2019 Honda Passport
Updated: Jan 2
This week we are reviewing the 2019 Honda Passport in the Touring trim. Our vehicle was assembled at the Honda Manufacturing plant in Lincoln, Alabama and has an MSRP of $53347 CAD.
Fun Factor: 4
Can it Family: 8
Karaoke Friendly: 6
City Cruising: 5
The Honda Passport isn't a new nameplate for Honda; however, it's the first time the Passport is built and engineered by Honda. The first and second-generation from 1993 to 2002 were rebadged Isuzu's. The model was discontinued after the partnership between Honda and Isuzu ended. Honda replaced the Passport in 2002 with the now-iconic Honda Pilot. The Passport isn't the most engaging vehicle we've driven this year, and we think the reason for that is that Honda compromised on several aspects to cater to a broader audience for this crossover. The exterior design presents itself as a more rugged SUV compared to the Pilot, and we think they should have pushed that envelope, even more, making it a sort of Wrangler off-road capable vehicle. The driving experience resembles more that of the Pilot rather than having its own personality. Yes, there are small differences such as using the ZF 9-speed transmission standard on the Passport versus the Pilot only having this transmission on Touring models. Where we found the Passport could do a little bit better is when it comes to steering feel, in certain instances, it felt disconnected from the steering inputs. Also, under cornering the body transfers (Body Roll), it's weight to the outside, creating a wobbling effect once exiting the turn. One thing we have to give Honda kudos is that the suspension works its charm when driving over bumps or potholes. It evens them out and provides a comfortable ride over. Don't get us wrong while the Passport isn't as fun as we wished around corners, it does punch a 3.5L V6 engine with 280hp and 262 lb-ft of torque delivering a 0-100km/h result in 6.75 seconds. The whole driving experience feels very truck-like, you can see the origins of the Ridgeline pick-up within the Passport.
The Passport seats 5 and offers an extra-large trunk. This is especially useful for those that will use the Passport to haul their camping gear or luggage. The trunk has so much space you can pretty much fit anything. You can transport a full-size bike once you've folded the rear seats, you can still fit a couple hockey bags without folding the rear seats or the full camping gear for the whole family and your family members (up to 5 passengers). The same goes for strollers, even a large jogging stroller fits without the need to fold it. When lifting the cargo lining, you'll notice Honda paid attention to details, they give you 2 little baskets to store a variety of items such as tools or when buying smaller items that can be stored inside them without moving across the whole trunk. The front seat present enough comfort and adjustments to find a good seating position, as with the CR-V, the shoulder support for taller people with broad shoulders isn't perfect, however, the best is to check it out yourself as everyone is shaped differently. The heated seats could use a little more performance, even at their highest setting the seats barely felt lukewarm. As for the cooled seats, you will appreciate the freshness in your back on warmer days. The heated steering wheel button is directly mounted on the steering wheel, where it is logically placed, no need to search for it as some of the competition seems to like to hide them. The central console offers lots of storage space; the opening is big and can easily be opened. The rear seats are spacious enough to fit 3 adults even if the middle seat doesn't offer the same comfort as the outer 2, the middle seat belt comes down from the roof and might be in the way of other passengers travelling with you. The rear seats also offer amenities such as heated seats. The rear passengers also have access to 2 USB ports and a standard electric outlet, if you wished to haul a portable fridge in the trunk or to charge your laptop.
We observed a fuel economy for the Passport of 11.8L per 100km while driving in the city 9.1L per 100km on the HWY, and we averaged 11.3L per 100km over 575km. Most of our driving was done within urban centres, and 30% was done on the HWY. The car was tested while outside temperature oscillated between +12-22 degrees Celsius. Honda announces 12.5L per 100km within the City, 9.8L per 100km on the HWY and the average announced is 11.3L. We found that for the size and its capabilities, the Passport is quite efficient, achieving the advertised fuel economy will be possible without effort.
We were able to enjoy the Passport on a long and comfortable HWY drive when we went apple picking with the family. On the HWY, the Passport feels stable and handles adequately. Features such as adaptive cruise control and lane assist make even the longest road trip pass by like a breeze. These features are standard on all Passport no need to select the highest trim to get all the active safety systems. The only feature that is trim based is the rear cross-traffic monitoring that is attached with the Blind spot monitoring and is available in the Touring models only. Even the LKAS (Lane Keeping Assist System) seems to do a good job on smaller turns to keep you within the lanes; however, on S-shaped bends or in more pronounced curves, it will require interventions from the driver. One thing we did notice at higher highway speeds was that to maintain a constant speed, the transmission seemed to be hunting for the right gear and made it hard to keep a constant speed. Which on the other hand, never occurred under 100km/h where the transmission felt solid and smooth even when going up a steep hill the transmission would find the gear it needed to be in. All and all, we were happy how the Passport handled on the road and never felt underpowered.
Now going to the sound system, since we were testing the Touring trim, we had the biggest audio system the Passport has to offer. The vehicle flaunts a 550 watt sound system with 10 speakers, which sounded decently tuned and will provide enough oomph to jam to your favourite songs. In all other trims, you get a 7 speaker audio system with 152 watts. The infotainment is fairly simple to use and is quite responsive. One thing we did wish for would be that the screen be a little less pixelated and that it also would be less prone to glare when exposed to direct sunlight, making it sometimes challenging to make out the information shown on it. The integration of both android auto and Apple CarPlay is done in a nice fashion and works like a charm. The Touring trim also offers wireless charging and will fit even the largest smartphones.
Now, as for child seat installation, the Honda ISOFIX latches are slightly hidden underneath the seat. The leather in our top-end touring trim leather was flexible, making it not too hard to latch the seats on. While installing seats in the Passport a friend asked me for help on their seats and was astonished in the time I was able to install and remove one, after testing hundreds of cars and placing them in different vehicles you get pretty good at it and also get a good idea of how easy/hard it will be for people to get them in and out of a car. What we liked on the Passport is that you don't have to be halfway outside while installing the car seat, you can enter the cabin and complete the installation inside the car. This comes especially handy when it gets cold in the winter months. Like the CR-V we tested recently, the Passport offers 5 ports to install car seats, giving you the option to also install one in the middle. Children will require assistance to open the door as the door handles are quite high up due to the height of the vehicle. Now the running boards greatly helped our kids enter the Passport with ease.
As a city vehicle, the Passport does have a big stance; parking in smaller spots will require some agility, especially since the Passport doesn't have a 360-degree camera and that the Passport doesn't have a traditional gear lever either. To actually change gears, you need to press the button for the gear desired. In our city test, fuel consumption in the City was reasonable for its size and the start/stop feature helped reduce fuel consumption. Urban driving is relaxed in the Passport as it's suspension absorbs nicely any imperfections on the road all, and all the experienced we had was relaxing. We also found that we needed to allow a longer braking distance than with cars of similar proportions we have tried before, this was inconvenient in dense traffic in the City, but we got used to it.
Why would we buy the Honda Passport and what we liked about it: it has very generous cargo space allowing for almost any hauling need you might have, spacious cabin, easy to drive and great visibility.
Why we wouldn't buy the Honda Passport and what we didn't like about it: Road noise from the tires getting into the cabin, no panoramic roof available just a small moon roof, shoulder support for taller drivers is too short, extended braking distance.
Honda has lent us this vehicle for one week as a press vehicle, we have no affiliation with Honda Canada, and the above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the vehicle referred to above.