By on October 16, 2014

Passport Rodeo courtesy popularmechanics.com

It ceased being fun working at American Honda around the summer of 1993. Most of our senior managers in the sales division had recently been fired. In May, the New York Times published the first story about our executives soliciting bribes from dealers. The Justice Department was snooping around our US headquarters in Torrance, CA. The year before, our geniuses in Japan had dropped the ground-breaking CRX two-seater and stuck us with the dull del Sol. Over at Acura, our Honda Division castoffs were busy trying to figure out why the tepid 5-cylinder Vigor was not selling.

We were still stuck in the Civic-Accord-Prelude-del Sol mode. “We will never build trucks,” our execs had often proudly proclaimed.  Now we found ourselves caught flat-footed as we followed the success of the Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota 4Runner SUVs. We needed a sport-ute yesterday, and it would take us a minimum of four years to develop one. We did what any self-respecting, high quality, loved-by-its-customers car company would do in this situation.

We called Isuzu.

We made arrangements with Isuzu to sell their Rodeo SUV in America in exchange for Isuzu rebadging some of our small cars in Japan. “Hello, Burger King? This is Lawry’s Steakhouse. We want to put our name on one of your sandwiches and sell it as our own,” said one of my co-workers in Honda’s advertising department. That may have been a little harsh, but there was a genuine lack of enthusiasm internally for the General Motors-powered Rodeo that we had code-named the “Hodeo.”

We had no time to hire a consultant to make up a moniker, as we had done with the brand name “Acura.” Instead we dug into the Honda motorcycle/ATV parts bin to come up with three potential model names already licensed to us.

This was not the first time we had used a tag from our two-wheel division: before it was an Acura, the Integra was a V-Twin sport bike built in the early 1980s (and the name was resurrected in 2007 and continues today as a scooter.) The cycle division had some really cool names. Heck, if Honda ever built a V-8 version of today’s Ridgeline pickup they could call it the Honda 305 Scrambler.

So armed with the names Elsinore, Odyssey and Passport, we headed off to test the SUV and the proposed names in a consumer focus group. We had a Honda-badged Rodeo and a half-dozen competing SUVs lined up in a warehouse in Culver City. The attendees were primarily SUV-owning men, as we were concerned that we were becoming a bit too much of a chick car company. My boss, Dave the National Advertising Manager, and I watched from behind a one-way mirror but were under a time crunch: thanks to NBC, we had great seats to Game 2 of the Stanley Cup featuring the LA Kings and Wayne Gretzky taking on the Montreal Canadiens, with faceoff being 45 minutes away at the nearby Forum.

The original Honda Passport

The original Honda Passport

The group first reinforced our internal concerns when asked their first impressions about our new SUV, (“It looks like that Suzuki or Isuzu.” “It IS that Isuzu.” “Why would Honda sell an Isuzu?” “It won’t have the same quality.”) Undaunted, the moderator from our advertising agency proceeded to ask the attendees what images the proposed names conjured up.

We started with Elsinore. The Elsinore was a 1970s Honda dirt bike named after Lake Elsinore, an area known for a legendary off-road motorcycle race. Movie star and motorcycle racer Steve McQueen rode an Elsinore. What could be a more rugged and manly name for the Hodeo?

Rugged and manly attendee Bob, a Chevy Suburban owner, asked, “Why would you name a truck after the castle in “Hamlet?”  Amazingly, others agreed with him. Elsinore was out.

Next up was Odyssey, a name used for a 1970s/1980s Honda dune buggy. The attendees were confused. (“So this means you can travel long distances in an Isuzu?”) I think Bob mentioned Homer. Odyssey was out but would be used on Honda’s first minivan the following year.

The name Passport was used in the 1980s on a variation of the venerable Honda Super Cub motorbike. The group liked it far better than the other two names. That was enough for Dave and me: we decided that our first-ever SUV would be called the Honda Passport. We excused ourselves and headed to the Forum. The naming process took less than ten minutes.

