In its past life, the Honda Passport was merely a drab, re-badged Isuzu SUV. But, since coming back off a 17-year production break, the Passport has garnered rave reviews from journalists and buyers.
The crossover SUV boasts frugal fuel consumption, useful storage capacity, and a roomy yet comfortable cabin.
Can it win on Snow? Let’s find out.
Here is the short answer about whether the Honda Passport is good for snow and winter driving:
The Honda Passport is an adventure crossover with optional all-wheel-drive and a powerful engine that allows it to take on harsh weather conditions. It packs advanced safety features such as Vehicle Stability Assist, Traction Control, and advanced brake systems for stress-free driving in snow.
Is a Honda Passport Good in the Snow?
Anyone living in a cold region like the Northern US knows the difficulty of driving when snow falls heavily. If snowstorms and blizzards are common where you live, the Honda Passport is a suitable vehicle to have.
The Passport has extra ride height, which allows it to clear deep snow banks without stalling. If you tried the same thing with a regular sedan, chances are you would get stuck in the snow.
Also, the Passport packs enough oomph beneath its hood to plow through heavy snowfalls. The V6 engine pumps out a healthy 280 horsepower and 262 lbs-ft of torque. Therefore, you need not worry about your engine dying when negotiating thick snow drifts.
However, the Passport’s best weapon for snow driving is the optional all-wheel drive (AWD) system. This AWD system can detect loss of traction in snowy conditions and facilitate even power distribution to stabilize the vehicle.
What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?
From our research, the following features contribute to the Honda Passport’s ability to drive in winter weather:
All-Wheel Drive (AWD) System
The Honda Passport comes with an innovative All-Wheel Drive System. As the name implies, the AWD system ensures all wheels are in use during drives.
With all four wheels moving at equal speed, the chances of a loss-of-traction situation decrease.
The Pilot AWD system doesn’t work all the time; if it did, your fuel economy would suffer.
It only works when your SUV is navigating adverse road conditions with low traction. If it senses loss of traction, AWD will increase torque to the slipping wheels to boost grip and control.
AWD is good for driving in winter because it ensures your vehicle maintains acceptable levels of traction. This is vital when driving on ice, snow, and slush where tires can slip and lose traction.
Vehicle Stability Assist
The Pilot features Honda’s version of the popular Electronic Stability Control: Vehicle Stability Assist. VSA is a great tool in the Passport’s winter driving arsenal because it lowers the chances of stability loss in uneven road conditions.
The VSA makes use of sensors that monitor aspects of your vehicle’s movement while driving. This enables it to detect when a loss-of-stability event is imminent.
In such a situation, the VSA will restrict engine performance to restore the vehicle’s stability. It will also apply brakes on either side of the SUV to force it back into position.
With the VSA, you can soldier through slick winter conditions without fearing a crash resulting from loss of stability.
The Traction Control is part of the Honda Vehicle Stability Assist system. What it does: inhibit extreme wheelspin that could reduce traction.
The Traction Control system monitors wheel rotation continuously as you drive. By so doing, it can detect when a wheel spins faster than others.
In such cases, Traction Control will reduce torque in that wheel to decrease its rotational speed. Then it could also exert brake force on the spinning wheel to allow it to rotate normally. Both actions will curtail wheelspin and preemptively stop loss of traction.
Antilock Braking System
The ABS uses sensors to gather wheel-rotation speed data and send it to the vehicle’s Electronic Control Unit.
Should the rotational speed of a wheel drop, the ECU will force a reduction in brake-line pressure to that wheel.
This way, the wheel starts turning again, eliminating potential lockup.
Electronic Brake Distribution
The Electronic Brake Distribution shifts brake pressure away from wheels with less weight to those without. This action prevents wheel lockup just like the Antilock Braking System.
Road Departure Mitigation System (RDMS)
The Honda Passport sports the advanced Road Departure Mitigation System. Driving in winter is risky because the slick surfaces increase risk of slipping off the surface.
The RDMS solves this problem by assisting your vehicle to remain on its original path on winter roads.
The RDMS takes advantage of vehicle cameras and sensors that can recognize lane markings. This way, it can determine when you move out of your original lane.
In that case, the system will send an alert via the instrument display so you can steer the vehicle back into position. It will further aid your efforts by boosting torque in the steering wheel.
