For years, Ford’s Edge had a bit of a niche to itself. A large SUV that didn’t try and squeeze a third row into the back. It’s a clever spot to be in, because it ends up with a vehicle that has far more space for passengers than a compact crossover, especially in width. But it avoids the loss of cargo space thanks to a high load floor that comes with cramming a third row in back. It’s also shorter than a three-row, which helps manoeuvrability thanks to less rear-end swing. For me, it was always the Goldilocks of crossovers. Of course, Ford is no longer alone in the segment.
One of the latest challengers is from Honda. They’ve taken the versatile platform that’s already spawned the Pilot and been El-Caminoed into the Ridgeline and made something else. The Passport. Which takes the Pilot and cuts about 150 mm from the total length. Most of that from behind the rear axle. So it offers up most of the cargo space of the Pilot, all of the rear legroom, and all of the elbow room. Plus it’s lifted, comes with a quicker steering rack, and has dropped the Pilot’s chrome trim for a blacked-out look. And if you somehow need more space than this cavernous boot offers, Honda’s tossed an available Thule roof box on top. So how do the Ford Edge and the Honda Passport stack up?
The Edge got a facelift for 2019 that slightly sharpened the crossover’s looks. It clearly fits into the rest of the company’s lineup, with a nose that looks like a scaled up Focus or Fusion. The wide and raked C-pillars help add some aggression to the appearance, but they also hinder visibility and maximum cargo space. This is also one of the last vehicles that still has the clear Altezza-style taillights but manages to make it look good.
Honda has done more than just chop the Pilot to make the Passport. It’s gotten a mild lift as well. About an inch, giving it a more off-road look. Helping that is a mesh grille in place of the Pilot’s bars, along with black trim instead of chrome and the big chunky-looking plastic lower bumper. It’s not really a skid plate, but it definitely looks like one. The black plastic will probably handle hitting rocks, twigs, and branches when you’re taking it down the gravel road to the cottage. There’s more black trim along the sides and rear and two big cutouts for the exhaust.
Winner: Both are handsome crossovers, but the Passport gets the nod here.
Both of these offer acres of space for passengers. They’re wide and long inside, so there’s plenty of room for driver and passenger elbows, and three adults can sit comfortably in the back. Honda takes the win when it comes to headroom, though, because the much smaller sunroof it offers cuts into the ceiling much less than the Edge’s panoramic roof. Both offer up comfortable seating and plenty of cubbies and pockets to put your stuff, though the Passport’s giant centre console definitely has the most space.
Passengers, especially in the rear, will probably prefer the back of the Edge. That’s because of my tester’s optional TV screens, but it’s mostly thanks to the massive available sunroof. In contrast, the Passport’s tiny opening looks more like a mail slot.
When it comes to cargo, Honda dominates the spec sheet. 1,430 L behind the second-row seats to Ford’s 1,111 L, and 2,854 to the 2,078L of the Edge with everything folded. That’s nearly impossible to ignore. Though actually looking at the vehicles, the Edge’s space seems much larger. It might be because the Passport can slide the rear seat fore and aft to trade behind the seat room for legroom, or it could be the combination of a high load floor and low tailgate opening that makes it barely wide enough to accept a bicycle laying on its side. Tall users will find their foreheads making acquaintance with that tailgate on a regular basis.
At the pumps, the Edge gets a rated 11.4 L/100 km city, 8.3 highway, and my own average was just under 9.0. The Passport is rated for a thirstier 12.5/9.8, and though my own figures on that one were affected by that big Thule roof box, I averaged just under 12.
Winner: Honda. Unless you have tall stuff
Features, Equipment, and Safety tech
Both of these can come loaded up with all the common driver aids. Lane guidance, adaptive cruise, blind spot alerts (or blind spot cameras on lower Passport trims), emergency braking, and the like. The Honda system, though, and I’ve experienced this in other Honda models as well, seems to cry Wolf, or in this case Brake. About once every 20 minutes or so of driving it would alert me that I needed to make a panic stop. Which didn’t agree with the empty road in front of me. It seemed to be thrown off by pavement cracks and expansion joints, thinking they were lines.
The Edge will let you add self-parking to Titanium trims, but like most such features it’s quicker and easier to park yourself. The first time I tried to use it, I slammed on the brakes mere millimetres from backing into another car. A reminder that even with the most advanced driver aids, it’s still the nut behind the wheel that needs to stay tightest.
