Car News

A Brief History of the Honda Passport

RELATED READING
See all Honda Passport articles
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs MAZDA cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon
ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Joe Tralongo November 2018

Honda may be thinking it's time to renew its expired Passport. Not the document -- the SUV. For those old enough to remember the '90s, there was a brief time in Honda's history when it had a rugged, body-on-frame SUV in its lineup, which was cleverly named the Passport. In truth, this SUV wasn't a Honda at all, but a rebadged Isuzu Rodeo with some minor modifications.

From the outset, the idea of Honda using an Isuzu product in their lineup raised eyebrows throughout the industry. But, the SUV craze was taking off in the U.S., and Honda needed something to answer the challenge put forth by the Jeep Cherokee, the Ford Explorer and the Chevrolet Blazer. At the time, Isuzu's Rodeo was enjoying robust sales thanks to its modern appearance, roomy interior and available V6 engine, as well as its formidable off-road ability. Honda needed something to offer its customers ASAP, so in the fall of 1993 the 1994 Honda Passport arrived at dealerships. There was little to distinguish the Passport from its Rodeo cousin, save for a different grille, the Honda logo and some different wheels. Some early models featured rear axles from General Motors and Dana, and true to its off-road nature, the Passport offered options like a 2-speed transfer case, gas-pressurized shocks and, later in the model run, shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive.

Initially Honda offered the Passport in three trims: DX, LX and EX. The base DX trims were rear-wheel drive only and used a 120-horsepower 2.6-liter 4-cylinder engine. A 5-speed manual was the standard transmission. Moving to the LX offered the option of a 4-speed automatic, 4WD and a larger 3.2-liter V6 good for 175 hp and 188 lb-ft of torque. These three LX options were standard on the top-line EX. In 1995, the Passport got a redesigned dashboard and front airbags, and in 1996, the V6 saw its horsepower jump to 190. By 1997, the DX trim and the 4-cylinder engine were dropped from the lineup. During this run of first-generation Passports, Honda felt so good about its relationship with Isuzu that it decided to try the same formula with its Acura luxury division. This time, it was the full-size Isuzu Trooper that got a makeover, debuting in 1995 and the Acura SLX.

1998 brought the second-generation Passport to market, offering refined styling, a 205-hp V6 and a few more Honda engineering touches. Regrettably for Honda, this generation would also come back to haunt the company due to an extensive recall involving severe frame rust near the rear lower control arms. In 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration order a recall of nearly 150,000 vehicles produced from 1998 to 2002. Many of the vehicles were so far gone that Honda simply ended up buying them back from owners. The recall, along with other issues, doomed Isuzu, which ended up leaving the U.S. market in 2008.

As for Honda, by the time the second-generation Passport debuted, the company was already working on plans to build its own SUV, one sharing its platform not with a competitor's truck, but with Honda's own Odyssey minivan and Accord sedan. Timing couldn't have been better for just as the Rodeo was exiting the stage, the 2003 Honda Pilot arrived to take its place. With three rows, the Pilot was larger than the Passport, leaving a gap between the entry-level CR-V and itself. That gap has remained in the Honda lineup for nearly 16 years, but now, rumors are swirling that a new, 2-row SUV bearing the Passport name is in the works.

According to reports by Automotive News, the Passport is set to debut this month at the 2018 Los Angels International Auto Show, with sales starting sometime early in 2019. The new Passport will be a 5-passenger crossover on par with the Hyundai Santa Fe, the Nissan Murano, the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Ford Edge. Plans appear to suggest the next Passport will be assembled in Honda's Lincoln, Alabama plant.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
A Brief History of the Honda Passport - Autotrader