If you’re on the fence between a Passport and the Pilot, I don’t blame you. I’ve done the research on both of these SUVs, and I’ll tell you right now, it was a close one.
In this piece, I’ll do a close-up comparison of the two. There are 12 categories that we’ll take a look at. In the end, we’ll declare a winner once and for all.
Introducing the Passport and Pilot
The Passport and Pilot are both SUVs sold by Honda. They are among the most popular SUVs on the roads today, alongside Honda’s other SUV, the CR-V.
You’ll learn more about both vehicles in a moment, but as of right now let’s say this: These are exceptional SUVs for the price. You get a lot. Their size is similar and the functionality is almost identical between the two.
This led a lot of people to question which option was better. After all, they have so much in common.
The Sub-Models Being Compared
To make sure everything is apples-to-apples, I’ll compare the ’21 Honda Passport Sport and the ’21 Honda Pilot LX. The price for these two is within $200 so I’d call that pretty comparable.
Honda Passport vs Pilot: Full Comparison and Reviews
Let’s take a closer look at these two SUVs and give you a full comparison. I’ll be looking at factors that a lot of people use to make their decision: things like price, safety, and seating, to name a few. In each match-up, I’ll try to declare a winner. In the end, I’ll give my final verdict.
A trim level makes sure the buyer gets what they’re looking for. Your budget will often decide which trim you go with because they get more expensive as they get fancier.
Passport: The Passport comes in four trim levels: Sport, EX-L, Touring, and Elite. They all have the same powertrain, but there are plenty of features differentiating the four.
Pilot: The Pilot has seven available trims: LX, EX, EX-L, Special Edition, Touring, Elite, and Black Edition. It also has the same powertrain across the board.
Winner: Pilot. The sheer number of trims means you can find exactly what you’re looking for.
One of the biggest factors for a lot of buyers is the final price. A car can be otherwise perfect, but if it’s too expensive, I won’t even consider it. The good news is that both of these are pretty fairly priced for what you get.
Passport: The Passport’s MSRP ranges from $34,000 to $45,400 depending on the trim. There are optional add-ons that raise that price even higher.
Pilot: Depending on the trim, the Pilot ranges from $33,700 to $40,400. It also has add-ons that can inflate the price.
Winner: Pilot. The Pilot costs less but the range is about the same overall.
After publishing the article about the safety of Subaru vs Volvos, a lot of readers have reached out. People really care about safety when it comes to purchasing a car.
In this match-up, the safety comparison is identical. Let’s take a look at their ratings from NHTSA which is one of the two major organizations that puts the cars through a series of tests.
Passport: 5/5 overall safety rating and 6 registered safety complaints.
Pilot: 5/5 overall safety rating, 9 registered safety complaints, and three minor recalls. The recalls had to do with the rearview camera, instrument panel, and tire carcass.
Winner: Tie. Though there are more complaints and recalls on the Pilot, a 5/5 overall safety rating outweighs any of these minor problems.
Smaller cars are usually synonymous with being easier to park, maneuverability, and the ability to squeeze into a garage spot. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but massive SUVs are typically massive. It takes up a lot of space to fit so many people. You’ll notice that the outside dimensions of both of these SUVs are just about identical.
Passport: 191″ L x 79″ W x 72″ H
Pilot: 197″ L x 79″ W x 71″ H
Winner: Passport. It’s a close one, but the shorter length of 6 inches is enough to call it.
There’s not much Utility in the SUV if it’s a two-seater. The image of a 2-seater SUV just made us laugh. Anyway, let’s talk about the seating in both of these options.
Passport: 5 passengers.
Pilot: 7-8 passengers. There is an option for a bench seat in the second row, hence the range of one extra passenger.
Winner: Pilot. More seats, more fun.
If you’re getting an SUV, you definitely want some extra cargo space. This is all the area where you can put groceries, equipment, and your least favorite kid.
In this case, cargo space is the room in the trunk before you hit the back row of seats.
Passport: Every Passport comes with 41.2 cubic feet of space in the trunk. If you fold down the rear seats, you achieve 100.7 cubic feet.