The Passport ended up selling pretty well initially thanks to our strong brand image and the usual hilarious commercials produced by the legendary Larry Postaer, creative director at our advertising agency. The Passport would be dropped in 2002 and eventually be replaced by the Honda-built Pilot, named after another Honda off-road ATV.

The Honda/Isuzu alliance made a semi-believer out me that a strong car company could successfully work with a weaker automaker on product sharing and development. Of course I later joined Mercedes-Benz a few months before they bought Chrysler and would learn otherwise…

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88 Comments on “How The Honda Passport Got Its Name...”


  • avatar
    Tosh

    TL;DR. Except this article cannot possibly be correct, since there is no mention of ‘diesel.’

  • avatar
    anti121hero

    Interesting read. Even less thought was spent on the acura version apparently.

  • avatar
    caltemus

    Great post, it’s interesting to get insight into how these kind of marketing decisions are made. I look forward to more of your posts

  • avatar
    210delray

    Elsinore, really? Sounds too feminine (maybe because I think “Eleanor”). Or maybe an estate somewhere in upstate New York (or Grosse Pointe for that matter).

    Grammar police item: “My boss, Dave the National Advertising Manager, and myself watched…”

    No, it’s “Dave and I.” Why are we so afraid of saying “I” or “me” these days?

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Lynch

      Nice catch….fixed!

    • 0 avatar
      Tomifobia

      I always cringe when a coworker sends out a memo with a sentence along the lines of “please send your response to either Carol or myself…” crammed into it. They obviously have no sense of “self.”

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Elsinore is the name of an estate in Grosse Pointe. It is an auto related one too. It’s a 1912 Albert Kahn designed home for Phillip McMillian, who was the largest shareholder and director of the Packard Motor Company.

      It’s less of an estate now since the plots have been divided up and it no longer has view of the lake.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Lots of great Khan works up there in the DET! I bet Mr. McMillan was very starchy.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          There is one in my neighborhood. There is also a Yamasaki house (World Trade Center designer), and a Saarinen house (Gateway Arch, TWA Flight Center, and awesome furniture designer). I covet the Saarinen house. It needs work because the current owners don’t seem to care about what it is. It is the first commisioned work of Eero Saarinen, and they don’t take care of the yard.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            We don’t have much in the way of notably designed homes here in Cincinnati. There are 3 FLW homes, and I think that’s about it. Other than that lots of misc. Victorians, Tudors, ranches – and then like a lull until the 80s when we get subdivision houses.

          • 0 avatar
            gearhead77

            Also the main terminal at Washington Dulles was destined by Saarinen.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Gearhead-

            I forgot that he designed that building too. Saarinen was certainly a prolific architect and designer. Knoll, among others still sell his furniture designs. I want a grasshopper chair, but they are $1500.

          • 0 avatar
            toplessFC3Sman

            The GM Tech Center in Warren is also one of Saarinen’s – the glazed brick around the R&D complex is very pretty, and the water tower definitely evokes a vision of 1950’s future. I’m going to miss working here after moving to Pontiac…

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      When I see Elsinore, I think Elsinore Beer.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      My first motorcycle was a ’75 Honda 250 Elsinore.
      Bought it for 500, sold it for 400 a few years later.
      It’s probably worth much more than that now!

      • 0 avatar
        dswilly

        The early CR250 Elsinore’s go for real money. I had a 76′ MR250 Elsinore for a while. It was the Desert Racer model with lights and a bigger tank. I quickly sold it realizing it would kill me.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    I believe you were probably correct that a strong automaker can successfully work with a weaker one on product sharing. The correct lesson to draw from the DiamlerChrysler debacle is that a weak automaker cannot lord over and rule a strong automaker with an iron fist and expect a positive outcome. It may be difficult to believe now (a generation after Mercedes’ rape of the Chrysler group), but at the time of the takeover Chrysler was a relatively strong business proposition with ascendant sales within the North American market and was flush with cash.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Right on!

