2019 Honda Passport is ready for adventure on- and off-road
Well done, easy peasy.
A new passport hasn't been in Honda showrooms for 17 years.
That car was nothing more than a rebatch of Isuzu Rodeo.
While this car, the 2019 Passport is most certainly not.
It's a Honda through and through, sharing a platform and drivetrain with the Pilot and Ridgeline, and was slotted between the CRV and Pilot in the line-up.
But unlike its brother, the Passport adopts a slightly more outdoorsy and rugged persona, one that's brought me here to Moab, Utah to try out first hand.
But even before driving the Passport, you can't help but notice some family resemblance.
The sculpted hood, wheel arches, inside character lines are taken right from the Pilot.
However, a nearly one inch higher ride height for better ground clearance and approach angle Shorter rear overhangs that make it more than 6 inches shorter in length and standard 20 inch wheels do differ it and better prepare it for tackling trails.
More noticable are an aggressive grill, backend with the steeper raked window that looks an awful lot like the Ford Explorer, and black trim.
Inside, the Passport uses the Pilot dash Center console and seats which isn't a bad thing.
Materials are nice.
The layout is intuitive and seats are comfortable.
It's just missing a third row and instead has a very good 41.2 cubic feet of cargo space in the back.
Putting the fold flats second row seats grows space to nearly 87 cubic feet with another 2.5 of under floor storage taking care of infotainment in the Bay Sport Model is a five inch touch screen unit but EXL touring and elite miles get an easy to use eight inch display audio system with manual volume knob, satellite radio, and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Touring and elite also receive navigation, 10 speaker audio set up, and wi-fi hot spot.
For safety, all Passports get the Honda sensing package that includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning with lane keep assist.
While EX and above trims also get blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.
Powering matters is a familiar 3.5 liter V6 with 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque which works with a 9-speed automatic transmission.
Front-wheel drive comes standard, while all-wheel drive is available.
Passports with all-wheel drive can tow up to 5,000 pounds which is good enough to pull adventure toys like a small boat, camper and a couple of jet skis.
As for fuel economy, EPA estimates have it returning 20 miles per gallon in the city and 25 miles per gallon on the highway with front-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive cars return 19 miles per gallon in the city and 24 miles per gallon on Out on the highway.
Out on the road there's good grunt from the [INAUDIBLE] V6 that gives off a nice little growl when you pin the throttle.
Transmission tuning is on point with smooth launches and quick gear changes.
And I'm happy to report that gear hunting is no longer an issue, which wasn't always the case with Honda's nine speed.
Tuning for the steering suspension and brakes were messaged compared to the Pilot.
So steering is quicker but still lightly weighted.
Firmer shocks and springs keep it nicely [UNKNOWN] corners with minimal body roll while still offering enough dampening for a nice ride on the 20-inch tires.
The brakes also feature a shorter pedal stroke, though I would like a slightly stronger initial bite to go along with the sportier steering and And suspension.
But the main reason Honda brought us out to Moab was to put the Passports off the road chops on display.
Which benefits the aforementioned high ride height approach angles and shorter rear overhangs.
But also from the available torque vector all wheel drive system.
Which isn't breake-based, but a legit delivery bay syatem.
It can send up to 70% of torque to the rear axle, which then can take that and route 100% of it side to side to the wheel that has the most traction.
And in the four-mode traction management system that has settings for normal, snow, sand, and mud, that adjusts throttle, gear box shift mapping, torque vectoring, and stability control, and you have a crossover that's surprising capable off pavement.
But I have driven this thing through a lot of mud, sand and up some nice sized rocks today with the wheel off the ground and felt the torque factoring at work, and it was all done with ease.
That's all stuff that I'm guessing,most owners aren't gonna even come close to encountering When they're going to the mountain bike trail or to go kayaking, but rest assured, when Honda says the Passport is capable of light off-roading they aren't lying.
To top things off, it's quite a bit of fun to sling around out here.
The arrival of the 2019 Passport finally gives Honda something to compete with the likes of the also returning Chevy Blazer Ford Edge, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Nissan Murano, and offers a nice mix of style, size, tech, and both on and off road performance.
It starts at about $32,000 with all wheel drive tacking on $1,900.
This range topping elite model that has standard all wheel drive begins at about $44,000.
And after coming out to the middle of nowhere Utah to test drive it, I have to say that if you're in the market for a slightly larger five passenger crossover, the new Honda Passport is definitely worth the test drive.