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Rugged SUVs are growing in popularity as more and more drivers seek vehicles that can handle off-road adventures. With each model offering its distinct advantages, it can be hard to choose the best option for you and your family from the crowded compact SUVs/midsize SUVs class. That brings us to the Mazda CX-50 and the Honda Passport.

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 is a rugged, compact SUV with an affordable price tag, costing barely more than the CX-5. So, how does it perform compared to other similar off-road SUVs on the market? Here are three advantages the 2022 Honda Passport has over the Mazda CX-50 for you to consider.

1. A lot more horsepower and torque

A gray 2022 Honda Passport TrailSport driving on a dirt desert dune near a large pile of garbage
2022 Honda Passport TrailSport | American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

The 2022 Honda Passport compact SUV has a standard 3.5-liter V6 engine paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission that outperforms the 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine in the 2023 Mazda CX-50.

The potent V6 in the Honda Passport generates 280 hp with 262 lb-ft of torque. Consumer Reports says, “Honda’s 3.5-liter V6 delivers smooth and punchy performance, with ample power at ready.”

In comparison, the Mazda CX-50 only outputs 187 hp with 186 lb-ft of torque with its baseline engine. Car and Driver noted that all CX-50 models come with all-wheel drive and an automatic transmission, with plans for a hybrid powertrain from Toyota in the not too distant future.

While Consumer Reports ranked the 2023 Mazda CX-50 reasonably high in its class, it said, “It seems as if the 2.5-liter engine and six-speed automatic transmission are finally showing their age.” The auto reviewer explained, “In an era of eight-, nine-, and 10-speed transmissions, Mazda’s six-speed seems like a bit of a relic. In daily use, the combo doesn’t seem well matched.”

2. A lot more towing capacity

Honda claims the 2022 Honda Passport “won’t even break a sweat, with up to 5,000 pounds of towing capacity.” That is significantly more capability than the 2023 Mazda CX-50, which has a maximum trailering capacity of only 2,000 pounds.

In a recent press release, Honda stated the Passport “can navigate tough trails, and its 5,000-pound towing capacity (with AWD, with additional equipment) allows it to pull a large camper trailer or off-road toys.”

The additional equipment required for the Honda to handle up to 5,000 lbs of towing capacity is an optional transmission oil cooler that retails for less than $500 and protects wear to the vehicle’s transmission when pulling heavy loads. Without this add-on, the Passport has a rating of 3,500 pounds, still offering more towing capacity than the Mazda CX-50.

Michael Kistemaker, assistant vice president of Honda National Sales at American Honda Motor Co., Inc., said, “Honda has offered weekend adventurers durable and capable SUVs for more than two decades and our newest Passport takes this to a new level.” Kistemaker further explained, “The new Passport and Passport TrailSport don’t just look rugged, they’re ready, willing and able to get dirty tackling trails.”

3. A lot more cargo capacity

The 2022 Honda Passport offers a spacious 41.2 cubic feet of cargo carrying capacity with all seats in place. With the rear seats folded down, there are 77.9 cubic feet of space. Edmunds points out that “due to different measuring standards, you might also see Honda list 50.5 and 100.7 cubic feet respectively.”

In comparison, the cargo capacity for the five-passenger 2023 Mazda CX-50 is 31.4 cubic feet, with all seats in place. With the 60/40 split rear seats folded down, only 56.3 cubic feet of space is available.

Edmunds noted the overall cargo space of the 2023 Mazda CX-50 is “near the bottom of the small crossover class.” It explained, “The CX-50’s cargo area doesn’t quite match what its longer-than-average proportions might suggest.”

In contrast, Car and Driver noted, “With a generous amount of cargo space and passenger accommodations, the 2022 Honda Passport is supremely practical.”


2023 Honda Passport: What We Know so Far About This off-Road Honda SUV