The original Honda Passport wasn’t a Honda at all, but it was, indeed, a passport – to an Isuzu. By contrast, the all-new 2019 Honda Passport can legitimately claim to be both a Honda and a passport – this time to a smaller, less minivan-esque Honda Pilot.
From 1994 through 2002, you may recall, Honda simply rebadged the Isuzu Rodeo and offered it as the Honda Passport, a body-on-frame SUV built like they used to build ’em – like a truck.
The all-new 2019 Passport, which shares its platform with the Pilot crossover and Ridgeline pickup, is essentially a truncated version of the three-row Honda Pilot, sharing Pilot’s drivetrain, its front- or all-wheel drive motivation and its 111-inch wheelbase but eliminating its third row and shrinking its between-the-bumpers length by 6.5 inches via trimmed overhangs.
Also, the gee-it-looks-like-a-minivan wardrobe of the up-to-eight-passenger Pilot has been jettisoned by the five-passenger Passport in favor of a more rugged demeanor.
Riding higher than Pilot – half an inch higher in front-drivers, 1.1 inches loftier in all-wheel drive models – Passport hugs its standard 20-inch wheels with wider all-season tires while, at the same time, showing a tough-guy persona via a matte-black grille and bumper, blackout headlights, black wheels and the aforementioned shorter overhangs, particularly in back.
Under the hood, every Passport is powered by the same 3.5-liter, 280-hp V-6 found in Pilot, although Passport gets as standard equipment the nine-speed automatic transmission that’s reserved for upper trims in Pilot.
Speaking of trims, Passport can be had in Sport, EX-L, Touring and Elite guise. The first three come standard with front-wheel drive but make available as an option the upgrade of Honda’s i-VTM4 all-wheel drive system. That four-corner traction hardware, boasting Normal, Sand, Snow and Mud chassis settings (but no low range), is standard on the Passport Elite.
Surveying the accommodations from Passport’s driver’s seat, fans of Pilot are going to feel right at home. Passport shows a dashboard, gauge display and center stack lifted whole cloth from Pilot.
On the subject of infotainment, the base Sport gets a 215-watt, six-speaker audio system and a 5-inch touch screen. Everything else comes with an 8.0-inch display that’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto friendly while Touring and Elite trims also can brag of a 590-watt 10-speaker premium audio system.
And, like Pilot, Passport’s 8.0-inch display includes (hooray!) a knob for radio volume – an old-school feature Honda is reintroducing across its vehicle line after the blowback it got from its ill-advised flirtation with a high-tech (and endlessly frustrating) audio-volume touch-screen finger-slider. (Hey, seemed like a good idea at the time.)
Standard on every Passport, of course, is the Honda Sensing suite of safety and driver-assist nannies. That means that no matter what trim level your Passport is you’ll be assisted by Collision Mitigation Braking, Forward Collision Warning, Road Departure Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assistance and Adaptive Cruise Control. (I feel better already.) All Passport trims also boast a Multi-Angle Rearview Camera with a driver-selectable overhead “bird’s eye” view.
Clearly, Passport is Honda’s take on the future of SUVs, replacing a truck of yore with a unibody crossover bearing the same moniker. It’s a move Chevy is making, as well, with its all-new 2019 Blazer – a used-to-be truck-based SUV that’s now a unibody crossover.
Welcome to the 21st century.
2019 HONDA PASSPORT
- Seating capacity: 5
- MSRP: From $31,990
- MPG: Up to 20 city/25 highway
- Dimensions: 191 inches long by 79 inches wide by 72 inches tall
- Towing capacity: 3,500 to 5,000 lbs.
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