While flamboyance may not be its calling card, the Honda Passport continues to impress with its functionality that surpasses the competition.
Honda Passport 2023 in points
- Powerful all-wheel drive
- Functional and user-friendly
- Responsive V6 engine
- Hesitant transmission
- Austere interior
- Lacks driving excitement
Since 2019, it’s hard not to be charmed by the Honda Passport. Its powerful mechanics, adventurous style, spacious interior, and reliability have made it a champion in its category for several years at GoStart.Biz. While its counterpart, the Honda Pilot, has just been refreshed, there are no indications that the Passport is about to be revamped. To see if it still stands among the best, I tested it for a week.
A Collision between a Ridgeline and a Pilot
While the Passport’s appearance used to resemble the Pilot, it now shares its front-end design with the Ridgeline. The large grille gives it a rugged look, while the rear portion has remained virtually unchanged since 2019. The wheels have also been reworked, or should I say worsened; I’m not a fan of this low-end style that represents a step back from the previous, much more attractive wheels.
Three versions are offered in the Canadian market. The entry-level Sport comes well-equipped with LED headlights, 18-inch wheels, a non-panoramic sunroof, and a 215-watt audio system. The next trim level, Trailsport, mainly adds stylistic features to give it a more adventurous look. The top-of-the-line Touring, which I tested, adds luxury features. Apart from the 20-inch wheels, it stands out with its 550-watt audio system, rain-sensing wipers, and power-folding mirrors.
Despite these generous features, the Touring version of the Passport still has halogen high beam headlights. Behind the wheel, in the middle of the night, I couldn’t believe my eyes and had to step out of the vehicle to confirm that the manufacturer made such a penny-pinching decision for such an expensive vehicle.
Speaking of price, the Touring version is sold at $55,855, which is $6,700 more than the base version priced at $49,155. Therefore, the Passport’s price range is in the middle compared to its main competitors.
Ergonomics and Functionality
Inside, there’s no denying that the layout is nearly identical to that of the 2023 Ridgeline and the 2022 Pilot. The dashboard features rather ordinary lines, while emphasizing ergonomics. The 8-inch screen with Honda’s familiar interface is starting to lag behind in terms of technology but is at least positioned at the top of the dashboard, just above the easily understandable three-zone climate controls.
The instrumentation with its 7-inch screen and two analog gauges on either side is not particularly impressive, but it remains clear. The ergonomics are impeccable, as is the meticulous quality of the materials used, although they lack shine. The small-sized sunroof is also disappointing compared to the “patio doors” found on most competitors.
Where the Passport outperforms all of its competitors is in terms of ease of use. The front and rear doors are large, open wide, and reveal a cabin filled with storage tricks. The center console is huge, there are two levels of storage in the doors, storage on the dashboard, and the largest cargo space in its category, both with the rear seats up (1430 liters) and folded down (2854 liters). Although the rear seats are placed a bit too low for tall people and lack adequate back support, they are spacious. At least they can be folded from the cargo area to increase the vehicle’s versatility.
One Logical Choice for the Powertrain
Honda’s conservatism is only matched by Toyota’s, and it shows in terms of the powertrain. Under the Passport’s hood lies the perennial 3.5-liter V6 engine with a single overhead camshaft, which was modernized nearly 10 years ago with direct injection and cylinder deactivation. Although it is technically up to date, it still uses a timing belt, which increases long-term maintenance costs.
Nevertheless, it delivers a respectable 280 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 262 lb-ft of torque at 4700 rpm, which are quite competitive figures. Moreover, the engine suits the Passport well with its lively and present character, as well as its unusually melodious sound for a vehicle of this kind. The accompanying nine-speed automatic transmission, in the pure tradition of the ZF-originated transmission used in various applications for nearly 10 years, is slow to respond. Downshifts are delayed, and power delivery sometimes lacks consistency.
Fortunately, the i-VTM4 all-wheel drive system proved to be more than effective. The active torque distribution between the rear wheels, which varies based on steering angle and throttle pressure, is certainly one of the Passport’s strengths. Although it is not designed for this purpose, this system improves handling and almost pivots the vehicle in sharp turns on slippery surfaces.
As for the rest, the handling is unremarkable. The suspension absorbs bumps and potholes well on Quebec’s decrepit road network, and the steering allows for vehicle control without passion or feedback. Nevertheless, the excellent visibility, sense of agility, and comfortable seats make it effortless to cover long distances in the Passport.
During my test drive, which covered a distance of over 450 kilometers, including city, highway, and urban driving in the middle of February, I achieved a fuel consumption of 11.7 liters/100 km. This is an acceptable score, but certainly not spectacular.
Maintaining the Status Quo
The rather austere interior and the relatively basic screens compared to the competition betray the Passport’s age, but they are quickly forgotten when considering its qualities. The engine continues to perform well, while the spacious cabin surprises with its available space.
Unlike some newer Honda products, the Passport has not lost sight of the key strengths that have built the manufacturer’s reputation: user-friendliness, reliability, performance, and build quality. Add to that its good resale value, and you have a vehicle that deserves its position at the top of our ranking of two-row midsize SUVs. In this regard, it is recommended by GoStart.Biz.
|Price Range||$49,155 – $55,855|
|Basic Warranty||3 years / 60,000 km|
|City Fuel Consumption||12.5L / 100 km|
|Highway Fuel Consumption||9.8L / 100 km|
|Combined Fuel Consumption||11.3L / 100 km|