2019 Honda Passport: Sleeping on the Roof in a Roofnest Tent

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The 2019 Honda Passport is all-new and sits between the Honda Pilot and Honda CR-V. It’s roomier and more powerful than the smaller CR-V, but a step down in size from the Pilot with its three rows of seating. It fills a gap, but it also takes a somewhat different approach then the rest of the Honda lineup. The Passport is geared toward the more rugged and adventurous SUV owner.

It looks the part with an aggressive grille and bolder stance than the Pilot or CR-V and it has added capability to back up those looks. There’s an increased ride height and standard 20-inch wheels along with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that gives the Passport 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. This creates a responsive ride that, while not sporty, is easily up to the task of merging into highway traffic and venturing a bit off the beaten path.

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Inside there’s plenty of room for five adults and their stuff with 41.2 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 77.9 cubic feet behind the front seats. It can also tow up to 5,000 pounds, so if you need to bring along more than what will fit inside your Passport, it’s not an issue. The top Touring and Elite trims come standard with roof rails, so there’s even more room for cargo, or you can do something completely different, like outfit your Passport with a roof tent.

Honda did exactly that to the Passport Elite we drove for the week, so we took it for a weekend camping adventure. If you’ve ever camped then you know the struggles of packing everything into your vehicle, so the idea of a roof tent holds a lot of appeal. What doesn’t hold a lot of appeal is the thought of putting it up and breaking it down.

That may be because this journalist has had her share of familial debates about how best to put up and stow traditional tents with the poles and stakes and a rain fly that we never line up right the first time. Camping is great, but it’s not necessarily an effortless process. So, when Honda handed us a Passport with a RoofNest Sparrow on the roof we decided to see if it was a better way to camp.

The Sparrow sleeps two adults, so you’re not putting a family of four up there, but the two who do sleep on the roof will have plenty of room. It measures 6’10” x 50” inside when it’s open and only 11-inches tall when it’s closed so you can still go through the drive-thru. It also weighs 130 pounds so although it will eat into your fuel economy slightly, it won’t take such a big bite you’ll be dining on ramen noodles for the next month.

Popping it up is easier than any traditional ground tent. Simply open four latches and it springs right up with stainless steel hinges that hide within interior channels. They support the fiberglass roof while canvas sides stay taught secured to the lower tray.

We had plenty of time to set up while it was still light, but having struggled to set up ground tents in the dark, the RoofNest is a far better option. There’s also a ladder so you can climb up, which is easy enough to use, just watch your step for those late night bathroom runs and maybe consider putting some duct tape on the rungs for a little extra grip in wet weather.

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It’s easy enough that it can be opened by one person, but closing it is better done with two. There’s a loop at the front that lets you pull down and latch that end first. Next, there’s a loop at the back to do the same, but it helps to have someone slowly pull that down while you tuck in the canvas bits along the edges.

You don’t even have to entirely empty the RoofNest to close it up and drive away. There’s room for bedding, so unless you’re planning on going overboard with stuff, you can close it up and head out for a day of adventuring and then head back to camp and pop it open with everything ready to go.

While purists might want the “fun” of setting up a tent the good old-fashioned way, the RoofNest is a far easier option. It removes one of the most time-consuming and potentially frustrating parts of camping so you can waste your time trying to build the perfect fire with logs that are still wet and an insufficient amount of kindling instead.

If you’re setting up camp for a longer stay, then a ground tent is still your best option since you don’t have to put things away or break anything down just to drive out to your favorite hiking trail. If, however, you’re stopping multiple nights at multiple locations or want the convenience of being able to camp wherever and whenever you like at a moment’s notice, the RoofNest is a great idea.

Pricing for the RoofNest Sparrow is $2,795 while the top Falcon model runs as much as $3,395. It’s not as inexpensive as a tent, but for the convenience, it’s a great choice for frequent campers. Especially on a road trip where no one wants to repeatedly setup and breakdown a tent, the RoofNest is ideal.

The 2019 Honda Passport is available now for your commuting, carpooling, and camping needs priced from $31,990.

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Nicole Wakelin

Nicole Wakelin

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