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2019 Honda Passport Review - On The Road With Larry Nutson

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2019 Honda Passport
On the Road

By Larry Nutson
Executive Producer and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

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America’s interstate highway system came about in 1956 under President Dwight Eisenhower. (See Videos, Read Story) Before interstate highways road travel around the U.S. was by a series of connected state roads.

A decent network of roads existed up and down the east and west coast. However, middle America was lacking. In the heartland, the Dixie Highway was organized in late 1914 to lay out a route from Chicago to Miami.

The route left Chicago to the south via Danville, Illinois and turned east to Indianapolis, where it split. The west branch headed south through Tennessee while the east route went east to Ohio before turning south to Kentucky.

Routes then traveled through Georgia into Florida. Michigan extended a route from Dayton north to Detroit, as well as a loop around Lake Michigan.

Recently I road-tripped from Chicago in a 2019 Honda Passport south along US 41, a part of the Dixie Highway network of roads. Along this pre-interstate four-lane divided highway, I passed flat farmland after farmland, an area densely populated with electric wind turbines for as far as the eye could see, numerous abandoned farm buildings and an occasional small town.

I pictured myself like Jack Kerouac in his “On The Road” scroll criss-crossing the U.S. in free-spirited adventure-seeking style.

One of Kerouac’s many rides was a ’49 Hudson. A 2019 Passport Elite AWD would prove a more comfortable and worthy conveyance, much to my liking.

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The Passport is a two-row, 5-seat midsize SUV. It’s not-too-big size makes it very well suited for urban living. If you need more seating, Honda has its Pilot.

Perhaps a bit of a surprise is the 280-horsepower 3.5-L V6 nestled under the hood which gives the Passport plenty of performance. A 9-speed automatic, operated by a push-button shifter, gets the power to the wheels, and in my case it was to all four. Front-wheel drive is also available.

All-wheel drive models have an Intelligent Traction Management system that modulates power to the wheels depending on surface traction. Snow, Sand and Mud modes can be selected.

Naturally, a road trip begs for fuel economy monitoring. The EPA test-cycle ratings for the Passport AWD are 21 mpg combined, with 19 city mpg and 24 highway mpg. I’m not one to hypermile. I put myself in the spirited driving style category. On my 130 mile run south the Passport delivered 29 mpg. On the return I got 27 mpg, with both legs of my road trip easily beating the EPA rating of 24.

Along with decent fuel economy, the Passport has good sound insulation in the cabin. I heard minimal tire and wind noise which can be especially disturbing at highway cruising speeds.

Dynamically the Passport is well balanced with confident handling, linear braking and good steering feedback. The 45-series tires mounted on 20-inch wheels provided good overall comfort and managed many a road surface imperfection.

Front seating is plenty comfortable with easy entry and exit. The second row is roomy enough for three. In the rear there’s 50 cubic feet of cargo space plus a hidden, under floor storage bin. Fold the 60/40-split second row and the space doubles to about 100 cubic feet. Front-wheel drive models can tow 3,500 lbs. and all-wheel drive models can tow 5,000 lbs.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The Passport is available in Sport, EX-L, Touring and Elite trims. The Elite is AWD only whereas the others are available in FWD or AWD. Prices start at $31,990 and climb to $43,680 plus a $1,095 destination charge.

Honda Sensing provides a full contingent of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) technology and is standard across the line. Included are collision mitigation braking with forward collision warning, road departure mitigation including lane departure warning, lane keeping assistance system and adaptive cruise control.

The Elite trim I drove was nicely appointed with leather-trimmed seats and steering wheel, premium audio system with ten speakers, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, moonroof, hands-free tailgate, power-folding outside mirrors, navigation, multi-view rear camera with overhead view, and more.

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Overall, my experience driving the 2019 Passport Elite was quite satisfying. All the creature comforts and technology that was equipped made for really nice road-tripping. I made use of it all including navigation, Apple CarPlay, smart cruise control, ventilated seats, and such.

More information and details on the 2019 Honda Passport More Honda Info can be found at

As it turned out, my road tripping in the Passport continued. This time it was north from Chicago to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin and the Midwest Automotive Media Association Spring Rally held at the famed Road America race track. For the record my nearly 150 mile northerly drive delivered 28 mpg. At this rally the Passport was again put through the paces now with more drives on some twisty-windy local road.

Author's Note:At this year's MAMA Spring Rally, the 2019 Honda Passport was selected by 70 journalists as a finalist for the Family Vehicle of the Year.

© 2019 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy