Honda is bringing back the Passport - sort of.
In case you’re not old enough to remember, the Passport was Honda’s first entry into the nascent but surging SUV market of the early 90s. Having spent much of their time fiddling with sport compacts and economical family sedans, the Honda was ill-prepared to create a vehicle like an SUV, so they reached out to fellow Japanese truck manufacturer Isuzu for help.
The original Passport was little more than a slightly re-engineered Isuzu Rodeo, which was a pickup truck that wouldn’t sell in North America because nobody had heard of them. But everyone knew the name Honda, so the deal was mutually beneficial. Sales of the curiously-named Passport continued until 2001 when it was replaced by the all-Honda Pilot.
The Pilot remained Honda’s midsize crossover SUV for over a decade, but now seems to be a little too big to compete with slightly smaller midsize crossovers such as the Ford Edge. Thus, rumors are now swirling that Honda will resurrect the Passport as a somewhat more midsize crossover.
It sort of makes you question the utility of the word “crossover” as a meaningful designator of automotive design.
Anyway. According to Auto Week, the new Passport will be a full six inches shorter than the passport, so watch your heads, and is expected to compete in the same market segment as the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano. Citing conversations with Honda dealers, the new Passport will be revealed at Honda’s dealer meeting in November and will likely be shown at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
It’s also expected to be on the same platform as the Pilot, which makes you wonder why they don’t just shorten the Pilot by 6 inches and call it a day.
"We have not confirmed any details related to this product so any specifics would be quite speculative at this point," said a Honda spokesperson on Tuesday when they were asked that very question.
The Passport’s return will mark Honda’s fourth entry into the hotly contested crossover market, along with the CR-V, the HR-V, and the much-maligned Pilot. Despite the segment shrinking for the first time at the end of 2017, Honda’s combined sales of crossovers grew by 5 percent last year, making it an important market for their bottom line.