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2020 Honda Passport With 2WD Doesn’t Make Sense

The 2020 Honda Passport is arriving now at showrooms. Why does Honda make the more rugged SUV with 2 wheel-drive?


We think the new second-year 2020 Honda Passport is an ideal adventure SUV for those with active lifestyles. What we can’t figure out is why Honda brings the new two-row SUV with a two-wheel-drive option. Torque News has written a lot about the new model since it arrived last year, and praise it for its more rugged attitude.

Honda needed a new SUV that slots between the smaller CR-V and three-row Pilot. The new Passport and the Pilot ride on the same platform, but the Passport has two rows of seating and is six inches shorter. Honda designed the new Passport to be the adventure vehicle for outdoor enthusiasts. It has an inch greater ground clearance, but with identical room inside as its larger stablemate Pilot.

2020 Honda Passport front2020 Honda Passport

Honda hit the mark with Passport's cargo room. Behind the second-row seats is 41.2 cubic feet of space. Fold the second row down and this expands to around 78 cubic feet in total. And the SUV also has a wide rear hatch opening when you are loading up the camping gear.

Passport has some mild off-pavement abilities and comes with several off-road drive modes depending on terrain. The all-wheel-drive system can be shifted from the normal drive mode into Snow, Mud, and Sand. These adjust the throttle response and transmission shift points to match the surface you’re driving on.

2020 Honda Passport cargo room2020 Honda Passport cargo room

We already mentioned the Honda Passport rides higher off the ground than the Pilot, with the AWD variant riding 0.8 inches higher than its larger SUV sibling. This provides extra clearance for modest off-road adventures.

The 2020 Passport Sport with 2-wheel-drive starts at $31,990 (not including $1,095 destination and handling) and gets an EPA estimated 20/25 city/highway mpg. The Passport Sport with four-wheel-drive starts at $33,990 and gets an EPA estimated 19/24 city/highway mpg. Even if you don’t go off-road, for a $2,000 premium you get the Passport with all-weather capability, peace of mind and about the same fuel efficiency.

You can also get the 2020 Passport with 2WD in the EX-L and Touring models but we aren’t sure why you would. The Elite trim only comes with four-wheel-drive. It’s worth $2,000 to get the extra safety and all-weather capability of all-wheel-drive.

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Denis Flierl has invested nearly 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his reports are archived on our TN Honda page and be sure to follow Denis on FacebookTwitterInstagram. Check back tomorrow for more Honda news and updates.

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Photo credit: Honda USA


digitaldoc (not verified)    December 3, 2019 - 10:27AM

I was looking for the sentence how all Subarus come with AWD. At any rate, SUV's should all be made AWD, as the 2WD ones are not particularly useful, especially where it snows.

DeanMcManis (not verified)    December 3, 2019 - 8:14PM

As much as automakers will never admit it, SUVs are often the same as station wagons and minivans (cringe), providing lots of interior space for moving around people and stuff. In the same way that many truck and Jeep owners do not ever go offroad, even more SUV owners never leave a paved road. I owned a Honda CR-V, and it had AWD, and I will admit that there were a few times (in 15 years) when there was snow or down pouring rain on the road, and the security of AWD was always comforting. Especially since it was automatic and was disabled when not needed, freeing up the drivetrain to get better gas mileage using it's standard FWD mode. But I would still have to think about paying $2,000 extra for the AWD option if I were buying new.

DeanMcManis (not verified)    November 4, 2020 - 12:25AM

One nice thing about the AWD in my CR-V was that it was electronically engaged when the car sensed wheel slippage. Meaning that the CR-V drove almost all the time in FWD, getting better gas mileage. But AWD was available when needed. There probably was some setting that forced it into AWD mode, and another setting that disabled the AWD from being engaged (for towing).