2019 Honda Passport Elite AWD – Bottom Line Review

Timeline of Honda’s First Sport Utility Vehicle in America.

1993-1997 – MU UCS69GW Isuzu Rodeo / Wizard assembled in Lafayette, Indiana by Isuzu Subaru and bebadged as 1st generation Honda Passport debuts as the brand’s first North American market SUV. Originally available solely with a 5 speed manual transmission, engines were General Motors Isuzu designs. Rather “truck-like” was a 4-Wheel drive set-up via 2-speed transfer case, while rear differentials included Dana 44 Splicers.

1998-2000 – a shorter in wheelbase but longer overall UES73EF 2nd generation Honda Passport, still clung to an Isuzu Rodeo, persisting in truck qualities. By the end of the model run, Honda had developed its own in-house SUV design with the Pilot model.

2019 – no longer GM/ Isuzu, a unibody construction 3rd generation Honda Passport launches as one of the more “truck like” among North American crossover utility vehicle offerings.

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WHAT: All-new 3rd generation TM 2019 Honda Passport Elite AWD mid-size 2-Row family sports activity vehicle = abbreviation of the 3-Row Honda Pilot. 2019

2019 Passport Wheelbase, Length, Weight = 0.9″-inch <, 6.0″-inches, 87 lbs. < Honda Pilot

Standard Power: 3471 cc, dual VTEC SOHC 16V V-6 cylinder gasoline engine = 280 hp/ 262 lb-ft @ 4700 rpm + 9-speed torque converter planetary automatic transaxle;

  • Idle Stop and Go
  • Cylinder de-activation

– Optional Drivetrain: PTU to viscous multi-clutch differential all-wheel drive (std. on Passport Elite)

WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: a ruggedized 7/8ths Honda Pilot.

2019 Honda Passport Elite AWD: Rugged-ized lower body cladding from the ground up

Menacing Grille: dark bordered, piano gloss bezeled, raked back dark chain link trapezoid grille inverts over matching dark jutting bumper cover lowering at corners to border clad directional housings, leaving prominent mid fascia corner chins.

Other Styling Notables:  Wafer-thin upper LED headlamps topped by boomerang white LED DRLs Sharp raked pinched crease 4-valley hood; Beltline crease spans top of front wheel arch to D-pillar Hofmeister kink; Creased lower door and rocker panel cladding;  Roof rake terminates in dramatic spoiler, Minified corner rear LED taillamps are spanned by mid liftgate gloss black trim; Liftgate release migrates below the license plate valley, above bumper cover. Dark lower fascia houses back-up lights, dual corner exhaust outlets and a simulated diffuser.

2019 Honda Passport Elite AWD: Entirely lower body clad, ruggedized, from the ground up.

Black Ops Clad: Prominent dark plastic body cladding, front to back,  matching front & rear lower fascia. All pillars, side mirrors, roof racks, wheels = Blacked Out

WHY: Filling the void between CR-V city family conveyor and Pilot suburban extended family mover.

WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since Winter 2019

WHERE: Honda new vehicle dealers

WHERE MADE: Lincoln, Alabama, U.S.A.

WHERE TO:   8.1″ ground clearance; PTU to viscous clutch torque vectoring rear differential with low load prop shaft disconnect. +1 Among most off- pavement capable of segment.

  • 90:10 nominal to 0:100 maximum f/r/ each rear wheel torque distribution
  • 4 Terrain modes = Normal, Snow, Sand, Mud
  • +19% approach, +40% departure angles > Honda Pilot
  • No hill descent mode; No skid plates; Limited suspension travel

HOW ROADWORTHYAvoid the meek e-throttle of Normal drive mode. Double depress the D/S pinch button center on the center console drive position selector. That tells the 9-speed transmission torque converter to lock gears, so that the SOHC VTEC V-6 spins where others don’t dare. Otherwise the 9-speed automatic transaxle can imperceptably skip gears on the way up. Dorsal mount steering wheel shift paddles exist to address manumatic shifting with a press button engaging transaxle. Idle stop / start + a “Why would you engage it?” Eco mode earn the powertrain its Earthdreams designation.

– Less suspension travel than typical given the significant ground clearance delivered jitter free, pillowy composed highway cruising on an adventure to the Wisconsin Dells. Covering bumps is an act of taut deflection. Frenetic highway evasion induces nose dive and hints of roll inducing understeer, kept at bay by torque vectoring.  Hefty, but slow un-winding steering barks hardly any information of the pavement. Immunity to cross-winds is a credit to relatively low drag.

HOW FAR: 24 combined miles per gallon observed fuel economy = 14% > EPA estimate; Roadtrip Worthy =  510 miles highway range = 9% > EPA estimate

HOW BIG/ LITTLE: In the middle of mid-size 2-Row crossover SUV land:

√ 2019 Honda Pilot wheelbase = 2.1″ > Hyundai Santa Fe, 1.2″ < Ford Edge , 1.7″ < Chevrolet Blazer,

+1: 39.6″-inches Row 2 legroomChevy Blazer, 1.3″ < Hyundai Santa Fe, 1.0″ < Ford Edge; +1: 39 lbs. < Ford Edge

2019 Honda Passport Elite AWD: Row 2 60/40% split sliding, tilting, back folding seating, heated outboard

HOW USEFUL: Power approach access liftgate; Acceptably low load floor; 60/40% split 2nd Row seatbacks w/ remote power release; Available cargo shade cover; Folding hard cargo floor w/ hooked tether.