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      At the time Chrysler was a couple years out of chapter 9. I can’t believe this tall tale of Chrysler being this great profit center is still being told. They had a little over a billion in cash that was being dwindled very quickly. Daimler paid $36 billion for. The scam Chrysler executives played on the Germans was worse than what Nigerian e-mail scammers do.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Chrysler had received a bailout in 1979-80. It had not filed bankruptcy.

        Chapter 9 is for government entities, not for companies. (Companies reorganize under 11.)

        At the time of the Daimler deal, Chrysler had over $7 billion in cash, and had a reputation for being a cash hoarder. Daimler didn’t manage the business well; combined with the dot bomb recession, profits turned into losses pretty quickly.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          I thought I’ve heard about companies filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy before, what makes that different from Chapter 11?

          • 0 avatar
            Steve65

            Chapter 11 is debt relief and reorganization. The company remains in operation in some form.

            Chapter 7 is dissolution. The assets are sold, the proceeds divided among the creditors, and the company ceases to exist.

        • 0 avatar
          chicagoland

          Lee Iaccoca got Loan Guarantees for Chrysler, not a “bail out” from the US taxpayers. That is a myth. Look it up.

  • avatar
    doublechili

    If I recall correctly, the Honda Passport was very highly rated by owners in JD Power polling, and the Isuzu Rodeo was far down in the rankings. Same vehicle. Kind of funny.

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      More money trickled down from Honda for those awards. Same vehicle different name. I sold Isuzu’s in the early 90’s great trucks back then from the base 4cyl to the loaded v6. Don’t remember if Honda sold the 4cyl model. I do remember the v6 mpg were in the low 20’s and that was 20 years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      James2

      Power of brand perception. The Toyota Matrix, iirc, got better marks than the 99-percent identical Pontiac Vibe.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        My SIL drives a Vibe. My MIL drove a Matrix. The drivetrains are identical. The basic platform is identical. Interior bits, exterior panels, etc were all different. It wasn’t just a bumper cover like the BRZ/FR-S relationship. Poorly designed exterior panels could have caused wind noise that was on one but not the other. Poorly sourced interior switches could cause a host of problems on one that wouldn’t be on the other. Maybe the Vibe had a stiffer suspension that impacted other parts of the car. Same goes for seats, window mechanisms, etc, etc. They were built in the same plant but that just means that the assembly *at that plant* should have been to the same standard. It says nothing about the different parts that were likely sourced from different suppliers and controlled by different groups. GM would have likely sourced the parts for the Vibe and Toyota the parts for the Matrix and both would use their preferred suppliers. A straight up badge job, I’d agree. But this was more of a platform, powertrain share than a true badge job.

    • 0 avatar
      MoparDave

      The magic ‘H’ badge strikes again. If I remember correctly, the Passport cost more and had a shorter warranty then the Rodeo.

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        Forgot about the warranty. Yes that was one of the selling points vs. Honda. Same thing with the SLX and Trooper. I still see Rodeo’s around town but never an old passport. Almost always the 4 cyl rodeo.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      I was working for Mitsubishi Motors in ’99. My buddy wanted an SUV. I could have gotten him a great deal on a Montero Sport, but he chose the Honda Passport, even though he knew it was all Isuzu underneath.

      I thought he’d made a mistake, but it probably would have been a wash. They were basically the same vehicle and same quality. That Passport lasted 15 years and almost 200K miles before getting rammed in a parking lot and replaced by a Mazda CUV.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I hereby claim that the Rodeo was a better-built and overall better car than the awful Montero Sport.

        If we were talking regular sized Montero, my argument would be opposite.

        • 0 avatar
          bomberpete

          To me, all the Japanese-brand, truck-based SUVs of that era were about the same — though Toyota was the best built.

          Of the U.S. brands, Blazer/Jimmy was the worst, Durango second-worst, Explorer/Mountaineer OK, and Grand Cherokee the best except in reliability.

