NEWS

2019 Honda Passport: All New or Anything But?

02-honda-passport-2019.jpg 2019 Honda Passport | Cars.com photo by Brian Wong

Shoppers with long memories will remember Honda sold a Passport SUV until 2002, but that was a rebadged Isuzu Rodeo. Debuting at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, the all-new 2019 Honda Passport (thankfully) doesn’t have any Isuzu influence in it. It’s all Honda.

Related: More L.A. Auto Show Coverage

The Passport can trace its origins to the Pilot and Honda’s Ridgeline truck, riding on the same platform with an identical powertrain: a 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. The 2019 Honda Passport is the fourth SUV in the Honda lineup, slotting between the CR-V and Pilot.

Honda claims the Passport is the most off-road-worthy of its SUVs, and the inclusion of the same optional AWD system found in the Pilot and Ridgeline is a check mark in its favor. In those cars, it’s very good on loose surfaces like gravel and dirt, quickly and effectively transferring torque to the wheels with grip. Seventy percent of available torque can be sent to the rear wheels, and 100 percent of that torque can be moved to the left or right rear wheel depending on which wheel has traction.

11-honda-passport-2019.jpg 2019 Honda Passport | Cars.com photo by Brian Wong

The Passport won’t offer the same capability as body-on-frame competitors like the Toyota 4Runner, but it does have more ground clearance than the Pilot’s 7.3 inches. Like the Ridgeline, however, the FWD Passport has less ground clearance than the AWD version- 7.8 inches and 8.4 inches, respectively, compared with the Ridgeline’s 7.28 and 7.87 inches.

The Pilot influence is stronger on the inside. It felt instantly familiar; the two vehicles have indiscernible dashboards, with the same instrument panels, the same multimedia screens, the same climate controls … you get the picture. That means the Passport inherited the Pilot’s good characteristics — and its bad ones.

04-honda-passport-2019.jpg 2019 Honda Passport | Cars.com photo by Brian Wong

The bad: The center console shifter is complicated to use and doesn’t save any room in the transmission tunnel. Also, the touch controls around the multimedia screen are hard to hit and the menu structure of the screens isn’t great, though the ability to customize the homepage is much appreciated. And the final quirk: a center seat belt for the second row is anchored to the ceiling. Why, Honda, why?

The good: The Passport’s two rows are great in terms of seat comfort and space, like the first two rows in the Pilot. The multimedia system has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration on all trims except for the entry-level Sport, plus there’s a volume knob! There are many charging options on Touring and up models, including three USB ports and a 115-volt household outlet in the second row. And, as with the Pilot, Honda Sensing with automatic forward emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist are standard.

07-honda-passport-2019.jpg 2019 Honda Passport | Cars.com photo by Brian Wong

Related: 2-Row 2019 Honda Passport for Those Who Think Pilot Is Too Much

One key way that the Passport eclipses the Pilot is in cargo room, which opens up to a maximum 100.7 cubic feet with the second row folded, which is done easily via a pair of buttons in the cargo area; the Pilot’s tops out at 83.9 cubic feet. There’s also a nicely sized underfloor storage bin to hide valuables, and the floor flips over to a hard plastic surface if you want to keep the carpet clean. The only caveat is that doing so exposes the spare tire, so it’s not truly a reversible floor like the redesigned 2019 Toyota RAV4.

08-honda-passport-2019.jpg 2019 Honda Passport | Cars.com photo by Brian Wong

Though the Passport is technically all-new, a closer inspection reveals that it’s anything but. It’s a shortened Pilot with fewer seats, and it carries all the Pilot’s strengths and shortcomings. Honda will offer packages that include a storage rack or wider fenders to make the Passport look more rugged, but they will be hard to tell apart on the street. The big differentiator for the Passport may be when we test it to see how much the added ground clearance adds to its capability quotient.

The Passport goes on sale in early 2019.

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Former L.A. Bureau Chief Brian Wong is a California native with a soft spot for convertibles and free parking. Email Brian Wong

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