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Sunday Drive: Honda Passport is back and more rugged than ever

By Craig and Deanne Conover - | Sep 10, 2022
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The exterior of the new 2022 Honda Passport TrailSport.
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The exterior of the new 2022 Honda Passport TrailSport.
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The exterior of the new 2022 Honda Passport TrailSport.
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The interior of the new 2022 Honda Passport TrailSport.
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The interior of the new 2022 Honda Passport TrailSport.

After making a comeback in 2019, the Honda Passport has received a small facelift for the 2022 model year, with a new rugged front end and off-road capabilities in the new TrailSport trim level. The Passport was first introduced back in 1993 and had an almost 10-year run before being discontinued in 2002, and it’s great to have it back in the Honda lineup.

The Passport slots itself right between the compact-sized CR-V and the three-row, family-friendly, ever-popular Pilot. On top of Honda wanting a piece of the mid-sized SUV market, the company is positioning the Passport to also be a very capable off-road choice, especially now with the all-new TrailSport model.

Through the use of Honda’s i-VTM4 torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system and the power and towing capability of its 3.5-liter i-VTEC V-6 engine, the Passport is set up to get folks to places other less capable mid-sized SUVs in the category will not.

With power to spare, the V-6 engine will produce 280 horsepower with 262 foot-pounds of torque and a towing capacity of up to 5,000 pounds. There are not many weekend activities a family of four could not enjoy with that kind of capability.

All this power is pushed through a nine-speed automatic transmission that moves through the gears very smoothly and adjusts very well to any needed speed or excess weight when towing. After spending a week traveling almost 400 miles — including a good mix of highway/city driving — we managed a very nice 22.5 miles per gallon, a little above where the EPA puts the Passport. We felt this was a great number for the mid-sized SUV.

The exterior of the Passport is where the engineers have really excelled in the area of design. It has a new rugged yet overtly sophisticated look, making it great for a night on the town or a weekend in the hills.

They have also included awesome accent features such as a grill, wheels and bumpers to give it a look of true power, with LED accent lights and a chrome tailpipe adding to the upscale exterior. We were stopped many times with questions about the type and kind of SUV we were driving as the Passport is still very new to the market.

However, looks are not all the outside of the new Passport has to offer. The SUV sits an inch higher than its big brother, the Pilot, and it has steeper approach and departure angles, giving it true off-road abilities.

A wider hatch also made it easier for us to get things in and out during the week, especially with Craig overseeing the Utah County Fair. The Passport turned into a truck of sorts, hauling banners, snow fence and many other items during the week.

Inside, the new Passport also did not disappoint us. It comes with all kinds of Acura-like details, starting with the NSX-inspired shifting mechanism. This way of putting the SUV into drive, reverse and park became second nature to us in just a couple of days, but it does take some getting used to in the beginning. Having had some time in an Acura NSX, we noticed that little extra touch of luxury and sportiness added to the mix.

On the Sunday of our test week, we took some friends out for a ride on the Nebo Loop road. They were quite comfortable and would have been OK with an even longer drive in the leather-clad seats.

Up front, the Passport is loaded with all kinds of luxury and comfort features such as heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel and dual-zone climate control. The instrument panel has a 7-inch TFT display that offers the driver different audio and connectivity features.

The center console is an 8-inch, high-definition touch screen display that controls all the infotainment features and other options in the Passport. It is surrounded by sleek black trim that adds to the luxurious look of the interior, and there are soft touch points everywhere.

There is storage under the floor in the rear, and there is plenty up front as well, including a huge center console that has a sliding flat top, allowing it to double as a tray in-between the front seats. If juice box storage is needed, this is the place as it would hold plenty while still leaving room for Mom’s purse.

Technology and safety have become a trademark of Honda with the Honda Sensing suite of driver assistance items. This includes Forward Collision Warning, the Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, the Lane Keeping Assistance System, Road Departure Mitigation and Adaptive Cruise Control. All models also come with a Multi-Angle Rearview Camera, and the Passport EX-L trims and higher come with blind spot information (BSI). Every Passport trim also includes automatic high beams.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also included and supported with a 7-speaker, 752-watt sound system with subwoofer. There is also a telematics control unit that hooks up to the 4G LTE AT&T network that allows for up to seven devices to be connected while driving. It’s just a little something to help keep the kids entertained on their mobile devices.

The new Passport should prove to be a great choice in a very competitive environment, and with Honda involved in the design, time should prove it to be a success. We enjoyed our week with the Passport; it would even make a great everyday driver for empty-nesters like ourselves.

Base price: $42,470

Destination charge: $1,225

Price as driven: $44,090

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