None of us should be surprised when an automaker launches a new sport utility vehicle these days, but some new entries make more sense than others. For reasons that likely have something to do with North…

Honda introduces all-new 2019 Passport mid-size SUV

2019 Honda Passport
The 2019 Honda Passport slots between the brand’s compact CR-V and 3-row Pilot SUVs, and promises 5-occupant seating and off-road capability. (Photo: Honda)

None of us should be surprised when an automaker launches a new sport utility vehicle these days, but some new entries make more sense than others. For reasons that likely have something to do with North American average sized families (which as of 2016 were estimated at 2.9 persons in Canada, and as of 2017 were 3.14 in the U.S.—which is larger than the EU’s 2.3-person average), five-passenger mid-size SUVs sell better than their larger seven-passenger siblings. 

For example the best-selling five-passenger Santa Fe obliterated the larger Santa Fe XL last year with 21,615 deliveries compared to just 6,787, while the next most popular Ford Edge merely nosed out the Explorer with 19,967 unit sales to 17,333. Likewise, the five-occupant Nissan Murano was ahead of the Pathfinder with 15,120 sales to 9,838, and just in case you’re wondering whether brands that only offer seven-passenger crossovers sell much more than those that provide both, consider that the Kia Sorento only sold 15,990 units, the Toyota Highlander just 15,259, the Dodge Journey 13,745, and the Pilot just 8,905. 

2019 Honda Passport
The new Passport pulls plenty of styling cues from the larger Pilot, but toughens up the look with sporty black trim and a high-riding 4×4 stance. (Photo: Honda)

Other brands fared worse than Honda, with the Dodge Durango down at 6,505 units, GMC Acadia at 5,380, Chevrolet Traverse at 4,710, Volkswagen Atlas at 4,534 (after just seven months of sales), Mazda CX-9 at 3,943, plus a couple of stragglers not worth mentioning, but no doubt the brand that produces the CR-V, Canada’s best-selling compact SUV, and does nearly as well with the HR-V in the subcompact SUV segment, wants to find similar success in the mid-size utility class. 

Set to arrive in Honda dealerships across Canada early next year, the 2019 Passport will attempt to recharge the brand’s lagging mid-size sales by targeting two types of SUV buyers, those who simply want more passenger and cargo space than a CR-V can provide, without the added length of a three-row utility, and more adventurous owners who’d like to take their new SUV off the beaten track. 

2019 Honda Passport
Shown here with an accessory roof rack and running boards, the new Passport is designed for a more adventurous lifestyle than average. (Photo: Honda)

If you’ve been watching Honda’s automotive news stream lately you’ve probably seen greater focus than usual put on off-road performance, with last month’s Ridgeline-based Rugged Open Air Vehicle Concept now seeming like a precursor to a couple of similarly styled all-terrain vehicles, the Talon 1000X and Talon 1000R, introduced alongside the new Passport on Tuesday, November 27. Those not familiar with Honda’s motorcycle and ATV divisions might find all of the above a surprise, but the idea of Honda going off-road will be nothing new to fans of the brand who were weaned on CRs, XLs and XRs, ATCs, TRXs and Four-Trax’s, and most specifically FLs, otherwise known as Honda Odysseys, which were little single-seat four-wheel off-roaders around well before anyone ever heard of a minivan (Honda also made a Pilot ATV in 1989 and 1990), and are closest in concept to the two new Talon ATVs. 

2019 Honda Passport
The new Passport, shown here with a roof rack-mounted cargo basket from Honda’s accessories catalog, promises to take you further than most rival SUVs. (Photo: Honda)

Tapping into Honda’s off-road heritage makes a great deal of sense for the brand’s SUV lineup as well as its sole Ridgeline pickup truck, as there’s a lot of missed opportunity for cross-marketing Honda SUVs with Honda dirt bikes and ATVs, not to mention Honda generators and water pumps that would fit nicely into camping lifestyle ad campaigns, and its lawnmowers, handheld edge trimmers, tillers, snowblowers, and more that fit ideally into the lives of home and cabin/cottage owners. The Ridgeline is the more appropriate cross-marketing product for the latter items, but the new off-road capable Passport makes a good fit for anything camping related. 

2019 Honda Passport
Honda provides new Passport owners with an available roof rack, running boards, fender flares, tow hitch, and other accessories. (Photo: Honda)

The new Passport would be ideal for trailering all of the recreation vehicles and handy tools noted above (see photos of it towing the new Talon and a camp trailer in the gallery), not to mention boats powered by Honda Marine outboard engines and Honda AquaTrax personal watercraft (although you’ll need to have a used one of the latter being that Honda recently pulled out of the industry), thanks to an optional tow package rated at 1,588 kilograms (3,500 lbs) for front-wheel drive models and 2,268 kilos (5,000 lbs) with all-wheel drive. What’s more, the “overhead” option found in the new Passport’s standard multi-view rearview camera makes connecting hitch and trailer easier than ever before. 

2019 Honda Passport
Honda wants us to be clear that its new Passport is more capable than average off-road. (Photo: Honda)

Off-road enthusiasts who might have considered a Ridgeline, but never a Pilot or CR-V, will find the new Passport a serious alternative to other medium-duty 4×4 capable SUVs thanks to Honda’s upgraded i-VTM4 all-wheel drive system, which uses active torque vectoring to send up to 70 percent of engine torque to the rear axle and 100 percent to either the left or right rear wheels. Honda promises handling excellence no matter the conditions, citing “rain-slicked or snowy roads or sandy trails,” whereas on pavement it also responds better by overdriving the outside rear wheels amid turns. 

