By on April 3, 2019

Yeah, I know. It’s a crossover. Most of the B&B would prefer I write about some hawt hatch or a 1993 Ford Ranger but the reality is this: more consumers than ever before are signing a note on vehicles such as this Passport, making them worthy of our attention. Hey, at least this one doesn’t have a CVT.

Designed as a foil to the likes of the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano, the two-row Honda Passport not only revives a name but jumps onto a very profitable bandwagon. With the same powertrain throughout the entire range, is the base model your best bet?

Starting at $31,990, the entry-level Passport is powered by a 280 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine that sends power to the front wheels only via a nine-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is a $1,900 option. We’ll leave it to your good judgement if AWD is necessary in your part of the country, but suffice it to say your author weathered several Canadian winters in a front-drive Edge with good winter tires, suffering not a moment’s worth of traction-related calamity.

The nanny set of Honda Sensing safety technologies is standard on the base Passport, a suite of kit that combines lane keeping, adaptive cruise, and collision mitigation braking (otherwise known as “brakes”). A remote starter is on board for those cold mornings. If you do forget to fire up the Passport before heading out the door, drivers will just have to thumb a starter button instead of digging for keys.

Interior design will look very familiar to anyone who’s been in a Honda recently, which is not a bad thing. I must be the only person in auto journalism, by the way, who doesn’t mind the company’s push button gear selector for the nine-speed auto. A nifty false floor in its rear cargo area keeps valuable away from prying eyes. This is likely the only instance in the history of automobiles that the base infotainment system is preferable, thanks to its easy-to-grab buttons.

LED lighting peppers the exterior, at least from a daytime running light and fog lamp point of view. Those are dual exhaust “finishers,” by the way, and the wheels measure twenty inches in diameter. Be sure to budget for tire replacement if you spring for a Passport, even this base model. In keeping with the gotta-have-an-off-road-look design language of this segment, the Passport deploys a black fascia and wheel arches to give the impression that your family is gearing up for a day at Moab.

All eight colors are gratis, including the tasteful Deep Scarlet shown above and a weirdo green. To make amends for slagging on the color brown last week, I will say that the Black Copper hue looks good on this car. Lighter shades like Lunar Silver and Modern Steel contrast too much with the black trim.

So, yeah, it’s another crossover. But people buy ‘em and, on occasion, we do like to provide some real world advice around here. Given the financial walk up the Passport food chain, sticking with the base model is a wise idea. It has all the power and safety features of its more expensive brethren at a significantly lower sticker price.

I just wish the word “sport” didn’t appear twice in its name.

[Images: Honda]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments and feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and priced in American Dollars. Your dealer may sell for less.

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47 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2019 Honda Passport Sport...”


  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    What is this reference to The Bed & Breakfast?

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Probably the recent comparison with the Blazer RS where the Chevy put the Honda to bed.

      “…The Blazer is the family vehicle that actually appeals to the whole family, and for that reason it upsets the Honda on its home court.” 

      I think the Motor Trend staff was weeping when they wrote that!

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        And you know what killed the Blazer?

        A Chrysler Pacifica.

        “But if you were expecting the smaller, lighter, sportier Blazer to drive circles around the Pacifica, you’re in for a surprise.”

        And you know what killed the Silverado WT (AWD because no 4 low in that trim?!) in the MotorTrend test?

        A Ram 1500. Guess a tune won’t fix that, will it?

  • avatar
    ajla

    I don’t get why you’d go for a FWD Honda CUV over the Odyssey. Every single Honda utility vehicle already looks like a roly-poly minivan and the sliding-door sports car starts at $30,190 with the same engine/transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

      I already have an Odyssey that at 200k miles is reliable and worth more as an “as needed” and/or kid vehicle than I could sell or trade it for, and this Passport looks better and (probably) drives better. I also hate the looks of newer Odysseys.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “this Passport looks better”
        “I also hate the looks of newer Odysseys.”

        Well, YMMV. The Odyssey is the only Honda with styling that I actually like. All their other utilities are on the extremely low end of exterior appeal for me. I might hate the Ridgeline’s looks more than anything else for sale in 2019.

        • 0 avatar
          MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

          Yep it’s all “IMHO”. The angles in the sides of 2011-up Odys are utterly ridiculous to me, like “Hey look at me, NOTICE me, I’m in a van” LOL

          As an aside, they really half-a$$ed the new Odyssey taillights, too – there is zero reason not to have LED taillights in a revised 2019 model.

          The Ridgeline is silly indeed, a new one passed me on the highway today and literally looked like a child’s toy.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Eh only makes sense to me once you add AWD and hit LX trim.

    If I’m going to drive a tippy station wagon I might as well have AWD.

    • 0 avatar
      MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

      All depends on your locale. AWD adds cost up front, adds weight which negatively affects MPG and acceleration, and potentially adds to maintenance down the line. I feel like if you have at least a solid month of snow on the ground where you live, then fine, although I have gotten around about as well with FWD as 4WD in winter. Most winters there are no more than 2 or 3 days with snow bad enough I would really “need” AWD, and that is low enough that I could just take the day off or do a half day waiting for the roads to clear.

