2024 Honda Passport: A Capable SUV Overshadowed by Siblings, Rivals

Strong points
  • Strong engine
  • Good AWD system
  • Spacious and convenient interior
  • Excellent reliability
Weak points
  • Intrusive parking brake pedal
  • Obsolete instrument panel
  • 4-way adjustment only for front passenger’s seat
  • No panoramic sunroof
Full report

When talking about Honda SUVs, the best-selling CR-V is the first one that comes to mind, obviously, then the smaller HR-V and the larger Pilot. A lot of people seem to forget that the Passport even exists, and yet it proves to be quite capable and a solid pick in many ways.

Granted, the Passport is getting old (2024 marks the sixth model year), and safety is not on the same level as other Honda products (except for the Ridgeline and Civic) according to the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. However, this is a midsize SUV with excellent reliability and the best residual value in its class, J.D. Power says.

A few weeks back, as winter turned to spring, we put a 2024 Honda Passport Black Edition to the test. Priced at $55,940 (MSRP), this new model replaces the Touring and features a darker-looking exterior.

Photo: Dominic Boucher

Spacious and Convenient

The Passport’s cabin is spacious and conveniently designed, especially with the wider centre console featuring a large, newly integrated armrest and expanded storage. The storage bin can now fit a full-size tablet. On the flip side, the seats are a bit short on lateral support and the front passenger’s offers 4-way adjustment only, even in Black Edition trim. Also, it’s a shame there’s no panoramic sunroof anywhere in the lineup.

The instruments in front of the driver, while easy to use, are like remnants of a distant past. We got really annoyed by the many different alerts and warnings that kept popping up, but the most irritating part inside the Passport has to be the awkwardly positioned parking brake pedal, which you must go around of with your foot when hopping on board. How about a button-operated electronic parking brake, Honda? Other than that, the interior layout generally puts function over form.  

Photo: Dominic Boucher

The infotainment system is shared with every other Honda vehicle. It’s easy to figure out and mostly user-friendly. Meanwhile, the 10-speaker 540W premium audio system exclusive to the Black Edition model sounds good, but we’ve heard better.

Proven Powerplant

Compared with the Pilot, the Honda Passport enables sportier handling thanks to a firmer suspension. The downside, of course, is a choppier ride. Nevertheless, stability around corners is impressive. The i-VTM4 all-wheel drive system spins the outside rear wheel faster than the average speed of the two front wheels, reducing understeer to keep the vehicle balanced and controllable.

The Passport is easy to drive with proper height and large windows that provide great all-around visibility. Steering, while precise, could be a tad more responsive, mind you.

Under the hood is the familiar 3.5-litre V6 that puts out 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, resulting in lively but not always smooth acceleration. Blame the 9-speed automatic transmission. The Pilot’s 10-speed unit is a slightly better operator and more fuel-efficient, as well.

Photo: Dominic Boucher

On that note, we achieved a combined 11.1 L/100 km during our week with the Passport Black Edition. A year ago, the larger and 200-kg heavier Pilot TrailSport netted 11 L/100 km on our watch. The engine start-stop system is slow and not really helpful. We also need to point out that maximum towing capacity is 2,268 kg (5,000 lbs).

For long highway trips, the combination of adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist does a fine job most of the time. The active steering system tends to over-correct when bends in the road get sharper, though not too abruptly. The Passport gradually slows down when approaching another vehicle, but it seems to struggle with re-acceleration when the lane clears up, as if the transmission refused to downshift.

Photo: Dominic Boucher

Should You Buy a Passport?

While not without flaws and irritants, the Honda Passport is a pragmatic buyer’s SUV—robust, dependable and convenient. So, what’s keeping customers away?

Pricing may be part of the answer. In base Sport trim, the 2024 Passport starts at $48,480 (MSRP), which is admittedly expensive for a midsize SUV with two rows of seats only. The three-row Pilot can be had for an extra $5,000.

Another explanation could be that the latest CR-V is bigger and more versatile than ever, meeting the needs of a number of families while also offering a hybrid variant.

By the way, we haven’t talked about the freshly upgraded Passport TrailSport ($52,480), which features more adventurous looks, a revised suspension and new General Grabber A/T Sport all-terrain tires for improved off-road capability. SUVs like this one are increasingly popular across the industry, and we completely understand Honda’s move, but is it enough to attract new customers? Colour us skeptical.

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