by Michael Butler
The 2022 Honda Passport is still a relatively fresh face in the midsize-SUV scene but it has already made a big impression. The Japanese offering shares a platform with the Honda Pilot but skips out on 3rd-row seating by instead opting for massive passenger space and class-leading cargo capacity. Under the hood lies Honda's trusted 3.5-liter V6 engine, which produces a solid 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. The Passport slots between the CR-V and Pilot and feels just as well-built and stable on the road. The interior is spacious and offers a clean dashboard layout, and Honda has included several helpful driver assistance features as standard. The Passport starts at $32,790 and goes up against competitors such as the Toyota Highlander.
One complaint that has always been leveled at the Passport is its relatively bland styling and Honda has addressed this with the 2022 model by giving it a facelift. It has been restyled from the A-pillar forward with new bumpers, a new grille, more aggressive headlights, a power bulge in the hood, and larger exhaust finishers. There are new wheel styles too, as well as a new TrailSport trim that replaces the Touring trim on which it is based and accentuates the SUV's off-road ability. Honda's TrailSport comes with standard AWD, wider tracks for better stability, model-specific 18-inch wheels and tires, and orange interior stitching - for now. In the upcoming model years, TrailSport's abilities will be expanded with more off-road-capable suspension and off-road tires. For now, it's mostly an appearance package.
Another significant change is that the Sport and Touring trims are dropped for 2022, leaving only the EX-L, TrailSport, and Elite. The EX-L now has perforated leather seats with contrast stitching, there are new colors in the gauge cluster, and all trims get a rear-seat reminder system as standard. Lastly, the HDP (Honda Performance Development) appearance package that is already available on the Ridgeline truck can now be specified for the Passport as well and comes with black fender flares, HDP graphics, and a model-specific grille and wheels.
See trim levels and configurations:
Not only does the Passport look like a big car, but it drives like one too. Honda based this midsize SUV on a three-row/7-seater platform, so the experience you get behind the wheel is comparable to a much larger vehicle. The size of the Passport affords the driver some confidence when cruising on the highway, but in smaller spaces such as tight city roads, this can become a hassle for some. Cruising on the open road is this car's forte: it's quiet, comfortable, and offers a nicely weighted steering feel. At lower speeds, the Passport can feel harsh at times, but we blame those massive 20-inch wheels. The TrailSport's 18-inch wheels and chunkier tires take the hard edge off the ride. AWD cars come with a few advanced driving modes and usable ground clearance, but we wouldn't suggest trying to follow your buddy in his 4x4 Jeep Grand Cherokee up that off-road trail, even if the TrailSport looks the part. The Passport is best suited to light trail work.
Honda has confidently entered the midsize SUV market with a product that is not only capable but beats out its competitors in several categories. The restyled Passport looks more exciting this year and is a pleasure to drive. Under the hood, a tried and trusted V6 engine brings good punch and some much-appreciated character. On the road, the Passport feels stable and is more than capable of taking on long road trips, but is just as happy sitting in city traffic. The interior has a quality feel typical of Honda cars. What the Passport does best is offer tons of interior space and, more importantly, class-leading cargo space. The IIHS and NHTSA rate this as a safe car and Honda includes a long list of standard driver-assistance tech across the trim line. It might cost a bit more than its American competitors, but it is a more comprehensive package.
The most apparent difference between these two cars is that the Pilot offers seating for up to eight people thanks to its three-row seating configuration. The Pilot is the bigger car but starts at a cheaper $36,830 for the base Sport trim. Under the hood, the Pilot shares the same naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 engine and nine-speed automatic transmission, which channels power to either the front or all four wheels. Since it has to squeeze in a 3rd row, it naturally offers less passenger and cargo space than the Passport. The Pilot is offered in more trim levels and includes more features, such as second-row captain's chairs. Both cars share high build quality levels, the same driver assistance features, and an infotainment system. Do you want to carry a lot of people, or carry a few and have lots of cargo space? The answer determines the best choice.
The CR-V is Honda's most popular SUV offering and slots below the Passport in the lineup. Now in its fifth generation, the CR-V continues to dominate the compact crossover market. The base model starts at $25,750, significantly undercutting the Passport, but that's for a reason. The CR-V is powered by an efficient little 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that packs 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque, so it's way down on power but makes up for it with a gas mileage figure of 28/34/30 mpg city/highway/combined in FWD guise. Thanks to its smaller size, it feels more agile on the road and is most certainly the better city car. The Passport does, however, offer more passenger and cargo space. We'd pay the extra money for the more capable Passport, but the CR-V remains one of the best options in its class.
The most popular competitors of 2022 Honda Passport: