All I wanted was an AWD with a traditional automatic transmission...
With a 20.4:1 crawl ratio, it's able to enter 4WD territory. With it's twin-clutch rear differential, it's able to tackle terrain that most AWDs have a hard time with. (check out these Instagram video clips).
**Warning: My tires will not fit without either trimming the metal wheel well or using the Traxda axel relocation kit (included in the 3.5" JonDZ special). Trimming of the plastic wheel liner may be required.
-Nolo Designs Skid plates: Engine Oil Pan/Transmission and Rear differential skid plates
-Traxda Real Functional Rock Sliders
**In progress of being made and tested**
-3.5 inch Traxda Lift Kit **Use discount code "JONDZ20" for 20% off**
-Rear Sumo Coil Spring helpers
Wheels and Tires (modification required):
-Black Rhino Chase Wheels 18"x8", 5x120, 10mm offset
-Falken Wildpeak AT3W 255/70R18
Transmission temperature monitor:
-Nolo Designs ditch light brackets
-I currently have the Diode Dynamics S3 Pro ditch lights in the fog optic, but if I can redo the the choice of light, I'd probably go with the Baja designs because they have a combo flood/spot light. The amber tint helps cut through dust, fog, and white out conditions.
Rear hitch full-size spare tire carrier:
-Dirt Complex "Trail Swing"
I use to drive a 2008 FJ Cruiser TRD (back then, TRD was just a badge and offered no mechanical advantage). My older Brother owned it, but because he had a much further work commute, we would trade vehicles for extended periods of time. One thing I didn't like about this Toyota truck was that the poor on-road handling and fuel efficiency. While driving on the freeway, the FJ would drift left and right. I had to constantly make micro adjustments, which was unnerving, especially when I was next to a semi truck. Driving the FJ beyond 65mph did not inspire any confidence, which forced me to drive it like an old man. I suppose this was a good thing, considering that driving at 65 mph I was getting about 15 mpg, and increasing the speed to 75 mph dropped the MPG to 13. Check out this video about why I chose a Honda Passport.
I have a lot of modifications on my 2019 Honda Passport, and surprisingly it still drives great and I'm still able to get close to hitting EPA estimated fuel economy. I drive 700 miles round trip from Los Angeles to the Mammoth Ski Resort. Obeying the speed limit, I get 21.5 mpg. For those that know, this is a very windy mountain corridor too! In comparison, my stock 2008 FJ Cruiser would get about 13 mpg, and my bone stock 2015 Forester XT would get 26 mpg.
From owning an overland modified Subaru, and observing lots of vehicular break downs, I knew exactly what my build path was going to be with my 2019 Honda Passport. I first started off purchasing a Jsport front skid plate. This was the only skid plate offered at the time, and it was installed within the 1st week of vehicle ownership. I ran into issues with this skid plate. The tiny M6 bolts that connected to the front skid plate to the radiator support beam did not hold up. After 1 hit, the bolts had become stripped.
Not too long after, a crafty engineer named Ian Lupo started his 1 man company called Nolo Designs. He started having skid plates made for his 2017 Honda Ridgeline. I reached out to him and told him about the issue with the small bolts not holding up to abuse, so he implemented a solution I came up with. You can go to your local hardware store and buy a 2" round U-bolt (Home Depot carries them). Check out this Instagram clip.
I highly recommend you prioritize skid plates over any other first modification (including tires), because the oil pan is exposed and is not very tough. There have been mid-sized Hondas that have punctured their oil pans, leading to a costly repair. Once your engine loses oil pressure it can grenade itself. For $275 you can protect your $35K - 44K vehicle. Below is a link to the Nolo Designs website.
(disclaimer: I DO NOT benefit from any sales. Nolo designs is a build sponsor. I received free product in return for testing. I support Nolo designs, because he truly supports the mid-sized Honda platform).
Terrain appropriate tires are important for your overlanding adventures. These tires will be tougher than your standard street tires and will do a better job at resisting punctures and flats. Also, a higher profile tire will have more "sidewall", which is less likely to suffer a pinch flat. This is when the rim slams on the tire sidewall "pinching it" and tearing it open. Midsized Hondas will come with either 20 or 18 inch wheels. I highly recommend that you change out the 20 inch wheels.
