By on September 6, 2019

2019 Honda Passport front quarter

2019 Honda Passport AWD Elite

3.5-liter V6, SOHC (280 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 262 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm)

Nine-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive

19 city / 24 highway / 21 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

12.5 city / 9.8 highway / 11.3 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

23.2 (observed mileage, MPG)

Base Price: $44,725 US / $50,916 CAD

As Tested: $44,725 US/ $50,916 CAD

Prices include $1,045 destination charge in the United States and $1,926 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

For those who don’t know, my day job isn’t in the automotive industry. Rather, I’m in sales – I represent various product lines in an industrial setting, and I talk to countless small business owners and technicians who look to me to help get their job done.

I’d like to think that the better part of two decades in sales has inoculated me to obvious marketingspeak – I can see through the jargon and bullshit most of the time, as I’m usually the one distilling the bullshit for my clients. It carries over outside the office, of course, so I was skeptical when presented with Honda’s tagline for this two-row crossover: “Passport To Adventure.” Surely the 2019 Honda Passport isn’t an overlanding rig meant to tackle the worst terrain the world can offer. That said, some of Ohio’s roads must be some of the worst terrain to be called “paved” in the western world.

Every commute is an adventure.

2019 Honda Passport profile

The farthest off the tarmac I was able to take the Passport was a rough trail through some southern Ohio woods to drop the kid at summer camp. Not a lot of public lands in this area where I can try and get myself good and stuck, I’m afraid. Really, however, I’d imagine that my jaunt up the hill was more representative of most driving this big crossover will see, and it handled it well. The cavernous cargo hold easily swallowed all of the gear my always-overpacking kiddo decided to take for a week in a yurt.

2019 Honda Passport front

The drive to and from camp was pleasant, as one would expect from a long-wheelbase crossover from Honda. I was a bit surprised to see that the Passport has an identical 111-inch wheelbase to the larger Pilot – the length difference (6.2 inches) comes from the overhangs, especially in the rear. This, and a slightly taller ride height, combine to give better approach and departure angles, making the two-row Passport a bit more capable off-road.

2019 Honda Passport rear

The rolling stock is decidedly road-focused, with 245/50-20 Continental CrossContact tires fitted to 20-inch alloys. I’d have preferred a taller sidewall both off-road (a bit of wheel protection from rocks) and on-road (ditto, just substitute potholes).

2019 Honda Passport rear quarter

On the tarmac, however, the Passport shines much like the big sibling Pilot. Other than maybe the faintest wind noise over the A-pillar, the ride is quiet and calm. A bit of harshness comes from those shallow sidewalls over expansion joints, but it’s not unpleasant. Steering is typical Honda – light and direct, with just enough feedback to remind what the wheels are up to.

The 280 hp V6 is plenty for most driving situations – off-road, I could imagine a bit more low-end torque as one might find from a turbo four would be welcome, but in the situations the Passport will typically endure, the more relaxed V6 is perfection. I’d love to see Honda’s brilliant 10-speed automatic trickle down from the Odyssey to the Passport – the nine-speed fitted here is good enough, but the shifts can be sluggish on occasion.

2019 Honda Passport interior

The interior is exactly what one would expect from Honda – plain, but well thought out. I still don’t love the pushbutton transmission selector that would be more at home in an early Sixties Mopar – it’s not intuitive to shift from reverse to drive, so I have to look down and think about the transmission every time I back out of the driveway. Plus, it doesn’t save any horizontal space on the center console over a traditional selector lever. Imagine the cupholder proliferation should that big button panel migrate somewhere else!

2019 Honda Passport front seats

But, seriously – it works fine, and I’m sure that with time it will become second nature to an owner. The deep covered cubby between the seats is a nice touch, holding my wife’s purse or my camera away from prying eyes. And those seats are quite comfortable for a long day back and forth to the campsite. Even the second-row bench was roomy enough for two tall kids and an adult to sit three abreast without complaint.

2019 Honda Passport rear seats

Were I looking at Honda for a bigger crossover, I’d weigh my options closely. The third row in the Pilot is a nice thing to have for those times when called upon to haul an extra kid or two home from the ball field. Conversely, it’s nice to have the opportunity to nope out of hauling someone else’s brat of a child by reminding them that you don’t have a third row in your Passport. For me, the nominal off-road upgrades to the Passport aren’t enough to sway me – but an easy out of an awkward conversation with an awful parent is always a win.

2019 Honda Passport dashboard

Really, if you’re buying a Honda for hardcore off-road purposes, you need to be down the street at the powersports store looking at a side-by-side ATV. But for the occasional journey to a campground deep in the woods, or to that secret fishing hole, the Passport will acquit itself nicely in the rough.

2019 Honda Passport center stack

And for the 358 other days a year where the worst terrain you’ll see is near shopping carts, this midsized Honda will get you there in comfort. Passport to adventure? The adventure that is your life, perhaps. Make your life an adventure, and the Passport can take you there.

