- The Honda Passport is related to the three-row Pilot.
- The Hyundai Santa Fe was updated for 2021.
2021 Honda Passport
Base Price: $33,710 / Read our 2021 Honda Passport Review
What we like: Muscular V6 engine; decent off-road capability; Honda reliability and resale value
What we would change: Just-average fuel economy; upgrade the interior; switch to a conventional shift lever
Overview: The Honda created the two-row Passport in 2019 by snipping six inches off the tail of the three-row Pilot and removing the third-row seat. The Passport also received mildly ruggedized styling but uses the same powertrain as its larger sibling. That is a 3.5-liter V6, which delivers a stout 280 horsepower and can tow up to 5,000 pounds. It’s paired with a 9-speed automatic that unfortunately is shifted via a fussy assemblage of buttons. The V6 is smooth and powerful but not so economical: EPA combined estimates are 22 mpg with FWD and 21 mpg with AWD. AWD models have extra ground clearance to give them an edge off-road, while on pavement, the Passport is quiet and composed though not at all sporty. The Passport’s cargo hold is among the biggest of its peers, and the interior is roomy for five, although the design is drab.
What’s new for 2021: The base Sport now gets the same display audio system as the rest of the lineup. It features an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto but lacks a tuning knob.
Features and technology: The Passport is available in Sport, EX-L, Touring, and Elite trim levels. The Elite comes standard with AWD, which is a $2,000 option elsewhere. Standard active-safety features include forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. EX-L and higher trims also get blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. It’s worth moving up to the EX-L also because it adds leather, heated seats, and a power liftgate. The Touring brings navigation, heated rear seats, roof rails, parking sensors, and premium audio. The Elite gets ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and wireless charging.
What does the future hold: We expect the Passport soon will adopt a version of the front-end styling that just debuted on the facelifted Ridgeline pickup. See 2021 Honda Passport models for sale near you
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe
Base Price: $28,035 / Read our 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Review
What we like: Loads of tech features; attractive pricing; choice of three powertrains including a fuel-efficient hybrid
What we would change: An off-road-themed variant would expand the Santa Fe’s appeal as would a sporty version; ditch the pushbutton gear selector
Overview: Already a strong contender, the freshened 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe boasts more features, better fuel economy, and two new standard engines plus a gas-electric hybrid. Powering the base SE and the SEL is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with 191 hp and an 8-speed automatic. EPA estimates are 26 mpg with FWD and 24 mpg with AWD. Limited and Caligraphy models get a 2.5-liter turbo that makes 277 hp and pairs with an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic. With FWD the turbo’s combined fuel economy is just 1 mpg lower than the base engine, while the AWD turbo is the same as the AWD base engine. The turbo’s max towing capacity is 3,500 pounds versus 2,000 for the base engine. The hybrid (offered in SE and SEL form) combines a 1.6-liter turbo, an electric motor, a 6-speed automatic transmission, and standard AWD. It puts out 225 horsepower while delivering 39 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. The Santa Fe is strictly a 5-seater, but there’s lots of room for people and cargo. The interior has been upgraded for 2021 — particularly in the luxurious new Caligraphy versions.
What’s new for 2021: The Santa Fe has been treated to an extensive makeover for 2021, with new engines, additional tech features, an enhanced interior, revised exterior styling, and a new top trim level.
Features and technology: The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe is offered in SE, SEL, Limited, and Caligraphy trims. Forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability are standard even on the base model. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert arrive with the SEL trim level. An 8-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is standard on the SE and SEL, with a 10.25-inch unit optional on the SEL and included on higher grades (although the larger system has only wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto). A digital instrument cluster, smartphone-as-key, leather, and Hyundai’s impressive Highway Driving Assist automated lane-centering feature are optional on the SEL and standard on the Limited and higher, which also get Hyundai’s neat blind-spot view monitor and remote parking assist. The top-drawer Caligraphy comes standard with AWD as well as Nappa leather stitched in a quilted pattern.
What does the future hold: The Santa Fe was just freshened for 2021, so Hyundai is likely to stand pat for a while. See 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe models for sale near you
Passport vs. Santa Fe: Strengths comparison
Passport Benefits: Standard V6; 5,000 pounds max towing; impressive reliability; better-than-average off-road capability
Santa Fe Benefits: Attractive pricing; tech features; available hybrid; great warranty and 3-years free scheduled maintenance
2021 Honda Passport vs. 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe: Which is better?
The Honda Passport and the Hyundai Santa Fe are two top choices in the segment. Those who intend to tow a heavy trailer or venture off-pavement will prefer the Honda. Otherwise, the Hyundai holds sway with its significantly lower pricing, greater feature content, and multiple powertrain offerings. See 2021 Honda Passport models for sale or See 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe models for sale
|2021 Honda Passport||2021 Hyundai Santa Fe|
|Engine||3.5-liter V6||2.5-liter I4|
|Horsepower||280 hp @ 6,000 rpm||191 hp @ 6,100 rpm|
|Torque||262 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm||182 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm|
|Transmission||9-spd automatic||8-spd automatic|
|Fuel Economy||22 mpg (20 city/25 hwy)||25 mpg (22 city/29 hwy)|
|Also Available||AWD||2.5-liter turbo I4; hybrid; AWD|
|Basic Warranty||3 years/36,000 miles||5 years/60,000 miles|
|Powertrain Warranty||5 years/60,000 miles||10 years/100,000 miles|
|NHTSA Overall Safety||5 stars||n/a|
|Max Seating Capacity||5||5|
|Wheelbase||111.0 inches||108.9 inches|
|Overall Length||190.5 inches||188.4 inches|
|Width||78.6 inches||74.8 inches|
|Height||71.6 inches||66.3 inches|
|Turning Diameter||39.5 feet||37.5 feet|
|Headroom, Front||40.1 inches||41.2 inches|
|Headroom, Rear||40.1 inches||39.0 inches|
|Legroom, Front||40.9 inches||44.1 inches|
|Legroom, Rear||39.6 inches||41.7 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Front||62.0 inches||59.1 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Rear||61.9 inches||58.3 inches|
|EPA Passenger Volume||115.9 cubic feet||n/a|
|EPA Cargo Volume||41.2/77.9 cubic feet||36.4/72.1 cubic feet|