1999 Honda Passport Review

Pros & Cons

  • Silky V6 engine, stylish interior, rugged exterior, roomy rear seat.
  • It's not really a Honda.
Other years
List Price Estimate
$1,259 - $2,503

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

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 another face in this neighborhood that deserves consideration. Meet the Honda Passport, which was completely redesigned a year ago. The new look is familiar yet contemporary and the Passport is one of the more ruggedly handsome SUVs available today.

Inside, the interior provides user-friendly ergonomics and plastic trim that feels surprisingly luxurious. Clamber aboard and head for the hills - it's easy with push-button 4WD and standard anti-lock brakes that thwart nature's attempts to impede your progress. A unique hatchgate employs flip-up glass and a gate that swings from right to left. The full-size spare tire can be stored under the vehicle or on the hatchgate.

Both LX and EX trim levels are offered with two- or four-wheel drive and come with a powerful 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine, with 205 horsepower to whisk you along with verve. EX is the upper-level trim, which adds a power moonroof, security system with remote entry, exterior-mounted spare tire, fog lights, leather-wrapped steering wheel, wood grain trim and map lights.

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. Our final complaint is that 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, the Passport should be near the top of your shopping list. But so should the Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango and Toyota 4Runner.

1999 Highlights

Last year, the Passport and the identical Isuzu Rodeo were completely redesigned, so there are no new changes this year.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1999 Honda Passport.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Some problems with this one
Bought w/ 50k mi on it, drove it till 158k, then the tranny locked up. Engine works great but needs a quart every 3000 mi. Replaced: radiator, starter, window switches, batteries (3). Gas guage never worked, get about 400 mi on a tank. ABS light is on, brakes are dicey, esp when towing. Rear gate lock broke into the door, now I can't open the back, which was lame anyway with the insufficient support of the back glass dropping on your head. Yes, it's for sale - need something reliable.
Tough Little Truck
I purchased my 1999 Honda Passport brand new in Anchorage Alaska. It came with a 5 speed manual transmission. I changed the battery and do all my own oil changes, tire rotations. You know, the basic stuff. I take it to the dealer for major maintenance. This Honda will run forever! I have over 120,000 miles and still running strong. The few problems I had over the years are: fuel gauge unit went bad in 2009, fan clutch went bad in 2008 and rear window wiper motor went out on me in 2007. The only real engine problem I have ever had was the mass air flow sensor went out on me in 2006 causing the check engine light to come on. Other than that, when I turn the key, it starts!
Very Disappointed!
Michelle M.,08/19/2005
Well, we're one of the ones that got a REALLY bad Passport. We got this car for my husband. We went with Honda because I've had GREAT experience with Acura and because of Honda's reputation. Passport styling is great, performance is crap. Dealer had to do a complete engine within months of purchase, problems occurred within weeks (rear wiper blades stuck, fuel injector leaks). Car burns oil like crazy--just not a reliable vehicle. We, too, are now stuck with a $300 per month payment and we've got many months to go before we pay this thing off. Currently, it is sitting at the dealer, undriveable--stalling and emitting white smoke from the tailpipe.
***204000 miles still going strong!
EX 4dr SUV 4WD
I bought it with 160000 miles on it. I had heard these engines weren't much to brag on. 204000 miles IS something to brag on. It's been SUPER dependable. Living in the south, we don't get much ice. When we do get ice, we aren't equipped for it. On the passport, you don't need your 4 wheel drive button, you need your winter button. It does great job and I've had no real issues. I will paint it and keep it till the cows come home.

Features & Specs

16 city / 19 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
205 hp @ 5400 rpm
15 city / 19 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
205 hp @ 5400 rpm
15 city / 19 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
205 hp @ 5400 rpm
16 city / 19 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
205 hp @ 5400 rpm
See all Used 1999 Honda Passport features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1999 Honda Passport
More About This Model

It came as no surprise to us that the Passport was extremely capable when taken off road. It is, after all, an Isuzu Rodeo with Honda badging, and Isuzu has a reputation for building highly capable utility vehicles. As we entered the Hungry Valley off-road park (60 miles north of Los Angeles) many of the Passport's on-road failings drifted into the background while the vehicle's utility nature became abundantly clear.

As Edmund's long-term Ranger skated and slid over various snow- and mud-caked trails, our Passport test vehicle behaved as if out for a Sunday drive. Unusually high rain and snowfall during the previous weeks had transformed the arid Hungry Valley into a moisture-soaked, puddle-strewn water park. However, even when the slush and "earth-turned-goo" driving conditions were at their worst, the Passport seemed to be taunting us with a "So, when are we going to hit the tough stuff?" attitude. Shifting the vehicle into 4LOW (which can be done with the touch of a dash button and a floor-mounted shift lever) provides adequate torque and grip to deal with all but the most extreme off-road circumstances. The Passport is one vehicle that needs a serious outback romp to appreciate fully.