2019 Honda Passport
We’re guessing most Passport owners won’t be driving their new SUVs like this. (Photo: Honda)

Honda’s Intelligent Traction Management (ITM) adds another element to the Passport’s off-road prowess, thanks to four driving modes that work in tandem with the optional i-VTM4 all-wheel drive, including normal, snow, mud and sand selections. ITM is actually standard with both FWD and AWD models, although the drive modes for the former only include normal and snow settings. Also notable, the new Passport adds 13 mm (0.5 in) of ground clearance over its Pilot sibling in FWD guise, and 28 mm (1.1 in) with AWD, allowing greater ability to overcome obstacles like rocks and roots found on the trail.  

2019 Honda Passport
Someone was having a lot of fun in this Passport. (Photo: Honda)

So how does the Passport AWD do in off-road conditions? As you can see by the photos provided with its launch material, it certainly looks more capable than any previous Honda SUV, at least anything designed and produced by Honda (let’s not forget about the 1993–2002 Isuzu Rodeo-based mid-size model of the same name that could be considered the spiritual successor to this new Passport, and the reason Honda may have chosen to dig up this old name from the mostly forgotten past. Back to the here and now, Honda thoroughly tested the new Passport in “the world’s harshest environments” like “the sands of Dubai, muddy country roads of Russia, and snowbound trails in Minnesota,” and claims that it’s “more capable off road than many unibody SUVs.” Basically they’re saying not to expect it to out-4×4 a Jeep Wrangler, but when up against a similarly equipped unibody crossover SUV that doesn’t offer a bull-low gear ratio, the combination of i-VTM4 and ITM allow AWD-equipped Passports hold their own. 

2019 Honda Passport
Thanks to its Pilot-sourced underpinnings, the new Passport promises excellent on-road stability combined with a smooth, comfortable ride. (Photo: Honda)

While all of this is fun and interesting, we all know the majority of Passport owners will never take their SUV off pavement and therefore might only ever experience slippery road conditions from rain, snow and ice. As noted earlier Honda has this covered too, while also providing the most powerful base engine in its class, which is both a boon and a bane. The automaker turns to the same i-VTEC valvetrain-enhanced 3.5-litre V6 found in the larger Pilot and Ridgeline pickup truck, not to mention the Odyssey minivan mentioned earlier. On the positive this sole engine makes 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, and while it’s usually good to offer the strongest performance in a segment it’s not necessarily the best to come up short when it comes to fuel economy. 

2019 Honda Passport
This Passport is towing the new Honda Talon ATV, introduced together with the new SUV at the LA auto show. (Photo: Honda)

Of course, Honda makes no official fuel consumption claims yet, but we can assume the new model will do better than the base Pilot’s 13.0 L/100km city, 9.3 highway and 11.3 rating due to weighing considerably less and featuring a standard nine-speed automatic transmission with pushbutton gear selection, instead of the more traditional lever operated six-speed unit offered in lower trims of the larger SUV. Higher Pilot trims feature the same nine-speed, and its fuel economy reflects this with a thriftier rating of 12.4 city, 9.3 highway and 11.0 combined, so the new Passport should be able to improve on the latter numbers, while providing smoother and more refined performance than four-cylinder powered competitors that achieve better mileage. 

As you may have guessed the new Passport rides on the same fully independent chassis as the Pilot, the Honda Global Light Truck platform consisting of a rigid unibody structure with a fully boxed floor held up by a MacPherson strut front and independent multi-link rear suspension setup, and featuring electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering directing standard 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 245/50 all-season tires in base Sport and EX-L trims or 265/45 tires in Touring and Elite trims. 

2019 Honda Passport
The new Passport can tow up to 5,000 lbs. (Photo: Honda)

Of note, the Passport launch model, which was introduced as part of the Los Angeles Auto Show, was in U.S. specification and therefore Canadian-spec trims and features won’t likely be identical. The information provided shows the four trims just mentioned, clarifying them as the “well-appointed Sport, upgraded EX-L, high-tech Touring, and the fully equipped Elite,” but for comparison our Canadian-spec Pilot is offered in LX, EX, EX-L Navi, Touring, and Black Edition trims. These are mostly the same in the U.S. market, except for no Black Edition, whereas we don’t offer Elite trim, instead including all of that model’s features in the top-line Touring. 

2019 Honda Passport
The Passport offers best-in-class cabin space, and should also provide plenty of high-quality finishings. (Photo: Honda)

Along with the 20-inch alloy wheels noted earlier, which is the standard diameter across the entire Passport line, we can safely assume that Canadian-spec models will also get the Honda Sensing suite of advanced driver assistive and safety systems as standard equipment, that includes Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) with Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) including Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Keeping Assistance System (LKAS) and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). These advanced electronics are joined by the industry’s usual assortment of active and passive safety features and Honda’s proprietary Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, resulting in a mid-size SUV designed to exceed current crash test standards. 

2019 Honda Passport
Honda promises plenty of premium soft-touch surfaces in a well-organized, ergonomically friendly cabin. (Photo: Honda)

Additional standard features available south of the 49th that should be included in our Passport include LED headlights, LED DRLs, LED fog lamps, and LED taillights, proximity-sensing keyless Smart Entry and Smart Start, a 7.0-inch digital colour TFT primary instrument cluster, a configurable multi-information display featuring audio, trip and phone info (plus turn-by-turn route guidance on models with navigation), tri-zone automatic climate control, a 5.0-inch infotainment display, the aforementioned Multi-Angle Rearview Camera with dynamic guidelines, six-speaker 215-watt audio with a subwoofer, and much more. 

