2019 Honda Passport First Drive: Mainstream Macho

The 2019 Honda Passport is a family-friendly crossover that's comfortable, quiet, offers optional all-wheel drive, and comes loaded with standard safety features. Basically, it's exactly what you expect when shopping for a midsize sport-utility with two rows of seating, a roomy cargo area, and a Honda badge on the front grille. Except Honda is throwing crossover and SUV shoppers a curveball by pitching the Passport as a mix of everyday practicality combined with the adventurous off-road image associated with rivals like the Toyota 4Runner – two of the most off-road-ready SUVs on the market.

The immediate problem is that the Passport struggles to step out of the three-row shadow of its big brother, the Honda Pilot. That's because these two Hondas share a platform, powertrain, and have nearly identical interiors, at least from the rear seat forward. Primary differences include the absence of an optional third-row in the Passport, along with its slightly smaller overall size. Compared to the Pilot, the Passport is 6.2 inches shorter, thanks to less rear overhang at the back.

The Passport also stands slightly taller (up to 1.1 inches when fitted with all-wheel drive) and has a unique front grille that's trimmed in black plastic versus the Pilot's mostly chrome and body-colored front end. Honda equips all trim levels of the Passport...