Both have interiors that are well laid out and straightforward to use. Both infotainment systems are quick and responsive, though while the Edge’s Sync3 gets the nod for the better system, Honda puts the heated wheel button on the steering wheel instead of in a climate menu on-screen, so Honda’s ergonomics get the win from me. I prefer the look of Honda’s infotainment system as well, though Ford’s navigation screen looks more upscale than Honda’s. The Passport didn’t fall victim to Honda’s war on the volume knob, though it is still lacking a tuner. Ford’s dashboard is definitely the nicer of the two. The Passport uses acres of hard plastic that scratches easily and isn’t friendly to any part of you that contacts it. Like your knee. It looks to be the same stuff that Honda puts in the Civic, a vehicle with a starting price well under half of this one. Conversely, though, the Passport’s leather seats are much softer than the Edge’s leather. Where the Edge has seats that feel almost school bus grade in the thickness and rubbery feel of the leather. Both of these crossovers offer heated and ventilated seats up front, and heated chairs in the rear.
The Passport has a foot-operated parking brake, and the location of the unyielding metal pedal and the location of my left shin seemed to always be trying to be one and the same. But the Passport gets Honda’s unique ratcheting armrests, which can lock into position higher or lower depending on how long your arms are. My wife loved setting hers to a comfortable spot, and that the Passport offers individual armrests for driver and passenger. I found that it would bump up when I buckled my belt, requiring me to lean away from it and cycle the mechanism every time I got in. Having to move the armrest each time I got into the vehicle was a major annoyance. So you’re going to want to test that one yourself since it won’t affect all drivers the same way.
Performance, Ride and Handling, Fun Factor
Unless you step up to the big-power ST, the Edge comes with a 2.0L turbo four. 250 hp and 280 lb-ft, with that torque coming on strong from low revs. It’s also nearly silent, even with the throttle open wide and the revs high. The eight-speed auto is quick to shift, but you’ll feel every single one of those shifts. Both on the way up and down the range. It’s quick to drop down a gear to add some much-appreciated engine braking as well, but the jolt forward might be less appreciated by passengers.
Honda’s 3.5L V6 makes a delicious woofling noise at idle, and it climbs to a surprisingly ferocious howl when it hits 5,500 rpm. A good old-fashioned Honda VTEC changeover, and that’s something that’s been gone a long time. The 280 hp and 262 lb-ft give it more oomph than the Edge but the nine-speed can be a bit sluggish. Especially the transition from reverse to drive, which took long enough that we got honked at a few times.
On the road, despite the Passport getting a quicker steering rack than the Pilot, it’s still sluggish to turn in. By comparison, the Edge is razor sharp. The idea of the ST version of the Edge didn’t make sense to your author until I drove the standard Edge for the first time. With this steering, and the suspension damping of this less sporting Edge, it makes a whole lot more sense. The Edge felt flatter in corners but was also softer and quieter over bumps. Where the Passport often felt like it was skipping across pavement imperfections in corners, the Edge just largely ignored them. The Passport was also much noisier over bumps. With more impact noise transferred from the suspension as well as more rattles in the cabin. Though it was hard to track down and make sure that they weren’t rattles from the roof box, trial and error using the windows and sunroof helped differentiate between interior chatter and accessories.
The quick turn in and impressive damping of the Edge make this one the winner for drivers. Though if you live in a city where the roads won’t ever let you enjoy that, then you might prefer the extra grunt, better sound, and occasional VTEC scream of the Passport.
Winner: Honda for driveline, Ford for driving
Value for Money
When it comes to pricing, the Edge offers a strong value. If you just want a big crossover and don’t need all the goodies, you can get an SE with Sync3 and the important active safety bits for $34,099. But spend an extra $500 for the SEL and you get a load of stuff like dual-zone climate control, a 110v outlet, leather-wrapped wheel, heated front seats, remote start, and the ability to add heated seats and wheel and adaptive cruise. Though if you’re adding all of that, the Titanium starts at $43,499 and includes that stuff plus wireless charging, B&O audio, and leather seats. Ventilated seats, the big roof, and self-parking are in a $5,000 package. The Passport starts from $41,990 with fabric seats. The leather EX-L adds $3,600, and a top-trim Touring gets a better audio system, ventilated front seats, and nav for $48,990. Which is bang-on the price of a loaded Edge that offers up more stuff.
So which one takes this pairing? The Edge offers up impressive value and loads of content. As well as being far thriftier at the pump. All of which is hard to ignore. But Honda’s massive on-paper cargo area, even if the access is a bit tight, is definitely a big benefit for anyone who wants to use their big small crossover to do big small crossover stuff. Do the hard dash and that parking brake counter the Edge’s lack of a button for the heated wheel and less than smooth gearbox?
My choice? I’d take the Edge but skip the moonroof for more headroom and enjoy the better ride and handling. Or, for about the same as the Passport Touring, look at the Edge ST if you want more sportiness than this segment normally provides.