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2019 Honda Passport First Drive – Passport to Sales

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2019 Honda Passport

Honda actually needs to show that its 2019 Passport 5-seat crossover has off-street chops.

To that finish, it’s potential I had extra wheel time on washboard-surfaced gravelly roads than I did on paved surfaces throughout my day with the most recent trucklet on the block. A few of this was by my selection – I selected to get extra day without work-street for the sake of photos. Nonetheless, Honda undoubtedly needed to present that the Passport is succesful off-street.

Which it was, at the very least on the route we drove. Frankly, most crossovers with respectable floor clearance would’ve survived our trek by way of the chilly and sunny excessive desert, though two of the Passport’s benchmarked rivals, the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano, won’t be included in that “most.” Extra on that in a bit.

Factor is, and this chorus dates again to the earliest days of the SUV – few consumers will ever take the Passport off-street. Few consumers of any vehicle on this class take their rigs off-street. Solely the house owners of the extremely succesful Jeep Grand Cherokee and Toyota 4Runner are probably to, and even then, I’d guess the share who truly do is small.

Why all of the hullabaloo from Honda about off-roading, then? Is the Passport really on par with the JGC and the ‘Yota when out within the sticks? Is the Passport so dangerous on-street that Honda emphasised off-street driving? Or did somebody on Honda’s PR staff simply actually need to see southern Utah?

I don’t know the reply to the final of these three questions, however the solutions to the center two are “not fairly” and “no, undoubtedly not.”

(Full disclosure: Honda flew me out to a resort close to Moab, fed me, housed me, and provided me booze and lots of laps in a racing simulator. They left us snacks within the room (which I ate), and a hat, (which I left.)

Honda unveiled its reborn Passport a number of months in the past in Los Angeles, particularly, at an off-website occasion through the auto present. The Passport is actually a truncated Pilot – it solely seats 5 and it’s greater than six inches shorter. It additionally features rather less than an inch of experience peak when outfitted with the out there all-wheel drive (Honda expects a 70 % take fee for AWD, particularly because the prime trim is AWD-solely).

2019 Honda Passport

It shares the Pilot’s 111-inch wheelbase and it’s primarily a Pilot beneath its pores and skin from the second seating row ahead. The most important visible variations are a steeper rear window angle and extra aggressive styling for the grille and entrance finish. Twenty-inch wheels come standard.

Just like the Pilot, the Passport can also be on the corporate’s international mild truck platform, which makes use of unibody development with a totally boxed flooring. Honda claims to have made the brakes extra responsive, whereas giving the pedal shorter journey. Its suspension is tuned in another way than on the Pilot, presumably to be extra “sporty,” and the steering ratio is faster, additionally within the identify of sport.

You’ll be able to have any engine you want so long as it’s a three.5-liter V6 making 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. This ubiquitous mill pairs with the a lot-reviled 9-velocity automated transmission provided by ZF. Sure, the identical transmission that tainted numerous Honda/Acura/Fiat Chrysler/Jaguar Land Rover merchandise is the lone selection right here. Honda promised us enhancements however, as we’ll see, enchancment is within the eye of the beholder.

2019 Honda Passport

Entrance-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive that has torque vectoring out there as an choice. This system sends up to 70 % of the torque to the rear wheels and one hundred pc to both the left or proper aspect. It will probably additionally overdrive the surface rear wheel whereas cornering.

Honda despatched us out in Elite-trimmed fashions with AWD. On-street conduct was initially disappointing, because the steering felt sloppy on-middle in a fashion that’s uncharacteristic of Honda. I did heat up to it will definitely, nevertheless it was a bit of too mild and displayed an excessive amount of play for my tastes.

Curves have been mild at best, and the Passport by no means appeared to sweat in even the few tight corners. A hint of physique roll and understeer have been evident the one time I got here in a bit too scorching, however nothing that might be misplaced for this class.

The V6 sounds nice, and it felt prefer it ought to present stout acceleration, however the ZF has the identical aversion to work as a youngster behind the quick-meals counter. It doesn’t like downshifting until it’s actually, actually pressured into it. Zed F strikes once more. At the very least there’s flappy paddles to prod issues alongside.

2019 Honda Passport

Snow, Sand, and Mud drive modes can be found for off-pavement excursions, however the trails have been principally tranquil sufficient that we by no means wanted something however the Regular drive mode. There’s no Sport mode for on-street driving, however there’s an Eco mode.

Southeastern Utah’s paved roads have been principally clean as glass, and the Passport offered a compliant but not tender journey that confirmed its cruising chops. I’m curious the way it handles potholed Midwestern roads, but when the pavement isn’t pockmarked, this can be a good street-journey truck. Outdoors noise held to a minimal, and each the entrance and rear seats offered loads of consolation.

