The world was a very different place when the 2019 Honda Passport joined our long-term test fleet. We immediately put it to work as a production vehicle for our San Francisco-based crew, but things quickly changed when the pandemic paused our west coast video shooting schedule. Thankfully, the Passport had plenty of other merits that made it a trusty friend to the Roadshow staff even in times of crisis. As an excellent daily driver, road tripper and even light off-roader, the Passport had many opportunities to shine.
How we spec'd it
We opted to get a Honda packs into its midsize SUV. In 2019, the Elite trim added blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert to the already-standard adaptive cruise control, automatic headlights and lane-keeping assist., partly because we love all the bells and whistles like heated and cooled seats, but mostly because we wanted to test all the comfort and tech features
Honda only offers the Passport with a 3.5-liter V6, making 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, as well as a nine-speed automatic transmission. Our Elite tester also came with all-wheel drive, which reviews editor Emme Hall put to the test in the snow and on a run out to Moab.
All Passports ride on 20-inch wheels, and the black rollers of our Elite trim were great against the Black Forest Pearl (dark green) paint, lovingly earning this large lad the nickname Swamp Thing. Inside, we opted for tan leather seats for a bit of contrast, and mostly enjoyed our time with Honda's Display Audio infotainment system on an 8-inch touchscreen -- more on that shortly.
Getting to work
During its time as a video production rig, the Passport largely shuffled back and forth between San Francisco-based producers Marc Ganley and Evan Miller.
"Storage was adequate for a small production vehicle," Ganley wrote -- 77.5 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded. "Don't think myself or Evan ever had trouble fitting all our gear in it." Super-tall Ganley also appreciated the Passport's interior space, noting, "As a 6-foot, 6-inch giant, I never felt uncomfortable." High praise, indeed.
Evan Miller, meanwhile, spotted a few key changes that made the Passport easier to live with than our old. "The updated dashboard in the Passport with the volume knob is a huge deal," he wrote. "The touchscreen volume in the Ridgeline was impossible to use, so Honda made a good decision by returning to the knob." Evan found more things to praise about the Passport's 8-inch display, too: " was quick to turn on after I plugged in my phone, and it was easy to navigate on the large screen."
The Passport's myriad charging options. Between two 12-volt outlets, five USB ports, a wireless charging pad and a 115-volt AC outlet, we always had plenty of power on the go. "Even with four people on a video shoot we can all charge our devices with room left over to get some juice into the GoPro cameras," Emme Hall wrote. (Hey, remember when four people were all allowed to go in the same car? Weird.)
"I have particularly enjoyed the Wi-Fi hotspot, as I absolutely must check Instagram every 15 minutes or my life is seemingly over," Hall added. "Even when we are filming in the middle of nowhere and my phone doesn't have a signal, the larger antenna in the Passport often plucks a signal out of the air to feed my nasty addiction."
There were a few nitpicks, though. "When the hatch is unlocked with the fob, the rear doors remain locked," Emme wrote. "It's easy to forget a second click is needed and with multiple people needing access to the car, it can be annoying to yell out, 'Hey, Evan! Unlock the car!' when the hatch is wide open." Also, while Marc Ganley found lots of room inside the Passport, he noted that the hatch doesn't open that high, so he was constantly ducking and hitting his head. Small gripe for a 95th-percentile tall boi, though.
If you know anything about Emme Hall, it's that she's Roadshow's resident dirt-slingin',. No, the Passport isn't a hardcore rock-crawler, but Emme still found .
"The all-wheel-drive system is pretty good, sending up to 70% of the torque to the rear and then diverting that to the wheel that has the most traction," Hall noted. "Other AWD systems send power to the wheel with the least amount of traction, which is arguably better for slick driving. But off-road, Honda gets it right."
Emme's praise continued: "The Passport is more capable than you might think. It easily drove in and out of rain gullies near the Canyonlands ranger station near Moab, and hung out like a boss over a few rocky climbs. It was pretty comfortable over miles of washboard roads, had plenty of room for all my camping gear, and with a 5,000-pound tow rating, could've hauled a small camper.
Off-road, Emme was able to use the Passport's Snow, Mud and Sand drive modes. The differences were small, but Mud mode keeps the electronic nannies from intervening too quickly. "I could keep my momentum going through the slick stuff," she wrote.
I'd also like to take this opportunity to personally thank Emme from the bottom of my heart for getting the Passport nice and filthy, because there's nothing I love more than having to go to do the do-it-yourself car wash three times just to get all the dirt off. Anyway...
Competent daily driver
Capable and usable as the Passport is, we can't exactly call it the most exciting car to drive. Sure, it'll hold its own on the highway, but the naturally aspirated V6 can feel a little gutless at higher altitudes -- something Emme experienced on the drive from Moab to Los Angeles.
But at the same time, we loved how seamlessly Honda's driver-assistance tech worked. "On long stretches of highway, I left the heavy lifting to the Passport's lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control -- both of which come standard in the Honda Sensing safety suite," Emme wrote. "This helped me relax a bit, and freed up my legs to move around a bit while on the road, so they didn't cramp up. A 14-hour drive is no joke, friends."
Around town in Los Angeles, I found the Passport's size to be just about perfect. It feels huge inside, but its exterior dimensions aren't all that large. The Passport is easy to place on the road, easy to park and has easy to see out of -- all very important things in a vehicle you'd actually use every day.
The EPA rates the 2019 Passport Elite AWD at 19 miles per gallon city, 24 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined. We found it easy to match those numbers, averaging roughly 22 mpg after a full year of use.
At the end of our year of testing, the Passport left a generally positive impression on our staff. "Overall no complaints," wrote the ever-brief Marc Ganley. "The last time I closed the door of the Passport I said, 'Damn, I would buy one of these things,'" noted Evan Miller, though he added, "But then I remembered that I live in San Francisco and I can barely afford my home, let alone a new whip."
As the midsize SUV segment continues to heat up, our feelings are that the Passport will remain a solid entry in the class. It offers a ton of space, respectable fuel economy,and looks pretty great, too. As a production rig, daily runabout and long-stance hauler alike, we'll miss having the Passport in our long-term fleet.