Honda’s latest SUV resurrects a familiar name. Yes, the Passport is back, and following its introduction at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show this week, it’ll hit US showrooms early next year.
The Passport rides on Honda’s Global Light Truck platform, the same one that underpins the Pilot SUV and Ridgeline pickup truck. It also uses the same V6 engine as its platform mates: a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Both front- and all-wheel drive will be available, the latter of which uses Honda’s four-mode traction management system for improved foul-weather and off-road performance.
Speaking of off-road, the Passport certainly looks ready to hit the trails. Familiar design cues clearly show this SUV’s relationship to the Pilot and Ridgeline, but the Passport stands apart with a higher ride height, shorter rear overhang and standard 20-inch wheels.
With all-wheel drive, Honda says the Passport can tow up to 5,000 pounds, which is enough for a small boat or camper, or a pair of jet-skis. For all you hashtag active lifestyle types, Honda will launch a full catalog of Passport-specific accessories, including roof boxes; bike, kayak and ski racks; and even weatherproof covers for various parts of the cabin.
The Passport will be offered in Sport, EX-L, Touring and Elite trims, with cloth or leather upholstery, and what Honda claims is class-leading passenger and cargo space. With the rear seats upright, the Passport offers 41.2 cubic feet of cargo space, which expands to 77.9 with them folded.
On the infotainment front, upmarket Passport trims get an 8-inch Display Audio touchscreen infotainment system, with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a 7-inch TFT gauge cluster display, similar to what we’ve seen in the Pilot and Ridgeline. Other available niceties include wireless phone charging, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and embedded navigation.
Every single Passport will be equipped with the Honda Sensing suite of safety tech. Honda Sensing bundles collision mitigation braking, forward collision warning, road departure mitigation, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control. If that’s still not enough to give you proper peace of mind, higher Passport trim levels come with blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic detection and parking sensors, as well.
Given American shoppers’ appetites for all things SUV, Honda is smart to add another utility vehicle to its US lineup. Plus, it’s cool to see— certainly fitting, given the Passport’s key rival, the Chevy Blazer. Honda’s new SUV will slot between the compact CR-V and midsize Pilot when it goes on sale early next year, and should be appropriately priced between the two. Stay tuned for our first drive of the 2019 Honda Passport early next year.