“What SUV should I buy?” It’s a question consumers ask themselves every day, but what would associate online editor Alex Leanse drive? Keep reading for the answer, and see other editors’ picks here.
I wouldn’t buy an SUV if it weren’t for bicycles. See, I’m an avid cyclist and as much as I want a daily that’s quick, fun, and small, I need something that’ll take me and my two-wheeled whip to a trailhead. My car needs to fit a bike inside, where it’s safely ensconced away from being smashed on a bike rack in a rear-end collision. That’s basically my only requirement—the flexibility of my single status, and the constraints of my journalist salary (I love my job, I swear), mean I don’t need or can get much else.
That’s why I’d buy a Honda Passport. Honda revived the nameplate to add an in-betweener to their crossover lineup. It’s smaller than the Pilot family hauler but more capable than the CR-V soft-roader—perhaps perfectly targeted at active outdoorsy millennials like myself. Well played, Honda, I’ve taken the bait. Now where can your Passport take me?
For my Passport I’d choose entry-level Sport trim, because it’s approachable at $31,990, and it has everything I need. Like all trims, the Sport includes the Honda Sensing driver assist suite, which bundles adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and lane keep assist. It also gets a neat-o digital gauge cluster that shows information like speed, revs, fuel range, and all-wheel drive status. What the Sport doesn’t get is Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, for which I’d have to find $4,420 to move up to the EX-L trim. That adds niceties like a bigger touchscreen, heated seats, moonroof, and power tailgate. But for my needs, a magnetic phone mount on the dash seems like a better value.
Installed across the range is a 280 hp, 262-lb-ft 3.5 liter V-6. That’s solid output; if it works in the big Pilot it should be enough to move the Passport. It gets a nine-speed automatic, compared to the Pilot’s six-speed and CR-V’s CVT (say CR-V CVT five times fast). Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is a $1,900 option I’d spring for. With snow, mud, and sand traction modes, plus decent approach and departure angles, it seems Honda baked real off-road readiness into the Passport. Using it to explore trails sounds fun.
The Passport seats five, boasting best-in-class interior volume of 115.9 cubic feet. It has 41.2 cubic feet of cargo area behind the second row, but I’d usually have the rear seats folded, which expands space to 77.9 bicycle-friendly cubes. Also appealing is the secret storage compartment beneath the cargo floor. It’s a 2.5 cubic foot cubby that Honda press photos show holding bike helmets and water bottles—the brand really knows its target market.
Look, the Passport isn’t my dream car—far from it. But I love riding as much as I do driving, and for that reason I need an SUV. It would keep me happy enough with its strong engine and Honda reliability, or maybe it would get me into off roading. For its capability, features, and potential, I pick the Passport. I’ll take mine in Black Forest Pearl paint, please.