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  • Writer's pictureMitchell Weitzman

2024 Honda Passport Black Edition review: renewal due

The Passport feels too old

2024 Honda Passport Black Edition review

2024 Honda Passport Black Edition Review by The Road Beat

Words and pictures: Mitchell Weitzman

Honda's Passport is a perfect example of a pleasant vehicle that is unfortunately too behind the times against its changing competition. Even this spiffy Black Edition fails to mitigate its losses against more modern and efficient alternatives. Honda's own CR-V and Pilot have seen significant revamps recently, and even though the Passport neatly slots in-between them in terms of physical size, it still very much feels like a big, full-size vehicle on the road. To retain relevance and help warrant the sales success that the Passport has seen, this SUV is in need of a makeover of its own soon.

Refrain from calling me a cynic, but the simple matter of the fact is the Passport has too many shortcomings to remain unchanged for another calendar year. It's hard to believe a facelift (only cosmetic) happened just only over two short years ago, but this Passport can't be valid for travel much longer before expiration. Even some of the pluses come with compromise, such as the sweet-singing V6 engine. It might sound far better than any grainy four-cylinder, and its smooth operation is paired with an enthusiastic top-end that delivers convincing power. Boasting 290-horsepower and your foot to the floor, 0-60 MPH can happen in as little as six seconds flat, a time that exceeds my expectations and puts it right to the front of its mainstream rivals. But, and here's the first of the buts, this big V6 makes weak power at low RPMs thus necessitating frequent downshifts, and its binges through gasoline at a rate of 20 MPG. As a result, engines like Toyota's new 2.4L turbocharged inline-four might be slower outright, but in the real world, it's a torquier prospect that's stronger down low when needed and burns less gas even in the larger three-row Highlander. I love and prefer a charismatic V6 to a small turbo four, but this V6 lacks the punchy torque you'd hope from a big 3.5L engine. Despite a lack of engine flexibility, the Passport is rated for a stout 5,000 pound tow rating.

2024 Honda Passport review | The Road Beat

What also doesn't help in contribution is a lethargic nine-speed automatic transmission that prefers an extended holiday buffet to a brisk workout session. With slow shuffling upshifts, the biggest demerit comes with downshifting. especially when using the plastic paddle shifters to do so. When trying to control speed on downhill sections, I would regularly ask the Passport to change down a couple gears to take advantage of engine braking. However, when you ask that of this Honda's nine-speed, between each downshift is accompanied by a long neutral pause where the Passport unexpectedly surges forward and freewheels momentarily before it actually completes the gear change. I was watching the speedometer, and in-between downshifts, I would sometimes see a one to even two MPH speed gain when engine breaking is meant to slow you down. I've only felt this sensation in other Honda and Acura SUVs, and this behavior is both disconcerting and unacceptable in 2024, it also certainly wouldn't help when towing up to 5,000 additional pounds behind you.

Where these kind of more archaic traits do pay off are in the steering and handling, of which the Passport is a seasoned and experienced traveler. The thin-rimmed leather wheel feels great in the hand and offers excellent tactility, but the real delight is with steering that has almost real feeling and instills great control and confidence. Whereas other SUVs of the sort feel like you're almost driving a toy, the Passport feels like a car, with substance. The ride quality is composed at all velocities, and the handling might not encourage enthusiastic cornering, but does at least welcome bends in its stride. It's a shame that the engine and transmission can be confusing or lost at times because the rest of the driving characteristics are quite successful.

2024 honda passport black edition interior

Cabin and cargo space was clearly a priority when constructing the Passport, but it does seem wasteful to have something this large that will never be able to have extra passengers in its fictitious third-row. It is 10 inches shorter than the three-row Pilot, but its just as wide and tall so it feels like it has the exact same footprint on the road, which is big to say the least. A CR-V might only be four inches shorter than the Passport at 185, but it's a sizable five inches both shorter and narrower in what is already a plenty spacious vehicle for five. Because the Pilot doesn't really feel any bigger driven around, you might as well get the Pilot and have the third-row for when needed. The Pilot also gets an improved 10-speed automatic and, from my own testing experience, also doesn't use any extra fuel despite the added length.

While the interior is made and put together with high precision and build quality, it's not exactly luxurious in feel (and this is the top-line Black Edition) and features a tiny little eight-inch touchscreen in the center that is oddly tilted upwards towards the roof. Why it's angled in any such a direction is beyond my understanding (other Honda's also have this odd character) as it makes a small screen even harder to see. It's not that the screen is so small, but with so much information crammed onto it at once, it can appear too cluttered and busy, and most consumers will prefer the big 10 and above inch screens that competitors offer. The small, crowded, and canted display also dates the cabin significantly, which might be the most critical aspect of it; this just doesn't look like a new car from 2024. Even just the shapes of the buttons all over, including those on the steering wheel, are not modern enough. Admittedly, the Pilot also suffers with its own too small nine-inch screen that looks somewhat like an aftermarket add-on from Best Buy.

What can at least be said is to reinforce how easily accommodating the Passport is to travelers, with gratuitous amounts of space in the second-row of seats and all the safety and tech features you could hope for in a $50,000 vehicle. While it might lack modernity, the Passport (and other Hondas) remain top of the game with it comes to comfort and space .

2024 honda passport rear seats

With its interactive steering and sorted chassis, the Passport is an SUV that has great potential to be the driver's choice of the field, but the lacking transmission, dated interior, and weak low-end power are holding it back from being the complete package. And with an MSRP just shy of $50,000, it's as expensive as even bigger SUVs that have convenient third-row seating.. By no means is the Passport a bad car, well the transmission is can be concerning at times, but it's already overdue again for a pretty major refresh to bring it firmly into the mid-2020s.

2024 Honda Passport Black Edition

As-tested price: $49,365

Pros: Great chassis and dynamics

Cons: Thirsty; Aging interior design


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