2019 Honda Passport
A fully digital TFT instrument cluster will set the Passport apart. (Photo: Honda)

In the U.S., Honda includes Blind Spot Information in EX-L, Touring and Elite trims, and adds Rear Cross-Traffic Detection plus front and rear parking sensors to the Touring and Elite, while additional upgrades (depending on trim) include power-folding auto-dimming side mirrors, a larger 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration and smartphone/tablet-style tap, swipe and pinch gesture capability, satellite-linked navigation, 4G LTE in-vehicle Wi-Fi that can support up to seven devices, wireless phone charging, 590-watt 10-speaker premium audio, various HondaLink cloud-based services such as remote unlocking, concierge services, and stolen vehicle tracking, a powered moonroof, second-row sunshades, a power tailgate with available hands-free operation, plus more. 

2019 Honda Passport
The optional 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen features Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and more. (Photo: Honda)

Plenty of Honda Genuine Accessories will also be available for the new Passport, many of which were shown off in the photos provided for this overview. Included are various sizes of roof storage boxes, a roof basket, plus roof-mounted bike, kayak and ski/snowboard racks, while Passport owners can also protect the cargo area with hard plastic floor, side, and seatback covers. Additionally, the storage area under the load floor can be sectioned off with individual, removable, washable bins. 

2019 Honda Passport
Honda’s new infotainment interface is one of the most intuitive in the industry. (Photo: Honda)

Honda will also be offering a number of cosmetic upgrades including a coloured graphics package, undercarriage welcome lights, and illuminated doorsills, while two accessory packages will be available as well, including The Adventure Package that adds fender flares, running boards, a trailer hitch, and more, plus The Urban Package featuring unique 20-inch alloy wheels, front and rear underbody spoilers, roof rails with crossbars, and the just noted cargo storage bins. Again, we’ll need to wait until Honda Canada reveals our Canadian-spec Passport before confirming everything on this list, but we can be certain that some, if not all of these items will be available here. 

As noted earlier, a key reason for stepping up into a mid-size five-occupant SUV over a compact one like the CR-V is increased interior volume, so along with more passenger volume front to back the new Passport provides 368 litres (13.0 cubic feet) of additional passenger volume over its smaller sibling, its 3,282 litres (115.9 cu ft) ahead of the rear seatbacks resulting in segment-leading status, while the Passport’s 4,448 litres (157.1 cu ft) of overall interior volume is also best-in-class. 

2019 Honda Passport
The Passport delivers best-in-segment cargo capacity. (Photo: Honda)

The Passport continues to lead the class when it comes to cargo hauling too, with 1,166 litres (41.2 cu ft) of luggage space behind the rear seats and 2,206 litres (77.9 cu ft) with the rear row lowered, which is also 56 litres (2.0 cu ft) more cargo space than the CR-V offers in the very back, and 60 litres (2.1 cu ft) more overall. Like with the CR-V, the Passport’s 60/40-split rear seatbacks fold automatically via releases in the cargo area, but the larger SUV uses electric buttons instead of levers, while the Passport also provides a reversible cargo floor that swaps out the carpeting for an easily maintained hard plastic surface. 

2019 Honda Passport
Roomiest-in-class underfloor storage can be upgraded with accessory bins. (Photo: Honda)

Another segment-leading bonus is underfloor storage, which measures 71 litres (2.5 cu ft) on its own and can be accessorized as noted earlier. 

Stowage in mind, all Passport trims feature a large centre console bin between front occupants, while its roll top cover doubles as a handy tray when closed. There’s more centre console storage ahead of the gear selector, while the door panels provide even more places to put things. 

Honda promises “high-quality interior appointments” including “generous use of soft-touch surfaces on the dash and doors,” plus “attractive and durable” fabric upholstery in the base Sport model and optional perforated leather with EX-L, Touring and Elite trims. 

2019 Honda Passport
Roomiest-in-class underfloor storage can be upgraded with accessory bins. (Photo: Honda)

After all is said and done, no one should discount the role styling plays in automotive decision-making, and fortunately the Passport benefits from the new 2019 Pilot’s design influence. The latter is better looking than previous generations and the new Passport is arguably more so, thanks to a taller more 4×4-capable looking stance and sporty matte black used for the grille, headlights, bumpers, and wheels, plus glossy black trim in key areas, sharp looking LED headlight accents, unique floating C-pillars, and sporty chrome dual exhaust outlets. Each trim will get exclusive alloy wheel designs too, but so far there’s no word about Honda replacing some of the scratch-resistant blackened trim with dressier body-colour paint and satin-silver or chrome for a city-slicker version, but something similar makes sense for a future base model as well as alternative high-end trims. 

2019 Honda Passport
The new Passport is a different kind of crossover SUV for Honda, and could open up a much more adventurous future for the brand. (Photo: Honda)

All in all it appears Honda has a winner on its hands, particularly because it targets the more popular five-passenger mid-size SUV market segment with an attractive, roomy, well-equipped entry sporting above-average performance and no shortage of high-tech features. Its rugged styling and off-road capability make certain the Passport targets a different kind of customer than the smaller CR-V, and truly opens up opportunity for a more rugged Ridgeline and other more adventuresome products in the future. Hopefully this new Honda swagger is a sign of things to come. 

