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2020 Honda Passport

BY Benjamin Yong, 30 Mar, 2020 10:18 PM

    Newest member of the Honda crossover family

    Seeking a vehicle that possesses the agility of a CR-V but the utility of a Pilot? Then the first-ever Honda Passport may be the answer. Officially launched just last year, the five-passenger mid-size crossover offers a sporty look and ride as well as a load of interior room.

    Honda calls their latest model the “most rugged light truck yet,” built on the brand’s unibody Global Light Truck Platform shared with the aforementioned Pilot and the Ridgeline pickup. Featuring a fully boxed floor and proprietary Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, the experience behind the wheel is sharp and quiet. 

    The Passport sits on a fully independent suspension and is driven by all four wheels via available i-VTM4 torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, resulting in more car than SUV-like behaviour. An impressive feat considering the mid-size crossover’s sizable footprint, measuring 4,839 millimetres long, 2,116 millimetres wide, and 1,835 high. Ingress and egress might potentially be challenging for some folks depending on how tall they are. Darpan’s tester had OEM running boards added, however the height they were placed made them awkward to step on getting in and out.

    Conditions from rain-soaked pavement to muddy trails are no problem as the computer is able to send up to 70 per cent of torque to the rear axle, splitting between the left and right wheel as needed. In addition, AWD trims have 213 millimetres of ground clearance (27 more than Pilot) to clear any pesky obstacles when encountering rough terrain. A 3.5-litre V6 engine is standard equipment, pumping out a healthy 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, mated to an efficient nine-speed automatic gearbox. The former is operated by buttons, which feel clumsy to use, rather than a traditional lever. Power delivery and shifting is fairly smooth and not overly noisy unless under heavy acceleration. Steering wheel mounted paddles allow manual override for those inclined, although auto is reengaged after a few seconds of inactivity.

    Peer at the transmission select console and you might notice the “/S” printed on the Drive button. Pressing it twice activates Sport mode, enabling aggressive shift mapping for spirited manoeuvres like passing or navigating twisties. This setting also turns on a double-kick-down function whereby pulling the left paddle twice quickly will permit skipping a gear on a downshift, for example going from fifth to third. When doing so, the Drive-By-Wire throttle system takes care of rev-matching duties to ensure a seamless transition every time.

    Providing a tow capacity of 3,500 pounds hauling recreational toys along is a cinch, especially since the cabin display can show a birds-eye view while backing up to aid in connecting up a trailer. For more serious loads, customers should choose the towing package bumping up the rating to 5,000 pounds.

    Open up the tailgate — powered on higher trims but noticeably missing a feature that shuts and automatically locks the doors — and 1,166 litres of space is revealed, or 2,205 after the one-touch folding rear seats are stowed. Why designers decided not to fit an optional third row of seating is puzzling. Lift up the cargo floor and there’s another 70 litres, perfect to stash valuables out of sight. A large centre console cubby affords additional covered storage. The rest of the interior is functional, although the sunroof is on the small side and the infotainment system would benefit from a rotary control knob for easier navigation. As opposed to other stable mates, the Passport has a mostly blacked-out front fascia and dark 20-inch wheels giving the vehicle a uniquely distinct look in the growing lineup. Prices start at $44,420.

    HIGHILIGHTS

    MSRP: $44,420

    Motor: 3.5-litre V6

    Horsepower: 280 @ 6,000 rpm

    Torque (lb-ft): 262 @ 4,700 rpm

    Gearbox: Nine-speed automatic

    Layout: Front engine, all-wheel drive

    Fuel economy: 14.6 L/100 km mixed city/highway (observed)

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