What's New for 1998
Like its Isuzu Rodeo counterpart, the Passport has been completely revised from top to bottom. The Passport gets modernized styling, a user-friendly interior, more powerful V6 and added room for passengers and cargo.
Choices in the sub-$30,000 sport-utility class are numerous. Figuring out which truck best meets your needs almost always requires a compromise of some sort or another. The closest thing to perfect has been the Ford Explorer, and spectacular sales of this popular SUV prove that buyers find its combination of room, style and power the best in the segment.
The Explorer is a fine sport-ute, but there's a new face in this neighborhood that deserves consideration. Meet the all-new Honda Passport, which has been completely re-designed. The new look is familiar yet contemporary and the 1998 Passport is one of the more ruggedly handsome SUVs available today.
Inside, a new interior provides cupholders, excellent ergonomics, the industry's most perfectly designed steering wheel, comfortable seats front and rear and plastic trim that looks anything but. Clamber aboard and head for the hills; it's easy with push-button 4WD and standard antilock brakes to thwart nature's attempts to impede your progress.
Buyers get a unique hatchgate, which employs flip-up glass and tailgate that swings from right to left. The full-size spare tire can be stored under the vehicle or on the hatchgate. LX and EX trim levels are available. The basic Passport has two-wheel drive and a powerful 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine, with 205 horsepower to whisk you along with verve. EX models are loaded with standard equipment.
Problems with the new design are minimal. The location of the push-button 4WD switch is absurd, located directly next to the cruise control button where it could be activated accidentally. Off-road, the new Passport feels somewhat undersprung, but takes bumps and dips easily if speeds are kept down. Finally, there are no rear cupholders for the kiddies.
The new Passport is an excellent blend of old-fashioned truck toughness and modern day car-like convenience. If you're looking for a new $30,000 SUV, this one should be near the top of your shopping list.