What's New for 1997
Honda drops the slow-selling DX four-cylinder Passport.
Honda issued a notable upgrade in 1996, adding airbags for the driver and front passenger. Also new were roof-mounted speakers that expanded available cargo space in the revised interior, plus an improved stereo system. The new dashboard, did away with the old angular look, replacing it with an organically swept affair complete with more legible gauges and improved ergonomics. Nothing has changed since then,
Passports are spacious for five inside, and V6 models have a swing-out spare tire that creates even greater elbow room. The rear seat folds flat, resulting in a long cargo floor, but the clamshell tailgate design makes it difficult to access the back of the cargo area easily. They are however, better for watching softball games. Fortunately, the rear glass will open independently making it easier to load small items.
Road noise might be a drawback, though the 3.2-liter V6 engine is quiet-running and strong with either five-speed manual shift or the available four-speed automatic transmission. The 2.6-liter four-cylinder engine, formerly available on the DX model has been discontinued; partially due to poor sales, and to keep the DX from competing with Honda's new mini sport-ute: the CRV. Passports equipped with automatic transmissions have Power and Winter modes, the latter starting off in third gear to reduce wheel-spin on slippery pavements. Towing capacity is 4,500 pounds with the V6 engine.
Anyone seeking a capable blend of comfortable highway ride and tempting off-road talents could do well to look for a Honda dealer. However, Isuzu markets a version of the Passport and calls it the Rodeo The Rodeo tends to be a bit less expensive, and comes with a more comprehensive warranty. For those reasons, we suggest you stick with a Rodeo.