RYAN ZUMMALLEN: When the Honda Passport came out promising a comfortable ride and loads of storage, there was one thing on our minds– road trip. But that was before quarantine had us all trying to relearn second grade math again.
[SIGHS] Those were more innocent times. Anyway, we brought the Passport in for testing and, sure enough, ranked it higher than the Hyundai Santa Fe, Chevrolet Blazer, Toyota 4Runner, and Jeep Grand Cherokee. It turns out a CRV with more space or a Pilot with more adventure is a pretty good formula. Good, not perfect. And when we get a vehicle that tops our rankings, we like to bring it in for a long-term test to see how it stacks up over the course of ownership. In a year with this Passport, we’ve racked up just over 20,000 miles and change. We took it up the Pacific Coast twice, to tons of states all over the country, and– oh, yeah– camping, camping, and camping.
In this video we’ll say our goodbyes and talk about what we liked and what we didn’t like about the Passport. Speaking of likes, go ahead and give us the thumbs up if you like this video, and subscribe to the channel for more long-term content just like this.
[PING] you know that, normally, we actually purchase the vehicles in our long-term . Fleet but the reality of economics is that there are so many vehicles we want to bring in, we’re not actually able to buy them all. This vehicle is on loan from Honda. And while it’s borrowed, we strive to treat it like our own, even though it’s not.
[MUSIC PLAYING] With transparency out of the way, here’s what we got and why. This Passport is a touring trim. It’s the second highest, level just below the elite. With that, you get a 10-speaker audio system, heated front and rear seats, and second row USB ports, plus a lot of other stuff. Every Passport comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine and a nine-speed automatic transmission. Now, for better or worse, there aren’t a whole lot of options you can add to a Passport. But we did manage to tack on all-wheel drive for an extra $1,900. And that also gives us another half inch of ground clearance, up to 8.1 inches.
That brought the total price for this car to $42,225, including destination. So what’s the Passport like to live with? Well, this is a perfectly usable everyday crossover, and earned a lot of positive comments from editors on our staff, especially those with families. Some of the attributes that topped the list were a pleasing road manners and a solid V6 engine up front. The ride, handling, and comfort of the Passport on the road all earned good scores. Now, this is not a hardcore off-roader. But there are different drive modes that you can select here with this button to optimize the all-wheel drive system for different types of terrain. This is more of a soft-roader type of crossover. It’s more akin to the Subaru Ascent or Kia Telluride style of SUVs. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. It gives you extra confidence on different types of surfaces. I took this into the snow more than once, and several of our editors drove it onto the beach. Plus it’s prime material for dad jokes. Whoa, whoa, before we get in, did everyone bring their passports? Because I brought mine. I’m just kidding. Your aunt lives in this country.
Ah, I love this roof rack. You can put anything on there. I’ll put you and your brother on it if you keep fighting. Our editors rated interior space for both passengers and item very highly. But the rear cargo storage is the business end of the Passport. Now, there’s actually not a lot more space here than in the CRV. But the key is usability. You’ve got a really nice under-floor storage area right here for storing things if they’re dirty or smelly or muddy. You’ve also got a power outlet and a button that automatically folds the rear seats down. And it lights up at night, which is great if you’re camping. So what didn’t we like about the Passport? Well, for one thing, those roof bars are extra handy. But if you don’t have them in the exact right position, they whistle, and it gets real annoying real fast inside the cabin.
Then there was the automated safety. Every Passport comes with the Honda Sensing Suite of advanced safety features, which is cool. But the adaptive cruise control can be really jerky, which is not cool. Be better. Basically, any time the adaptive cruise control needs to speed up or slow down on its own when a car moves into your lane or something like that, it gets real jerky. Which is kind of a problem because that’s the whole purpose of adaptive cruise control. The Lane Keep Assist can be shocking when it tries to trick you back into your lane, and we got a ton of false warnings from the front collision alarm, as well. Now, with the nine-speed automatic transmission, if it needs to downshift quickly, especially on a downhill grade, it can be real jerky and lurchy and abrupt. And in total, there are just a lot of tech features that add up to make the Passport feel a little bit crude at times. But it wasn’t all bad.