          As for the bigger Montero, I could tell some horror stories about the dangerous compromises made to the 2001-2006 version’s ride/drive engineering. I’m not sure it’s worth the hassle though.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Absolutely do not concur with your Japanese truck SUV statement. There are certainly levels, with Isuzu, Suzuki and Mitsu being below Toyota – with exceptions on model variance like the Trooper and regular Montero. Nissan is up there near Toyota with the Pathfinder.

            Durango worst, GC next to worst, Blazer/Jimmy pretty good, and Explorer/Mountaineer best (exc rust). The GC is a reliability disaster and has aged very poorly. I don’t see how you place it on top.

            Weren’t the drive/ride issues corrected with the addition of the ESC for the 03MY? I know they are sort of top heavy.

          • 0 avatar
            bomberpete

            CoreyDL – I don’t know how to truly debate your feelings about that era of Japanese mid-size SUVs, because it’s hard to assess what all those vehicles were/are like to live with.

            FWIW, yesterday I went out for a walk in my neighborhood and saw plenty of rust-free 4Runners, Montero Sports, Frontiers, and Rodeo/Passports and Explorer/Mountaineers of that era. Someone’s holding on to them for a reason.

            Whenever I see a Blazer or Durango of that vintage, 9 times out of 10 it’s ready for the scrapyard.

            As for Grand Cherokee, I didn’t say best all-around, I said best except in reliability. To me the Grand Cherokee is America’s equivalent of the Range Rover. Great functionality and ride & drive in an off-road vehicle, let down by terrible build quality and reliability. I hope that’s changed with the newer models. It’s amazing to me how both Jeep and Range Rover have incredible brand loyalty, though I’ve always suspected image has much to do with it.

            While the big Montero was better after ESC, I still think hitting a moose would be safer than swerving to avoid it. For everyone but the moose, of course.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I enjoyed the story, but was saddened by just how much better educated and informed focus group members of twenty years ago were relative to the carefully cultivated ignoramuses of today.

  • avatar
    WheelMcCoy

    I really enjoyed reading a bit of insider history over lunch. Thank you!

    You took me back to a time when Honda / Acura had cool names and entertaining commercials. Glad Elsinore wasn’t used, but it could be a marker of what was to befall Honda / Acura: El Snore.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I have always believed the Passports to be better trimmed than the Rodeo counterparts – that was always the image in my head at least while they were still being sold. It’s not like Honda was the only other company to use the Rodeo when they were caught out without an SUV. GM did it too with their Holden/Opel/Vauxhall/Chevrolet versions.

    That Bob sounds like a wiseguy, I wonder what he’s driving now.

    Now I want a story as to why they did it AGAIN with the SLX. GM did it too with the Holden Jackaroo and etc.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The Rodeo was a very decent vehicle, so if Honda went the badge engineered route, at least it wasn’t selling junk. They could have done a LOT worse.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      This just proves that the dealer experience can sour or likewise improve selling the same product at two different companies.

      I worked with Honda during the early 1980’s, moved to Acura in 1987, and those were great times, I think, for us and the customer. My recollection of the bribery issue is that it also affected Acura sales reps, as well. I wouldn’t divulge their name even if I could remember it, but my dealer sales rep, who was always considerate and pleasant to deal with from my perspective, I learned was embroiled in the bribery mess and I was told they were sentenced to some jail time. I hope they were able to rebuild their life afterwards.

      As mentioned, we sold the SLX, which was a nearly undisguised Trooper. One of my techs pointed while we were both underneath one that the only automatic tranmission it came with was the same as used in the Chevette, IIRC a TH180 from GM and built in Europe. I was surprised by that in an heavy SUV, but I don’t remember hearing about SLX’s being towed in with transmission issues.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        The transmission is an 4L30E, and it does have a bit of a reputation for being less than bombproof. Not terrible mind you, but my understanding is that 130-150k is the most one can expect out of a unit that didn’t see regular fluid changes (which is the norm in the US).

