The Nineties Return As Honda Revives 'Passport' Name: Report

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

The name of a long-defunct Honda-badged vehicle that was based on an Isuzu and built at a joint Isuzu-Subaru assembly plant will grace a new crossover, a report claims. Yes, it’s looking like Honda applied for a new Passport.

According to Automotive News, sources with knowledge of Honda’s product plans say the Nineties are indeed poised to return. The name will allegedly grace the brand’s upcoming two-row midsize crossover, slated to fill the space between the wildly popular CR-V and the range-topping Pilot.

One of the sources, citing dealer knowledge, claims Honda will show the vehicle to its dealer network in November ahead of a public debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The Passport’s on-sale date will arrive in early 2019.

Honda first offered the Passport in the U.S. market for the 1994 model year. The model, based on the Isuzu Rodeo, resulted from a vehicle-sharing deal struck between the two companies. Without any utility vehicles of its own, the Passport gave Honda a challenger to the likes of the Ford Explorer as the “family SUV” craze grew in popularity in Clinton-era America.

A second-generation Passport arrived for the 1998 model year. The model disappeared after 2002, not just because of GM’s increased control over the Isuzu brand, but because Honda had found its SUV sea legs.

In fielding a sub-Pilot-sized crossover, Honda adds a means to potentially poach buyers from the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, Nissan Murano, and Ford Edge camps. And why shouldn’t it expect to? The Honda badge finds itself on several segment leaders. Even the brand’s littlest crossover, the HR-V, easily outsells other rivals in the subcompact segment.

Credit for the new model goes to Honda dealers, who apparently pressed HQ to come up with something more substantial than a CR-V. We came across a design patent granted last November that seems to show the next Passport. Built on the larger Pilot’s platform, the model looks like a cross between the defunct Honda Crosstour and the Ford Edge, and could find itself positioned as a near-premium vehicle.

If so, expect heaps of convenience and safety tech to go with the roomier two-row body. Without a doubt, there’ll be a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder found somewhere in the engine lineup. (That’s just too easy a bet these days.)

[Images: Murilee Martin/TTAC, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Theflyersfan I wonder how many people recalled these after watching EuroCrash. There's someone one street over that has a similar yellow one of these, and you can tell he loves that car. It was just a tough sell - too expensive, way too heavy, zero passenger space, limited cargo bed, but for a chunk of the population, looked awesome. This was always meant to be a one and done car. Hopefully some are still running 20 years from now so we have a "remember when?" moment with them.
  • Lorenzo A friend bought one of these new. Six months later he traded it in for a Chrysler PT Cruiser. He already had a 1998 Corvette, so I thought he just wanted more passenger space. It turned out someone broke into the SSR and stole $1500 of tools, without even breaking the lock. He figured nobody breaks into a PT Cruiser, but he had a custom trunk lock installed.
  • Jeff Not bad just oil changes and tire rotations. Most of the recalls on my Maverick have been fixed with programming. Did have to buy 1 new tire for my Maverick got a nail in the sidewall.
  • Carson D Some of my friends used to drive Tacomas. They bought them new about fifteen years ago, and they kept them for at least a decade. While it is true that they replaced their Tacomas with full-sized pickups that cost a fair amount of money, I don't think they'd have been Tacoma buyers in 2008 if a well-equipped 4x4 Tacoma cost the equivalent of $65K today. Call it a theory.
  • Eliyahu A fine sedan made even nicer with the turbo. Honda could take a lesson in seat comfort.