2022 Honda Passport Review Update

Christian Wardlaw, Independent Expert | Mar 26, 2022

Introduction - Find the best Honda deals!

Remember when people bought cars, trucks were for work, and SUVs were for people who went hunting and fishing and exploring well away from paved roads? Back then, you could find every size and shape of car in an automaker's lineup. Small, compact, midsize, and large sedans were the big sellers, but there were also coupesconvertibleshatchbacks, and station wagons.

Now that Americans have irrevocably fallen in love with crossovers and SUVs, we're seeing that same kind of stratification for those types of vehicles. You've got small, compact, midsize 2-row, midsize 3-row, large, and extra-large models. Some don't offer all-wheel drive (AWD). Some come standard with 4-wheel drive and a transfer case. Some have convertible tops. Some are even called coupes though they're equipped with four doors and a rear hatch. The choices are seemingly endless.

At Honda, the midsize 2-row SUV is the Passport. It is based on the Pilot 3-row SUV, but is shorter, has different exterior styling, and lacks a third-row seat. It was a quick fix to a growing problem: Honda's lack of a model between the compact CR-V and the family-friendly Pilot. As you might guess, the result is an SUV that drives and feels like the larger Pilot but without a third-row seat.

For the 2022 model year, the Honda Passport gets several changes that improve its value and make it appear more rugged. Here is what's new for the 2022 Passport:

  • Revised trim level lineup with added standard equipment
  • New styling forward of the windshield, cribbed from the Honda Ridgeline pickup truck
  • Revised rear bumper with larger exhaust outlets
  • Fresh wheel designs and paint colors
  • First Honda to come in TrailSport trim, which the automaker will apply to its most off-road-capable models in the future
  • New Honda Performance Development (HPD) accessories are available
  • Rear-seat reminder and rear seat belt reminder systems debut

The 2022 Honda Passport comes in EX-L, TrailSport, and Elite trim levels. The EX-L has front-wheel drive with a torque-vectoring AWD system available as an option. The AWD system is standard with TrailSport and Elite trim.

Previously, J.D. Power reviewed the 2019 Honda Passport. This review focuses on the Passport's updates for 2022 and how they potentially impact its overall appeal to consumers.

What Owners Say About the Honda Passport - Find the best Honda deals!

2022 Honda Passport TrailSport Sonic Gray Pearl Front Quarter View

The Honda Passport competes in the Midsize SUV market segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D. Power 2021 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 61 percent of new Honda Passport buyers are male (vs. 56 percent for the segment), and the median age of a new Passport buyer is 59 years (vs. 58).

As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the Passport in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you'll find their preferences from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:

  • Driving feel (in a tie with Exterior styling)
  • Exterior styling (in a tie with Driving feel)
  • Getting in and out
  • Interior design
  • Feeling of safety
  • Powertrain
  • Driving comfort
  • Setting up and starting
  • Infotainment system
  • Fuel economy

In the 2021 APEAL Study, the Passport ranks sixth out of eight Midsize SUV models.

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Honda Passport - Find the best Honda deals!

In the sections that follow, our independent expert analyzes a Passport TrailSport equipped with extra-cost Sonic Gray Pearl paint. The price of the test vehicle came to $44,090, including the $1,225 destination charge.

Leather is Standard, Along With Some Other Stuff

2022 Honda Passport TrailSport Interior Dashboard

By making EX-L trim standard, the 2022 Passport has lots of extra standard equipment. That includes 20-inch alloy wheels, a power sunroof, a power rear liftgate, leather upholstery, and front and rear parking sensors. In addition to the Honda Sensing collection of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS), EX-L trim also equips the SUV with a blind-spot warning system. Though it remains optional for the Passport EX-L, other versions of the SUV now include Honda's Intelligent Variable Torque Management AWD (i-VTM4) as standard equipment.

Otherwise, aside from new gauge lighting and needles and fancy piping on the standard seat leather, the interior remains the same as it was before. Thanks to large windows, a low dashboard and center console, and the Passport's sheer size, it feels enormous inside. Five adults can ride in a Passport, not just because there are five seat belts. The second-row middle seating position is legit (within reason).

Storage is seemingly everywhere. The center storage console is huge, the door panels have bins and shelves carved into them, and there are slots, trays, and cupholders galore. Plus, the Passport supplies 41.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the back seat and 77.7 cubic feet with it folded down.

Honda Passport prices start at just $39,095 and increase to $46,655 with Elite trim. Those figures include the $1,225 destination charge to ship the SUV from the automaker's Lincoln, Alabama, assembly plant to your local dealership. Considering how big it is inside and how much equipment is standard, the Passport is competitively priced.

Styling Changes Neither Improve Nor Ruin the Passport

The Honda Pilot, Passport, and Ridgeline pickup truck all spring from the same mechanical and technological components. Of course, there are differences between them, such as structural enhancements that allow the Ridgeline to carry a significant amount of payload in its cargo bed. But they're all variations on a theme.

Therefore, it is not surprising that the 2022 Passport and the 2022 Ridgeline now share their styling from the windshield forward. Sure, there are a few minor deviations, but they're identical to one another for the most part.

This isn't a bad thing. The new front end is supposed to convey greater ruggedness, and it certainly does. But, in my opinion, the proportions still aren't quite right. There is still too much front overhang when looking at the Passport from the side, and the taller hood and more upright grille add to the visual mass riding over the SUV's front wheels. The standard 20-inch alloys help offset this effect, but they don't eliminate it.

