I was happy to see Honda bring the Passport back to their lineup two years ago. Though I never owned one, I have a soft spot for the previous generations that Honda produced from 1993-2002. This particular example, a brand new 2021 EX-L model has been mildly refreshed since its inception and I have to say, I’m a fan. It could be argued that the 2021 Honda Passport hews too closely to its big brother, the Pilot. But I think Honda did a good job of putting the Passport on its own four feet with more muscular lines, a blacked-out grille and standard 20’s on all trim levels.

Honda’s silky smooth 3.5-liter V6 is the only motor available pushing a healthy 280 horses to the wheels through a 9-speed automatic. While I’ll continue to lament the loss of a manual in virtually every car being made these days, I didn’t exactly expect Honda to bring that option back along with the name. That being said, I do appreciate the simplicity of the powertrain lineup here. Have you looked at the options sheet on the new Bronco? You can order one of those with a stick but first you need a degree in Organizational Cartography to sift through the dizzying array of trims, motors, transmissions, wheels and more. So, when Honda gives me a singular powertrain option, I say Thank You. Simplicity is always a good thing.

On the Passport EX-L, front-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel drive adding two grand to the roughly $37,000 base price. I imagine you’ll be hard-pressed to find 2WD models on dealer lots so know that the AWD drive package brings Honda’s Intelligent Variable Torque Management to the party with Normal, Sand, Snow and Mud drive settings. Though walks on the beach are the closest thing most Passport drivers will come to being in the sand, snow is surely a common denominator in the purchase equation and knowing the torque will be directed to the wheels that need it is a reassuring thought.

Though I’ll personally do my best to daily drive something with a stick and analog interface, there’s no denying the growing popularity of driver assistance systems for those looking to relinquish more control over their car. And from a pure safety perspective, Honda makes their “Honda Sensing” suite of features standard across the 2021 Honda Passport model line for which they deserve a thumbs up.

There is the Collision Mitigation Braking System which can help apply brake pressure when a possible frontal collision is detected. The camera associated with the Lane Keeping Assist System can detect lane lines and gently adjust your steering wheel to keep the vehicle centered between the lines. If you cross a detected lane without signaling, the Road Departure Mitigation System will emit a warning and can then adjust your braking and steering to keep you safely on the road. Finally, there is the Adaptive Cruise Control feature that, when activated, can detect a vehicle ahead of you and help maintain a safe following distance by adjusting your speed. It’s quite a remarkable package of driver assistance features.

The 2 row, midsize SUV segment is fairly crammed with options these days as carmakers continue to invent niches and sub-niches within them. That this 2021 Passport EX-L comes fairly loaded with heated leather seats, a moonroof and power tailgate is part of the reason for its solid ranking within the midsize SUV segment with a score of 99. To see where it ranks among its peers, click here.

VEHICLE TYPE

Front-engine, front- or all-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 4 door SUV

BASE PRICE

$36,610 – $38,610

ENGINE

24-valve SOHC i-VTEC 3.5-liter V6

280 hp, 262 lb-ft

TRANSMISSION

9-speed automatic

DIMENSIONS

Wheelbase: 111.0 in

L/W/H: 190.5/78.6/71.6-72.2 in

Curb Weight: 4017-4215 lb

PERFORMANCE

60 mph: 6.1 sec

¼ Mile: 14.7 sec @ 95 mph

Top Speed: 112 mph (governor limited)

EPA FUEL ECONOMY

City/Highway/Combined: 20/25/22

 

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