But, if the system senses that steering input cannot force the vehicle back on track, it will brake the SUV.
The chill that comes with winter is a big reason most people don’t take winter trips. However, the Honda Passport supports its family vehicle cred by providing features that keep occupants warm and cozy in cold climates.
A good example is the Tri-zone Climate Control system that allows passengers to adjust heating settings to maximize comfort. Select Passport models also have heated seats and heated steering wheels to keep you warm on winter trips.
Please also read our article on Ford Edge in snow and winter driving.
Does a Passport Have Snow Mode?
The Honda Passport comes with Intelligent Traction Management system that offers different drive modes. The ITM features a Snow Mode that optimizes vehicle performance for improved control and traction on snowy roads.
When you select the Snow Mode, the engine torque supplied to the wheels decreases. This curbs wheelspin and enhances traction.
The transmission system also moves into a second-gear start position, making it easier to move your vehicle in snow.
If you prefer driving a pickup, check out our article on the Toyota Tundra in snow and winter driving.
Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on Passports?
Installing extra snow gear on your Passport is possible and advisable. Also called snow driving equipment, snow gear can help increase traction and stability when driving in deep snow. Some recommendations for useful snow gear include:
- Tire studs
- Snow tires
- Snow chains
- Snow socks
A must-do before shopping snow gear is to understand local laws guiding the use of such equipment in your area.
What is legal in an area may be illegal in another; for example, some areas allow snow socks while some prohibit its use.
You should consider how much you’re willing to spend on snow gear and what serves your needs best. If you get light snow, winter tires may be all you need to navigate snow successfully.
White-outs and severe snow storms may require more intensive equipment such as tire studs and snow chains.
How Much Snow Can a Passport Handle?
The 2020 Honda Passport has a ride height of 7.8 inches. Sitting high off the ground means the Passport can drive through deep snow drifts without stalling. This is good for those who live in areas that get frequent snowstorms and blizzards.
Having a Snow Mode further increases the Passport’s ability to take on roads covered in knee-deep snow. You can drive in such conditions without fear of getting stuck in the white stuff.
We estimate the Passport should be fine driving in snowfall measuring under 7 inches.
Never attempt to drive your Passport when the depth of snowfall is higher than the vehicle’s ground clearance. The snow will clog up the wheels and stall the vehicle.
How Do Passports Handle Low Winter Temperatures?
While the older Passports used carburetors in their engines, the new Passport uses Electronic Fuel Injection. Unlike carbureted engines, fuel-injected engines can function in low temperatures without stalling.
Even so, a number of problems could affect your Passport such that it runs poorly in low winter temperatures. For instance, it could be suffering from spark plug trouble or a weak battery.
The fault could also be from the electrical system because if your electricals are faulty, your Passport won’t start. Whatever the cause, ensure you carry out a comprehensive diagnosis before forming any conclusions.
Can a Honda Passport Drive on Ice?
The Honda Passport is ideal for on roads covered in ice. It features several safety systems that maximize traction and stability on slippery and icy surfaces.
For instance, the Road Departure Mitigation System stops your Passport from sliding off when driving in icy conditions.
Does the Passport Have 4WD?
The Passport does not have four-wheel drive (4WD) capabilities. It is a front-wheel drive (FWD) SUV that comes in a front-engine configuration.
FWD isn’t the best for driving in winter, so the Passport has optional all-wheel drive (AWD) for those who want to use their Passports in winter conditions. Like 4WD, AWD can send power to all four wheels for increased traction and control on winter roads.
What About Older Passport Models And Winter Driving?
The first generation Passport models had Antilock Braking System and Electronic Stability Control (Vehicle Stability Assist) as standard equipment. These features make driving in winter safer.
Do Passports Need Snow Tires?
Regardless of the vehicle, snow tires are important for navigating snow, ice, slush and any winter situation.
Snow tires provide improved grip and handling ability in winter and beat all-season tires in terms of winter performance.
Are you looking to safe and quiet winter tires? Make sure to read our article on General Tires.
Can You Mount A Snow Plow On A Passport?
From the looks of it, the Honda Passport should be able to take on a snow plow. However, we suggest consulting your mechanic before you do anything of the sort.