Around the back, the more prominent exhaust outlets look good. The bumper's styling resembles a skid plate, but it's silver only with TrailSport trim. Of the new wheel designs, my favorite is the one on the base Passport EX-L. Black or Bronze HPD wheels are available upgrades, and you can get them without the obnoxious HPD overfender trim and HPD graphics if you prefer.

TrailSport Trim Writes a Check the Passport Can't Cash…Yet

2022 Honda Passport TrailSport Sonic Gray Pearl Side View

Honda is fed up with people believing its SUVs and truck fall into the soft-roader camp. Soft-roader is a vaguely derogatory reference that suggests a vehicle lacks off-roading capability. Instead, well-maintained gravel and dirt roads are where these kinds of vehicles work best.

To better tout the Passport's capability where the pavement ends and moderately challenging terrain begins, Honda introduces the TrailSport trim level. For now, it amounts to special badges, specific design details, different 18-inch wheels wrapped in "rugged design" tires, a 10mm increase in track width, rubber floor mats, and, well, not much else.

I get it. Overlanding is a popular trend right now. People are adding big wheels, suspension lifts, roof racks, and a bunch of other stuff to their expensive crossover SUVs, adding weight, altering driving dynamics, and reducing fuel economy. Honda wants to get in on the action.

However, without a suspension lift to increase ground clearance beyond the existing 8.1 inches, revised bumpers to improve approach and departure angles, genuinely aggressive rubber, or real skid plates, the new Passport TrailSport is more rugged in name and design only. Buy it because you like the way it looks, not for the more remote places you think it might take you.

How the Passport Works on a Road Trip

My older kids were visiting from out of town to explore California's central coast, so the three of us set off in the Passport TrailSport for a 3-day road trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea. Aside from some moderate off-roading in the mountains above Santa Barbara that showcased the Passport's meager wheel articulation, we kept to paved highways and byways.

The 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine is smooth, refined, and powerful, and pairs with a 9-speed automatic transmission that shifts as the driver expects. Acceleration is robust, and the V6 engine sounds great when revved. The i-VTM4 AWD system can put up to 70 percent of engine output to a single rear wheel, and that's useful both off-road and when accelerating out of tight turns and corners.

Ride and handling qualities are impressive, and the steering is perfectly weighted. On pavement, the Passport even feels athletic. But the brakes leave something to be desired, heating up and emitting a faint audible rumble and subtle vibration through the pedal when descending mountain grades and using them to keep speeds in check.

On the highway, wind noise is ever-present, and the TrailSport's "rugged design" tires produce a slight whir. The test vehicle averaged 21.9 mpg on the trip from the Los Angeles suburbs to Carmel and back, and on my local testing loop, the SUV returned 20.6 mpg. The official EPA fuel-economy rating estimates you'll get 21 mpg in combined city and highway driving.

Our hotel in Carmel offered cramped parking, and I wished for a surround-view camera when maneuvering in this environment. However, the parking sensors and wide-screen reversing camera did help me to avoid dinging a bumper.

Because the Passport's technology is older, it lacks a level of sophistication that modern car buyers have increasingly come to expect. For example, there isn't a natural-voice-recognition system, so if you prefer that style of interactivity, you'll need to run Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Also, though effective, the Honda Sensing ADAS aren't exactly subtle about what they're doing. I left the lane-keeping features turned off for most of the trip.

It is worth noting that my kids, who are in their early 20s, have suffered from car sickness all their lives. However, they both commented on how roomy, comfortable, and airy the Passport felt and how that positively impacted their resistance to nausea and fostered enjoyment of the driving portion of our trip.

Actually, my smooth, professional driving skills did the trick, but whatever.

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Honda deals!

2022 Honda Passport TrailSport Sonic Gray Pearl Rear Quarter View

If you look at what verified Honda Passport owners tell J.D. Power about their overall satisfaction with their vehicles, the changes for 2022 don't address customer pain points. It has the same drivetrain, so fuel economy is about the same. The infotainment system carries over, too.

At the other end of the satisfaction scale, the Passport's driving feel is unchanged, and if you get a chance to get behind this Honda's steering wheel, you'll understand why owners name it as one of their two favorite things. The other reason Passport owners like their SUVs is the exterior styling, and now Honda has gone and changed it. We'll find out how that goes over when J.D. Power releases its 2022 APEAL Study.

In my opinion, the Passport is fundamentally likable. From its powertrain and driving dynamics to its roomy, comfortable, and utilitarian cabin, it makes your life easier. Plus, the prices are reasonable for what you get.

Unfortunately, there is no hiding the Passport's advancing age. From the infotainment system to the ADAS behavior, it's time for a technological upgrade. Furthermore, if Honda is serious about this TrailSport business, the Passport needs more capability than it has.

Christian Wardlaw is a veteran digital automotive journalist with nearly 30 years of experience in test-driving vehicles. He has held editorial leadership roles with Edmunds, J.D. Power, the New York Daily News, and others. In addition to JDPower.com, his work has appeared in numerous new- and used-car buying guides, newspapers, and automotive industry trade journals, including Autotrader, Capital One Auto Navigator, CarGurus, Kelley Blue Book, WardsAuto, and more.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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