Honda says the new five-seater it will offer best-in-class interior space and off-road abilities the equal of more rugged SUVs, while bettering them for on-road refinement.
A midsize SUV rival to the Chevrolet Blazer, Ford Edge and Nissan Murano, the Honda Passport has a 280hp 3.5-litre V6 engine as standard (most rivals are less powerful four-cylinders, sniffs Honda), paired to a nine-speed automatic. An active torque-vectoring all-wheel drive called i-VTM4 is standard on the top-line model and optional on all others: two-wheel drive is the default.
It’s been developed exclusive by Honda’s North American engineering team, and will be built in Lincoln, Alabama. It’s derived from Honda’s Global Light Truck platform, sharing plenty beneath with the Pilot SUV and Ridgeline pickup.
“The 2019 Honda Passport provides the on-road comfort and nimble handling buyers will appreciate on their daily commute with the robust off-road and all-weather capability that make for a great weekend adventure vehicle,” said Henio Arcangeli, Jr., senior vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. and general manager, Honda Division.
“We saw an opportunity to deliver something that Honda is uniquely capable of making and the new Passport is in a great position to capture buyers looking for a more personal, powerful and capable Honda SUV.”
The design is intentionally rugged. 20-inch alloys are standard, and the bold wheelarches, floating roof design and matt black grille and bumper (for scratch resistance) combine with the raised ride height to leave nobody doubting its intent. The unbeatably roomy interior has ‘lifestyle’ features such as a reversible cargo floor and more underfloor storage in the load bay than any rival.
Honda will sell the Passport in Sport, EX-L, Touring and Elite grades. Sport and EX-L get a cloth interior and it’s leather on Touring and Elite. The Sport has a 215-watt audio system with a 5-inch display and a subwoofer; all others have a crisper 8-inch Display Audio touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Touring and Elite have 590-watt 10-speaker premium audio too.
Front-wheel drive models will tow 3,500 pounds (1,590 kg) and all-wheel drive versions will tow 5,000 pounds (2,270 kg). Honda says the i-VTM4 system can send up to 70 percent of engine torque to the rear axle, and then 100 percent of that torque to either left or right wheels.
There’s 0.8 inches more ground clearance than a Pilot on front-wheel drive models, and 1.1 inches more on all wheel drive models – and the shorter length and shorter rear overhang of the Passport will mean it can go much further off-road without grounding out.
Naturally, Honda’s offering the Passport with a huge range of lifestyle-focused accessories: roof boxes, roof basket, roof-mounted bike, kayak, ski or snowboard racks, plus weatherproof cargo area trim and washable bins for the underfloor storage.
An Adventure Package includes running boards, trailer hitch and the roof bin, while Urban Package has front and rear underbody spoilers, unique 20-inch alloys, roof rails and crossbars.
Come back to Motoring Research tomorrow to see more images of the Honda Passport from the LA Auto Show, plus all the other show reveals and surprises.