Car Reviews

2019 Honda Passport First Look: More Space, Nicely Equipped

Sitting between the CR-V and Pilot

Sitting between the CR-V and Pilot

With a rugged design, seating for five, and more ground clearance than the Pilot or CR-V, the 2019 Honda Passport brings more than a touch of adventure to the automaker’s lineup. Honda’s new SUV shares its chassis, engine, AWD system, and transmission with the three-row Pilot, and it has nothing to do with the Passport SUV from the late ’90s.

The Passport will sit between the compact CR-V and the three-row Pilot in Honda’s growing SUV lineup. It’s propelled by the same 3.5-liter V-6 engine from the Pilot and will be at North American dealers in early February in four different variants: Sport, EX-L, Touring, and Elite. The V-6 produces the same output as in the Pilot—280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque—and it’s mated to a nine-speed transmission that sends power to the front wheels. All variants share the same powertrain, and Honda’s torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system is an option on all trims, except the Elite, where it comes standard. Just like in the Pilot, drivers can select from four different drive modes—Normal, Snow, Sand, and Mud­—and the system can send up to 70 percent of the torque to the rear wheels and a 100 percent of that torque to each wheel.

In an effort to make all grades look polished, every 2019 Passport comes with a black grille and LED headlights, LED fog ights, LED taillights, and LED daytime running lights. The glossy trim around the grille, the front fascia, the upper part of the mirrors, and the hatch are standard in the Elite grade, while other variants get a matte finish. And if you don’t like the glossy 20-inch black wheels, EX-L and Touring trims will come with silver 20-inch alloy rims. From Sport to Elite, you’ll get dual chrome exhausts and remote start. This also means that every grade has a push-start button and keyless entry. Two appearance packages—Urban and Adventure—will offer different wheels and exterior details to those who want it.

Inside, there’s plenty of room for five passengers. This 6-foot journalist had no trouble with headroom or legroom, even when the driver’s seat was set to my driving position. Back-seat passengers can also enjoy six cupholders, a flat floor, standard three-zone auto climate control, and up to two USB ports. The second row can slide forward and backward, making space for more legroom if necessary.

The Passport’s instrument cluster uses a standard multicolor 7.0-inch TFT screen that looks modern and displays important information. The Sport trim gets a 5.0-inch LCD screen (not touch) in the center console that looks similar to the one in the CR-V LX. The rest of the trims get an 8.0-inch touchscreen with the new Android-based infotainment system that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Touring and Elite get a Wi-Fi hotspot and navigation as well as a 10-speaker premium audio system (Sport and EX-L get a six-speaker audio system). As another push to bring nice elements to the Passport, all trims except Sport get leather seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. All variants get an eight-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support, with EX-L, Touring, and Elite also getting a passenger power seat, front heated seats, and sunroof. Elite steps up the game with a wireless phone charger, heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, and auto-dimming side mirrors.

With 41.2 cubic feet of cargo space, the Passport can hold plenty of gear. There’s also an underfloor storage area that’s divided in plastic bins that can be used to hide the occasional shopping bags or tools. EX-L and above get a power tailgate, while Touring and Elite are equipped with a hands-free sensor to open the tailgate. Second-row seats fold completely flat in a 60/40 configuration and can easily be folded from the cargo area or the second row. With the seats down, the Passport’s cargo space expands to 77.9 cubic feet.

All 2019 Passports get Honda Sensing, which includes forward collision warning, collision mitigation breaking, road departure mitigation, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control. EX-L and above get blind-spot monitor and cross-traffic alert, and Honda estimates the Passport will receive a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS.

Pricing should be announced closer to the Passport’s launch early next year; we expect it will stay close to its competition, which includes the Ford Edge, Nissan Murano, Hyundai Santa Fe, Chevrolet Blazer, and Jeep Grand Cherokee.