2019 Honda Passport: A two-row pilot

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: ALL PHOTOS PROVIDED BY NAUMAN FAROOQ
The new Honda Passport has enough going for it, but the overall driving experience leaves something to be desired.

Like many car companies, Honda is offering more SUVs than cars.

If you want a Honda sedan, you can pick from the Civic and Accord. Want a Honda SUV, well you can pick from HR-V, CR-V, and the Pilot. Now comes another entry, it’s called the Passport, a name it once used very briefly back in the ’90s on a vehicle that was actually just a rebadged Isuzu Rodeo.

This time around, the Passport is based on the same architecture as the Honda Pilot SUV and the Honda Ridgeline pickup truck. So, you can look at the 2019 Passport as either a two-row version of the Pilot (which itself is a three-row SUV) or an enclosed Ridgeline.

So, how is it? Let’s find out.

Styling: From the looks of it, the 2019 Passport does appear to be just a shorter version of the Pilot. Sure, the front fascia is more aggressive, and its dark wheels give it a sportier look, but there’s not much hiding it from its origins.

I wouldn’t call this an attractive vehicle, but it is far from an eyesore.

Interior: Step inside, and it is all a bit too dark for my taste. I like interiors that have a bit of colour, not all black. While there is a bit of silver finish on the steering wheel and by the gear selector, it isn’t enough to liven things up.

It is a comfortable place to be in, though, as the seats are quite good; there is plenty of space for people in the front and back seats. That practicality continues into the trunk, as there is a lot of cargo room, so this vehicle can surely accommodate most people’s need for space.

It also is decently well-equipped, with safety features such as adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and auto high beam, all as standard.

Instrumentation is part digital and part analogue and that’s fine, however, I’m not a fan of the touch-screen infotainment system Honda uses in many of its models; the game has moved quite a bit forward, and Honda needs to catch up.

So, in terms of space and comfort, the 2019 Passport scores well, but it is not a tech leader.

Powertrain: Under the hood of the new Passport is a familiar 3.5-litre V6 engine that Honda and Acura uses in many of its vehicles. In this application, it produces 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. The only transmission on offer is a smooth nine-speed automatic, with steering wheel mounted pedal shifters for when you want to engage in a bit of fun.

Performance: This is not the type of vehicle you’d turn to for when you want to do spirited driving, but I managed to clock a 0 to 100 kilometres per hour time of 6.8 seconds, which is very impressive. However, the normal demeanour of this vehicle is to take it nice and slow — this SUV certainly doesn’t egg you on to go fast.

Driving Dynamics: It won’t encourage you to take the long way home, or choose a twisty back road to your destination either. The suspension setup is soft, the steering relatively loose, and throttle response a bit lazy. It is set up for tackling city streets, and is fairly smooth on the highway. It’s just not something that’ll stir your soul.

Fuel Economy: In my test cycle (130 kilometres of city driving + 170 kilometres of highway driving), I averaged 10.8-litres per 100 kilometres. That means it is quite a bit more efficient than a Ford Edge, and did even better than its corporate cousin, the Acura RDX. So, it won’t hurt your bank balance much when you go to the gas station.

Pricing: It will hurt a bit when you go to buy it. Base price of the 2019 Honda Passport is $41,990. Both, the base Honda Ridgeline and the base Honda Pilot have a slightly lower price of entry, which could affect sales of the Passport.

Verdict: Honda makes, good, reliable vehicles, and they are all safe and have a good assortment of standard safety tech. There is a lot going in favour of the new Passport. I just wish it was more enjoyable to drive, and had a base price about $5,000 less than what it is.

Personally, I’d have the Ridgeline.

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2019 Honda Passport: A two-row pilot photos
2019 Honda Passport: A two-row pilot photos
2019 Honda Passport: A two-row pilot photos