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2019 Honda Passport Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader February 2019

The 2019 Honda Passport is an all-new model: a 5-passenger, midsize SUV that fills the gap between Honda's CR-V and Pilot. It's a lot closer to the latter, however. In fact, the new Passport is effectively a Pilot without the third row, less overall length and a less overtly family-oriented character. It gains extra ground clearance and more rugged styling details to promote itself for adventure-seekers looking to take their crossover to Instagram-worthy outdoor locales for hiking, biking, kayaking, etc.

On the one hand, it's really not much of a transformation. It's impossible to miss the visual similarities between the Passport and the Pilot, especially inside where the dash is identical. Things are the same under the hood as well, as the two SUVs (plus their Ridgeline pickup triplet) share a common V6 engine. The off-road settings included with the all-wheel-drive Passport may be helpful when driving in sand, mud or snow, but they're also included with the Pilot.

On the other hand, the Pilot is a pretty good base from which to start. The Passport similarly benefits from a comfortable and composed driving experience, ample feature content, a space-efficient cabin (even with fewer seats), clever storage solutions and Honda's reputation for reliability. The 2019 Passport may be lacking in uniqueness, but that doesn't mean it's not a worthwhile new entry in the midsize segment. It's definitely a must-drive.

What's New for 2019?

The Honda Passport is an all-new model for 2019. See the 2019 Honda Passport models for sale near you

What We Like

Best cargo capacity among 2-row midsize SUVs; clever storage; generous features for the money; composed and reassuring driving experience; Honda reliability

What We Don't

Hyperactive and unsophisticated safety tech; infotainment isn't the most intuitive; big price gaps between trim levels and no options

How Much?

$31,990-$43,680

Fuel Economy

Every Honda Passport has the same engine and transmission, with the option of either front-wheel drive or AWD. Its 3.5-liter V6 engine produces 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque (a strong if average amount for the segment), and is paired to a 9-speed automatic transmission.

Fuel economy estimates with FWD are 20 miles per gallon in the city, 25 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg in combined driving. With AWD, they lower to 19 mpg city/24 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined.

Towing capacity is 3,500 pounds with FWD and 5,000 pounds with AWD.

Standard Features & Options

The 2019 Passport is available with fewer trim levels than is typical for a Honda, with just Sport, EX-L, Touring and Elite.

Standard equipment on the Sport ($31,990) includes 20-in gloss black wheels, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, a backup camera, adaptive cruise control, automatic LED headlights and high beam control, LED fog lights, rear privacy glass, proximity entry and push-button start, tri-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, two USB ports, Bluetooth and a 7-speaker sound system with an auxiliary audio jack and media player interface. Adding AWD brings with it off-road vehicle settings and extra ground clearance (8.1 inches versus 7.5).

The EX-L ($36,410) adds blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, 20-in "pewter gray" wheels, heated mirrors, a sunroof, a power lift gate, acoustic windshield, leather upholstery, heated power front seats (8-way driver with lumbar adjustment; 4-way passenger), driver memory settings, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear window sunshades, an auto-dimming mirror, an 8-in touchscreen, four USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite and HD radios, in-car Wi-Fi and the CabinControl smartphone app.

The Touring ($39,280) adds a hands-free power lift gate, upgraded LED headlights, power-folding mirrors, acoustic door glass, roof rails, front and rear parking sensors, heated rear seats, integrated navigation, a 115-volt house-style power outlet and a 10-speaker upgraded sound system.

The Elite ($43,680) reverts to the gloss black wheels and only comes with AWD. It also adds automatic wipers, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel and wireless smartphone charging (available on all trims as a dealer-installed accessory.

There are two dealer-installed packages that alter the Passport's appearance. The Adventure Package adds pronounced fender flares, roof rails and cross bars, running boards, a trailer hitch, rear seat protectors, cargo side lining protectors and a cargo tray. The Urban Package adds front and rear body-colored underbody spoilers, door sill trim, roof rails and cross bars, and cargo bins. You can also get rear parking sensors and a CD player as dealer-installed accessories.

Safety

Every 2019 Passport comes standard with antilock brakes, stability control, 6 airbags (front, front-side, side curtain), LATCH anchors in all rear seating positions, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and a backup camera. All but the Sport trim have blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

The Passport has not been crash tested by a third party, but given that the Pilot and the Ridgeline were named Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, we'd expect similar ratings for the Passport.

Behind the Wheel

Like the Pilot with which it shares oh-so-much, the 2019 Honda Passport is comfortable and sure-footed behind the wheel, offering a capable V6 engine and a well-controlled driving experience without the cumbersome feeling you get in larger SUVs or the truck-based Toyota 4Runner. Its standard 20-in wheels may result in a less-than-comfy ride, however, with more pronounced impacts from broken pavement and railroad tracks.

A key difference between the Passport and the Pilot is its extra inch of ground clearance, which is actually different depending on whether you get FWD or AWD. While the latter's maximum of 8.1 inches is still less than a Subaru Outback (8.7 inches), it's still quite good for a crossover, and we were impressed by how well the Passport (thanks to its special off-road settings) managed to handle rugged terrain. Of course, real off-roading is best suited to the Toyota 4Runners and the Jeep Grand Cherokees of this world, but if you're looking for something better suited to the rough roads that lead to various outdoor spots, the Passport should be a better choice than a Hyundai Santa Fe, a Ford Edge or a Chevrolet Blazer.

As for the cabin, the 5-passenger Passport may have less space than the 8-passenger Pilot, but it's still one of the most generously sized midsize SUVs for both passengers and their stuff. Its cargo capacity of 41.2 cu ft. with the back seat raised and 77.7 cu ft. with them lowered is actually the segment's best by quite a bit. There are also handy bins under the cargo floor, while the front cabin boasts clever storage solutions in the center console and doors.

In terms of cabin design, the Passport is identical to the Pilot and the Ridgeline, which makes it unoriginal but inoffensive. It also shares their touchscreen interface, which is improved from past Honda versions, but not the latest, greatest and most user-friendly version featured in the Accord and the Odyssey. The Passport's touchscreen responses can be slow and its menu structure convoluted.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Subaru Outback -- Yes it's a wagon, but the Outback has comparable interior space and even more ground clearance. Its lower roof height and clever integrated roof rail crossbars make it much easier to mount boxes, bikes, kayaks, etc. onto the roof. The best alternative for adventure-seekers.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe -- The new Santa Fe is a competent, well-rounded and generally sensible midsize SUV that thankfully adds a dash of style inside and out. The best alternative for families.

2019 Ford Edge -- One of the most popular midsize SUVs, the Edge is basically the baseline for the segment in terms of size, space and feature content. It uniquely offers the high-powered Edge ST model that's the best alternative for horsepower junkies.

2019 Chevrolet Blazer -- The new Blazer is high on style and driving precision, but low on cargo space and value. The best alternative for the fashion conscious.

Used Toyota 4Runner -- A new 4Runner is actually in the Passport's price range, but this SUV has changed so little over the years and Toyota's reliability is so good, why not save some money with a used or certified pre-owned model? The 4Runner is far more capable than the Passport and arguably cooler, but its fuel economy, on-road handling and safety credentials are worse.

Autotrader's Advice

The Passport doesn't have Honda's typical LX and EX trim levels, and since there are no options, there are giant price gaps between the existing trim levels. That's unfortunate, because we think somewhere between the Sport and EX-L would be the smartest Passport to buy. As it is, though, we'd go with the EX-L given its added infotainment features and comfort/convenience equipment. Find a Honda Passport for sale

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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.
2019 Honda Passport Review - Autotrader