Originally a rebadged Isuzu Rodeo, the Honda Passport debuted in 1993 for the North American market. In 2018 Honda announced it would return the namesake to service for the two-row mid-size crossover segment and slotted it between the CR-V and Pilot. Based on the Pilot, the Passport shares the same front-engine, all-wheel-drive layout. The Passport is now offered in three trims – Sport, TrailSport and the top-of-the-line Touring. We spent a week with the 2022 Honda Passport TrailSport to see how the middle trim of this middle sibling in the Honda SUV line-up shapes out.
The Passport isn’t exactly a looker; it definitely can be mistaken for the Pilot on which it shares a platform, but at least the boxy appearance translates well into interior space. There isn’t much that separates the TrailSport from the base Sport trim on the exterior aside from a few obvious orange badges. Overall, the 2022 Passport remains fairly anonymous and for most, that won’t be the worst thing.
Moving inside you’ll be quick to notice the one stand-out feature of the Passport; interior room. Honda manages to make the most of the Passport’s squared off footprint by offering ample room for five adults to be seated. It can hold 1,430 liters of cargo space behind the second row and a grand 2,852 liters when said seats are folded down. For rear seat passengers there are no frills, however the seats do manually recline and slide. We liked how easy the Passport was to get in and out of thanks to a low floor and large door openings.
When it comes to interior design language there is no mistaking this for anything other than a Honda. This is a good thing, as even though there isn’t much in the way of innovation and new technology here, you’ll be greeted by a comfortable, simple space that offers many small cubbies and compartments to store all of the usual knick-knacks. Material quality overall is good, however there are still some hard plastics which we’d like to see exchanged for soft touch materials. These hard touch materials are easy to clean, which can be a plus for a family hauler.
As far as interior technology goes, the Passport is starting to really show its age. The infotainment is easy to use however most of the typefaces and graphics age the system. Thankfully if you want to not use the onboard setup, both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard. In addition, the blacks in the display look more like grey leading to a display that looks low resolution.
That being said, we are very happy to see physical buttons for key features such as home and volume control, which will come in handy come wintertime, if you are driving with gloves or mittens. The same can be said for the climate controls, which thankfully are a separate item from the infotainment system and are a breeze to use. The instrumentation is a mix of old-school analogue gauges and a digital section. Again, this is far from the best implementation of technology we’ve seen, but it doesn’t look terrible.
One area that we are thankful that the Passport keeps it old-school is the engine. The J-series 3.5-liter V6 can trace its lineage back to the second generation (RL1) Honda Odyssey. The two key points here are the velvety smooth power delivery and the noticeable VTEC crossover right around 3,500RPM. In many ways this engine is dated, however the sweet engine note and no-lag throttle response fondly remind us of Hondas of yesteryear. The V6 is good for 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft. of torque.
Luckily, unlike the transmissions that were first mated to this engine back in the early 2000s that had an affinity for turning themselves to mush, Honda has done this right and opted for nine-speed ZF automatic transmission. It shifts smoothly, and we have a good feeling about long term reliability. The Passport also comes standard with Hondas i-VTM4 all-wheel-drive system, which we got to put to the test in the rainy week that we had this tester.
In rainy conditions and for some light travel off the beaten path, we think this system will be ready for anything you’re going to want to throw at it. Power is generally sent to the front wheels for efficiency, however up to 70% can be sent to the rear wheels. There is also a terrain selector that will allow drivers to tell the vehicle what road surface it can expect.
Honda rates fuel economy of the 2022 Passport at 12.5L/100km city, 9.8L/100km highway and 11.3L/100km combined across the board. We managed 12.6L/100km which was mostly city driving. In our testing we weren’t aiming for the best economy, and with plenty of VTEC crossover testing we think the Passport gets a pass. Buyers will also be happy to see the Passport can accept 87-octane fuel to fill its large 74-liter tank.
Pricing for the Passport starts at $45,570, up from last year’s $43,670 for the base Sport model. Our TrailSport tester starts at $49,270 which only really offers heated second row seating, a power tailgate, and memory for the front seats. The top-dog Touring model will start at $52,170 but comes with features such as an uprated sound system and ventilated front seats. The only optional extra to speak of for our tester was the Sonic Grey paint job, which is offered for just $300 and looks great, albeit a little played out.
Two main competitors we took a peek at were the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Toyota Venza. Both options are available as hybrids and can be had for the same price, if not a bit cheaper than the Touring model of the Passport. It seems as if these rivals may offer more value and in the Venza’s case look much more sleek and modern.
So what do we make of the 2022 Honda Passport TrailSport? I think personally even though the Passport is stale in some regards it tugs at the part of my brain that remembers the many Hondas that were a part of my youth. The V6 engine is one of the holdouts in this category as the other manufacturers go to smaller displacement and lack the throaty, punchy power delivery of the Passport. Those aspects combined with the rugged, outdoorsy look and ample interior space make the Passport feel special.