Pilot: A pilot comes standard with 16 cubic feet of space. If you fold down the third and second row of seats, you have 108.5 cubic feet. Folding down just the third row gives you 46.8 cubic feet.
Winner: Tie. If you’re looking at the 2-seat and 5-seat equivalent space, it’s a tie. The Pilot looks like it has less space, but there’s another row of seats back there.
Another benefit of SUVs is that they have pretty good towing capacities. This is especially true when you compare them to a standard sedan.
This makes it easier to haul things like jet skis, boats, or trailers filled with equipment.
Passport: 5,000 lbs
Pilot: 3,500 lbs
Winner: Passport. The Pilot loses some towing power thanks to the additional 3 seats in the rear.
U.S. News Scores
There’s a company that goes through and ranks almost every car on the American market. They look at things like critics’ reviews, interior, exterior, performance, reliability, and safety. After compiling all these numbers, they arrive at a single, “overall score” value out of 10.
They are generally very unbiased with their reviews. In this match-up, the reviews are too close to call.
A lot of the features are shared between these two SUVs. It’s not a huge surprise since they’re both made by Honda, and they’re both targeting the same crowd.
If you go down a list of features of these cars, they look nearly identical. The only difference would be remote engine start, heating mirrors, and Apple Car Play compatibility in the Passport that the Pilot doesn’t offer.
Still, I don’t believe there’s too much of a difference to declare a winner.
Unless you have a strange fascination with collecting SUVs, you’ll probably be using the Pilot or Passport as a daily driver. Like any other daily driver, you’ll want to keep your gas costs low.
This is where fuel economy comes into play.
Since the weight and engine are about the same between each SUV, you should expect the fuel economy to be about the same. Well, that’s the case.
Passport: 20/27mpg FWD, 19/26mpg AWD
Pilot: 20/25mpg FWD, 19/24mpg AWD
Winner: Passport. Technically, you’re only seeing a combined mpg difference of 1. Still, the Passport takes the crown on paper.
I should probably break the news to you guys now. The Pilot and Passport have the exact same engine under the hood. It’s Honda’s 3.5L V6. It produces 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque.
Both vehicles also share a 0-60 time, a surprising 6.2-second record. More than two seconds faster than a standard Honda Civic and a full second faster than the sportier Accord.
This is great news for getting to your kid’s practice on time. Since these SUVs differ by about 200 pounds altogether, the performance is identical.
Despite all the other considerations, body styling is always a huge deal. If it turns out the Smart Car was actually the best vehicle in the world, I predict the sales wouldn’t change thanks to how awful the styling is.
Passport: Standard 20-inch wheels, LED fog lights, and lines across the body make this vehicle look attractive. It has a lot of trim and details on its base model that you don’t find in the Pilot. It looks meaner and more rugged, in a good way.
Pilot: The Pilot is an attractive SUV as well. The only difference is that the styling is a little bland for us. It can easily blend into traffic on the highway without any features that make it pop. If anything, it’s a more universally understood style.
Winner: Passport. The designers seem to have taken some bigger swings on the design, and I can appreciate that. It looks great at any angle.
Final Verdict: Passport vs. Pilot
The time has come: it’s time to make a final decision. Which Honda SUV is better, the Pilot or the Passport?
According to the match-ups in this article, the Passport won 4 times, the Pilot won 3 times, and there was a tie 5 times.
That tells us that, in general, both SUVs are great options. When you compare them, you’ll find more similarities than differences in the 12 categories to consider.
If you want more seats at a lower price and a wider range of trim levels, the Pilot is right for you.
For a better body style, slightly better fuel economy, a larger towing capacity, and a smaller overall size pick the Passport.
If you’re on the fence and these differentiating factors don’t really matter to you, just flip a coin. You can’t go wrong with either of these great SUVs from the ultra-reliable, Japanese-based Honda.
We took a close look at the Honda Passport and Pilot. I compared them in 12 different categories and explained my rationale behind every decision. If you want to see more car match-ups, explore the rest of this blog. Be sure to pick up the tools and accessories your car needs.