And therein lies the problem. How many of today's SUV buyers use their vehicles for serious off-road excursions? And, for those who do, how many are willing to sacrifice on-road driving characteristics for increased off-road proficiency? For those (few) individuals who do find this trade-off acceptable, keep in mind that it isn't necessary. For approximately $1,000 less than the price of a Passport EX 4WD, you can purchase a Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo with 15 additional foot-pounds of torque, more overall passenger space, and far better on-road ride and handling traits. True, the Passport offers 10 more peak horsepower, but these come at a lofty 5,400 rpm as opposed to the Grand Cherokee's 195 horsepower at 4,600 rpm. You'd be hard pressed to notice the Passport's power advantage (especially with the Jeep's torque advantage) under any circumstances, but the Grand Cherokee's superior seating, steering and brakes would be obvious within seconds of getting behind the wheel.

It's not that the Passport is a horrible on-road mount. A few years ago we would have classified its steering and brakes as "pretty good, for an SUV." Jeep, however, raised the bar considerably last fall with the introduction of its '99 Grand Cherokee. Now, the numb, stiff steering action combined with a substantial on-center dead spot, make the Passport feel excessively truck-like in an increasingly demanding world where buyers want industrial utility and car-like driving in the same vehicle.

For off-road purposes, the Passport's steering is less of an issue because the stiff feel and low ratio make it easier to navigate rocky terrain. With quick-ratio, power-assisted steering, like on the Mercedes M-class, an SUV can feel twitchy and high strung when traveling off road. Yet, as good as the Passport is, the Grand Cherokee is better, while still providing responsive on-road behavior. Braking ability also suffers from a lack of refinement. During maximum braking a loud clatter could be heard as the ABS cycled. Under less extreme circumstances, the pedal felt stiff and difficult to modulate. The 205-horsepower engine did move the Passport with authority, but the confidence-sapping brakes made it difficult to enjoy full-throttle blasts.

The Passport's austerity continued inside, where a pair of small, stiff seats greeted front passengers. Legroom was sufficient and the impressive-looking side bolsters suggested a comfy ride. Unfortunately, the seatback was one of the more uncomfortable units we've had the displeasure of experiencing, with its excessive, non-adjustable lumbar intrusion. Seat foam was generally too hard and leg support inadequate. Rear-seat comfort was slightly improved with ample legroom and a more comfortable, albeit too reclined, seat back.

The seating material, along with the headliner, was a soft cloth that scored high with testers. Other interior surfaces, however, appeared cheap and toy-like. The dash, door panels and center console/shifter areas were particularly cheap-feeling. Our EX model also had woodgrain sprinkled throughout the interior but, amidst the hard plastic and uncomfortable seats, it looked out of place and unstylish.

A few pleasant surprises did pop up while driving the Passport, including a stellar sound system with amazing reception capabilities, clear imaging and clean highs (too bad the tuning buttons are on the "far" side of the radio). Wind and road noise was also better than expected, while rattles and squeaks were non-existent. The simple climate-control layout garnered points for its ease-of-use, as did the roomy center-console storage bin. Grab handles at all four doors and a low step-in height made hopping in and out of the Passport a breeze for folks of any size and shape.

Perhaps the biggest interior flaw had to do with placement of the 4WD button. As with the Isuzu Rodeo, it's located on the dash just to the left of the steering column. Right next to it is the identical cruise-control switch, just daring you to get them confused while doing 80 on the highway. Four-wheel drive is supposed to engage at up to 65 mph. At higher speeds, the system is designed to ignore the button if pressed. We didn't feel like testing the brainpower of the four-wheel-drive system, but we do think that the button should be relocated.

Bringing up the Passport's rear is a two-piece cargo door. The top half of the door is flip-up glass while the bottom half is hinged on the driver's side and swings out when opened. This design is similar to the cargo door on Honda's CR-V and, as with the CR-V, it loses its appeal after about three openings. The flip-up glass section is useful for loading small, light objects lifted by tall people; otherwise, it serves no purpose except to clatter loudly when hitting bumps or going off-road. The lower section requires ample rear-end clearance, which means no opening it in small garages or while stopped in tight parking spaces. The lower door can also be quite cumbersome for drivers of small stature, especially if the spare tire is mounted on it (which, on all EX models, it is). As with the cruise-control button, Isuzu needs to address this problem.

You'll notice that not once during this review was the Passport referred to as a Honda. That's because it isn't a Honda, as the cheap interior material, lousy steering and questionable brakes will confirm. We're certain that, under normal circumstances, Honda would never allow its nameplate to be affixed to such a vehicle. But these are anything but normal times. When Lincoln, Mercedes, Porsche and eventually Saturn are willing to jump on the SUV money train, we can hardly find fault with Honda for selling a few rebadged Isuzus. What we can find fault with is the reduced warranty and lack of roadside service available on the Passport when compared to the Rodeo. Unless you've got a serious fixation with that Honda emblem, don't buy this truck.

Used 1999 Honda Passport Overview

The Used 1999 Honda Passport is offered in the following submodels: Passport SUV. Available styles include LX 4dr SUV 4WD, EX 4dr SUV 4WD, EX 4dr SUV, and LX 4dr SUV.

What's a good price on a Used 1999 Honda Passport?

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Find a used Honda Passport for sale - 1 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $24,277.

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Should I lease or buy a 1999 Honda Passport?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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