Car Video:  Oversteer

The Honda Passport Is Honda's 'Rugged' New SUV

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2019 Honda Passport AWD Elite
New 2019 Honda Passport
MSRP $44,725
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2019 Honda Passport AWD Sport
New 2019 Honda Passport
MSRP $34,935
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2019 Honda Passport AWD Touring
New 2019 Honda Passport
MSRP $42,225
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2019 Honda Passport AWD Elite
New 2019 Honda Passport
MSRP $44,725
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 Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz 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 Karma 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 Doug DeMuro February 2019

As you probably know, Honda's SUV lineup currently consists of three models. There's the small one, the Honda HR-V, the medium one, the CR-V, and the larger one, the Pilot. These all seem to do very well, and it's very clear who should be buying what, and they're each very popular. Given this fact, and the general popularity of SUVs, it's no surprise that Honda wanted to make another one -- and so now we have a fourth: the Passport, which slots between the CR-V and the Pilot in Honda's lineup.

But is there actually a slot between the CR-V and the Pilot in Honda's lineup? Not exactly -- so Honda created one. The Passport is smaller than the Pilot and larger than the CR-V, but its main party trick is that it's "rugged." It's the off-roader of the Honda lineup. It has a sand mode.

The intent here, it seems, was to rival the Toyota 4Runner and the Jeep Grand Cherokee, both of which are pitched as "off-roader" midsize SUVs, and both of which are enjoying massive success right now, largely due to the popularity of SUVs and off-roaders in general. Honda wanted in on that. So, we have the Passport. And is it body-on-frame? Rear-wheel drive? Does it have a transfer case? Low range? A locking differential? No to all of that. What it is, instead, is basically a shortened Pilot with two rows of seats rather than three rows, and a sand mode. Oh, and it's more expensive than the Pilot (in the base trim). This does not sound like a recipe for success.

And yet, I get it. Developing a body-on-frame SUV to rival the 4Runner is costly -- and it'll take years. Offering Grand Cherokee-level off-road prowess, too, is costly -- never mind the differences between the "Jeep" name (synonymous with off-roading) and the Honda name (not). So Honda figured it would go this route, and then see what happens.

On paper, it seems crazy: an "off-roader" SUV without the usual off-road gear at a price point that's higher than a larger vehicle. But when you consider it another way, it makes sense: buyers want SUVs. Buyers really, really want SUVs. Honda wants to make more SUVs to capitalize on this. Shortening the Pilot is easy, cheap and simple -- and now, boom!, Honda has a new SUV.

More importantly, Honda wagers a lot of people are shopping for this sort of car -- and I tend to agree. Many young shoppers who want a crossover or a SUV, but don't yet have kids will pretty much turn down any 3-row SUV on the grounds that it seems like a suburb-mobile, a mom car or a family van-like SUV. No, thanks. So creating a 2-row vehicle, and marketing it as an off-roader, can catch this crowd -- a crowd that's currently diverting to the 4Runner (without the optional third row) and the Grand Cherokee, as well as the Ford Edge and the Nissan Murano. It makes sense for Honda to get a vehicle in this segment.

And after driving it, I think it might make sense for a lot of shopping lists. If you're in that world of people who want an SUV, but doesn't have a family -- a surprisingly large world -- and you think something like the CR-V, with its small size and 4-cylinder engine, is just a bit too "wimpy" for you, the Passport is the car Honda wants you to turn to. And with a starting price of around $33,000, and a relatively muscular engine under the hood -- a 280-horsepower 3.3-liter V6 -- I think Honda may capture some of those sales. It's like the fun, cool, hip way to get a Honda crossover.

On the road, the Passport carries a lot of the Pilot's traits, including its commanding driving position and general size, save for about a foot lopped off the back end. Even the dashboard is the same. The engine is also the same, and it's a good one: a 3.3-liter V6 with 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. The engine feels peppier in the Passport, largely because of its smaller size, though the steering and handling end up feeling about the same -- overassisted and light, as you'd expect from a modern crossover. Interior room is good, though, of course, you get two fewer seats than you would in a Pilot.

Overall, I think the Passport is a good vehicle. I do question the price point -- although, at around $33,000 to start, it's only marginally more expensive than the Pilot, though I still think it should be cheaper (and in the upper trim levels, it actually is) -- but I think it's generally a good idea, and I think it should find buyers. Most importantly, in today's car industry, there seems to be no such thing as a lineup with too many SUVs.

MORE FROM OVERSTEER:
Here's Why the Koenigsegg Agera RS Is Worth $10 Million
I Bought the Most Unreliable BMW Ever Made
Autotrader Find: 1990 Subaru Legacy With a Landau Roof

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2019 Honda Passport AWD Elite
New 2019 Honda Passport
MSRP $44,725
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2019 Honda Passport AWD Sport
New 2019 Honda Passport
MSRP $34,935
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2019 Honda Passport AWD Touring
New 2019 Honda Passport
MSRP $42,225
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2019 Honda Passport AWD Elite
New 2019 Honda Passport
MSRP $44,725
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.
The Honda Passport Is Honda's 'Rugged' New SUV - Autotrader