Honda put the Passport through a significant mid-generation update for 2022. It retains the typical Honda pillars of practicality, affordability, and sportiness and adds a dose of rugged flair with chunkier front and rear styling.
Also notable is a new mid-level TrailSport trim that signifies Honda’s desire to offer even greater off-road capability, however, for this Passport generation, it’s more of an off-road styling package than anything else. Still, with a capable engine and versatile all-wheel drive system, the Passport feels better suited for light-duty trails than most others in its class.
Despite the smaller wheels that allow for tires that are better for off-road, the Passport remains well-sorted on the pavement and it is even refreshingly tipped towards the sportier side of the spectrum. The body stays relatively flat around corners and the chassis never feels off-balance when rapidly accelerating through an intersection or winding up an on-ramp. The accurate steering and good outward visibility add confidence during quick sprints and provide a good sense of awareness and easy placement when just cruising. At higher speeds, the road noise begins to become noticeable but it remains reasonably hushed and the Passport prevents any sharp impacts from disrupting the cabin. In fact, the suspension tuning is one of the notable areas of the Passport as it also stays composed over low-speed speed large humps (aka speed humps) and high-speed dips with the chassis quickly settling and primed for the next road imperfection or curve. Add to that a rattle-free interior and the Passport feels ready for rough trail roads or even spring-time potholes.
The practical side of the Passport is evident with its spacious five-passenger interior where the rear seat offers enough leg room for the tallest of your friends and the cargo area is large enough that you would rarely find yourself asking if it’ll fit or not. Have an upcoming trip to IKEA? Simply fold the rear seat down by using the one-touch button on the seat back or lever in the cargo area. The Passport also has your back when it comes to smaller items with plenty of storage compartments and pockets.
Unfortunately, the interior’s accolades end there as its design feels outdated and out-classed by its newer showroom mates, the CR-V and Pilot. It’s functional, ergonomic, and assembled with impressive precision but it’s not memorable.
Just as the interior is ready for a redo, the nine-speed automatic transmission feels like it needs to be serving apologies. The push-button selector is better than a rotating dial but an actual shift lever feels more natural. Mechanically, the transmission requires so much time to shift from D to R (and vice versa) that three-point turns and parallel parking maneuvers require a new level of patience; this is nothing new just more noticeable against its updated competitors. Once underway, the transmission is geared to allow for quick acceleration up to highway speed and it delivers downshifts when expected but there’s no avoiding the casual attitude of the transmission.
From a stop and under light acceleration, the Passport prefers to start off in second for the sake of fuel economy which can make it feel sluggish as it relies on the torque converter too much. With a bit more throttle at launch, the Passport will pull away in first gear, however, its acceleration can then feel rather abrupt. Working the paddle shifters allows one to hold any gear but upshifts are slow and downshifts can feel a little unnerving as you can feel it disconnecting from the engine’s compression braking before grabbing the next gear. The gearbox is much better suited for conservative driving which is a shame considering the engine’s strong pull and good sound in the higher RPM range. The good news is that the corporate 10-speed automatic, also made by Honda, exhibits none of this behavior and we can expect to see it on the next generation model in a couple of years, if not sooner.
With solid road manners, a suspension that even feels ready for a bit of adventure, and a spacious interior, the Passport hits all of the marks of a successful modern five-passenger crossover. The TrailSport trim packs several useful features over the base Passport’s EX-L but manages to keep the sticker under $40k which feels like a good value in today’s market.
Despite the Passport’s weak points being made more evident by Honda’s other recently redesigned models, the 2022 Honda Passport remains a talented daily driver with light-duty off-roading capability.
For more equipment and pricing information, see my write-up on CarsDirect.com: here