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2019 Honda Passport Is Ready For Off-Road Adventure

2018 LA Auto Show / 15 Comments

It comes with V6 power and plenty of technology.

Remember the old Honda Passport? Yeah, the rebadged Isuzu Rodeo. Well, in a bid to cater to the nostalgic crowd, Honda is reviving the Passport name for the 2019 model year. The 2019 Passport makes its debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show and will go on sale early next year. Pricing has yet to be announced but should be revealed closer to the car's arrival at dealerships.

Honda says the Passport will slot between the smaller CR-V and the larger Pilot in its SUV lineup, providing a "unique combination of on-road driving refinement and off-road adventure capability along with best-in-class interior space." The new Passport is making some big claims and it looks like this new SUV has what it takes to earn our respect.

For starters, Honda hasn't fiddled around by offering some weak sauce four-cylinder base engine or a hybrid option. The lone engine option is a 3.5-liter V6 making 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, putting the Passport at the top of its class for standard horsepower. That V6 grunt is channeled to either front- or all-wheel-drive through Honda's latest generation nine-speed automatic transmission.

Honda's available i-VTM4 AWD system includes active torque vectoring and can send up to 70% of the engine's torque to the rear wheel or up to 100% of the torque to the left or right wheels. The i-VTM4 system works in conjunction with the Intelligent Traction Management (ITM) system, which includes different driving modes for multiple terrains including sand, snow, and mud. The ITM system in FWD models includes two driving modes for normal and snowy conditions.

The Passport will also be quite useful for towing with a 3,500-pound capacity on FWD models and 5,000 pounds on AWD models when equipped with the optional towing package, matching larger SUVs like the Honda Pilot, Chevy Traverse, and Toyota 4Runner. The standard multi-view camera will make hitching a trailer even easier with an overhead bird's eye view.

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Honda has worked hard to give the Passport a rugged look to match its impressive capability. The Passport looks quite aggressive courtesy of a higher ride height, standard 20-inch wheels, a matte black grille and bumper, blackout headlights, and black wheels. 245/50R all-weather tires come standard but Touring and Elite trims offer larger 265/45R20 tires as standard equipment.

The rugged looks aren't just for show because ground clearance is up 0.8 inches on FWD models and 1.1 inches on AWD models compared to the larger, three-row Pilot. The Passport's shorter length and overhangs also provide better approach, departure, and break-over angles for off-road use. Underneath, the Passport shares its unibody Global Light Truck platform with the Pilot and Ridgeline and includes MacPherson struts in front and a multilink independent rear suspension setup.

Inside, the Passport is packed with loads of space and technology. Honda says the Passport's five-seater layout provides best-in-class 115.9 cubic feet of passenger volume and best-in-class 57.1 cubic feet of overall interior volume. Behind the second row, the Passport offers 41.2 cubic feet of storage, which is expandable to 77.9 cubic feet by folding the second row. Honda says this should be enough to haul mountain bikes or a week's worth of camping gear.

Folding the second row can be done with the press of a button in the rear cargo area and the cargo area itself has a reversible floor with a carpeted side and an easy-to-clean plastic side. Below the reversible floor, there is also 2.5 cubic feet of additional storage. Front seat passengers also have plenty of storage areas including a huge center console and additional storage ahead of the push-button gear selector.

In the past, rugged off-road SUVs tended to be pretty basic on the inside - not so with the 2019 Passport. The base Sport trim includes a 215-watt audio system with a five-inch display monitor and six speakers, plus a subwoofer. Stepping up to a Passport EX-L, Touring, or Elite trim adds Honda's eight-inch touchscreen system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration and a manual power/volume knob. The Passport Touring and Elite trims also come with a 590-watt 10-speaker premium audio system.

Moving over the gauge cluster, all Passports include a seven-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) screen and a color Multi-Information Display (MID), which is controlled via buttons on the steering wheel. Safety was also a big concern, as all Passport models include the Honda Sensing suite of advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies.

Honda Sensing includes collision mitigating braking, forward collision warning, road departure mitigation, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control. With all of these safety systems, the Passport achieves a NCAP 5-star Overall Vehicle Score safety rating and an IIHS Top Safety Pick rating.