Comfortable cruiser. Although touted as an off-roader, the 2020 Honda Passport is better suited for all-day cruising like its platform-mates the Honda Odyssey, Honda Ridgeline, and Honda Pilot. Road, tire, and wind noise suppression is above average on all models, and improves with each step up in grade: EX-L and higher trims use quieter materials, while Touring and Elite models up the ante with acoustic front doors.

Inside, the seats up front offer all-day comfort, with nice bolstering, plenty of thigh support, and fold-down inboard arm rests to reduce upper body fatigue. Passengers in back haven’t been forgotten either, with enough room for three adults to enjoy equal or better head room, and nearly as much leg room (39.6 inches) as the pair up front (40.9).

The various switches and buttons offer a delightful smoothness, and driver sight lines are excellent thanks to the wide expanses of glass. Versatility is also present in spades, with 41.2 cubic feet of storage behind the back row that expands to 77.7 with the row folded – easily eclipsing the Chevrolet Blazer’s 30.5/64.2 cubic feet.

Wide-ranging safety. Unlike many competitors – especially from the domestic brands – Honda equips all Passport models with a plethora of advanced active safety systems. These include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane departure warning, and lane keeping assist. EX-L and above trims also receive blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

The Passport earned a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS, missing the “Plus” designation due to an “acceptable” rather than “good” rating for headlights. The NHTSA bestows its highest overall safety rating of five stars.

Honda Passport

Decent performer. Like the Ridgeline and Pilot, the Passport is motivated by a single engine and transmission combination driving either the front wheels or all four (the Odyssey replicates everything except AWD). Under the hood is Honda’s workhorse 3.5-liter V6 that, in this application with a single overhead cam on each cylinder bank and i-VTEC electronic lift and timing controls, churns out 280 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 262 pound-feet of torque at 4,700 rpm.

With the proper equipment, front-wheel-drive models can tow up to 3,500 pounds, with all-wheel-drive versions boosting that figure to 5,000 pounds.

That power is shuttled to the wheels through a conventional nine-speed automatic transmission that can alter shift behavior, throttle response, and the traction control system over four settings: Normal, Sand, Mud, and Snow.

The transmission interface, a push-button unit consisting of four buttons (P, R, N, D/S) takes a bit of time before it feels natural. All buttons are shaped differently and at different angles to avoid visual and tactile confusion. Lights next to the buttons, as well as an indicator on the instrument panel, let you know which setting is engaged.

With either drivetrain, throttle tip-in is quick, despite transmission programming that favors second gear starts under most conditions. Put your foot into it, and the Passport can dash from 0-60 mph in just 6.2 seconds, making merging and passing at highway speeds a non-issue.

Around town and on the highway, the MacPherson strut front/multi-link rear suspension setup does yeoman’s work in keeping the Passport well planted and stable in crosswinds, while minimizing body roll. Feedback through the steering wheel is good and there’s a nice initial bite to the brake pads.

Conservative design. With styling touches inspired by the Pilot on which it’s based, the Passport strays little from the conservative lines of its larger sibling. The biggest difference is up front, where stylists replaced the Pilot’s painted bumper and massive chrome upper grille bar with a brawny dark gray center bumper/lower air intake, and piano black upper bar and grille surround.

Along the sides, the shared fender and door panels are identical, while the Passport’s quarter-panels are abbreviated versions of the Pilot’s. Differences in the rear fascia are also mild, where the Passport features abbreviated taillights, a more aggressive bumper, and a lower valance bracketed by a pair of chrome exhaust outlets.

The resemblance shouldn’t be looked upon as a bad thing, however, as the Pilot is clean and handsome. At the same time, the Honda lacks the panache of the Chevrolet Camaro-inspired Blazer and curvaceous Nissan Murano, as well as the lovely Hyundai Santa Fe and bold Kia Sorento.

Middling fuel economy. Coming from a manufacturer that grew its reputation of fuel efficiency, Honda’s latest midsize offering is a disappointment. Passports achieve an EPA-estimated 20 miles per gallon in the city, 25 mpg on the highway, and 22 combined, with AWD models falling one mpg in each category.

While those numbers are average for a V6, they’re surpassed by the V6 Murano (23 mpg combined), and by rivals that offer the choice of a more fuel-efficient four cylinder engine. These include the Santa Fe (25 mpg combined), Sorento (25 mpg combined), Blazer (24 mpg combined), and Ford Edge (24 mpg combined).

Final thoughts. The 2020 Honda Passport is a solid choice in the midsize crossover segment thanks to its refined ride, comfortable interior, strong roster of safety equipment, and clean design. Our biggest gripes were with transmission interface and fuel economy.

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