Now, make sure to check out the photo gallery above and watch the following short video that was released as part of the Passport’s Los Angeles Auto Show launch event:

 

Introducing the All-new 2019 Honda Passport (0:54):

The CR-V is the best SUV in its compact class. Yes, I know I’m going out on a limb making this claim, but as of September 30, 2018 a total of 42,748 Canadians agreed with me, and this number only represented…

2018 Honda CR-V Touring Road Test

2018 Honda CR-V Touring
Having been fully redesigned just last year, Honda’s CR-V remains unchanged for 2018, still looking fabulous in top-line Touring trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The CR-V is the best SUV in its compact class. Yes, I know I’m going out on a limb making this claim, but as of September 30, 2018 a total of 42,748 Canadians agreed with me, and this number only represented those who purchased it this year. 

That figure also represents the most compact SUVs sold over the first nine months of 2018, meaning that Honda is currently first in this extremely important category. Toyota, which was first last year is now runner up with 41,023 units down the road, whereas Ford’s Escape is a distant third with 34,928 deliveries, Nissan’s Rogue has only managed 32,373 sales, and the remaining 10 rivals merely in the twenty-somethings, teens and four figures. 

2018 Honda CR-V Touring
The fifth-generation CR-V has more defined character lines, helping it stand out from its peers in a good way. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The CR-V’s success makes a lot of sense, especially the latest fifth-generation model. Its styling is certainly more upscale than previous versions, particularly when dolled up in top-line Touring trim that gets full high/low beam LED headlamps, a chrome garnish on each LED fog lamp bezel, more chrome trim decorating the side sill extensions, bright metal dual tailpipes, satin-silver roof rails, and sporty machine-finished 18-inch alloys with black painted pockets. My tester was finished in Gunmetal Metallic for a sophisticated look at no extra cost, but you can dress yours up in five alternative shades, Platinum White Pearl costing $300 extra, plus two rich looking colours. 

2018 Honda CR-V Touring
Touring trim adds full LED headlamps, chrome exterior detailing, sporty 18-inch alloy wheels, and more. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Each time I climbed inside of my 2018 tester and took it for a drive I was thoroughly impressed, just as I was with my previous 2017 CR-V Touring test model. It’s not the fastest or the best handling SUV in its class, but its cabin is finished to a higher level of refinement than the majority of its peers and it’s oh so comfortable. What’s more, it’s fitted with an almost fully digital dash, a large high-resolution infotainment system, and even gets some pretty authentic looking woodgrain trim. It’s really more about how much attention to detail has been painstakingly added, mind you, and the overall design of the interior. 

2018 Honda CR-V Touring
A large panoramic sunroof and silver roof rails come standard with the CR-V Touring. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Finishing the top of the dash in soft-touch synthetic is nothing new in this category, but Honda goes one step further by trimming the entire instrument panel in nicely stitched leatherette with a stylish piano black inlay down the middle. To be clear, and I don’t know why they didn’t just finish it all the way across, the bolster ahead of the front passenger is soft synthetic, as is the section that stretches above the infotainment system, but the tiny piece surrounding the ignition button and another one on the left lower side of the gauge cluster is made to look identical as the others yet finished in hard plastic. On the positive, the door panels get soft touch uppers, nice padded and stitched leatherette inserts, comfortable padded armrests, and the usual hard plastic lower door panels, while the centre armrest is finished identically to those on the doors, yet quite wide and very comfortable. 

2018 Honda CR-V Touring
The CR-V’s LED taillights are totally unique and great looking. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Speaking of comfort, the CR-V Touring’s driver’s seat is extremely good. It’s wide enough for most body types, with decent side bolstering, and even includes four-way powered lumbar support. In case you weren’t aware, you won’t even be able to get four-way adjustable lumbar with the Lexus NX, a similarly sized vehicle priced much higher than the CR-V, and this Honda’s ergonomics are much better than the pricey premium model too, thanks to more reach from the tilt and telescopic steering wheel. The comfortable seating position and fully adjustable lumbar support resulted in a vehicle I could drive all day long without pain, which is a rarer find than it should be this day and age. 

2018 Honda CR-V Touring
Climb into a cabin that’s much more luxurious than most of its competitors. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

As part of its comfort quotient the new CR-V remains roomy and accommodating from front to back, with the rear seating area so spacious that there seems to be little need for a larger mid-size five-occupant Honda crossover SUV. It’s so roomy, in fact, that Honda offers a seven-passenger version in other markets, although all of this being said Honda has announced that a new crossover SUV, once again bearing the Passport name (remember the Isuzu Rodeo that was rebadged as a Honda Passport from 1993 to 2002? Yeah didn’t think you would), will soon be unveiled at the Los Angeles auto show. 

2018 Honda CR-V Touring
The CR-V’s cockpit is ideally laid out for near perfect ergonomics. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

As for cargo space, the CR-V is one of the more sizeable in the compact SUV class boasting 1,110 (39.2 cubic feet) behind the 60/40-split rear seatbacks and 2,146 litres (75.8 cubic feet) when they’re laid flat. The process to lower them is as good as this segment gets too, thanks to handy levers on each side of the cargo wall that drop them down automatically. What’s more, unlike the previous fourth-generation CR-V the load floor is almost perfectly flat, and therefore much more utile. The rear portion of that floor is also removable and stuffed with a full-size spare tire and jack, although even better is the ability to lower that load floor a few inches for fitting in taller cargo. 

