Trucks & SUVs

How One of Honda’s SUVs Actually Started Out as a Motorcycle

The Honda Passport we know today is a roomy two-row crossover SUV. It might not be the most stylish SUV on the market but it’s quick, loaded with features, and offers a comfy ride. It’s a nice balance of sporty, spacious, and affordable.

But did you know the Honda Passport was once a motorcycle? What have the reviews been like for the Honda SUV since it returned for the 2018 model year?

The Honda Super Cub

In 1958, ten years after the establishment of Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Honda debuted its original Honda Super Cub motorcycle. In 1952, there was a clip-on bicycle engine they called Honda Cub F. Adding Super to the name for their new lightweight bike, they were disappointed by poor sales.

At first.

The recession in Japan at the time had an impact on sluggish sales. Three months following its launch, customer complaints came in about slipping clutches. Customer service was different then. Honda salesmen and factory workers worked through the holidays to make the repairs for their customers. They went to customer homes to fix the bikes.

When the Super Cub made it to the U.S., it was called the Honda 50. But they ran into an issue with Piper Super Cub airplane’s trademark, so it was later changed to the Honda Passport C70 and C90.

The 2020 Honda Passport

A Honda Passport AWD Sport is on display at the Chicago Auto Show
The Honda Passport | Bilgin Sasmaz/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Honda Passport made its debut as an SUV in 1993 and it ran through 2002. Honda brought the Passport SUV back in 2018. Ironically, in 2018, they also released a special edition of the Super Cub motorcycle to commemorate its 60th anniversary.

While the latest Honda Passport is enough to keep fans happy, there’s more to this one than meets the eye. 

It’s not the most stylish SUV on the market, but the two-row crossover SUV is roomy and drives very well. The 2020 Honda Passport has all the standard driver-assist technologies that are popular on the market like automated emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.

The latest passport offers a comfy cabin and lots of cargo space. Each model features a 3.5-liter V6 engine that puts out 280 hp paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission – the same powertrain you’ll find in the Honda Pilot.

Does that powertrain offer a smooth, fuel-efficient ride? Not exactly. Rough roads present a rough ride in the Honda Passport, and it’s not the most fuel-efficient SUV in its class. It’s still roomy and affordable.

There are four trim levels, but the base Sport model offers an impressive number of popular standard features, making it a real value. With the base model, you can get an 8-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, heated front seats, blind-spot monitoring, leather upholstery, rear cross-traffic alert, and a power liftgate.

For $1,900 more, you can get the optional all-wheel-drive platform. The upper two trim levels of the Honda Passport – Touring and Elite – have all the nice-to-have features.

The reviews are in for the Honda Passport

Car and Driver calls the 2020 Honda Passport one of the best midsize SUVs on the market. There’s a lack of frills aside from the top two trim levels, but a load of standard features with a comfortable, roomy interior at a reasonable price.

U.S. News likes the upscale materials used in its cabin and the standard safety features. They also like the power from the powertrain that it claims meets average fuel economy estimates. While to them it looks like it could be an off-road vehicle, they recommend it only for light off-road adventures and journeys. 

Kelley Blue Book was impressed by the Honda Sensing suite of safety tools including lane-keeping assist and road departure mitigation.

The 2020 Honda Passport seats five and will catch the eye of shoppers with a two-row midsize SUV in mind. While it’s not the most fuel-efficient SUV in its class, it has a lot to offer including great power, comfort, and a lot of great features for the price.