Review update: The 2019 Honda Passport is the tweener SUV

September 18, 2019

If the Pilot is too large and the CR-V’s too small, then Honda has a “new” mid-size crossover SUV for you: the 2019 Passport.

I use the term “new” loosely because the Passport name has been with us before, (remember the ‘90s?) and most of the “new” Passport is ported over from the Pilot, which isn’t a bad thing.

Set to square off with mid-size crossover SUVs including the Ford Edge, Nissan Murano, Hyundai Santa Fe, and others, the Passport needs to remind buyers why they would choose a Honda.

With a TCC Rating of 5.8, the 2019 Honda Passport hits big with a spacious interior, strong V-6, excellent ride quality, and overall value. It misses with some cheap plastics and basic technology in the Sport model, and possibly being too much like a Pilot, but the Elite trim I tested is much more polished.

I recently spent a week with the Passport by running errands, shuttling the kids around town, and heading north for an adventure at our lake house.

2019 Honda Passport

2019 Honda Passport

So you like the Pilot? That’s good, because the Passport is essentially a two-row Pilot. To make the transformation, Honda chopped off 6 inches from the rear overhang, which makes it look stubbier from the side. From the rear roof pillar forward the Passport shares its body (aside from the front bumper, which features more plastic cladding than the Pilot’s) and interior with the Pilot.

2019 Honda Passport

2019 Honda Passport

It’s more capable. With 8.4 inches of ground clearance, all-wheel-drive Passports sit nearly an inch higher than Pilots and front-wheel-drive Passports. This increased ride height comes from a combination of larger tires and different suspension, Honda told The Car Connection. It has better approach and departure angles than a Pilot, but the Passport still won’t be a rock crawler like a Jeep Wrangler or Ford Raptor. Passport can handle gravel roads, some mud, and while it can get you to the trailhead it can't scale the trail itself. 

2019 Honda Passport

2019 Honda Passport

Strong V-6 power. Passports are powered by the same 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 as the Pilot, but the Passport’s engine has less weight (about 100 pounds) to motivate down the road. The V-6 feels stronger than the Kia Sorento’s 3.3-liter V-6 at highway speeds during passing maneuvers. While the 9-speed automatic is tolerable, Honda’s 10-speed automatic will be a welcome upgrade if the automaker ever brings it over to the Passport.

2019 Honda Passport

2019 Honda Passport

Reasonable fuel economy. While competitors are ditching naturally aspirated V-6s for turbo-4s, Honda’s sticking with its tried-and-true setup, for now. With EPA ratings of 19 mpg city, 24 highway, 21 combined, the Passport’s not setting any records, but it’s also competitive. More importantly, I observed just over 24 mpg in mixed suburban driving according to the trip computer, and just over 25 mpg on the highway. While some turbocharged competitors might have better EPA ratings, turbos can drink gas when pressed to pass. The Passport’s EPA ratings matched up to real-world fuel economy.

2019 Honda Passport

2019 Honda Passport

That Honda packaging. Inside, the Passport features the same interior as the Pilot minus about 5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row. Up to five average adults will be comfortable in the Passport, and an average adult can even sit in between two car seats in the second row comfortably. The second-row seat slides fore and aft to either increase rear seat leg room or cargo volume. For those looking to keep a purse or small valuables secure, there’s hidden storage beneath the rear load floor in the cargo area.

2019 Honda Passport

2019 Honda Passport

Car seats can be a pain. The second-row seatback top tether bar is mounted at the very bottom of the seatback in the Pilot. For the larger three-row this isn’t an issue as there’s space to reach down and hook the tether thanks to the third-row seat. The Passport shares the Pilot’s setup, except there’s no third-row, just the load floor, which is above the top tether connection point. This makes it nearly impossible to hook a car seat’s top tether to the latch point with the second-row pushed all the way back. This creates a slight issue if the car seat is already strapped into the second-row with the seat belt as the belt will be taut and the second row should not be moved forward. Parents take note: Connect the top tether before strapping in car seats should you want the second row slid back so kids can’t kick the front seatbacks.

At $44,725 my 2019 Honda Passport AWD Elite was well-equipped with an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, heated and cooled front seats, LED headlights, leather upholstery, and rear door sunshades for the kids.

With the Pilot’s expanding size, the Passport will make a lot of sense for buyers ready to move on from the CR-V with terrific interior packaging, strong powertrain, and all the capability many consumers need.

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2019 Honda Passport AWD Elite
Base price: $33,035
Price as tested: $44,725
EPA fuel economy: 19/24/21
The hits: Terrific packaging, capability, strong V-6
The misses: Car seat top tether location, base models lack tech, it’s like the Pilot

2019
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2019
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