2018 Honda CR-V Touring
This mostly digital gauge cluster comes standard in all trims. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Honda provides a large panoramic glass sunroof to shed light on the CR-V Touring’s beautiful interior, not to mention ambient lighting to draw attention to key areas, while additional Touring trim exclusives that I haven’t mentioned yet include rain-sensing wipers, a really accurate and easy-to-use navigation system with nicely detailed mapping and turn-by-turn directions, bilingual voice recognition, an excellent sounding 331-watt audio upgrade with nine speakers including a subwoofer and HD radio, helpful hands-free access to the programmable height-enhanced powered tailgate, and Blind Spot Information (BSI) with Rear Cross Traffic Monitoring, which unfortunately replaces Honda’s superb and exclusive LaneWatch passenger-side blindspot camera that comes standard on EX and EX-L trims. 

2018 Honda CR-V Touring
All CR-Vs get this tablet-style 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen as standard equipment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I should mention that an entire suite of Honda Sensing advanced driver assist systems comes standard with all-wheel drive models in all four CR-V trims, and includes automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, forward collision warning with autonomous collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning with lane keeping assist and road departure mitigation. Along with the usual active and passive safety features, including Honda’s impact-absorbing Next-Generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, so-equipped CR-V’s achieve an almost best possible IIHS Top Safety Pick rating. 

2018 Honda CR-V Touring
Navigation comes standard when upgrading to the Touring model. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While Touring trim starts at $38,690 plus freight and fees, you can get into a well-equipped base 2018 CR-V LX model from $27,290, and take note there are two additional trims in between including $33,590 EX and $35,890 EX-L. Honda’s Real Time AWD with Intelligent Control System, the latter referring to an electric motor within the transmission that engages the rear wheels when front tire slip occurs, adds $2,800 in LX trim yet comes standard with the EX, EX-L and Touring. For complete pricing of trims and options, plus otherwise difficult to get dealer invoice pricing that can save you thousands, as well as useful rebate information, be sure you visit CarCostCanada. 

2018 Honda CR-V Touring
The CR-V’s standard CVT provides smooth, linear operation that’s ideal for a family-oriented SUV. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

As you might have guessed, Touring trim incorporates most items from the mid-range EX, including the aforementioned fog lamps, plus turn signals infused into the side mirror housings, a HomeLink garage door opener, a 12-way powered driver’s seat, rear USB charge points, a retractable cargo cover, and more, while an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heatable steering wheel, leather shift knob, perforated leather upholstery, driver’s seat memory, four-way powered front passenger seat, heatable rear outboard seats, and some additional audio gear including satellite radio, plus the powered liftgate (sans gesture control) get pulled up from EX-L trim. 

2018 Honda CR-V Touring
Comfortable leather-line seats make the CR-V a joy to live with even after hours of driving. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I was previously surprised to find out the CR-V’s proximity-sensing keyless access and pushbutton ignition were standard across the line and the same remains true for 2018, whereas additional base LX features pulled up to Touring trim include LED taillights, an electromechanical parking brake, a configurable colour TFT primary gauge cluster, dual-zone auto climate control, heatable front seats, a high resolution 7.0-inch colour infotainment touchscreen with gesture controls like tap, pinch and swipe, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, a multi-angle backup camera with dynamic guidelines, Bluetooth phone connectivity with streaming audio, Wi-Fi tethering, an always appreciated rotating volume knob, HondaLink Assist automatic emergency response system, plus more. 

2018 Honda CR-V Touring
The powered panoramic sunroof really lets the light in. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I mentioned earlier that the CR-V isn’t the fastest or best handling SUV in its class, but it still should be sporty enough for most buying into this family-oriented category. Honda provides one smooth, responsive 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine capable of 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque, which is better than average in this class, while its continuously variable automatic transmission is all about refined, linear acceleration. The CVT kicks down to provide more power and a sportier feel when needed, and doesn’t cause as much of a droning engine/exhaust note as some other CVT-equipped powertrains. What’s more, the CR-V’s claimed 8.4 L/100km city, 7.0 highway and 7.8 combined FWD fuel economy rating, and 8.7 city, 7.2 highway, 8.0 combined AWD consumption estimates make it extremely efficient. 

2018 Honda CR-V Touring
Rear seat roominess and comfort is exemplary. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

As for the ride, it’s once again smooth and comfortable, although plenty sporty through the corners. Then again I didn’t drive it quickly very often, because the CR-V simply doesn’t tease or tempt its driver to do so. I think that’s a good thing, because it could save you money when it comes to potential speeding tickets, and provides a more relaxing atmosphere that suits this type of luxury-lined family hauler. True, at 55 I’m getting older and don’t care as much about performance during my daily drives, so for me this CR-V is just about perfect. 

2018 Honda CR-V Touring
The CR-V provides a lot of cargo space, improved upon via 60/40-split flat-folding rear seatbacks. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Another thing we older folks appreciate more than most in younger generations is reliability, and Honda regularly outperforms most competitors in third-party studies. For instance, the most recent J.D. Power and Associates 2018 Vehicle Dependability Study placed Honda within the top 10 of all automotive brands, and therefore above the industry average, while Consumer Reports’ latest 2018 automotive brand report card has Honda in ninth place overall and third amongst mainstream volume nameplates, beating Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, Mazda, Volkswagen and the list goes on. Additionally, CR pointed to the new CR-V as one reason why Honda’s score improved this year. 

