The Honda Passport wears a familiar name, and sports some familiar running gear, too. It’s a shorter, five-seat cousin to the Honda Pilot that we named our Best Car To Buy 2016.
It’s a Best Car To Buy nominee almost by default, then. After a few laps on our north Georgia Nürburgring simulator (hey, y’all), it’s clear the only thing the 2020 Passport leaves off the Pilot menu is a third row filled with kids.
The Passport plugs into the Honda lineup with a no-fuss look that puts some distance between itself and the Pilot by way of styling scissors. Honda lopped off 6.2 inches from the rear end of the Pilot to create the Passport, but it reshaped it and gave it a distinctive grille and a different front bumper. They’re kin, not twins.
The two share a potent powertrain, Honda’s 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 and 9-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive gives way to available all-wheel drive, which comes with a slightly higher ride (by 0.6 inches). The Passport still drives like the Pilot, though it’s a bit firmer all the time thanks to standard 20-inch wheels. It’s composed in town and cruises interstates with zen calm, though deep potholes and ruts could be handled better by softer tires.
Like the Pilot, the 2020 Passport can tow up to 5,000 pounds, and can sip fuel at an EPA combined rate of 21 to 22 mpg. It’s rated at five stars overall by the NHTSA, and earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick.
Minus some of the space of the Pilot, the Honda Passport still has generous space inside for up to five adults, and can carry up to 41 cubic feet of cargo space with all of them in place. Fold down the back seat and the Passport turns into the equivalent of a 78-cubic-foot Rubbermaid bin, perfect for muddy camping gear when you opt into a roof-mounted tent for a weekend, like we did.
All Passports come with automatic emergency braking, and most have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. We like the Passport EX-L, for about $40,000 with leather upholstery, heated front seats, those smartphone interfaces, a power moonroof, and a power tailgate.
If the Pilot seats too many and costs too much, the 2020 Honda Passport’s an obvious alternative. It’s also an obvious Best Car To Buy 2020 nominee—one with a track record for winning.
Check back with us on Jan. 2 when we announce the winner of this year's award. We'll also announce the winners from our sister sites, Motor Authority and Green Car Reports. The Car Connection will also reveal the best vehicles in 15 categories to help you choose the best the cars, trucks, and SUVs for your needs. Finally, be sure to vote for our annual Driver’s Choice awards and tell us what you think is the best in every category.