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2019 Honda Passport long-term update: Road trip champ gets the cold-weather blues

On a 2,800-mile road trip, our midsize Passport proved to be a total champ -- as long as it didn't get too cold.

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Not a ton of snow, but it's enough for this California gal.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

The holiday season wouldn't be complete without a good road trip. Every year, I drive from San Francisco to Colorado to see my family for the holidays, and for last month's journey, I opted to take Roadshow's trusty long-term Honda Passport. We've been using this midsize SUV for hauling camera gear and running errands around northern California, but this would be its first long-haul journey. And naturally, I would've been remiss not to throw a few extra stops in along the way.

The first part of my journey involved a 1,000-mile stint that I needed to complete in one day in order to meet some friends in Moab, Utah. Luckily the Passport is comfy, with heated and cooled seats, the former helping me to stay toasty as temperatures plummeted into the 20s. 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. 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.

Unfortunately, this road trip involved some infotainment glitches. Apple CarPlay refused to recognize my phone at one point, and the only way to reset this was to turn the car off and back on. On top of that, the way CarPlay is integrated into Honda's Display Audio infotainment system is kind of annoying. There are shortcut buttons for things like navigation, phone and audio, but if you want to get to CarPlay, you always have to go back to the home screen and then select the smartphone option. Considering how frequently people use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, this should really be a one-tap feature. It's a small grievance -- two taps instead of one. But any extra distraction that takes a driver's eyes off the road is bad, in my book. I also found the radio preset selector on the steering wheel would sometimes skip stations, which is annoying.

The next part of my drive wasn't quite so strenuous: a 6-hour jaunt from Moab up to Boulder, Colorado. After a lovely holiday with my family, I awoke to find 6 fresh inches of snow on the ground, which proved to be no match for the Passport. The all-wheel-drive system has a terrain management function that adjusts various vehicle parameters for different conditions: Normal, Snow, Mud and Sand. In Snow mode, the Passport's adjusted throttle settings made it easier to manage in the sloppy stuff. So far, so good.

Of course, all-wheel drive can only do so much in snowy conditions. I wasn't able to get a dedicated set of winter tires installed on the Passport before I left, leaving me with the standard Continental CrossContact 265/45 R20 all-season tires. They did just fine, though, working well with the Snow mode. The muted throttle response made sure the V6's 280 horsepower didn't come on too quickly, and the transmission would automatically start in second gear on uphill sections. The paddle shifters allowed me to decelerate without having to rely on the brakes. I would've liked winter tires, sure, but the Passport did more than fine without them.

When I did this trip in 2018 in our long-term Kia Stinger, I learned the hard way about needing to use low-temperature washer fluid. I wasn't about to make the same mistake twice, and filled the Passport with low-temp liquid, but as the outside temperature dropped into the teens, the spray nozzles froze up anyway. Cars were throwing slush and dirt onto my windshield on the freeway, and there was nothing I could do about it. I ended up having to stop every 15 minutes or so to get out and rinse the windshield off manually. This continued until the outside temperature eventually got above freezing, at which time I had turned into Emme Crankypants.

Pro tip: Beware of 12 degrees Fahrenheit.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

All told, I put roughly 3,800 miles on the Passport, and averaged 22.7 miles per gallon. That's not too bad, considering the mountain climbs, winter weather and my notorious lead foot. For reference, the EPA rates the 2019 Passport at 19 mpg city, 24 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined.

What's next for our Passport, which we've lovingly named Swamp Thing because of its awesome green and black color scheme? Well, that all-wheel-drive system has modes for Mud and Sand, and with nearly 78 cubic feet of space behind the front row, it's definitely big enough to sleep in. I'd say a bit of off-roading and camping is on the agenda. Stay tuned.