2018 Honda CR-V Touring
Just pull on this lever and the right-side seatback automatically tumbles forward. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

So all added up it’s no wonder Honda does so well with its CR-V. As noted earlier, it’s easily my pick for best in class, thanks to doing most everything better than its peers, from styling to interior design, finishing, quality, comfort, load flexibility and ease of use. Its electronic interfaces are excellent, while its drivetrain and suspension combo is amongst the best in the business, all resulting in one superb compact crossover SUV made all the better in top-line Touring trim. I highly recommend it.

In our garage this week is the refreshed 2019 Honda Pilot in top-line Touring trim, and so far the consensus is positive.  The mid-cycle update adds a deeper new grille and front bumper design that’s…

2019 Honda Pilot Touring

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
Honda has toughened up the look of the 2019 Pilot as part of its mid-cycle refresh, and we think it’s a solid improvement. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

In our garage this week is the refreshed 2019 Honda Pilot in top-line Touring trim, and so far the consensus is positive. 

The mid-cycle update adds a deeper new grille and front bumper design that’s more familial to other models in the lineup, such as the recently redesigned Accord, plus it also receives sharp looking new standard LED headlamps up front. Likewise, the rear end gets new LED taillight lenses and a revised rear bumper cap. Additional features that make Touring trim more appealing include full LED headlamps with Honda’s very upscale trademark design, some extra exterior chrome including the door handles, and new 20-inch machine-finished alloys with black painted pockets. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
The new grille pulls cues from the recently redesigned CR-V and Accord. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

I think the various styling tweaks make the entire design look more attractive. The outgoing version was by no means ugly, but it didn’t really grab my attention the way the new one does. From front to back the new Pilot is handsome. It’s a big three-row crossover SUV that still looks light and nimble, never cumbersome, and such appearances transfer well into the driving experience. 

I’ll tell you more about that in my upcoming road test review, and let you know how its upgraded auto start-stop system and refined nine-speed automatic perform. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
LED headlights are standard, although these upgraded ones with full LED high beams come as part of Touring trim. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

The well-proven engine carries over from last year, so its output remains generous at 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Honda also provides its Intelligent Variable Torque Management (i-VTM4) AWD system, assisted by its Intelligent Traction Management System as standard equipment across the line, while I should mention here the entry-level transmission, found in the base LX, the EX, and the EX-L Navi, only sports six forward gears. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
These sharp looking 20-inch machine-finished alloys are exclusive to Touring trim. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

So equipped the Pilot is good for a claimed 13.0 L/100km in the city, 9.3 on the highway and 11.3 combined, whereas nine-speed models achieve 12.4 city, 9.3 highway and 11.0 combined. 

Your choice of transmission does not affect the Pilot’s towing capacities, which are rated at 1,588 kilos (3,500 lbs) in its standard setup or 2,268 kg (5,000 lbs) with an optional towing package, while I should also note that cargo capacity is another good reason to consider a Pilot, its space behind the third row measuring a sizeable 524 litres (18.5 cubic feet), or about the size of a large car’s trunk behind the third row, or 510 litres (18.0 cubic feet) in Touring/Black Edition guise, and 1,583 litres (55.9 cubic feet) with the third row folded, while it ranges from 3,072 to 3,092 litres (108.5 to 109.2 cubic feet), depending on trim, when both rear rows are folded flat. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
The updated Pilot gets new taillight lenses and a reworked bumper in back. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

A few more Touring features worth noting include more advanced LED high beam-infused headlamps, power-folding auto-dimming side mirrors, blue ambient lighting, front window acoustic glass, rain-sensing wipers, an electronic gear selector, ventilated front seats, a premium 600-watt audio system with 11 speakers including a subwoofer plus 5.1 Surround Sound, wireless device charging, Honda’s handy new CabinTalk in-car PA system, HondaLink Subscription Services, AT&T Wi-Fi hotspot, the “How much Farther?” app, a rear entertainment system, HDMI input jack, a 115-volt rear power outlet, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and more. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
Nice looking LED taillights, right? A subtle but effective improvement. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Included with my tester, Touring models can be upgraded to include a set of sliding and reclining captain’s chairs to either side of a slightly raised floor-mounted console with cupholders and a shallow bin, instead of the regular three-abreast bench seat. This reduces passenger volume from eight to seven, but the captain’s chairs are more comfortable thanks in part to seat heaters and flip-down armrests, plus this seven-passenger edition gets a panoramic sunroof overhead for a much more open and airy cabin. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
Honda kept the interior mostly carryover, but some upgrades have enhanced the overall experience. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Touring trim also includes items pulled up from lesser trims, such as the acoustic windshield, memory-linked side mirrors with reverse gear tilt-down, heatable steering wheel, four-way powered front passenger’s seat, navigation system, navi-based compass, satellite and HD radio, front and rear parking sensors, heated outboard second-row seats, one-touch third-row access buttons, second-row sunshades, powered tailgate and more found in the EX-L Navi, plus the LED fog lamps, LED turn signals in the side mirror caps, roof rails, illuminated vanity mirrors, Homelink garage door opener, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 10-way powered driver’s seat with memory, powered moonroof and more from the EX. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
Say hello to the Pilot’s new 7.0-inch digital gauge display, standard across the line. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

