It’s too easy to dismiss the Honda Passport as a mildly shrunken Pilot, because it’s not. We’d go so far as to say it’s better in almost every way.
Mont Tremblant, QC. From the moment the 2019 Honda Passport was announced, we all though the same thing: It’s a shorter Honda Pilot. A few hundred kilometers later through northern Quebec backroad and a discussion or two with Honda reps, and I can confirm that the Passport is very good.
More than likely, you’re in the market for a midsize crossover utility vehicle. You’ve spotted the new Hyundai Santa Fe, the Ford Edge, Chevrolet Blazer, Nissan Murano and even poked around at the Jeep Grand Cherokee. And now, you find yourself online thinking the new 2019 Honda Passport looks like it might do the trick.
Yes, and do yourself a favour and head over to your local Honda dealer for a test drive. Honda did start with a Pilot and used it as the basis for the Passport however kept all the right stuff – they basically only cut the fat off. Oh, and we’re happy they didn’t call the truck the Pilot Sport à la Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and Nissan Rogue Sport.
Smaller than Pilot but more
And so, the new Passport shares the Pilot’s wheelbase but is 15cm shorter overall. This creates many happy consequences including, but not limited to, gobs of room. Despite the shorter overhangs, the Passport’s boot is only 150 litres less capacious than what you get behind the Pilot’s second row – 150 litres is more or less a big purse… Rear seat legroom actually increases slightly and let’s not forget that the rear bench reclines and moves fore and aft. Back seat occupants will be well cared for.
Up front, all is identical. Passengers here get huge perches that could use a tad more support in every way but they are comfortable nonetheless. Storage. The 2019 Honda Passport has lots and lots of storage, and we love it more for all of it.
Dashing, at a price
The dashboard is lifted from the Pilot so there’s nothing much to report here. The 7-inch driver information display encompasses all the important details, the large central screen is simple to navigate for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth and so on while HVAC switchgear is straightforward.
On the aesthetics, I can safely say that the Honda Passport is more attractive than the Pilot. It sports tidier dimensions which aid proportions. From there, all benefit from black bumper garnishing, LED fog lights, roof rails, 20-inch wheels with wider tires (245-section on Sport and EX-L, 265 on Touring). The Pilot seems bland and bloated in comparison.
My sole gripe is with Honda’s exterior colour strategy – interiors are all black. It’s no wonder why only Deep Scarlet pearl units were made available to us. This is the best shade for the truck and it’s only offered on the $48,990 Touring trim. You’re lucky if Obsidian Blue pearl’s your colour as it’s available on the EX-L which retails for $45,590. The $41,990 Sport comes with either white, black or grey soul-less paint schemes.
While Honda may skimp on colour options, they’ve done no such thing powertrain-wise. The 280-horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque, 3.5-liter i-VTEC V6, 9-speed automatic transmission and Honda’s torque-vectoring i-VTM4 all-wheel drive system are standard with every Passport.
The V6 remains as creamy smooth and responsive as ever. Although torque only comes in at a relatively high 4,700 rpm, the 9-speed transmission beautifully manages the power delivery. While it still does not appreciate being rushed, it managed to stay with me as we tackled snow-covered backroads with numerous crests. The chassis is on the receiving end of mild tweaks and includes Amplitude Reactive Dampers. They, along with Honda’s stiff Global Light Truck Platform, are responsible for a wonderful driving experience.
Exceptional ride and refinement
Once more, we traversed rough ice- and snow-covered roads, switchbacks and slippery surfaces. Not once did the Passport behave as though overwhelmed by the situation. The dampers provide the big SUV with handling characteristics that are unusual for such a vehicle. Tied into the drive are the lag-free electric power steering and delightfully strong brakes. At day’s end, I drove a 2019 Pilot and rediscovered its poor pedal feel with long travel. Here, whatever Honda did to the Passport, they need to transfer to the Pilot.
I went into this first drive of the 2019 Honda Passport with expectations of a Honda truck driving experience. The Passport, it turns out, is the best out of the lot which included the Ridgeline, Odyssey and Pilot.
And there’s more. As much as I love the Jeep Grand Cherokee (was my 1st pick in the segment), I’m now convinced that the Honda Passport is the best and most relevant 5-passenger, two-row midsize you can purchase today.
All day I was picturing myself heading to Florida with the kids and wife…
2019 Honda Passport Images Gallery