2019 Honda Passport Elite AWD: Over 77 cubic feet of expanded cargo capacity useful on many adventures
2019 Honda Passport Elite AWD: Cargo storage management above and sub-floor, w Row 2 60/40% split seatback fold remote release

+1: Sub-cargo floor storage management; Wide front seat cushion; Outward visibility from low cowl, narrow front & side pillars, tall tailgate window; Front & 2nd Row door pocket storage.

CLEVER USEFUL: +1 H-shape cargo tie down cleats, Truck style front door panel storage shelves.

Cargo space (max.) = 21% > Chevy Blazer, 3% < Hyundai Santa Fe; 3% < Ford Edge

Tow Rating (max.) 5000 lbs. = 500 lbs. > Chevy Blazer, 3000 lbs. > Hyundai Santa Fe; 3500 lbs. > Ford Edge

2019 Honda Passport Elite AWD: Standard HondaSafetySense rear camera, sonar perimeter park assist, blind spot warning (available)

HOW SAFE: 10 airbags; Rear camera ; Forward & rear sonar park assist warning; Blind Spot Warning (Touring and up); Forward collision avoidance braking; Full adaptive cruise control; Lane departure warning, keep assist Lane Change collision avoidance;  Rear Cross Traffic Alert;  Automatic high beam headlamps; Rain sensing windshield wipers (Elite only);

SAFETY STANDOUTS: +1 Standard HondaSensing adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist; Prominent park proximity warning

-1: Adaptive cruise control slow to recover speed after lane change; Misses IIHS Top Safety pick status.

HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: Contrast stitched perforated leather seating, front heated & cooled, 2nd Row heated; Front 10-way power seats, 2-position memory; Front power windows = full express;  Heated tilt & telescoping, cross-stitched leather wrapped steering wheel, w/ spoke controls; Encased mid-dash dual toggle automatic 3-zone climate controls; Blue-green cabin instrument night illumination.

2019 Honda Passport Elite AWD: driver’s entry, w/ truck style door panel storage shelves.
2019 Honda Passport Elite AWD: front center console aft Row 2 climate control, USB x 2, 115V AC x 1

+1: Easily accessible left lower dashboard dimmer & driver assist switches; Positive action, large steering wheel toggle discs and switches; Superior wind & road noise isolation; Front seat long distance cushioning.

+/-:  Sparse contrast gloss piano black dash accents

-1: Low front seat torso support;

2019 Honda Passport Elite AWD: Standard HondaSafetySense feature displayed in 7.0″ TFT color digital gauge cluster include Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Collision Mitigation braking

Cool Gizmo(s): Variable 7.0″-inch color TFT center dial speedometer, tachometer trip data / drive / entertainment status display; Pinched finger motion push button transmission selector.

Details Done Right:  Contrast stitched soft cabin materials;   LED ambient cabin lighting;  Front seat variable attitude inboard armrests; Roll top center console storage bin.

Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Hard dark grey mid-dash & door panels; Low rent switchgear appearance and feel; Thin cabin carpets.

HOW “APP” -LICABLE: Tablet style upper mid-dash 8.0″-inch capacitive touch LCD infotainment screen; Voice learning hands-free communications; 10-speaker, 550 W HD-radio streaming audio; Mobile powered Android Auto/ Apple Car Play application & navigation overlays; High Definition Traffic; HondaLink vehicle health apps

+1: Display touch haptics sound; Outstanding Garmin navigation graphics; Wireless device operating system navigation route directions transfer into gauge cluster trip display.

2019 Honda Passport Elite AWD: Native navigation on 7.0″ touch LCD media display

-1: Small native navigation display sub-menu icons; Sun wash prone screen; Lack of dedicated infotainment display switches.

Subscription based: Sirius XM radio (90 days included trial); HondaLink Connected telematics: 12 mos. security, 3 mos. Remote  (incl. Amazon in-car delivery) & Concierge trial; AT&T HotSpot 90 day / 3 GB trial.

+/- no Sirius TravelLink

USB x 3, 12V x 3 (including cargo bay); 115V AC x 1; +1 Deep lower center stack mobile device pocket; Qi wireless charging;

HOW MUCH: $44,725 = 2019 Honda Passport Elite AWD suggested retail price

WHAT’S MISSING: Livelier steering, Real-time weather application; 2nd Row seat minder; Surround cameras.

ANY COMPETITION: Chevrolet Blazer: +1 Sports car profile, available 4-cylnder engine; Ford Edge: +1 Cabin soft touch materials & finish; Hyundai Santa Fe: +1 Cabin finish, rear seat minder & approaching vehicle exit prevention.

BOTTOM LINE: Planting seeds of rugged back into what was divested of truck.

(Contributing Editor: J. Flynn)

An automotive enthusiast since an orange toy VW Beetle ended up in his playpen and following him everywhere, George Straton has been chief editor at ChicagoNow.com/Drive-He-Said automotive lifestyle blog since 2010. In 2017 George established Roadblazing.com, dedicated to accurate and relevant automotive reviews, news and road trip stories. George is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and the Phoenix Automotive Press Association. George also happens to be an attorney and Loyola University of Chicago Ramblers fan.

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