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I do believe that same transmission was used in some BMW vehicles at the time. It’s very common to find later Trooper models needing a new tranny or a rebuild. From my experience shopping them, it happens pretty regularly at 60k intervals.

        • 0 avatar
          cgjeep

          130-150k would make it better than the trans Honda used in the Odyssey/Pilot. Funny my E46 has a GM transmission too. On the BMW forums they claim it isn’t true and cry about it.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      I disagree. I bought a Rodeo because as a Honda-fan-boy (at the time) I figured if it was good enough for Honda then it must be a decent platform. I figured there is no way that Honda would let its rep go south due some piss poor badge engineer choice right? Wrong! The Rodeo got horrible mileage, was underpowered and ill handling. While those are generic SUV traits there was nothing positive to offset them. For example the stupid swing away spare tire setup made loading the thing ridiculous curbside. This defeated one of the main reasons you might want an SUV: cargo capacity. Maybe the Honda interior was better but Isuzu’s version was a mess of odd shaped buttons in all the wrong places. Overall it was very UN-Honda like, especially when coming from a Prelude which had a perfect interior and awesome handling.

      I hated my Rodeo so much that I sold it after only 8 months. I took it off road just once and it got STUCK! I bought it with dreams of driving down to the lake to do some fishin’ and mountain biking. It turned out a Ford Ranger was a MUCH better vehicle for such tasks. About the only thing I liked regarding the Rodeo/Passport was its wet weather abilities… puddles? flooded streets? who care as you could basically ignore ’em.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    My roomie freshman year of undergrad had a black on black loaded Trooper, it was a 98 I think.

    My god that thing was already used up at just 6 years old and something like 70k miles. So many squeaks and rattles, bouncing all over the place, and a buzzy loud engine. The hood had no clearcoat left (car had been in KY for whole life), and the rear tailgate area had considerable rust. There was always something wrong with it, mostly electrical in nature.

  • avatar
    StaysCrunchy

    Burger King/Lawrey’s Steakhouse comments aside, were the Isuzus of that time period (or any time period for that matter) really so bad? I don’t mean that as sarcastic or in blind defense of Isuzu, I’ve never owned nor driven one, I honestly am curious. I was under the (perhaps mistaken) impression they were fairly decent vehicles, at worst no different than any other Asian marque of the time. What’s the verdict?

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Isuzus are actually pretty underappreciated rigs and are great options for offroaders on a budget. Very heavy duty components (axles, driveshafts, transfercases, diffs, suspension) except for the aforementioned GM sourced auto transmission. Before I bought my 4runner I was looking very hard for a 5spd Trooper in reasonable condition. Oh and the 92-97 trucks suffer from noisy lash adjusters, and the 98-01 3.5 DOHC rigs can burn oil.

    • 0 avatar
      dswilly

      I think the early Isuzu’s from the late 70’s thorough the mid 80’s were pretty good. I had a 86′ trooper that I took to over 300k with barely more than oil changes and brakes. This was driven all over North America form Alaska (3 round trips) to Mexico. It seems once they started using the GM V-6’s things went bad quickly. Mine had the Isuzu 2.3 4 cylinder which was really as good as a 22R any day.

    • 0 avatar
      Carrera

      They weren’t all that bad. Probably on par with SUVs of the era. Strong V6 engines, I think 3.2L 215HP or something like that. Now I know Isuzu had a 4cyl as well, but that wasn’t that great. I don’t remember if the Passport came with the 4cyl version. I think the 4 cyl Isuzu came with 5 sp manual standard. The Isuzu were a bit cheaper from what I remember and they also felt cheaper. The Vehicross was basically the same as a Rodeo but with a crazy looking, kind of cool body.

    • 0 avatar
      wstarvingteacher

      The chevy luv was an Isuzu. Had more than one serviceman who owned one. I have no knowledge of them having any GM parts till the Isuzu pickup became a rebadged S10. Afaik the SUVs with Isuzu badges all had some GM in them. Had a coworker who lost the V6 in his Isuzu Rodeo. I didn’t realize for a long time that was a GM produce. As written above 4L30E transmissions. I have horror stories about GM transmissions once they went electronic.

