2019 Honda Passport brings new excitement

Honda made a smart move for 2019 by introducing the new Passport, slotted just below the three-row Honda Pilot both in size and pricing. If you recall, Honda actually had a model called Passport many decades ago – a model that was based on Isuzu Rodeo. The new-for-2019 Passport isn’t anything like that version from the 80s, but it’s interesting that Honda chose to bring that nameplate back.

The Passport is really a shortened version of the Pilot with a bit more “edge” in terms of feel and styling. In particular, the blacked out styling works well for the Passport, giving it a Toyota 4Runner TRD PRO look while retaining a more modern, refined package.

Even though some may claim that the Honda Passport is just a rescaled Honda Pilot, it’s clear that the Japanese automaker put a lot of intentional thought into both the design and features. The Honda Passport is a reliable, versatile and solid vehicle choice for young families or for those that need a lot of interior cargo space but didn’t want the extra bulk of the three-row Honda Pilot.

Adding to this, very recently the Passport achieved a 5-star Overall Vehicle Score from the safety expert NHTSA, which is the highest available safety rating issued by the NHTSA. For Honda, this means that every 2019 Honda vehicle so far has earned a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score, an excellent achievement in safety.

Design

Many car makers have opted to include “midnight” or “night” editions of vehicles, decked out with black trim, darkened windows, black wheel rims, and other black-themed features. Honda has taken it one step further with the Honda Passport; the vehicle comes standard with a black front grille, black fender flares, black wheel rims, and darkened headlights. In essence, every Passport is the “midnight” editions (no doubt Honda borrowed ideas from the Toyota 4Runner nightshade edition).

The interior design is obviously closely related to the larger Pilot, which is a good thing. Standard heated front seats, heated steering wheel, and optional second-row seats will keep you warm in the Canadian winter, while optional ventilated front seats will cool you down in the heat of summer.

Unrivalled with best-in-class cargo space, the 2019 Honda Passport has room for just about anything. With the rear seats folded down, the Passport has a full 2,854 litres of space. Adding to the regular trunk space is a segmented cargo compartment underneath a folding cargo lid.

Buyers have the option of signing up for the HondaLink service which gives options such as remote lock/unlock, geofence alert, stolen vehicle locator function, and collision notification. Anyone that has the CabinControl app in the vehicle can also send an address to the main GPS system, add music to a playlist or control the temperature in the rear of the vehicle.

Standard on the Honda Passport (and most other Honda vehicles) is the Honda Sensing Technology. This is a suite of safety features that are designed to help the driver in a variety of ways and include collision warning/mitigation, lane keep assist, and road departure mitigation to name some.

Performance

Under the hood of the 2019 Honda Passport is a 3.5-litre, direct injection V6 engine that produces 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, again borrowed from the Pilot. Paired with the engine is a 9-speed automatic Grade Logic Control transmission that shifts smoothly and perhaps even aggressively. Steering wheel shift paddles are also available to provide manual shifting for the Passport, if desired. Fuel economy for the 2019 Honda Passport for City/Hwy/Combined is 12.5/9.8/11.3 L/100 kilometres for all three trim levels.

A few eco-friendly assist options are available on the Honda Passport to help you reduce your carbon footprint such as idle-stop, ECON driving mode, and Intelligent Variable Torque Management to increase fuel efficiency.

With the standard AWD, the 2019 Honda Passport can tow almost 5,000 pounds. With roughly one extra inch of ground clearance over the Honda Pilot, the Passport provides a slightly more off-road friendly capability.

On the normal road, the Passport drives like a Pilot but with a stiffer suspension and slightly sharper feel all around. You might even say that the Pilot is somewhat “sporty,” especially when compared not just to the larger Pilot but also to the current Toyota Highlander. It’s definitely more fun to drive than the Toyota Highlander and Subaru Forester or Ascent but not as engaging as the class-leading Mazda CX-5. In comparison to the recently introduced Chevrolet Blazer, the Passport still feels sportier though I will say that the Blazer is a huge improvement over other North American/domestic large SUVs.

Summary

The 2019 Honda Passport comes with three trim options: The Sport, EX-L, and Touring. Each trim level boasts many features and therefore it isn’t really as though you are “stepping-up” from trim to trim but rather you can choose the trim that best suits you. In fact, Honda has dropped the base level trim for this vehicle after realizing that buyers in this segment prefer a more well-equipped vehicle.

If you are looking for a versatile vehicle with many interesting features and a cool design, the Honda Passport might just be the choice for you. Starting at $41,990 for the Sport trim, going up to $45,590 for the EX-L trim, and topping at $48,990 for the Touring trim, the 2019 Honda Passport brings a competitive edge to already crowded market.

-written by David Chao

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