The 2019 Honda Passport Elite AWD is made for Western Montana. Ok, maybe not officially, but its versatility is unmatched in this region.
Western Montana, particularly the Missoula and surrounding areas, beckons this type of vehicle. It had a can-do attitude as I traversed Blue Mountain’s washboard dirt road and yet, we blended in with commuters bustling along the main veins of our city.
The Honda Passport handled well, thanks to its torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system, the V-6’s 280 horsepower, all-season tires, and intelligent controls that adjust with the road. The crossover SUV responds precisely to the available traction at each wheel depending on whether you travel dry ground or across snow, ice, mud, or wet roadways.
Named Car and Driver’s Best Midsize Two-Row SUV, the Passport boasts four-wheel independent suspension—a great choice when it comes to those uneven, rocky roads—and enough muscle to haul a trailer and still pass slower traffic. The vehicle is practical in what it can handle, and it didn’t fall short of getting up to speed. The push-button gear selection is a polite nod to modern times and it didn’t make me miss a manual shifter.
Every Passport comes equipped with Honda Sensing®, which the company calls “an intelligent suite of safety and driver-assistive technologies that can help you stay aware on the road and could even help avoid a collision.” The Road Departure Mitigation System, Collision Mitigation Braking System and Lane Keeping Assist System, for example, can determine if you cross detected lanes without signaling or face an unavoidable collision, and provide assistance as needed.
Inside, the vehicle hinted at luxury but remained approachable. It’s the type of SUV in which you’d feel confident to chauffeur fellow soccer parents but also relaxed when the kids snack in the back. It seats five adults comfortably and includes climate control for rear passengers.
For tech-savvy Missoulians, the Honda Passport includes a 115-volt power outlet, USB ports for charging devices in the front and back, and wireless charging for compatible smartphones. The 8-inch high-resolution touch-screen display was easy to navigate and included a video feed from the rearview camera and three available angles: normal, top-down, or wide. With Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integrated, you can use voice control to get directions, make calls, send texts, and adjust music all while keeping your eyes on the road.
I appreciated the one-touch fold-down rear seats, which turned the back end of the SUV into a large cargo bed. Underfloor storage compartments were also well designed and amply sized for outdoor gear. The compartments are durable, waterproof, and even removable for cleaning. In a pinch, you could use the bays as an ice chest. The hands-free power access tailgate makes loading an armful of tackle, gear, or groceries a breeze. Kick your foot toward the sensor under the rear bumper and the door opens or closes.
The SUV is designed for the adventure market but it also incorporates those touches that make driving it in town a convenient treat. The Honda Passport is as advertised, and a pleasure to drive.
2019 Honda Passport Elite AWD
Engine: 280HP 3.5L VTEC V6 with Variable Cylinder Management
Transmission: 9-speed automatic with paddle shifters
Wheelbase: 111 inches
Curb weight: 4,237 pounds
MSRP: From $31,990
MPG: Up to 20 in the city, 25 on the highway
Towing capacity: 5,000 pounds
Get behind the wheel
Denny Menholt University Honda