2019 Honda Passport Review

2019 Honda Passport - All-new roomy 2019 Honda Passport AWD Elite looks racy


Price: $43,680   

Pros-All new. Racy look. Roomy. Fast. Smooth ride. Safety features. All-wheel drive.

Cons-High step up. Tricky push-button gear selector. So-so fuel economy.
Bottom Line-Among the best mid-sized SUVs.

The all-new 2019 Honda Passport has nothing in common with the old lackluster Honda Passport of the 1990s, which was just a rebadged Isuzu.

The new Passport is among the best mid-size SUVs. It's offered in various trim levels with front- or all-wheel drive and costs from $31,990 for the best Sport model to $43,680 for the top-line Elite 4WD model, which I tested.

My test Elite was a tough-looking customer. It had a black grille, bumper and wheels and a gloss black exterior trim and a gloss black tailgate spoiler. Wheels were 20-inch alloys that carried low-profile 45-series tires that gave the Elite a wider stance. At the rear were twin chromed exhaust outlets about the size of classic film star Audrey Hepburn's throat. All very impressive, I must say.  

Entering the Passport Elite calls for a rather high step up, but occupants are rewarded with a high driving experience. There's plenty of room for four adults, but the center of the rear seat is too stiff to allow comfortable seating for five. The front power heated and ventilated front seats are supportive but the heated rear ones could use more thigh support. Also, rear door openings are rather narrow.

The quiet, leather-trimmed interior has upscale materials and plenty of storage areas, a start/stop button, deep console bin with a rolling cover that can be used as a tray when closed and lots of storage pockets. There also are easily read backlit gauges and features such as a pushbutton start, tilt/telescopic wheel, tri-zone automatic climate control, premium audio system with 10 speakers, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, wireless phone charger, multi-view rear camera and conveniently placed front cupholders. Even each rear door has dual cupholders, and there's a latch system for child seats.   

However, the console-mounted push-button gear selector was tricky to use if I was in a hurry, and I wasn't crazy about using the infotainment system.  

Exterior features include a power moonroof with a tilt feature and cover and heated power-folding door mirrors with turn indicators,    

The hands-free access power tailgate has a wide but rather high opening. It opens automatically to show a large, fully  carpeted cargo area, which can be greatly increased by flipping the split 60/40 rear setbacks forward.

The Passport is fast (0-60 in 5.6 seconds) with its smooth 3.5-liter V-6, which Honda has tuned for more responsiveness. It delivers 280 horsepower and has a variable cylinder management feature that lets it run on just three cylinders when the vehicle is loafing. You'll probably never know it, though. Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds.

However, since it weighs more than 4,000 pounds with its sophisticated torque vectoring AWD system, the Passport Elite's estimated fuel economy is just so-so: an estimated 19 miles per gallon in the city and 24 on highways. However, the engine also has a fuel-saving "idle stop" feature that shuts it off if you're just, say, sitting in traffic for awhile. It's a quick-acting feature that's not annoying.

The engine works with a 9-speed automatic transmission that shifts smoothly in regular Drive mode and has a quick-acting manual feature via steering wheel paddle shifters. Putting the transmission in Sport mode causes aggressive shift mapping that results in higher engine rpm for greater acceleration and responsiveness.

My test Passport rode with impressive smoothness and braked with authority during normal stops. It handled nicely, with quick, but rather light, power steering, although it had a little too much body sway when taking winding on-off freeway curves-despite vehicle stability assist, "intelligent" traction management and the big wheels and tires. It's also no off-road champ.

Impressive safety features include adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot information system with cross-traffic monitor, a collision mitigation braking system, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist system and road departure mitigation. There also are plenty of air bags, including side curtain ones.

Despite lots of competition in a growing market segment, the new Honda Passport should be able to more than hold its own.




Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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