Honda unveiled the all-new Passport at the 2018 LA Auto Show, highlighting that the five-seat midsized SUV is targeted at buyers who are likely to be defecting from large sedans and want a more versatile all-weather commuter. The 2019 Honda Passport looks like a slightly stubbier version of the Pilot SUV. It shares its platform and powertrain with the Pilot and the Ridgeline pickup truck.

The Passport slots between the compact CR-V and three-row Pilot SUVs. Honda is emphasizing the Passport’s off-road capabilities, distinguishing it among the company’s growing SUV roster. To that end, it has more ground clearance than the Pilot, and it has driver-selectable modes for snow, mud, and sand. 

Here is what we know so far:

2019 Honda Passport front view

2019 Honda Passport
Starting price:
Not announced
What it competes with: Ford Edge, Hyundai Santa Fe, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Murano, Toyota 4Runner
What it looks like: The new Passport is immediately identifiable as a sibling of the larger Pilot. But the new truck has bigger arches over the wheels, which flare out and give it a stronger, more macho look. Some versions have additional black plastic above the wheel wells, further enhancing the tough look. The dashboard is almost identical to the one in the Pilot.
Powertrain: 280-hp, 3.5-liter V6; nine-speed automatic transmission; front- or all-wheel drive
On-sale date: Early 2019

2019 Honda Passport rear view

Outside

The Passport has a more rugged design than any recent Honda product. Part of that comes from the increased ride height, standard 20-inch wheels and tires, and plenty of matte black trim. The Touring and Elite versions get wider tires, and some versions are available with wide matte black trim that extends from the bottom of the doorsills up and over the wheel arches.

Honda gave the Passport a shorter overall length and rear overhang than the Pilot, which are intended to provide better capabilities and clearance to go up and over challenging terrain, such as hilly inclines.

What Drives It

The Passport uses the same basic platform as the Pilot SUV and the Ridgeline pickup truck. All versions use a 280-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. We got 20 mpg overall in our tests of the Pilot and Ridgeline with that engine.

Honda touts the Passport’s i-VTM4 all-wheel-drive system as highly capable in everyday inclement situations, such as wet roads. The driver can select from different modes to drive in sand, snow, and mud.

When equipped with the optional towing package, the front-wheel-drive Passport has a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds; all-wheel-drive versions can haul 5,000 pounds.  

2019 Honda Passport interior

Inside the Cabin

The 2019 Passport has room for five passengers and looks almost identical to the Pilot SUV, with similar fit and finish.

Honda says that the windshield pillars have been slimmed down, and the sideview mirrors are mounted lower, all in the name of improving visibility.

The second-row bench seat can fold flat to expand the cargo area into a space large enough to carry a mountain bike. The main cargo floor is reversible: One side is carpeted, and the other is plastic. Plus, the underfloor storage compartment has removable, washable bins. The optional power tailgate is available with a hands-free feature, which should help when loading the Passport with a big cooler or extra outdoor gear. We found the Pilot’s cabin to be extremely roomy, and the abundant storage areas help to make it a very flexible vehicle. The Passport shouldn’t be any different—it just lacks a third-row seat.

On the connectivity front, EX-L and above trims include an 8-inch touch screen with a volume knob, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration. The instrument cluster features a 7-inch color display with customizable features, including turn-by-turn navigation guidance.

However, we found the Pilot’s touch-screen infotainment system to be frustrating to use, particularly because the system lacks a knob for tuning.

Safety and Driver-Assist Systems

The Honda Sensing suite of advanced safety and driver-assistance systems is standard, and it includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. Blind spot warning is standard on the EX-L, Touring, and Elite trim levels, but not available on the Sport trim.  

CR’s Take

As midsized SUVs continue to proliferate and shoppers migrate from sedans to SUVs, a five-passenger version of the Pilot makes a lot of sense, appealing to families that just don’t need a three-row SUV. The off-road capability is a nice addition, but the majority of the Passports sold are likely to be adventuring on pavement.  

2019 Honda Passport cargo area