What happens when you remove two seats from the Honda Pilot and make it a bit taller? You end up with the all-new Honda Passport. But the nameplate is actually one that has been in Honda’s lineup in the 1990s. But will it be second time lucky? Read on.
Engine – Because the Passport uses the same chassis as the Pilot, it gets the same 3.5L V6 engine. It produces 280hp and 262 lb-ft of torque which is good for 5,000 lbs of towing. Like the Pilot, the Passport doesn’t quite have the same low-end punch of a turbocharged engine like in the Mazda CX-9 but it pulls and pulls smoothly as the rpms climb.
Fuel economy is decent for an SUV of this size with a V6 engine. I averaged 11.4 L/100km (20.6 mpg) which is essentially what Honda claims for a combined fuel economy figure at 11.3 L/100km. By comparison it is a bit better than the Pilot which I averaged 12.8 L/100km (18.4 mpg).
Transmission – A 9-speed automatic transmission does the job of transferring the power to the wheels. For the most part it’s smooth at shifting gears but if you want to use the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, don’t expect the response to be quick.
Braking – The brakes are average for an SUV of this size. They provide good stopping power and are easy to modulate in every day traffic. Forward collision alert and emergency automatic braking are standard features across all trim levels.
Handling – Compared to the Pilot, the Honda Passport is edging slightly more towards the sporty SUV side of the spectrum. It’s still not on par with the Mazda CX-9 in terms of mainstream sporty SUVs but the Passport can still deliver a bit of fun when you want it. The increased ride height not only helps with better ground clearance but also aids in better approach and departure angles for those looking to enjoy the outdoors.
Ride Comfort – The 2019 Passport’s suspension is set slightly stiffer than it’s bigger brother but ride comfort is not sacrificed. The seats also aid in providing an added level of comfort with supportive cushioning and the second row seats can move forwards or backwards and recline.
Interior Space – While the Passport lost a third row, it gained cargo capacity. 41.2 cu-ft of cargo with the rear seats up is among the best in this 5-passenger large SUV segment. Front and rear occupants also have plenty of leg and head room.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – With a V6 engine, the Pilot feels very smooth. Almost electric like. Noises from the engine are well subdued in everyday driving conditions with only when merging onto a highway can you notice any engine noise intruding into the cabin. But even then, you don’t need to shout to your passengers to have a conversation. Build quality is also very good as I did not hear any irritating squeaks or rattles while driving.
Interior Design – The interior design is pretty much identical to that of the Honda Pilot. Same center dash layout, same drive selector, same steering wheel, and so on. The plus is that it makes the Honda Passport feel familiar to all other Honda vehicles and makes it easy to get use to if your family has more than one Honda vehicle.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – With the 2019 Honda Passport you get all safety features regardless of what trim you choose. Well with the exception of blind spot sensors which are only available on the Touring trim. But on the “base” Sport trim you get adaptive cruise control, emergency automatic braking, lane keep assist, and so on. All of the systems work fine with the exception of forward collision alert which did give me false notifications on two occasions. Not a big deal as the brakes didn’t apply but a message in bright orange flashed at me on the driver instrument cluster.
Exterior Design – The overall design esthetics of the bigger Pilot transfer over to the Passport but there are some differences to set the two apart. The Honda Passport gets a black mesh grille and 20” wheels regardless of trim. The Passport also differentiates by having “simpler” rear tail lights as it does not have the claw tail lights of the Pilot.
In all the 2019 Honda Passport is a fantastic alternative to the Pilot if you don’t need those extra seats. The starting price of $41,990 CAD is a bit more than the Pilot but the top Touring trim is over $3,500 less than the Touring trim of the Pilot at $48,990 CAD and you’re not missing many features.
Thank you to Honda Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Honda.ca