Here’s what our editors had to say about their experiences. AMY SILLIMAN: I drove over 4,700 miles in our long-term Passport across the country with my kid and a dog in tow. So I learned quite a bit about this SUV. I’m really enjoyed Lane Keep Assist. However, it’s does not work that well in the rain. I really enjoyed cruise control because that’s great on the long hauls, and the car was pretty comfortable to be sitting in all day. There was one day where I drove almost 1,300 miles non-stop, and I attribute that to the car being very comfortable. So all in all, it is a great vehicle for longer trips. BRENT ROMANS: I drew that on quite a few road trips my family. Always enjoyed driving it. In particular, the V6 stood out. Mash the gas, and it gives you that classic Honda V6 snarl, which is always enjoyable, along with the power. The other thing that I distinctly remember about our Passport– it’s kind of a minor thing, but actually the rear-view camera. It has a wide-angle view to it, which I could flip on through a special mode, which is great because I have kids always on the sidewalks going back and forth.
And then there’s traffic three different ways that’s coming along. So I could flip that on and just make sure there was nothing behind me as I was backing up. So, overall, really enjoyed the Passport as a family vehicle, and I’m going to miss it. JODI TOURKOW: I was actually surprised at how spacious and comfortable the Passport really is. I recently had to take myself and three other adults to a fitness competition, along with a lot of workout equipment. So think canopies, tents, coolers, barbells, bumper plates, kettle bells. And what was really nice, especially at 5:30 AM when you have to load all this equipment into the SUV, was that it fit very nicely into the cargo area. It fit horizontally. We didn’t have to fold the seats down, which also made it more comfortable for all of us to sit in the Passport and take that hour drive. What was also really nice was it was very seamless and efficient to unload, as well. So again, the Passport actually had great amount of space. It was really, really comfortable. It drove really well.
[MUSIC PLAYING] RYAN ZUMMALLEN: Like most new vehicles on sale today, the Passport has a maintenance minder light that alerts you when it’s almost time to bring it in for service. We followed its recommendations and only had to make one appointment. That was for oil, a filter, a cabin air filter, tire rotation, and a general inspection. So our total maintenance costs for the first year of ownership only came to $72. Now, there were three recalls issued for the 2019 Passport as of this recording. Two of them had to do with our particular model, and both of those had to do with information displays. One can be addressed with an over-the-air update, but the other you have to bring in because they need to reprogram the computer that controls the instrument panel. Unfortunately, those were issued just as we were preparing to shoot this video, so service isn’t available yet as of this recording.
That’s a problem for the new owner. [MUSIC PLAYING] Hey guys, look. Rest stop one mile. Must be a pretty big rest stop, right?
[CHUCKLES] We’re not stopping. Woo. Now let’s talk reliability. Picture this. You’re driving along at the beginning of a long road trip. You’ve got your destination set, your perfect speed, your favorite radio station– Soul Town, obviously. And then, all of a sudden– and this happened two times to two different editors– all your screens shut off. You lose your map. You lose your speed setting. You lose your rear-view camera. You lose that Otis Redding song that just came on. So when that happens, there’s really nothing to do but park and wait it out. So that’s what our editors did. It took a few minutes, but eventually the car would just shut down and come back to normal when they came back into it. When we told Honda about this, they brought it in and issued a fix, and it never happened again. But we later found out that lots of owners are experiencing this problem, and not just with the Passport, because the screen is the same system that’s in the Odyssey and the Pilot. By far, this was our most alarming issue with the Passport, and hopefully Honda has found a good fix. We reached out to find out if any of those recalls are directly related to that problem, but weren’t able to hear back at the time of this video. Check onto the long-term Passport page to see if there are any updates. Our Passport is rated at 21 miles per gallon combined. And over to our 20,000 miles, we got 20.6 miles per gallon.
Pretty, pretty good. Now, that’s about average for the class, and it’s about average for the kind of power you get from the V6 engine. But after a year of ownership, it’s nice to look back and say, hey, mission accomplished. Now, our best fill-up at the pump actually came out to an impressive 28.5 miles per gallon, and we got 460 miles out of that tank. We also found that this little green Econ button right here actually does make a difference in fuel economy. Of course, it hurts acceleration a bit, so you could probably get similar results just by keeping a light foot on the gas pedal. So what’s our Passport worth now? Well, the only way to really know is to sell it, and it’s not ours. But using the Edmunds appraisal tool, we can get a pretty good idea. And that brings it to about 33,000 for a private party and 31,000 on a traded.
The Passport is a standout SUV with an adventurous side that pays off in big ways. The roof rails, extra ground clearance, and usable storage add a lot of personality over your run-of-the-mill crossover. And it’s more comfortable and economical than a 4Runner or a Grand Cherokee. Now, we wish the safety features and infotainment hadn’t given us so much trouble. But this was still a very high-demand vehicle in our long-term fleet. Listen, we can’t all climb boulders. This is a road trip star that you won’t mind getting dirty. And for the vast majority of people looking to get outdoors, that’s going to be more than enough. The age of the soft-roader is here to stay. [MUSIC PLAYING]