2019 Honda Passport badge

[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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43 Comments on “2019 Honda Passport Review – Go (Almost) Anywhere...”


  • avatar
    kkop

    ‘tall kids’, ‘adult’. Next time, could you state how tall test subjects are, makes it easier for the reader to imagine the leg/head room. Tks.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      “…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.” Motor Trend

      • 0 avatar
        formula m

        Go blaze one Norman, chevy blazer is a POS

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        1st Place:
        Honda Passport
        https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/comparison-test/a27046083/2019-ford-edge-vs-hyundai-santa-fe-honda-passport/

        “The best combination of utility and driving pleasure also comes with a reasonable price tag.” Easily beats the Blazer

        Blazer :

        “Pricey, harshest ride, recalcitrant downshifts.
        Verdict: An SUV for blazing down back roads and burning through your savings.”

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I don’t know why you guys put any weight behind what C/D or Motor Trend think. The writers there are not special vehicular soothsayers.
        These CUVs aren’t exotics, people can test drive a Passport & a Blazer themselves and buy the one they prefer.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I like the Passport, I really do, but for $44K there are a lot of capable AWD crossovers, some with better AWD systems (Jeep Cherokee). I’m just not sure this is good enough to justify the price

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Yeah, but then you’re stuck with a Jeep.

      People who want that aren’t even looking at a Passport.

      (I mean, I *like* Jeeps with Wrangler or Cherokee in their names, but I’m realistic – I would not prefer one for a DD over a Honda.)

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      A Cherokee is way smaller than this car inside and not nearly as nice to drive.

      A Grand Cherokee is a much closer competitor. You can get more off-road capability if you option the JGC correctly, but you pay for it with worse packaging and a worse on-road ride.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    An expensive car with exterior styling that I don’t attractive. That said, Honda will have no problem selling them.

  • avatar
    TimK

    Where is the hybrid version? Toyota and Nissan offer hybrids, where the heck is Honda in that segment?

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Nobody is offering a hybrid in this segment. Nissan is discontinuing its Rogue hybrid, which is the CR-V segment, and Toyota brackets this car above and below with the RAV4 and Highlander hybrids.

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        I misspent my youth in the kitchen of a large pizza parlor. When business was slow, we’d have a contest to see who could cut a pizza into the most slices.

        Today’s CUV market reminds me of that pizza.

      • 0 avatar
        baggins

        The highlander is not above this car in positioning, despite the highlander having a nominal 3rd row. The passport is actually wider and more spacious than the highlander

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Honda decided to ask the question: Can we fool people into buying a Grand Cherokee with none of the off road cred or ability get a V8?

    Answer: Yes, yes we can.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      How many Grand Cherokees have V-8s, though? A six is probably fine for most folks.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        According to the Jeep website, of the 955 Grand Cherokees within 150 miles of me only 6.5% have any V8. It is a rare and pricey option that FCA also stacks behind a rather tall initial paywall. I’d expect the next GC won’t offer any V8 underneath the SRT trims.

        The V6 is fine, the 345 V8 is “finer” but it doesn’t transform the vehicle either and given the price jump it probably isn’t worth it for most. If you want a fast Jeep, you really need to pony up the $70K+ for a 392 version.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    I’m another one who generally likes the Passport. But put 16- or 17-inch tires on it. And stick with the base model with AWD to keep the price sane.

    • 0 avatar
      eggsalad

      Thank you! 20-inch wheels have no place on any vehicle that has the remotest intent of going off-road. In general, they are the work of the devil, but especially in rough terrain.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I thought about it but I just cant swallow Honda packaging and design decisions. Besides the wheels… Speaking of the base model – the instrumentation, the “gear shifter”, the overall cheapness. For this money, base doesn’t even have leather wrapped steering wheel. And then you have to live with an engine that needs timing belt, which cost $800+ today. Simply, too many things I don’t like.

    • 0 avatar
      Mackey

      Absolutely! I do not get why they are pushing this as an ‘adventure’ vehicle with a publicity release that had it largely off road, on dashboards, etc, but then don’t at LEAST offer a 17″ wheel package! I mean, really, who puts painted 20’s on their ‘adventure’ vehicle?

      At least define the trim packages as being for urban adventure (20s) and “Outdoors”, with 17s.

  • avatar
    Menar Fromarz

    The only reason I come to this site anymore is to read the “reviews “ by the readers. The puff piece that may have well been penned by Honda, not so much. Sorry Chris. I really wish there was a site that told it like it is, well like TTAC used to be.
    For example I’m currently using a 2019 GLA Merc as a loaner as our GLK is in the shop, and I can’t wait to get my car back. Despite reviews like this Honda’s for new GLA’s, this is total POS. Holy cow, it’s not even an ok Nissan let alone a Mercedes. But to look at reviews, it’s the most amazing thing. Critical reviews please!

