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Honda Passport EX 4WD (2002)

SEE ALSO: Honda Buyer's Guide

by Brendan Hagin and Mikele Schappell-Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 30,930
     Price As Tested                                    $ 31,340
     Engine Type              DOHC 24-valve 3.2 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 198 cid/3165 cc
     Horsepower                                   205 @ 5400 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               214 @ 3000 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  106.4"/68.8"/178.2"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     4299 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  19.5 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                          245/70R16X all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/five-door
     Domestic Content                                 55 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            16/20/18
     0-60 MPH                                        9.5 seconds
     Maximum payload capacity                         915 pounds
     Maximum towing capacity                         4500 pounds
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

BRENDAN - Today's sport utility vehicles are kind of like pizzas. They come in small, medium or large and range from plain to very fancy. For the automotive buying public, selectability seems to be one of the major criteria for a purchase. Honda Motor Company has all the segments covered. The compact CR-V, the luxuriously large Acura MDX with third row seating, and the medium-sized Passport, our test vehicle for this week. And after driving it for five days, we were happy that our "pizza" came with extra toppings. It was the EX version with four-wheel-drive and a luxury package that had all the trimmings. It was powered by a 3.2 liter, 24-valve dual-overhead cam V-6 that delivers enough juice to get up into back-country mountains or cruise comfortably along the highway. It produces 205 horsepower and with 214-pound/feet of torque, both numbers that keep it in line with its mid-sized competitors. Honda's optional smooth shifting four-speed automatic transmission was in our test rig, but a five-speed stick-shift is standard equipment. Its front and rear double wishbone/coil-spring suspension and dual stabilizer bars enhance its ride and make it stable on the pavement. It's a good family SUV, but it's an off-road vehicle too, with shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive and a limited-slip differential in back.

MIKELE - As you well know, Dad is a General Motors enthusiast, but he wouldn't complain about taking a ride to the airport in this new Passport. And his patriotism shouldn't be too affronted, since it's assembled for Honda by Isuzu at the SIA factory in Lafayette, Indiana, right here in the good old USA. More than half of its parts are made here, too. I liked the luxurious interior of the Passport, and it had all the trimmings it takes to make even commuting almost bearable. It features lots of room, and the control layout is well-planned. The front bucket seats are comfortable enough, but the short, flat seat bases don't provide enough thigh support for me. Its long, wide center console has a pair of molded beverage holders, with one big enough to hold a giant drink from our local Quicky Mart. In back there's enough room for three adults, but only if they aren't too big. Even so, it's still be a tight fit back there. The rear seats feature a 60/40 split and the tailgate also splits. The glass swings up and the gate swings out to the left.

BRENDAN - You forgot to mention that the EX with Luxury Package comes with leather interior and a really great AM/FM stereo with a cassette deck, a six-disc in-dash changer and eight speakers. Our test Passport had the usual amenities; four-way power adjustable driver's seat, air conditioning, cruise control, power door and tailgate locks, and power windows with the auto-down driver's window. The steering wheel is leather-wrapped and the interior trim is wood-grained, neither of which make the Passport work any better, but they're easy on the eyes. Map lights, a power moonroof with one-touch, and a retractable cargo cover top off the inside of the Passport. On the exterior, the Honda has some nice touches, like a slim physique that is accented by rippling fender bulges and a sharply raked rear pillar and tailgate. The whole package retains its original familiar shape, but it's been beveled and cut throughout the years to give it a more sophisticated look. The spare tire is full-sized and it's location on the EX is under the rear floor. Our EX test model also had standard features that include alloy wheels, heated and body-colored outside mirrors, a roof rack, fog lights and rear privacy glass.

MIKELE - The Passport has such safety items as driver and passenger front airbags, adjustable seat belt anchors, rear child safety door locks, and a four-wheel anti-lock braking system with disc brakes all the way around. The only additional safety item that I'd like to see on the Passport is side airbags. As I get more "mature," I realize that car companies can't make a vehicle too safe.

BRENDAN - I'm glad you said "mature," because neither of us are getting old.