Overnight, the 2-row midsize SUV segment grew by nearly 50% with the arrival of the Honda Passport and Chevy Blazer. We pit them against each to see which is best.
The majority of consumers, especially those with families or who are particularly active, require the one vehicle that will fit their lives. With less than a handful of option in the 2-row midsize SUV segment, many turned to the 3-row alternatives. Since earlier this year, the 2-row category has grown by two: the 2019 Honda Passport and the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer.
As a family man of two young kids, this is my go-to segment and I’ve recently driven both the Passport and the Blazer. Let’s compare the two side-by-side and see which is the better fit for your life.
The principal difference between these two in this portion of the head-to-head is that the Chevy Blazer is available with a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder and FWD to start. According to GM reps, this combination will account for far less than 5% of Blazer sales. In other words, it’s out. As well, the V6 engine in the Blazer can also be ordered as a FWD vehicle – we’ll strike this possibility from the roster too.
As so, we then find ourselves with two AWD V6-powered 2-row midsized SUVs. Both V6 have run the gambit for their respective brands. For the Honda, the 3.5-litre V6 is back at it with 280-horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque. It is coupled to a 9-speed autobox and Honda’s intelligent Variable Torque Management (i-VTM4) AWD system. The Chevy Blazer’s V6 is a 3.6-litre unit that generates 308-horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque. It too features a 9-speed automatic transmission and AWD.
Both of these V6 engines provides immensely smooth acceleration and even though the Blazer’s number are great, both generate nearly equal bursts of speed. Fuel economy numbers are similar as well. The Honda Passport should return roughly 11L/100km while the Chevy will consume about 10% more. The Blazer will tow up to 4,500 lb while the Passport can do 500 lb better.
The Honda Passport and Chevy Blazer are both soft-roaders that can play off the beaten path but are far more at home on the pavement. On the topic of off-road, the Honda’s i-VTM4 requires no input form the driver in order to get things done. The Blazer suffers from a bad engineering decision where the AWD system must be activated manually in order to work. If you want to know more, read my review. In a word however, it’s dumb.
On the road, both of these midsize SUVs handle themselves quite well. The Honda and Chevy are equal parts comfortable and sporty. The Blazer RS may have an edge at the limit because of its “sport-tuned” dampers but I would actually avoid them especially if you live in an area that suffers less than ideal road surfaces.
The main issue with the Honda happens to be brake pedal feel and response. Of the two units driven, one had a spongy long-travel pedal that felt very wrong. Both offer decent steering and the Blazer’s brakes are perfectly fine.
As we’re comparing base V6 AWD SUVs, I’m skipping over the two FWD iterations of the Chevy Blazer.
At $41,990, the Honda Passport Sport has a proximity key with push-start, heated seats and steering wheel, 20-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control and a battery of active safety features, and more. For $40,300, the basic Chevrolet Blazer V6 AWD does without intelligent cruise control and all active safety features, a heated steering wheel and rolls on 18-inch wheels. Moving up to the $43,300 Blazer True North brings with it a power hatch and a power passenger seat but still does without the extra safety bits.
Value and equipment levels are more interesting in the Honda Passport, if by a nose. The mid-range $45,590 Passport is the sweet spot where loads of kit you want, and need are included. Namely, you’ll find the power tailgate, leather seats, power passenger seat, heated rear seats and more. The $46,300 Blazer RS closes the gap but still lacks the safety features.
The main issue with the Honda Passport is that is you want color, you need to spend more money. Chevy believes that colors such as red is not a priviledge reserved for those with more money to spend.
Our Thoughts On The Honda Passport And Chevy Blazer
After driving the new 2019 Honda Passport, I thought I’d found the best in the category. But then, I sampled the 2019 Chevy Blazer and shifted my thoughts.
The new Passport is roomier, offers more equipment if by a hair, includes more storage spaces but the admittedly, the Blazer looks and drives better, if by a hair…
Between these two, there is no bad option. Reliability-wise, the both the Chevy and Honda should prove to be about equal, with a slight lean towards the Honda if only because of the brand’s history.
The Chevy Blazer will be a rental fleet superstar which will hurt its resale value. As always, Honda products command a premium. If you are planning on a long-term relationship, this means nothing. However, if you plan to buy and keep no more than four or five years, prepare for a serious drop in the Blazer’s market value.
Myself, I’d lean towards the Blazer and hate on the dumb Traction Mode Select AWD system as long as I own it.