Given how competitive the SUV/Crossover market is, offering a reliable, well-built product isn’t enough anymore. Instead, even the most affordable SUVs have to wear many hats. For starters, buyers expect a decent amount of standard equipment. On top of that, there needs to be powerful yet fuel-efficient engine options. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, these daily driving machines need to provide a pleasant driving experience.
This is where the well-built 2021 Honda Passport falls short of its rivals. Car and Driver recently wrapped up their long-term review of the Honda Passport and found it to be well-built but uninspiring to drive. It is important to note that the 2019 Passport covered in the review is almost identical to the 2021 Passport currently on sale.
The Honda Passport nails the basics
Before we dive into its shortcomings, let’s start with what the Honda Passport actually does well. For starters, the Passport comes standard with a 280-hp naturally-aspirated V6. Thankfully, Car and Driver reports that it feels quite powerful. This is likely due to the Honda’s sub 4000-lb curb weight. The cherry on top is the fact that Car and Driver report their Passport’s engine feeling even stronger after 40,000 miles. Besides raw power, excellent reliability also means you won’t have to spend much to maintain your daily driver.
Despite having a simple layout, Car and Driver report that the Passport’s interior is road-trip-ready. Aside from having a comfortable pair of front sears, Car and Driver noted that the interior storage space was excellent, easily accommodating luggage, extra food, and tons of devices. As a result, covering long distances in the Passport is no trouble at all.
The Passport handles poorly despite being quite stiff
While absolutely no one expects the Honda Passport to be a Civic Type R, it still needs to be somewhat engaging to drive. Since the Honda will likely be its owner’s daily vehicle, a poor driving experience can quickly sour the relationship. According to Consumer Reports’ road test of the Honda, despite having a stiffer suspension setup than the larger Pilot, it manages to exhibit greater body roll. The added stiffness results in a rough ride, which quickly transmits bumps on the road to its passengers.
During Consumer Reports’ on-track handling test, the Passport exhibited very clumsy behavior. Once the going got a bit twisty, the Passport began to lean excessively. On top of that, the Honda quickly began to lose traction in the front wheels under hard cornering. While Consumer Reports noted that the loss of traction wasn’t unsafe, it certainly wasn’t fun. The result is that buyers are subjected to extra stiffness without a clear reward.
Its driver assistance features seem to have a mind of their own
Having tons of safety equipment is a major win for any small SUV. The Honda Passport offers a comprehensive suite of safety features, many of which come standard. Despite this, Car and Driver reported that the systems in their 2019 Honda Passport were overly sensitive. For starters, Car and Driver noted that the Passports forward-warning collision system registered many false alarms. The system was so sensitive, in fact, that it engaged the automatic braking system without needing to. Despite adjusting the systems sensitivity, Car and Driver’s reviewers couldn’t get it to work properly.
The Honda Passport has incredible potential. Since it already nails the basic foundation of a great SUV, subtle tweaks could make it excel. Thankfully, the current-gen Passport is Honda’s first attempt. The second-generation model has tremendous potential if it fixes these flaws.