for adventures, not just mildly rough dirt roads.
Its ride is comfortable on pavement, though, offering a soft, compliant feel that seems tailored more for highway cruising than crawling up trails.
The Passport’s cargo area is more like a mobile storage unit, with 41.2 cubic feet of volume to haul your stuff. If that’s not enough, there’s an additional storage area hidden under the floor.
The second row can also food flat, creating a total of 77.9 cubic feet, or enough to easily fit a bicycle.
While other off-road-capable SUVs are showing their age in the cabin, the all-new Passport is fresh and modern. Soft materials, rock-solid construction and today’s best tech features are all available, including wireless phone charing, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The base Sport trim comes with a 5-inch display, while EX-L, Touring and Elite trims get a bigger 8-inch touchscreen on the center stack.
A 7-inch gauge cluster display offers an array of information directly in front of the driver — from phone calls and song details to maps and turn-by-turn directions — all easily accessible through buttons on the steering wheel. It’s one of the most intuitive such systems I’ve ever encountered.
Pricing starts at $31,990 for the two-wheel-drive Sport and ranges up to $43,680 for the Elite luxury trim, which comes standard with all-wheel drive.
At A Glance
What was tested? 2019 Honda Passport AWD Elite ($43,680). Options: None. Price as tested (including $1,045 destination charge): $44,725
Wheelbase: 111 in.
Length: 190.5 in.
Width: 78.6 in.
Height: 72.2 in.
Engine: 3.5-liter V6 (280 hp, 262 lbs.-ft.)
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 19 city, 24 highway
Why buy it?
It combines Honda reputation and practicality with all the best attributes of legitimate SUVs: roomy seating, ample cargo space and off-road adventure capability.