      • 0 avatar
        redapple

        MIATA

        Ha Ha. You are so right. I lived in Buffalo in the 80s. I had a rear drive Monte Carlo. OPEN DIFF. Got everywhere I needed to get all winter. No big.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          And then there are places where open diffed Monte Carlos wouldn’t get in the winter. Some where even Pistenbullys can’t get, without help of the winch. It all depends on where you are driving….

          As a fwd based awd system, the Pilot’s, which I believe is the same as the one in this one, is pretty good. Plenty better than open diffed rwd…..

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Before making decision on AWD I talked to some people and they told me that, in our area people are looking for AWD. Even though, I agree with those who says, it is not needed most of the time. I never had AWD car and yet, this time I went AWD simply because it will be easier to sell it in our area unless trend changes.

  • avatar
    NiceCar

    The standard 20s really annoy me. Why would they do this?

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Glad someone beat me to it. Ugh, infuriating. Paint black too, another thing I love to grouse about, factory “murdered out” wheels that always end up looking like an idiot kid with a can of plastidip deciding to jazz up his hand-me-down ride.

      What does this do aside from making the car ride worse, more vulnerable to potholes, and pricier to replace tires (and rims) when you DO enivitably ruin one on said potholes?

      Aside from that and the silly button shifter, I actually like the new Passport. Useful size and shape, standard NA V6, moderately handsome.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      The 20s are a necessity to clear the 15.5″ carbon Brembo rotors with six-piston calipers.

  • avatar
    formula m

    This thing isn’t a tippy station wagon. Surprisingly large/wide because it uses the pilot platform but with 6″ taken out of the rear over hang. They are expensive right out of the gate here in Canada. EX-L and Touring models are all I have seen so far. It does get an extra lift but feels really solid, better than a Grand Cherokee for ride quality. Something is impressive about the suspension and chassis. Feels like it can take a beating without sending the harshness into the cabin.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      It’s probably because much of the structure is shared with the Ridgeline, which is a pretty rugged (if transverse-engined) unibody.

      I have a late-model Grand Cherokee and drove one of these Passports recently; you’re right that it rides and handles much better. The Grand Cherokee could probably handle more at the end of the day than the Passport, but I don’t drive my cars to such extremes and so don’t care.

  • avatar
    formula m

    Also its real base price in Canada is $43,995 + tax including delivery, pdi and a/c tax for a base Sport model. Standard 4wd and only 2 no cost color choices (black pearl & modern steel)

  • avatar
    teddyc73

    “hawt hatch” FYI, it’s spell “hot”.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    My family of 4 just downsized from a Passport sized SUV to a CRV sized one. No one complained. In fact my wife likes the more ‘sporty’ drive from the smaller vehicle.

    I think that many people are like her… people who think they ‘need’ the space of one of these when they really would appreciate a better drive on a wagon on stilts instead of an SUV.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Even when transporting adults in the back I think most CUVs are right-sized vs oversized SUVs. My parents have a Ford Escape and if me and the wife ride along for a dinner out its fine. My father and I are both 6 footers so we can’t sit directly behind each other, but at under 5’4″ the wives fit just fine in the second row. I assume most CUV owners are shuttling kids around which means similar size requirements. My brother’s has twin 10 year old girls… they get to soccer practice via an Accord or a Golf R with no problems.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      jkross22,

      tell this to my wife. We were sitting in all SUVs and as soon as she got into compact one, she would make this face… But when she would go into cx9 or Highlander she had a very happy face

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      There’s a nontrivial (for me anyway) difference in acceleration. Nearly all the things in the CR-V’s size class would be unacceptably slow for me to drop over $20K on. Things in the Passport’s class at least offer some decent power.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    This vehicle weighs 3,959 pounds empty. Can anyone tell me why?

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      The space they vacuumed out of an Odyssey to create it didn’t weigh much.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Kyree mentioned platform sharing with the Ridgeline. Even this one retains the 5000lb tow rating. Which, while hardly impressive for a truck, takes some beefing up in a unibody. Doubly so when that unibody is a truck, hence is likely to see much more frequent towing, as well as hauling, than generally lighter duty CUVs will. Also, Honda isn’t known for wanting to risk membership in the “develops creaks with use” club…

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Matthew is right about the button shifter.

    Got to drive a 2018 Accord Touring 2.0T this past weekend. That shifter only takes a couple minutes to master, and is straightforward enough. Obviously, you need to watch what you place in the cupholders, as I’m sure a SuperGigrundoBladderBusterLatteMacchiatoHFCSDishWater will do a number on that unit, in addition to the wireless phone charger in back of the cupholders, if so-equipped.

    I liked the car well enough that I placed a factory order for a 2019 Radiant Red Touring, and even ordered FloorLiners and a trunk mat.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Ordering a manual transmission on your Accord 2.0T solves that problem. ;-)

      You’re welcome.