The more aggressive the tread of the tire becomes, the less fuel efficient they will be, so choose your tires wisely. If you only plan on light trails, then a light trail tire will be a better choice. If you are new to overlanding in an AWD, it would probably be wise to start off with a less aggressive tire. It would be a good idea to learn how to wheel before you attempt to tackle some rough terrain. I've been off-roading since 2016 and I have progressed to needing a more aggressive A/T. I personally run the Falken Wildpeak AT3W. As of writing this up, I'm on my 2nd set.
A good starter tire would be:
Cooper Discovery AT3 4S
Falken Wildpeak AT Trail
BFG trail terrain
A more aggressive All-terrain trail tire (that's severe snow rated) would be:
Falken Wildpeak AT3W
Toyo Open Country 3
Then there's R/T (rough terrain) and M/T (mud terrain) tires. I'm not familiar with these tires, but if you live in muddy terrain like Texas or Florida and don't have to drive up too many rocks, then a M/T would be the terrain appropriate tire for you.
What is tallest tire I can run on a stock midsized Honda?
The tallest tires you can run on a midsized Honda with slight rub at full steering wheel lock (think making a U-turn) is a 30.5 inch tire. A common size would be 265/60R18.
I get this questions ALOT: Will a lift kit help me run taller tires? The simple answer is "NO". Keep reading below to learn how to fit up to 32 inch tires.
If you want to run the tires I have on my Passport, you'll need to do one of two things:
1.) Trim your metal wheel (not recommended unless you really know what you're doing. If you mess up... it's permanent)
2.) Purchase and have the Traxda Axle relocation kit installed. This moves your front axles forward 1 inch to clear tires up to 32 inches. You don't even have to install a lift kit, you can get this installed independently.
**Remember to use my 20% off discount code "JONDZ20"**
I'm coming from a lifted Subaru background, so before purchasing the all new 2019 Honda Passport, I made sure there was a lift kit available before I purchased the vehicle. At 8K miles, my mid-sized Honda received the Traxda 2 inch lift kit. Surprisingly, the driving dynamics of my Passport did not change, even though my lifted Subaru suffered a noticeable degradation of on-road handling. Measured minimum clearance on my Honda was 11 inches at the front skid plate and 10.5 inches at the rear differential. The 2 inch lift kit was only $377, which was an amazing value, and I paid my friend $450 to perform the install. I ran the 2 inch lift kit for 43K miles. No issues at all, nothing broke or needed to be replaced, and with 51K miles on my Odometer, it was time to move onto the Traxda 3.5 inch lift kit.
From the experience of running the 2 inch lift kit for almost 2 years, I highly recommend you skip to the 3.5 inch lift kit.
On-road driving dynamics stay similar, minimum ground clearance increases by 3.5 inches, the angle of the axles are less severe due to the 1 inch subframe drop. The stock 12.5 inches of rocker clearance increases by 3.5 inches, giving the Passport "Truck-like" clearance. My Passport has 12 inches of minimum clearance and 16 inches of rocker panel clearance. To put this in perspective, a stock Subaru Outback wilderness has 11.5" at the rocker panel, and a stock Toyota 4runner has 17.5". My Passports 16" puts my Honda in a really comfortable truck like spot. With the added clearance, it makes moderate 4WD trails traversed more comfortably.
What ever lift kit size you choose, save yourself 20% by using my discount code "JONDZ20". Also, when choosing, factor in the cost of labor. For example, a 2 inch kit is $377, the JonDZ 3.5 inch lift kit with axle relocation is $1399 (this item is on sale, but my discount code will still apply). The 3.5 inch kit is almost 4x the cost, but factor in $500 for labor and the difference is just over 2x the cost. I have too many friends that have purchased the 2 inch kit, only later to purchase the 3.5 inch kit.
NOTE: Traxda seems to be the only option with front "camber adjustment". I've heard of other lift kit brands having issue with front camber.
As of October of 2022, after camping with the owner of Traxda at Overland Expo West, we spoke at the camp fire and entered a partnership. In this partnership we will be bringing "real functional" overland parts to the mid-size Honda platform (like real rock sliders, high clearance lower control arms, and other useful overlanding accessories). I'm also able to give my YouTube viewers and Instagram followers (and anyone else that gets a hold of my code) a 20% discount. Use code "JONDZ20". Disclaimer: I make a small profit when you use my code. This will go into supporting my YouTube channel, this website, and my vehicle build. It also helps buy camera gear, and gives me freedom to purchase camping and trail gear for me to review for you all. Thanks! I appreciate the support.
Watch this video to learn more about the Traxda 3.5 inch lift kit.