One of my favourite new features is the 7.0-inch TFT multi-information display (MID) found in the mostly digital gauge cluster. The MID features nice bright, high-resolution colour graphics and easy operation via steering wheel-mounted controls, a highly functional system that helps to modernize the look of the interior. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
The PIlot’s 8.0-inch touchscreen continues to be one of the nicest in the industry. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

The Pilot’s big 8.0-inch tablet-style touchscreen infotainment system is excellent too, and along with wonderfully colourful tile-like graphics that were obviously inspired by Apple products, includes standard Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth smartphone connectivity with streaming audio, a multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, and much more. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
These are some seriously comfortable seats. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Additional standard Pilot features that are pulled up into Touring trim include remote start, proximity-sensing access with pushbutton ignition, a windshield wiper de-icer, a conversation mirror within sunglasses holder, tri-zone auto climate control, three-way heatable front seats, a 264-watt audio system with seven speakers including a subwoofer, the HondaLink Assist Automatic Emergency Response System, and more. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
Is this third row only for kids? Come back and read the review to find out. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Lastly, the 2019 Pilot receives the Honda Sensing suite of advanced driver assistance features as standard equipment, which adds auto high beams, Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist System, and Road Departure Mitigation. This means that with the upgraded full LED cornering headlights from the Touring model the 2019 Pilot now earns a best-possible Top Safety Pick + rating from the IIHS (last year’s model didn’t achieve the + rating), while it also gets a 5 star safety rating from the NHTSA. 

I’ll have more to tell you in my upcoming road test review, so stay tuned for all the details including some negatives. And if you’re curious about the price, including rebate information and dealer invoice pricing, check out CarCostCanada for everything you need to know…

A key selling point amongst family buyers is safety, and there’s no safer minivan than the new Honda Odyssey.  This point was made clear after the latest Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)…

Odyssey beats Sienna and Pacifica in IIHS crash tests

2018 Honda Odyssey
No one wants to experience a crash in their car, especially if their family is onboard, but if you’re at the wheel of a new Honda Odyssey you’ll be safer than if driving any other minivan, says the IIHS. (Photo: Honda)

A key selling point amongst family buyers is safety, and there’s no safer minivan than the new Honda Odyssey. 

This point was made clear after the latest Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash test results were tallied up and the Honda Odyssey earned highest marks for the critical passenger-side small-overlap front test. 

To be clear, the Odyssey achieved best-possible “Good” scores for all Crashworthiness categories, also including the driver-side small-overlap front test, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, plus head restraints and seats, while the ease of use of its child seat anchors (LATCH) was rated Good + thanks to extra latch locations. 

2018 Honda Odyssey
The Odyssey does a better job of protecting all family members than the Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Pacifica. (Photo: Honda)

Also impressive, under the Crash Avoidance and Mitigation category the Odyssey achieved a best-possible “Superior” rating for front crash prevention when outfitted with optional equipment. 

The Odyssey’s only area of weakness is minor, its headlights having earned a second-best “Acceptable” score with “only certain trims/options.” 

Only the Kia Sedona achieved a higher headlight rating, with the Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Pacifica also managed Acceptable scores for headlights. This said the Sedona showed “not rated” for the passenger-side small-overlap front category, which is probably better than the Pacifica’s Acceptable grade and the Sienna’s second-from-bottom “Marginal” rating. 

2018 Honda Odyssey
The Odyssey’s LED headlamps are impressive, but they still didn’t earn the brand a “Good” rating in the IIHS’ tough new testing process. If they did, the van would be given a Top Safety Pick + rating overall. (Photo: Honda)

To clarify what this means, the Pacifica and Sienna didn’t achieve as high a rating because the structure around their front passenger compartment collapsed inward during the crash test, resulting in parts of the body structure entering the passenger area. According to the IIHS report, the structural deformation with the Pacifica didn’t intrude inward enough to harm the front passenger, which allowed for its Acceptable rating, but the Sienna’s body structure intruded far enough into the front passenger compartment to potentially injure legs and feet, resulting in the below standard Marginal ranking (check the video below for actual footage of the crash tests to see how each van fares). 

2018 Honda Odyssey
The Odyssey comes equipped with all the latest advanced driver assistance systems, most of which go a long way to improving safety. (Photo: Honda)

Speaking of Marginal scores, the Pacifica got the “M” word for the ease of use of its child seat anchors, whereas the Sienna improved on the Pacifica by getting an Acceptable ranking for child seat anchors yet only managed to eke out an Acceptable score for the driver-side small-overlap front test. 

That equals six Good, one Good +, and one Acceptable rating for the Honda Odyssey; six Good and one Acceptable ranking for the Kia Sorento; five Good marks, two Acceptable and one Marginal for the Chrysler Pacifica; and lastly four Good scores, three Acceptable, and one Marginal for the Toyota Sienna. 

2018 Honda Odyssey
Front passenger seat crashworthiness is where the Odyssey beats its competition so dramatically. Make sure to watch the video below for details. (Photo: Honda)

The system the IIHS uses for tallying up its totals resulted in a second-best possible Top Safety Pick rating for all minivans except for the Toyota Sienna, which didn’t earn any special accommodation. 

Thanks to IIHS crash tests, it’s clear to see which minivan delivers the best possible safety for you and your family. With some minor improvements to its standard headlights, we can be certain the Honda Odyssey would easily attain revered Top Safety Pick + status, and in the process become the only minivan to do so. 

