Living in the rural outback of western Oregon makes for a diverse drive and ride environment. Just to the left of my front door one discovers a well maintained 2 lane rural highway with multiple transitions onto gravel road farm and timberland byways.I’m a bit blown away by how good Passport’s overall traction performance is.
This week I take 2019 Honda Passport off road in Western Oregon and come back with an impression or two
New for 2019, American Honda Motors presents the reinvented Honda Passport. Having nothing mechanically or aesthetically in common with its namesake, the latest Passport shares a platform with the current generation Honda Pilot, albeit 2-row SUV with shorter overhangs front and rear. On first glance I’m not thinking off-road-capable, although there is a measurable increase in road clearance, and a visibly wider track.
So, when Honda announced the re-release of Passport, formerly a re branded Mitsubishi, I expected a refined yet off road capable adventure vehicle. Did I get what I anticipated? Well, yes and no.
As stated earlier, 2019 Honda Passport shares a manufacturing architecture with the 3-row Honda Pilot, employing the same aluminum block and heads, single cam 3.5 Liter, fuel injected, normally aspirated V6. Available with a 6 or 9 speed automatic transmission, dependent on trim level.
Available in front wheel drive (FWD) or all wheel drive (AWD), MSRP for a nicely equipped LX hits the street at MSRP $31,450 in FWD and tops out at $42,525 in FWD, with a $1,900 uptick for AWD, available across the lineup. *$45,465.00 + as tested.
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I found Passport’s traction to be superior on all paved, dirt, gravel and grass driving surfaces. The week I reviewed Passport was a mixed weather bag of hail, heavy rains, and hot afternoons. Honda’s available Intelligent Variable Torque Management (i-VTM4) works flawlessly.
2019 Honda Passport a shorter, taller version of Pilot
Granted, Honda Pilot is a time tested platform, and I’ve spent a month in combined drive time behind the wheel in all weather and road conditions. It, too, is off-road capable yet can hang up easily on steep declines when transitioning to level road surfaces. In rolls Passport.
In short, the powers to be at Honda decided there exists a niche buyer for a shortened 2-row version of Pilot. The Passport was re-born. And as of the end of May, 11,155 new buyers opted for Passport in a segment rife with competition.
In late April I experienced Passport for the first time driving an off-road course while visiting Washington state. I found Passport to be a bit stiff and unforgiving -- although sure footed and powerful enough. I was looking forward to experiencing Passport on the pavement.
Honda Passport is effectively a shortened Honda Pilot
Available in FWD (front wheel drive) and AWD (all wheel drive) Passport comes to market with a very familiar look, cabin layout, and a bit more road clearance than Honda Pilot. And that’s a good thing.
In my earlier off road testing of the longer and lower Honda Pilot, although I appreciated the variable road and weather traction settings, as well as zero delay spot-on all wheel drive capability, Pilot would get hung up off road. Now with a shorter nose and tail overhangs, and 1.5 inches of greater road clearance, Passport does not.
Yet, for me, Honda Passport failed to inspire a sense of off road adventure on looks alone, mainly due to undersized all-season-tires. 2019 Honda Passport while built off-road-vehicle capable, simply doesn't look off road tough enough. Like most Honda cars and light trucks, Passport is a very capable and comfortable multiple purpose vehicle. I found Passport to be very maneuverable in town, easy to park, relatively quiet in the cabin, and seat comfortable.
Furthermore, Passport proves to be a very pleasant freeway drive and ride experience with comfortable power adjusted seats, easy to read instrument cluster, personal settings for i-MID, a very user friendly touchscreen center dash monitor, personal electronic cordless charging, hotspot capabilities, and a firm but forgiving ride and drive dynamic. I find all controls near intuitive in operation and within easy eye shot and reach.
Passport’s cabin design carries the Honda signature look forward with a pleasing mix of hard and soft surfaces -- good visibility from all seating positions -- and ease of personal electronic device connectivity. Passport features Honda SENSING ™ electronic active safety and driver assist technology standard for 2019.
2019 Honda Passport features spacious 2-row seating and near flat cargo deck capacity
I’ll give Honda the nod for reinventing the Passport with exceptional driver and passenger leg, hip and headroom. Also, buyers will discover plenty of hauling space behind row 2, with a nifty stash storage below deck. With the 40/60 2nd row seating placed in the down position, Passport sports a flat cargo deck, great for camping or everyday hauling requirements . Combine this with Passport boasting a tow rating of 5,000 lbs and you find Honda offering a lot of utility in an attractive, versatile package.
Honda engineering does a brilliant job in producing an affordable 2-row SUV with segment topping standard active safety and driver assist features. Passport’s cabin is quiet and relatively refined, although far from flashy. Read Passport specifications here.
I recommend a Passport test drive to anyone considering a compact or midsize SUV
What I like: Price point, good looks, short overhangs, available accessories, V6 engine exhaust tone.
What I’d change: Add a turbocharged engine option, soften up the suspension a bit, and present a true adventure edition with suspension lift, side guards, and a more aggressive tire/wheel package.
2019 Honda Passport Touring Features Short LIst
9-speed automatic transmission with idle-stop
Hands-free access power tailgate
Mobile hotspot capability*
Blu-ray™ Rear Entertainment System (RES)
20-inch alloy wheels
Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System™*
590-watt premium audio system with 10 speakers
LED headlights with auto-on/off
Available heated 2nd-row captain's chairs
Side mirrors with memory and integrated LED turn indicators
Body-colored parking sensors
Blue ambient LED lighting and front beverage holders
HondaLink® subscription services*