      In other words, IMO Isuzu was ver good when they were Isuzu. Not so good when they bred with GM. I would also disagree with the commenter above about the Montero sport. In my experience the Mitsubishi pickups and SUVs lasted quite a long time. Obviously personal experience is anecdotal. Once again,YMMV.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    I’ve seen a lot more Passports than Rodeo. Must be that high-quality Honda construction…

    And when I heard Elsinore, my mind went to a different place; specifically, one attached to both a brewery and the Royal Canadian Institute for the Mentally Insane.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      Take off, you hoser.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      The Canadian connection is that the Rodeo was previously sold by GM Canada’s short-lived “Passport” dealership network, which sold Isuzu, Saab, and a re-badged Korean Opel Kadett (Optima?).

      That means that the Rodeo was sold under the Passport brand as well as the Passport name, but not at the same time, or by the same company.

    • 0 avatar
      TCragg

      Bob (as the brothers pull up to a long laneway at the Elsinore estate) Geez, there’s a lot of signs, eh? Elsinore Castle, Elsinore Brewery, Royal Canadian Institute for the Mentally Insane. Hey, that’s the looney bin, ain’t it?
      Doug: Yeah, I don’t like the looks of this one bit.
      Bob: So where should we go, looney bin or brewery?
      Doug: I’m takin’ you to the looney bin, then I’m goin’ to the brewery!
      Bob: Take off!

  • avatar
    honda_lawn_art

    I love these inside the industry stories. Keep ’em coming.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    When I was about 12, my uncle bought my 18yo cousin a new Passport for college out of state. This highly educated man refused to believe that he had purchased an Isuzu plus Honda badges, though I delighted in breaking the news.

    Great article, Steve. Do you remember how these were priced vs. The Rodeo? When these agreements are set up and the vehicles compete in the same market, are there pricing provisions in the contract?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Which version was it?
      How did the ownership go over?
      Cmon details!

      • 0 avatar
        Car Ramrod

        It was a 1st gen V6/ auto, which I’m guessing was how most of them came. I’m sure it was dealer serviced when it was home, unjustly neglected when it was at college. I know it survived until at least 2002, when it was traded on a Mountaineer. My guess is it was someone else’s by 75K, so not too much to report. Given that I insulted his purchase, I don’t think my Uncle was terribly interested in keeping me up on the details.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Those old Odyssey and Pilot single seat ATVs are pretty cool. Unfortunately no major brand seems to make anything like that any more, instead wanting people to buy $20k “side by sides” with 700 cc engines and dump beds and stuff.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Hm, my comment about the Odyssey and Pilot ATVs got eaten, it seems.

  • avatar
    honda_lawn_art

    Sweet gerbils. I just found out that in Japan, the 1st generation Isuzu Rodeo 5-Door was called the ‘MU Wizard’, MU meaning ‘Mysterious Utility’.

  • avatar
    Roader

    “Heck, if Honda ever built a V-8 version of today’s Ridgeline pickup they could call it the Honda 305 Scrambler.”

    Heck no, Honda could have used a V6 by licensing GMC’s 305 V6, the standard pickup truck engine for GMC from 1960 to 1966. 220 ft.lbs., 120 HP, 750lbs. Would have needed to double the front spring rates, though. But what a torquer.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Great article, I especially enjoyed how your truck loving ‘Murica focus group was incredibly cultured on Shakespeare and Homer. I’d also point out the 98-02 Honda Passport/Isuzu Rodeo suffer from known frame rot issues. I realize this was not Honda’s fault per se, but the fact a Honda branded product was an incredible POS often seems to be ignored.

    http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/2010/10/recall-alert-1998-2002-isuzu-rodeo-2002-isuzu-axiom-1998-2002-honda-passport.html

  • avatar
    v8corvairpickup

    My first wife and I bought a new ’98 Rodeo L. 2.2l with 5 speed manual transmission. It was ok. It was pretty solidly built and the only real problems we had with it were related to not at fault collisions. By that time, Honda was only selling the V6 models.

