Closely related to the Honda Pilot, the Passport is shorter and sportier, and it’s more fun to drive.
What is it?
Compared to the three-row Pilot, the Passport’s shortened rear chops off six inches from the overall length, while other dimensions remain very close.
Pricing between the Passport and Pilot is also similar, with the least-expensive Passport Sport 2WD coming in $550 higher than the Pilot LX 2WD.
Pricing and trims
Just over $33,000 is where you’ll start with a base Passport Sport, including the $1,095 destination charge. Above that are the EX-L ($37,505), the Touring ($40,375), and the tested Elite ($44,775).
All-wheel drive is a $1,900 option on all except the Elite, which has it standard.
Other Elite-included features include the power sunroof…
…and front seats that are heated and cooled.
Our tester had no options, which ignored the six exterior decor packages available, evenly divided into “Adventure” and “Urban” themes.
Think running boards for Adventure and spoilers for Urban.
These packages range $900 to $3,856 and might provide the extra distinction you’re looking for. They’re also available on the Ridgeline.
The Passport gets high crash-test ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), except for a Marginal rating in the passenger-side offset crash, and a Poor for headlights. Those are common marks for 2019 models.
Honda Sensing, the brand’s suite of active and passive safety features, is standard on all Passports.
Honda’s 3.5-liter V6 pumps out 280 horsepower in the Passport, and this SUV feels speedy as a result.
Throttle response is sharp, and the engine seems to enjoy revving. The EPA projects 21 mpg overall, but expect less if you take the Passport’s lead.
The nine-speed automatic transmission acquitted itself well in shuffling all those gears on hilly terrain.
We still object to Honda’s push-button shifter. Response time varies, and no feedback comes up through the buttons, so three-point turns on busy streets can be unnecessarily stressful.
Ride and handling
The Toyota 4Runner came to mind when driving the Passport Elite AWD, with that traditional SUV’s burly feel and improbably favorable ratio of nimbleness to bulkiness.
The Passport is tweaked to seem eager to please, and so there’s decent steering feedback helping to control the compliant suspension that leans on the firm side.
Worth noting is that with the Passport’s full-sized width of 78.6 inches, the turning radius slots in just less than 40 feet, which can feel cumbersome in tight situations.
Countering the wide turning is the excellent visibility enabled by the Passport’s unfussy exterior lines.
The Passport’s seats fit a variety of body shapes and respond to your weight with firmness.
Lumbar support came in too low for your 6’1” author, but this was compensated for by ample thigh support.
Rear seats have luxury-car dimensions, with more than 40 inches of headroom and nearly the same amount of legroom.
The wide and boxy Passport Elite AWD has van-like cargo room.
With the rear seats up, it fits more than 50 cubic feet of stuff. That number doubles when the second row is folded, and it’s more than the last full-sized station wagons could hold.
It’s a notable advantage over compact SUVs – the Passport is 10 inches longer than the Honda CR-V, but it carries about 25% more cargo with the seats down.
Flip the load floor’s rear portion, and there’s room enough for a gym bag and other items.
Behind the bin is a spare tire.
Infotainment and controls
Passport Sports make do with a five-inch center screen, and the other three trims bump that to eight inches.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are reserved for the larger screen. Operation is generally clear and logical.
Over the week’s test period, Passport Elite AWD endeared itself with the driving fun rarely found in crossover SUVs.
If its compact brethren seem irretrievably bland, then the Passport deserves a look.
Urban buyers should be aware of the concessions required by the Passport’s robust width, though all Passport owners will appreciate the cavernous capacity within.
Overall, the Passport stands as one of the few clear choices among crossovers for driving enthusiasts.
2019 Honda Passport Elite AWD
Base price: $43,680
Price as tested, including $1,095 destination charge: $44,775
- Fun to drive
- Large cargo space
- Standard active safety
- Wide turning radius
- Frustrating transmission shifter