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Where to Today? – Honda Passport/Subaru Outback

Test drive: Honda Passport

There are lots of places a passport can come in handy. Especially when it’s the all new Honda Passport.

The manufacturer likes to call this five-passenger Passport a “rugged midsize SUV,” a description that requires a couple of asterisks. First off, we should say that there’s no arguing the midsize claim, except to say it feels a lot more nimble than that characterization might suggest.

The SUV claim should be annotated with the fact that this is really a car-based crossover; nothing wrong with that per se. It does make the “rugged” claim a relative notion, with the available all-wheel-drive system – standard on the Elite trim level I drove – and an inch more ground clearance than the seven-passenger Pilot model on which it’s based, making it suited to navigating maintained fire roads more than hardcore off-roading.

Turn back onto the pavement and you’ll find the 280- hp V-6 under the hood gives it acceleration to spare. Handling is confident, and the smooth ride quality is the kind of stuff of which long road trips are made.

Add a comfortable interior and high marks for safety, and the Honda Passport will likely get you most anywhere you really need to go.

Test drive: Subaru Outback
The Outback takes you off the beaten path.

Study your average AAA map and you’ll notice that, along with all the solid lines representing paved roads, there are dashed lines that indicate where the route continues after the pavement ends. If those intermittent lines have ever caught your attention, you’re going to like the all-new Subaru Outback.

That’s because the sixth generation of this venerable all-wheel-drive crossover is designed and engineered to get you, your people and their gear into (and out of) off-the-beaten-track places on the map. Places where competitors can’t – or at least probably shouldn’t – go.

During my daylong test drive, the new Outback proved this is no mere marketing hype by navigating steep, muddy dirt tracks so overgrown with thick vegetation it was difficult to tell where the trail ended and the trees began. Though it may look like your average station wagon, this crossover will likely surprise you with its capabilities.

The Outback delivers a car-like ride and handling that make getting to the trailhead much more pleasant. Add details like a 11.6-inch touch screen and you have a vehicle ready to take you to all those blank spaces on the map.

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