The 2021 Honda Passport is based on the Pilot midsize 3-row SUV/crossover. Size-wise, it fits between the Pilot and the compact CR-V, which is quite a clever strategy. The Passport is the answer to the 35,000 or so Honda owners defecting each year to buy something like the Ford Edge, Hyundai Santa Fe or Nissan Murano.
Shorter than the Pilot by just over six inches, the Passport is also wider and taller. The resulting higher ground clearance and superior approach and departure angles mean the Passport has greater off-road abilities than its 3-row sibling.
The Passport is for people seeking more space and capability than the CR-V, yet neither need nor want a third-row seat. The Pilot is mainly for families, yet the Passport can also appeal to weekend adventurers.
What’s New for 2021?
The only updates this year apply to the infotainment setup. Honda’s Display Audio system comes as standard at the entry-level, with an 8-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration. See the 2021 Honda Passport models for sale near you
What We Like
- Generous passenger and cargo space
- Honda Sensing driver aid standard throughout
- Impressive off-road capability with all-wheel drive
- Clever storage spaces
What We Don’t
- Ride quality slightly less smooth than the Pilot
- Push/pull gear selection buttons
All-wheel drive (AWD) is standard in the Elite, optional elsewhere. The same i-VTM4 AWD system is in the Pilot and the Ridgeline.
With the optional towing package, all-wheel-drive Passports can tow up to 5,000 pounds.
In either case, the transmission is a 9-speed automatic.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Passport is estimated to achieve 20 miles per gallon in the city, 25 mpg on the highway, and 22 mpg in combined driving (FWD) or 19 mpg city/24 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined (AWD).
Even without that third-row seat, the shorter Passport is only about 100 pounds lighter than the Pilot. Comparing Passport and Pilot variants with the same transmission, the Pilot delivers a slightly better fuel economy (FWD: 20 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined; AWD: 19 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined). Honda’s engineers attribute the difference to the Passport’s higher ride height and wider tires.
Standard Features and Options
The 2021 Honda Passport comes in Sport, EX-L, Touring, and Elite trim levels.
Where it’s optional, all-wheel drive is $2,000. Otherwise, extras are few. The main method of obtaining more features is to buy a higher trim. All prices include a $1,120 delivery charge.
The entry-level Sport ($33,710) comes standard with 20-in alloy wheels, Honda Sensing driver aids (see the Safety section below), active noise cancellation, hill-start assist, multi-angle rearview camera with guidelines, six airbags, automatic on/off LED headlights (low beams) with automatic high beams, LED brake lights, LED fog lights, full power accessories, keyless entry/ignition, remote start, tri-zone automatic climate control, under-floor cargo storage, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, 8-in color infotainment touchscreen, USB port, auxiliary audio input, two 12-volt outlets, and a 7-speaker/152-watt audio system.
The hot-selling EX-L ($37,730) adds heated side mirrors with LED turn signals, acoustic windshield glass, powered moonroof, powered liftgate, self-dimming rearview mirror, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather seating surfaces, heated/10-way power-adjustable front seats (10-way with lumber for the driver’s side, 4-way for the passenger seat), drivers-side memory settings for seat and side mirror, integrated rear sunshades, remote garage door opener, Walk Away Auto Lock, satellite/HD radio, Honda Link smartphone connectivity, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
Touring ($40,600) brings acoustic glass for the front and rear doors, full LED headlights, hands-free lift gate operation, roof rails, front/rear parking sensors, power-folding side mirrors, heated rear seats, 115-volt power outlet, navigation, and an upgraded 10-speaker/550-watt audio system.
Elite ($45,100) adds all-wheel drive, rain-sensing wipers, self-dimming side mirrors, heated steering wheel, wireless phone charging, and heated/ventilated front seats covered with perforated leather.
Every Passport comes with the usual safety technologies such as vehicle stability control, brake assist and traction control.
Honda Sensing is standard across the board. It includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking system, lane-keeping assistance, lane departure warning with road-departure mitigation, and adaptive cruise control.
LED daytime running lights are also standard, along with a rearview camera, six airbags, automatic high beams and a LATCH child-seat system. Blind spot monitoring comes in at the EX-L level.
In crash testing performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Passport earned a maximum 5-star overall rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) made the Passport a Top Safety Pick after taking top scores in most categories, except for the passenger-side small overlap front crash test, where it received an Acceptable rating. The basic headlights and LATCH child seat anchors were also deemed Average.
Behind the Wheel
The Passport’s only ergonomic mess-up is shifting between Park, Drive and Reverse requires pushing or pulling buttons on the center console. Even a rotary shifter is less confusing and requires less time to operate.
Otherwise, there isn’t much to complain about. Although the ride quality is not quite as smooth as the Pilot’s (those 20-in wheels deserve some of the blame for that), the Passport’s driving experience is quiet, the seats are comfortable and there’s enough room to stretch out.
Off-road, the Passport is surprisingly capable for a car-based crossover. No, make that downright impressive. It’s not engineered for severe, boulder-strewn trails — it has neither skid plates nor 4-low gearing — but it performs brilliantly in mud, sand and snow, and even over rocky outcroppings.
Luggage space behind the rear seats measures 41.2 cubic feet. When they’re folded down, maximum cargo space is 77.9 cubic feet.
Other Cars to Consider
2021 Nissan Murano — An upscale people mover targeting couples and empty-nesters. It’s roomy and offers a lot of technology.
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe — Priced keenly, and with a comprehensive list of safety features and driver aids.
2021 Ford Edge — The regular versions aren’t particularly tempting compared with the Passport. But some might like the high-performance 335-hp ST model.
Used Land Rover Discovery — The Land Rover Discovery is a premium midsize SUV with outstanding off-road ability and a roomy, luxurious interior. A used Discovery can be found with pricing similar to a new Passport. Check out Land Rover’s certified pre-owned (CPO) program. However, a Honda will always be more reliable than a Land Rover.
Questions You May Ask
Can the 2021 Honda Passport go off-road?
The Honda Passport doesn’t have the traditional body-on-frame ruggedness and high/low transfer case to compete with serious SUVs like the Jeep Wrangler. However, its Intelligent Traction Management system, short approach and departure angles, and 8.1 inches of ground clearance (all-wheel-drive versions) enables it to tackle modest off-road challenges with ease.
What’s the warranty on the 2021 Honda Passport?
Like all Honda cars and SUVs, the 2021 Passport has a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Is the 2021 Honda Passport reliable?
It’s only been out for two years, but the Passport looks fairly trouble-free so far. It’s based on the larger Honda Pilot, which has an excellent reputation for reliability and strong resale values. We expect the Passport to do the same.
There’s a reason why the EX-L is a big seller. It comes with the right amount of equipment. Power-adjustable front seats, powered lift gate, blind spot monitoring and the leather-wrapped steering wheel would be sorely missed if someone decided to only go for the lower Sport trim. Find a Honda Passport for sale