What’s old is new again and such is the case for the all-new Honda Passport. This version is the third generation of the two-row SUV for the automaker. First introduced back in 1993 and having an almost 10-year run until being discontinued in 2002, the Passport is back in the Honda line up once again.
The new SUV slots itself right between the compact-sized CR-V and the three-row family friendly, popular Pilot. On top of Honda wanting a piece of the mid-sized SUV market, it is positioning the Passport as a very capable off-road choice as well.
Through the use of Honda’s off-road capability of the i-VTM4 torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system and the power and towing capability of 3.5 liter i-VTEC V-6 engine, the Passport is set up to get folks to places other less capable SUVs in the category will not.
With power to spare, the V-6 engine is will produce 280 horsepower with 262 lb.-ft. of torque and with a towing capacity of up-to 5,000 pounds, there are not many weekend activities that a family of four could not partake of.
All this power is pushed through a nine-speed automatic transmission that moves through the gears very smoothly and adjusts very well to any needed speed or excess weight when towing. After a week of almost 400 miles, that included a good mix of highway city driving, we managed a very nice 23.5 miles per gallon, a little above where the EPA puts the Passport. We felt this was very good number for the mid-sized SUV.
The exterior of the Passport is where the engineers have really excelled in the design elements that are included. It has a rugged yet sophisticated look, leaving making it great for a night on the town or a weekend in the hills.
They have also included black accent features such as grill, wheels and bumpers to give it the look of true power with LED accent lights and chrome tailpipe adding to the upscale exterior. We were stopped may times with questions about the type and kind of SUV we were driving, with one of my friends even admitting that his wife really wanted one and to stay away from his home during our test week!
However, looks are not all the outside of the Passport has to offer up with the new design; it sits an inch higher than its big brother Pilot and has a steeper approach and departure angles giving it true off-road abilities. The Touring and Elite trims also receive wider and what Honda calls “beefier” tires for more grip both on and off road, not to mention a more masculine appearance.
A wider hatch also made it easier for us to get things in and out during the week especially when we had a load of groceries to take home. This would prove very helpful for a mom with active kids giving her a great place to keep all the stuff involved with a growing family. They have even included a handy compartment just inside with a cover that would keep all kinds of things secure and hidden from view.
On the Elite trim there were also buttons that would send the rear seat folding forward automatically making access to the entire storage space quick and easy when that trip to Costco or Home Depot proved needed more space for our purchases than expected.
Inside the new Passport also did not disappoint us coming with all kinds of Acura like details starting with the NSX inspired shifting mechanism. This way of putting the SUV into drive, reverse and park became second nature in just a couple of days but on the onset does take some getting used to. Having had some time in an Acura NSX it just adds that little extra touch of luxury and sportiness to the mix.
On Friday of our test week we took some friends out to eat making a 20 minute trip to Payson, Utah with them in the back. They were quite comfortable and would have been for an even longer drive in the leather clad seats.
Up front the Passport is loaded with all kinds’ luxury and comfort features, such as heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel and dual zone climate control. The instrument panel has a 7-inch TFT display that offers the driver different audio and connectivity features.
Center console is an 8-inch high definition touch screen display that controls all the infotainment features and other options in the Passport. It is surrounded by a sleek black trim that adds to the luxuryous look inside with soft touch points everywhere.
Along with the storage under the floor in the rear there is plenty up front also, highlighted by a huge center console that has a sliding flat top that doubles as a tray in-between the front seats. If juice box storage is needed this is the place as it would hold plenty, still leaving room for mom’s purse.
Technology and safety have become a trademark with the Honda Sensing suite of driver assistance items. This includes Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assistance System, Road Departure Mitigation and Adaptive Cruise Control. All models also come with a Multi-Angle Rearview Camera, while Passport EX-L trims and higher come with blind-spot information (BSI). Every Passport trim also includes automatic high beams.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also included and supported with a seven-speaker 752 watt sound system with subwoofer. There is also a telematics control unit that hooks up to the 4G LTE AT&T Inc. network that allows for up to seven devices to be connected while driving, just a little something to help keep the kids entertained on their mobile devices.
The new Passport should prove to be a great choice in a very competitive environment, and with Honda involved in the design, time should prove this to be correct. We enjoyed our week with the Passport; it would even make a great everyday driver for empty nesters like ourselves.
Base Price: $43,680
Price as Driven: $43,680