      Conversely I do think that Honda’s push-buttons look like a better implementation than GMCs on the Terrain and soon to be in the Acadia.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        True, but only the Sport can be ordered with the stick. And it doesn’t have all the toys!

        And I’ve tried, but cannot, coordinate my left foot and right arm in traffic! Starting from a dead stop, even on a hill, is doable for me when I figure out the engagement point in the particular vehicle!

        But exist in traffic? I’d do better trying to manipulate a phone while driving! And that’d be pretty gruesome, to say the least.

        To Honda’s credit, the shifts are quick going between the gears, as fast as you can shift by pulling the lever. (Unlike Hondas of the past quarter-century, you never can pull the lever too far back into a lower drive gear, or “Sport.”) And the ten-speed slushbox is invisible in normal driving, and nice and crisp when you give it the beans.

        This seems to be a better solution than the knobs, because you still have to plow through every gear; reaching up onto the dash, like Lincoln, just seems weird! And thankfully, there’s no guesswork involved, as with a monostatic shifter.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Well, I understand why people would and should get the AWD on this car, as well as an Acura. AWD systems differ a great deal. This one seems to help the daily drive as well as just prevent the car from getting stuck in mud or snow.
    This one, I believe, helps in regular cornering. Much like the SH AWD, this one helps adjust the speed of individual wheels if it feels needed for better cornering.

    Isn’t this the real reason great AWD systems should be gotten?

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Pushbutton gear selectors. Like the original SUVs of the 40s and 50s, pushbutton gear change has been awhile for a long time.
    I remember our `1959 DeSoto…pushbutten AND swivel seats! 383 engine.
    Really miss cruising the NY turnpike in that baby.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Kill the black wheels please unless you work at Pep Boys. The top trim Elite has them as well. Yeesh. And if a $25k Hyundai can offer ventilated seats, why do you have to spend nearly $50k at Honda to get them?

    • 0 avatar
      MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

      Agree on A/C seats.
      If black rimpzz are really a deal killer, you can always get em powdercoated silver or bronze or gunmetal…..not silly expensive.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Because they don’t want you to buy base. They want you to get the works. I remember, in 2011 Altima had folding mirrors (manual) available on in top-most trim.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Here how I see Ace of Base – remove all the nannies, remove 20″ wheels, put 17″. Remove remote start and push button start. Remove automatic 2-zone climate control.

    This should result in well under $30K price

    But I would be ok to pay $32K for AOB but instead above put
    – heated mirrors
    – CD/MP3 player
    – navigation-ready entertainment (I could insert separately purchased chip/sd card)
    – Better upholstery
    – Lumbar support (mechanical)
    – Leather steering wheel

  • avatar
    Carrera

    Honda will sell plenty of these. A lot of people go to the dealership with the intention to get into an Accord but then they find out that the driving positions is much lower than previous model and that there’s no V6 available. What to do, what to do? We have a Honda Passport for you.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      I helped my dealer on the Accord front this past weekend, ordering a 2019 Touring 2.0T. This after testing their only 2.0 on the lot, a 2018 leftover. Nine 2019s on the lot in two separate shipments, not one has sold!

      But HR-Vs, CR-Vs, and Pilots are going like hotcakes, and the Odyssey is the unofficial minivan of my town! “Accord”-iing to them, more than a handful of Pilot intenders are taking Passports home. And Civics always do well!

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Any of the nine manuals?

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Nope.

          Manual 2.0Ts are darn-near special-order only!

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            And to add glue under the tires of the Accords, I damn near lost my dinner after eyeballing the Honda Financial financing offers! They jacked the base rates up 2.5% from a month ago! (Yet the Pilot and everything BUT the Passport has similar APRs from March.)

            Uhhhhh..let’s remove an incentive on a vehicle that’s already lot poison! If I was a Honda dealer principal, I’d be going Vesuvius on those turkeys! (I’m blessed that I’ll be able to put enough down to obtain what I consider a reasonable payment, but a difference of ~$30/month is still going to suck!)

      • 0 avatar
        Carrera

        I am a bit concerned right now about the Honda turbos. Apparently the CRV 1.5 turbo issues are appearing in the 1.5 Accord as well ( oil dilution). As for the 2.0? Not sure if they have those problems. I almost bought a 2015 new Accord Sport manual. Although Honda manuals are some of the best in business, I don’t like the placement for reverse ( to the right of 6th). I like it much better how VW, Toyota and Mazda does it. Pull a ring up and go towards 1st. Also, to my surprise, the manual in the Mazda 3 felt much better than in the Honda. Probably one of the best manual transmissions I’ve ever drove. In the end I didn’t buy the Honda because at that time, the Accord Sport manual only came in two colors: sad dark grey, and black. Living in Florida, not a fan of either color, but if they had the sad grey in stock, I would have probably bought it.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          “Also, to my surprise, the manual in the Mazda 3 felt much better than in the Honda”

          I would not place Honda manual (clutch/shifter feel) in front of Mazda. At least not in the last 25 years.


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