We’ll spare you the frosted-tipped, rap-rock, slap-bracelet nostalgia from the 1990s. We’ve all seen the pictures.
The 2019 Chevrolet Blazer and 2019 Honda Passport are two names from near-history that expired, revived for 2019 and reapplied to new SUVs.
This time, both names apply to somewhat less rugged and less boxy vehicles than their forebears, but perform similar functions: they’re tall-riding vehicles, fit for five, and loosely related to other vehicles in their respective showrooms.
The Honda Passport is a close cousin to the family-friendly Pilot, but with less room in the back and no third row. The Chevy Blazer shares its bones with other crossovers in Chevrolet and GMC showrooms, most closely to the Equinox.
We rated the 2019 Chevy Blazer at 6.2 and the 2019 Honda Passport at 5.8, a win for the Chevy. That gap may close once safety scores are figured in—federal and independent testers haven’t yet crashed either but only the Passport is equipped with automatic emergency braking on every trim level, which our ratings favor.
On paper, the race between the Passport and Blazer parts down the middle like a bad haircut. (We’ll stop now.)
2019 Chevrolet Blazer
2019 Chevrolet Blazer
2019 Chevrolet Blazer
On looks alone, the Blazer wins our showdown. Applying the Camaro’s sleek shapes to a crossover body worked well for us, the swoopy shapes and thin LEDs on top of a tie-fighter nose. The taillights are cribbed from a Camaro, too, but leave open too much space for body stamping and lines to dilute a style that we otherwise favor.
The Passport commits no sins, but doesn’t commit itself to much either. There are a handful of touches to separate from the Pilot—unpainted bumpers and an optional roof rack, notably.
Inside, we didn’t see much separation between the two related Hondas; if you’ve been in a Passport, you’ve been in a Pilot.
The Blazer, by contrast, takes some risks inside that mostly work aside from ergonomic quibbles. The gimballed air vents double as temperature controls, which is a win. Broad swathes of look-at-me red plastic? We’re mixed.
The Blazer impresses more in performance, too. The optional, 308-horsepower V-6 is a stout performer in the Blazer and briskly shuttles the two-ton SUV down roads with more fury than sound. It’s teamed to a 9-speed automatic transmission and front- or all-wheel drive—the latter uses one of two systems, depending on trim level.
A base inline-4 in the Blazer makes 193 hp and is also mated to a 9-speed automatic but is front-wheel drive only. It’s competent, especially in lower gears designed for better takeoff, but runs out of ideas at highway speeds.
2019 Honda Passport
2019 Honda Passport
2019 Honda Passport, 2018 LA Auto Show
The Passport is equipped only with a 280-horsepower V-6 and 9-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is an option, but the Passport won’t travel too far off pavement.
Its V-6 is a willing performer, but we’ve found that it’s somewhat confused. The Passport’s better gift is its ride, which wasn’t a surprise: the Pilot excelled at a creamy family ride, anyway.
It shouldn’t be a surprise then that we prefer the Passport’s space for passengers. Five fit easily within the big Passport, there are 41 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second row. Every seating position is high and gifted with good outward vision, leftovers from the Pilot’s mission as a family hauler.
The Blazer’s seats, by contrast, aren’t as comfortable as the Honda’s, although there’s plenty of room for adults. The bottom cushions are a little short, and while the rear seats slide for more room, we’re still looking for more comfort. Behind the second row, the Blazer offers more than 30 cubes of cargo room, which is more than enough but not cavernous like the Passport.
The two crossovers are sized within an inch of each other, bumper to bumper. The Blazer is less than an inch longer (191.4 inches vs. 190.3 inches), but the Passport is roughly two inches wider. The Blazer has nearly two more inches between its wheels, but the Honda seems smarter about its space.
Neither crossover has been crashed by federal or independent testers, so it’s a draw there until we get more data. The Honda has three trump cards to play: automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control are standard on all trims.
The Blazer offers those features, but with its hands out. Chevy makes those features available on RS and Premier trim levels, which are already more expensive, and then asks for more money.
And for features, that starts the Blazer off on the wrong foot.
Base Blazers with a inline-4 and front-wheel drive cost about $30,000 and offer an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, keyless ignition, dual-zone climate control, 18-inch wheels, an in-car wireless hotspot (data sold separately) and four USB ports.
The starter Passport Sport costs about $33,000 with front-wheel drive, but includes active safety features, 20-inch wheels, power-adjustable driver’s seat, two USB ports, but only a 5.0-inch display for audio without smartphone compatibility. That’s not exactly thrilling, but it is safer.
Our sweet spot for both lands closer to $40,000: a Blazer RS and Passport EX-L. Both feature active safety features (optional on the Blazer, still), an 8.0-inch touchscreen with smartphone features, 20-inch wheels, a power tailgate, and upgraded upholstery compared to base models.
The EPA’s calculators don’t help our indecision: both crossovers, when equipped with a V-6, rate 22 mpg combined with front-wheel drive or 21 mpg combined with all-wheel drive. Only the base Blazer’s inline-4 is relatively frugal: the EPA gives it a 25-mpg rating.
In the end, it’s the Blazer’s styling that pushes our buttons for now. We say it’d look better with active safety features, but GM hasn’t yet read our letters.
The Passport pays lip service to some modicum of off-roadability, but standard 20-inch wheels say otherwise to us. The Honda excels at comfort and space for adults, which speaks probably more to its mission in life anyway.
Both crossovers rate better than average on our scale, and offer crossover buyers more options for the cars they prefer, and we—want it that way.