In a year of returning vehicles — the Ford Ranger, Chevy Blazer and Wrangler pickup truck among them — Honda is bringing back its once-successful Passport mid-size SUV.
To be marketed as rugged and off-road-ready, the reborn four-door will be sized midway between Honda’s smaller CR-V and the larger Pilot. The new two-row utility vehicle will seat five and is designed to compete with similar-size SUVs like the Ford Edge, Toyota Forerunner, Nissan Murano and that new Blazer.
The new SUV, like the Pilot, will be powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 gasoline engine, which will make 280 horsepower and 262 pound feet of torque. It will drive a new nine-speed automatic transmission. The car will be available in four trim levels, and all four are available in the all-wheel-drive configuration.
Honda has done very well riding Americans’ ongoing love affair with sport utilities. Though its SUVs and CUVs have trailed the more popular Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue this year, Honda had sold more than 400,000 CR-Vs and Pilots combined through September.
The Passport, making its return after a 16-year absence, was designed in Honda’s U.S. studios and will be built in Lincoln, Ala. The previous iteration was also U.S.-built, but not always by Honda. The original Passports, introduced in 1994, were actually rebadged Isuzu Rodeos, manufactured by a partnership between Isuzu and Subaru, at a factory in Indiana.