Although it remains bullish on passenger cars, Honda expands its crossover lineup with the 2019 Honda Passport. Though nearly giddy over the prospect of some carmakers — such as Ford, General Motors and FIAT Chrysler — retreating from the passenger car market, Honda is nonetheless fleshing out its CUV stable to capitalize on growing demand in that segment. The Passport is another step along that path.
Plugging the hole between the CR-V and the Pilot, the Passport is Honda’s answer to the 35,000 or so Honda owners each year defecting to buy one of Passport’s competitors, such as the Ford Edge, the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Nissan Murano. At first glance, you might think you are looking at the Pilot — you wouldn’t be alone. The Pilot sports a few more styling cues, some third-row seating and 6.5 inches in overall length, but that’s about all that separates it from the Passport.
The Passport is for consumers who are looking for a little more space and capability than the CR-V yet neither need nor want a third-row seat. In its marketing, Honda is targeting families with the Pilot and weekend adventurers with the Passport.
What’s New for 2019?
The 2019 Honda Passport is an all-new model. See the 2019 Honda Passport models for sale near you
What We Like
Loads of passenger and cargo space; Honda Sensing suite of safety- and driver-assist features standard on all trims; impressive off-road capability with all-wheel drive; lots of creative storage spaces and cubbies
What We Don’t
Somewhat rougher ride than the Pilot; push-/pull-button gear selection
The Passport shares most of the mechanicals, including the powertrain, with the Pilot. Every Passport uses Honda’s 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 to turn the front or all the wheels. It delivers 262 lb-ft of torque. The Passport also shares the 9-speed automatic transmission that’s standard in upper Pilot trims. AWD is standard on the Passport’s top Elite grade and a $1,900 option on the lower trims, and it’s the same i-VTM4 AWD system that’s on the Pilot and the Ridgeline. When equipped with the optional towing package, AWD Passports can tow up to 5,000 pounds.
We were surprised to learn that, even without that third-row seat and that 6.5 inches in overall length, the Passport weighs in only about 100 pounds lighter than the Pilot. In fact, comparing Passport and Pilot models with the same transmission, the Pilot actually delivers a little better fuel economy. Weird, right? Blame the Passport’s higher ride height and wider tires, Honda engineers say. Front-wheel-drive Passports deliver a government-estimated 20 miles per gallon in the city, 25 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg in combined driving, as compared to the Pilot’s 20 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined. The AWD Passport can get up to 19 mpg city/24 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined, as compared to the AWD Pilot’s 19 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
Honda offers the Passport in four grades. Following Honda trim protocol, there are no factory options other than AWD on the three lower trims. (AWD comes standard on the Elite trim.) All prices include the $1,045 factory delivery fee. Honda Sensing includes an emergency forward-braking system with forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning with road-departure mitigation and adaptive cruise control.
The entry-level Sport ($33,035) comes standard with 20-in alloy wheels, Honda Sensing, a multi-angle rearview camera with guidelines, six airbags, auto on/off LED headlights, auto high beams, LED brake and fog lights, full power accessories, keyless remote entry, keyless push-button start, a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, under-floor cargo storage compartments, tri-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, and a 7-speaker audio system with 5-in color screen, USB port and two 12-volt power outlets.
The hot-selling EX-L ($37,455) adds or enhances Sport’s content with heated outboard mirrors with LED turn indicators, acoustic windshield glass, a power moonroof, a power liftgate, a Homelink wireless control system, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 10-way power driver’s seat, two-position memory for seats and outboard mirrors, a 4-way power front passenger seat, leather-trimmed seats, front heated seats, an 8-in touchscreen, HondaLink smartphone connectivity, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio capability, mobile hotspot capability and blind spot monitoring.
Building on the EX-L, the Touring ($40,325) comes with all acoustic glass, a hands-free power liftgate, roof rails, front and rear parking sensors, power-folding outboard mirrors, rear heated seats and an upgraded 10-speaker audio system with navigation and a 115-volt power outlet.
Topping the grades is the Elite ($44,725), which adds AWD, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming outboard mirrors, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated perforated leather front seats, and wireless phone charger.
Every Passport comes with the usual active-safety technologies, such as vehicle stability control, brake assist and traction control. Honda Sensing is standard across the board, as are LED running lights, a rearview camera, six airbags, auto high beams and a LATCH child-seat system. Only Sport doesn’t come with blind-spot warning.
No third-party agency has safety- or crash-tested the Passport.
Behind the Wheel
We have only one big grumble from the driver’s seat: Shifting requires pushing or pulling buttons on the center console. Even a rotary shifter is less confusing and requires less time searching and doing. Otherwise, there isn’t much to complain about. Although the ride is a bit rougher than the Pilot’s — blame the 20-in wheels for some of that — the Passport’s driving experience is very much like the Pilot’s. The cabin is quiet, the seats are comfortable and there’s enough room to stretch out a bit.
Off-road, the Passport is surprisingly capable. In fact, for a car-based crossover, it’s downright impressive. It’s not engineered for severe, boulder-strewn trails — it has neither skid plates nor 4-low gearing — but it performs brilliantly in mud, sand and snow. We even took on a few rocky outcroppings
Other Cars to Consider
2019 Nissan Murano — Refreshed for this year, the Murano is an upscale people mover targeted toward couples and empty nesters. It’s roomy and offers lots of technology.
2019 Hyundai Santa Fe — Completely redesigned for 2019, the Santa Fe replaces the Santa Fe Sport. Value-priced, it offers a long list of safety- and driver-assist technologies.
2019 Ford Edge — Another Passport competitor updated for 2019, the Edge offers a new high-performance ST grade this year.
We could get along fine with the Passport Sport. Depending on where we lived and our lifestyle, we would be more inclined to pony up the extra cash for the AWD on the base Sport trim rather than step up to the EX-L. However, for those demanding extras like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the EX-L is the way to go. Find a Honda Passport for sale