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Of the vehicle Honda currently offer, the Accord wears the corporate face the best. This isn’t singularly unattractive, but what is up with the bilevel headlights?

    Drop AWD in the 2.0 Accord Sport 6MT and I’d be even more interested than I already am.

  • avatar

    Meh, another boring and ugly Honda SUV. I cannot believe we discussing sh!t like that on supposedly auto enthusiast website.

  • avatar
    micko4472

    Out my way, you can get an EX Pilot for $400 more than a Passport Sport
    (base model). With the Pilot, you get a 6 speed auto tranny and 18 inch
    alloys, satellite radio, and a 3rd seat, plus a sunroof. If you need the
    ground clearance for “off road”, lift kits are available that preserve
    factory handling characteristics and do not require new shocks/struts.
    I think the Pilot is the better deal.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    A friend of mine just purchased one of these. It rides nice and I don’t find the interior all that terrible. The large display molded into the dash panel better than my business partners 650i, so Honda has at least bettered zee germans in that department.

    Who buys this car? Eric, said gentleman from above. Honda’s favorite customer.
    His wife drives a Pilot.
    He drove, for 13 years, an RDX the turbo barely spools up anymore, has 145k or so I believe. So, his soon to be 16 Y.O. next month will be cruising around in a slow Acura that has a cooked turbo and non functioning AC. Honestly, my 08′ Suburban has held up much better than the Acura, his interior is trashed and the AC issue has been ongoing with repair quotes exceeding 2.5k so he has opted to roll the windows down.

    He tried to shop other cars, really. But Honda, like USAA, has a hold on their loyal customers in such a fashion they can deliver a decent if not barely above mediocre product for above market rates.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I saw it with my eyes – Acura is a boondoggle. I was trying to buy for my wife an Acure RDX, 1-3 years old. Let me tell you – there is no quality in this car. There were many, but I could not find one that would hold up as well as any of my cheaper cars after only 1-3 years. Assembly quality, fitting – no way.

  • avatar
    someoldfool

    Going off topic a bit, but several have talked about puff piece reviews in the “buff books.” Those of us who have been watching TTAC for years and years will remember William Jeanes was a contributor 10-15 years ago, in the Farango era. He told the story that when younger he wrote for the buff books and was once called into the editor’s office about a review he wrote. When asked why he panned the vehicle he mentioned his responsibility to his readers. “Wrong!” thundered the editor. “Our first responsibility is to our advertisers!”

  • avatar
    Mackey

    Absolutely! I do not get why they are pushing this as an ‘adventure’ vehicle with a publicity release that had it largely off road, on dashboards, etc, but then don’t at LEAST offer a 17″ wheel package! I mean, really, who puts painted 20’s on their ‘adventure’ vehicle?

    At least define the trim packages as being for urban adventure (20s) and “Outdoors”, with 17s.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Chris,

    I say this as a friend – there are better states to live in, and better manufacturers to buy from.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    The black wheels and trim on the Elite tells me Honda doesn’t know too well what crowd can afford a $45k Honda. Hideous looking. I could see it on the base trim level maybe….

  • avatar
    Good ole dayz

    Two thoughts:

    1) 44k? Man is that thing expensive!

    2) KUDOS to Honda — in the photos it looks like it actually has enough glass that you can see out of the darn thing. I’d almost given up on the thought that any manufacturer would again let us have visibility. If I was in the market for that type of vehicle I’d be tempted to pay the premium just for the “privilege” of actually being able to see out while driving.

  • avatar
    baggins

    This isnt really much of a review, probably could be written in an hour or two.

    This site is less interesting every day.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      The comments were always the go-to section here. Great commenters such as myself always keep it interesting. But your comments seem going into deterioration path where you think the site itself is going

  • avatar
    legacygt

    What is it about this size vehicle that Automakers feel it needs to stand out from the rest of the lineup? Why is it that Passport buyers want a softroader with big wheels that looks like it’s more capable than a CR-V or Pilot. Why is it that Murano buyers want a high style vehicle while Pathfinder and Rogue buyers are happy with a more boring look? Why is it that Edge buyers want a car that shares little in design or philosophy with an Explorer or Escape? Not to judge the viability of any of these cars. Why is it that the Blazer looks like a sports car rather than a Equinox or Traverse? It’s just strange that mid-sized, 2 row, crossover seems to need to stand out from the pack for every manufacturer and not in the same way. For Honda it’s the must “rugged” crossover in the lineup. For Nissan it’s the most style oriented. For Chevy it’s the sportiest. These are all different approaches so the beneficiary is the consumer who gets real variety in this segment. It’s just surprising that the larger and smaller offerings are so uniform.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Because the 2 row full size crossover is the current full size family sedan for more mature ladies. Full Stop.

      (Their husbands are all driving crew cab pickups BTW.)


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