Before you go make sure to watch this excellent video put out by the IIHS, showing the actual crash tests of the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Pacifica minivans: 

 

New crash tests and LATCH ratings for minivans – IIHS News (6:32):  

Just in case you missed the July issue of Parents Magazine and a concurrent posting in Edmunds.com, the conjoined publications recently named the 2018 Honda Accord and Odyssey to their “10 Best Family…

Honda Accord and Odyssey earn best family car awards

2018 Honda Accord Touring 1.5T
Parents Magazine and Edmunds.com added the 2018 Honda Accord to their list of best family cars, and we agree. (Photo: Honda)

Just in case you missed the July issue of Parents Magazine and a concurrent posting in Edmunds.com, the conjoined publications recently named the 2018 Honda Accord and Odyssey to their “10 Best Family Cars 2018” list. 

The Accord and Odyssey, both redesigned for the 2018 model year, were chosen from 300 new vehicles after taking into account “safety ratings, car seat installation and other family-friendly features,” stated a press release from Honda. 

Along with its family-oriented attributes, the 10th-generation Accord offers today’s consumer a much more modern and more premium take on the mid-size sedan, while providing a thoroughly reimagined interior with greater spaciousness, comfort and refinement, not to mention much more advanced infotainment. 

2018 Honda Odyssey
The two publications also chose the 2018 Honda Odyssey as one of their 10 best family cars. (Photo: Honda)

The previously base 2.4-litre four-cylinder and upmarket 3.5-litre V6 engines are now gone, replaced by a duo of turbocharged and direct-injected fours displacing 1.5 and 2.0 litres. The smaller engine makes 192 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque, while the new 2.0-litre four produces 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission can still be found mated to the base engine in lower trims, but most customers will opt for the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that is available across the line and comes standard in upper trims, whereas the new top-tier 2.0-litre features an all-new 10-speed automatic that Honda says is a first for front-wheel drive cars. 

2018 Honda Accord Touring 1.5T
The new Accord provides families with more style, performance, fuel economy, spaciousness, plus convenience and safety features. (Photo: Honda)

With ever-rising gasoline prices affecting budgets, families will be especially happy with improvements made to the Accord’s fuel efficiency, thanks to the base engine rated at 8.9 L/100km in the city, 6.7 on the highway and 7.9 combined when mated to the manual transmission, or 7.9 city, 6.3 highway and 7.2 combined when the same engine gets matched to the CVT. This compares to 10.4 L/100km city, 7.4 highway and 9.0 combined for last year’s four-cylinder and manual combination, whereas the outgoing CVT-equipped 2017 Accord was claimed to achieve 9.2 city, 6.9 highway and 8.2 combined. 

Compared to last year’s V6 that was Transport Canada rated at 11.4 city, 7.2 highway and 9.5 combined with its sole six-speed automatic, the new 2018 Accord’s 2.0-litre engine makes impressive gains thanks to a claimed rating of 10.7 city, 7.3 highway and 9.2 combined with the manual (standard in Sport trim), or 10.4 city, 7.4 highway and 9.1 combined with the new 10-speed auto. 

2018 Honda Accord Touring 1.5T
The new Odyssey continues to be one of the best performing minivans on the market, not to mention one of the most refined. (Photo: Honda)

Additionally, the all-new Honda Accord Hybrid gets a highly advanced two-motor hybrid-electric powertrain capable of a claimed 5.0 L/100km in the city, 5.1 on the highway and 5.1 combined, making it one of the most economical large family vehicles available today. 

Also important to families, standard Honda Sensing advanced driver assistance systems include adaptive cruise control (with low-speed follow when upgraded to the CVT), forward collision warning, autonomous emergency mitigating braking, lane departure warning, and road departure mitigation, while additional standard safety features include full LED headlights for better nighttime visibility, a multi-angle backup camera with dynamic guidelines, traffic sign recognition, a driver attention monitor to warn of possible fatigue, hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring, front knee airbags (an Accord first), the HondaLink Assist automatic emergency response system, and more. 

2018 Honda Accord Touring 1.5T
The Accord delivers one of the most appealing interiors in its class, big on comfort and advanced technology. (Photo: Honda)

Also notable, Honda’s exclusive LaneWatch blindspot display system comes standard with Sport and EX-L trims, but this gets replaced by blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert in Touring trim. 

The fifth-generation Odyssey is also new for 2018, and like its predecessors it’s raised the minivan bar when it comes to performance, interior quietness, family-friendly cabin space, comfort, and in-car connectivity. 

While it’s built in vacuum remains a popular option, CabinWatch is the auto industry’s first in-vehicle rear seat camera, while the aforementioned Honda Sensing suite of active safety and driver assist systems is optional. Also notably innovative, the Odyssey’s exclusive multi-configurable Magic Slide second-row seats offer an entirely new level of cabin flexibility to the minivan sector. 

2018 Honda Odyssey
The newest Odyssey impresses in every respect, and therefore fully deserves accolades. (Photo: Honda)

The 2018 Odyssey’s bevy of intelligent family-first features were named as reasons for it winning a 2018 ALG Residual Value award, which means Odyssey customers have a much better chance of retaining more of their investment over three years of ownership than buyers of competitive minivans. Just as notable the 2018 Accord won its class as well, with the subcompact 2018 Fit hatchback taking home the ALG honours amongst small cars. 

The Accord also won North American Car of the Year and the Automobile Journalist Association of Canada’s annual Canadian Car of the Year award, so placing first is nothing new for the popular mid-size sedan.