  • avatar
    ccode81

    Thanks a lot for interesting article.

    Random thoughts came up
    -Honda was selling large minivan named Elision until very recently in Japan, sounds like they re done the homework from Elsinore
    – Honda sold Jeep Cherokee with their distribution network in same era in japan. It was a very first reasonably priced American car we’ve offered and it sold quite well.
    -having my uni campus next to isuzu’s assembly plant, I saw a lot of Isuzu badged Accords and Domanis around there. Strangely they were much undesirable than the originals.
    -my first car, beat was also recycling of old scooter name !

  • avatar
    brettc

    Thanks for the laugh. I almost ejected food from my mouth when I read “Hodeo”. Reminds me of the hoadie oatin’ dotin’ day guys from Kids in the Hall.

    And it’s good that it didn’t get named Elsinore because I was wondering why Honda would consider using the name of beer from a cult Canadian movie.

    Hope to see lots of content from you, insider stories from former (or current) automotive workers are gold.

  • avatar
    bpscarguy

    My aunt bought a base Rodeo. Only options were a v6 and a dealer installed, horrid flip up sunroof. Not even 4wd. Greenish blue color with gray along the bottom. Everyone told her not to buy it. God it was awful in the snow. It also rode horribly. Incredibly rough and loud. Those doors were paper thin. The seat fabric, while some might call it “durable” was like sitting on a tarp or a basket. Tons of spaces where switches would normally be but..oops, didn’t buy that option. She also could never see that the Rodeo was a Passport. Thought they were two completely different vehicles – even to the point of commenting on Passport vs Rodeo tv commercials.

    It lasted I think around 100k before being in a minor accident and was deemed totaled. I do recall that the crash test ratings on the Rodeos were abysmal.

    She has a Rav4 now and loves it.

  • avatar
    Illan

    great story, i would love to hear your story of daimler-chrysler.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    There were reports of buyers taking their Passports back to dealers demanding a ‘real Honda’.

    Also, ex-friend worked for Honda Finance call center and some callers wanted to ‘dump’ their Passports, after some issues appeared. Or have Honda “buy it back”.

    But in long run, big effin deal. Some were just badge snobs.

  • avatar
    TobyS95

    Was a college student at Purdue taking a Japanese class at a time. Many of my classmates were technicians/engineers at the nearby SIA plant attempting to learn a bit of Japanese for their bosses. This is where the Rodeo was made. I know people don’t think there is a difference between the Rodeo/Passport, but there was much daily complaining from those guys about how life had become much tougher since Honda was hanging around. Honda was especially tough on the random vehicle checks.

    After school, I worked for test and measurement company that primarily catered to the auto industry. The Daimler-Chrysler was such a shock for the Chrysler guys. We were brought in as previously Chrysler would life cycle a transmission and if it failed within an acceptable number of miles, this was fine. Now the number of miles were something ridiculously small, if I remember it was 80k miles. Daimler tested transmissions until they failed (no milage/time maximum). Designed a fix, and started the test again. Both sides thought the other was completely wrong in what was acceptable in designing a reliable component.

  • avatar
    ceipower

    Honda’s glory days are visible only thru the rear view mirror. This article sheds a sliver of light on just what the heck happened to Honda and why. Understandably , Honda is not forthcoming when you question them as to why this or why that. After the death of its founder, Honda has changed its focus. Instant Fast and fat profit is #1 at Honda. Whomever is in charge they have seen fit to burn thru multi millions (perhaps billion?) of dollars on the Honda Jet project over the past decade that as yet not returned a dime. Yet , they will not fix Acura or admit to any failure in any Honda product. They seems either clueless or they are just so fat off of the Accord/Civic/CR-V that they just don’t care to hear any bad news. They are making many of the same mistakes GM did , and showing a similar kind of arrogance. They really don’t give a hoot.


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