Honda will get a demerit for persevering with to use a push-button shifter within the middle-console area – I miss the ground shifter. However hey, no less than there’s a quantity knob! And the infotainment system does properly combine into the middle stack. Talking of, the smartphone-like “tiles” setup for stated system is fairly straightforward to use.

2019 Honda Passport

The decrease middle-stack area consists of consumer-pleasant HVAC controls, a storage area with obtainable wi-fi charger for cell telephones, the shifter, cupholders, and a deep storage properly. All of it seems good, however some exhausting plastics that felt misplaced in a $40K+ crossover put a damper on the festivities. These plastics are extra prevalent within the rear seating area. A minimum of the forty one.2-inch (seats up) cargo area swallowed three journalists’ gear, together with cameras and associated hardware, with ease. There’s some hidden storage there, too, which we didn’t use.

The Passport can tow up to 5,000 kilos — a score trumped solely by the V6 Jeep, no less than among the many aggressive set.

Rely me a fan of the Passport’s sportier look as in contrast to the Pilot, though I might stay with out the black physique cladding up entrance. The Passport at the least seems to be the half.

Honda’s made 4 trims out there: base Sport ($31,990, $33,890 with AWD), EX-L (anticipated to be the quantity vendor at round 50 %), Touring, and prime-trim Elite.

Commonplace features embrace the Honda Sensing safety package deal (collision mitigation braking with ahead-collision warning, lane-hold help, lane-departure warning with street-departure mitigation, adaptive cruise management), 20-inch wheels, auto cease/begin, LED headlights/taillights/fog lights/DRLS, twin exhaust, distant begin, keyless beginning and entry, tri-zone local weather management, eight-means energy driver’s seat with energy lumbar, six-speaker audio, rearview digital camera, and two USB ports.

The EX-L ($36,410, $38,310 with AWD) provides leather-based seats and steering wheel, sunroof, energy tailgate, blind-spot warning, driver reminiscence seat and mirrors, 4-method energy passenger seat, heated entrance seats, show audio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a 3rd USB port, satellite tv for pc radio, HD radio, HomeLink, auto-dimming for the rearview mirror, second-row sunshade, and heated mirrors.

2019 Honda Passport

Stepping up to Touring ($39,280, $forty one,one hundred eighty with AWD) will get you navigation, HondaLink, palms-free energy tailgate, entrance and rear parking sensors, LED inline headlights, flip-sign mirrors, roof rails, 10-speaker premium audio, heated rear seats, energy-folding aspect mirrors, ambient lighting, and tires which might be 20 millimeters wider with a half-inch wider wheel.

The Elite ($forty three,680) provides AWD as standard, together with cooled entrance seats, heated steering wheel, wi-fi telephone charger, rain-sensing wipers, and auto-dimming aspect mirrors. As per traditional with Honda, there’s additionally a number of supplier-put in packages out there.

The above listed costs don’t embrace vacation spot and supply charges, that are $1,045 throughout the board. Gasoline financial system numbers clock in at 20 mpg metropolis/25 mpg freeway/22 mpg mixed with entrance-wheel drive and 19/24/21 with AWD.

2019 Honda Passport

Honda PR advised me they see the aggressive set for the Passport because the Chevrolet Blazer, Edge, Murano, Grand Cherokee, and, to a lesser extent, the 4Runner. On-street, the Passport feels nimbler than the Edge and extra partaking than the Murano, and I’m unsure both would have felt as comfy on the desert filth trails because the Passport. It’s been some time since I’ve pushed the Grand Cherokee, however I keep in mind its on-street manners being wonderful. Not to point out that the Grand Cherokee is a wizard off pavement. Given the 4Runner’s off-street focus, the Passport feels most on par with the Jeep (a V6 Restricted is fairly shut in price, too, relying on the way you choice it out). In fact, we haven’t but pushed the Blazer – we didn’t get invited to its launch, occuring on the similar time.

It’s a neat trick carried out by Honda: Construct a Passport that exhibits some delicate flaws however continues to be ok to leap to the highest of the category proper from launch, thanks to competing automobiles that set a low bar. Doesn’t harm that the Pilot, which I’ve but to drive, is significantly nicely-reviewed.

Tweak the steering a bit and tackle the transmission’s recalcitrance to behave as requested by the driving force, and also you’d have maybe the best 5-seat mid-size crossover within the class. Because it stands now, you’ve got a vehicle that’s on par with the getting old Jeep for prime honors.

2019 Honda Passport

That will not characterize a “passport to journey” (significantly, that’s the tagline Honda slapped on its media supplies) however it will be a passport to gross sales for the model’s sellers. Like most Hondas, the Passport is properly-rounded sufficient that consumers will possible forgive its flaws. I’ll personally need sportier steering and a transmission that’s awake, however Joe Automotive Shopper will overlook these points.

Be ready to see many of those on the street beginning in February. I’m positive Honda sellers are already toasting as we converse.

[Images © 2019 Tim Healey/TTAC]

– 2019 Honda Passport First Drive – Passport to Sales –

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