2021 Honda Passport

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
March 4, 2021

Buying tip

The Passport isn’t much larger than a CR-V; if fuel economy’s a bigger concern, that smaller crossover now comes as a hybrid.

features & specs

Elite AWD
19 city / 24 hwy
20 city / 25 hwy
19 city / 24 hwy

The 2021 Honda Passport stamps its own personality from Pilot running gear, with a slight tilt in the off-road direction.

The 2021 Honda Passport punches a ticket for drivers who think the three-row Pilot’s for big families and the smaller CR-V’s for couch potatoes.

With the Passport, Honda trims the Pilot’s fat and delivers a five-seat, two-row crossover SUV that’s not quite hardcore, but picks up its off-road game to square off against cars like the Subaru Outback and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Familiar, solid, smooth, and spacious, the 2021 Pilot gets a TCC Rating of 6.2. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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The Passport begins life as a Pilot, minus six inches of body. It grows a distinctive roofline, a blacked-out chin, and tougher body cladding, but the cabin’s nearly the same. It’s not so adventurous as a Bronco or Wrangler, but the big 20-inch wheels and roof rails send some of the same outdoorsy signals.

The Passport’s 280-horsepower V-6 comes from the Pilot, too, and its rippling and muscular sound and acceleration filter through a 9-speed automatic that gets indecisive at times, unsure of whether to upshift for better gas mileage or downshift for the gentle highway grade ahead. The Passport’s better at muting that road and tackling gentle curves with a well-damped ride; it’ll clamber over Moab’s red rocks without too much agita, but it’s happier getting to the trailhead than it is picking its way over the trail. 

Honda grants Pilot-like space to five people in the Passport; rear seats and rear-seat space are especially good, as is storage inside the Passport’s center console. The front seats could use more shape, but the expansive cargo hold maxes out around 78 cubic feet; if you can fill it for a weekend jaunt, you’re probably on the tiny-house vector and just don’t know it yet.

Both the IIHS and NHTSA say good things about the Passport’s crash safety, and automatic emergency braking comes on each version. The Passport Sport comes with an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, while the EX-L gets leather and blind-spot monitors. It’s our pick of the Passport line, the way we’d choose to sail through customs, all for about $38,000.


2021 Honda Passport


The Passport’s not just a chopped-down Pilot.

With a meaner grille and a stubby tail, the 2021 Passport doesn’t look identical to the long, tapered three-row Pilot. It’s comely, but not a ground-breaker. We give it a 5 for styling.

At about 190 inches from nose to tail, the Passport’s big for its mission, and Honda pulls some styling tricks out of its toolbox to make it look shorter and different than the Pilot. The front end has an unpainted chin that reads like three-day beard growth. From the side the Pilot family resemblance is unmistakable, but the Passport cuts its own outline with a thick slash at the tail that connects the roof and fenders. Add on the roof rack that comes with all but the Sport edition, and the Passport picks up chunky, all-terrain style without resorting to SUV clichés.

The interior of the Passport hardly changes from that in the Pilot. It’s fine: it’s a well-organized work space with a low, open feel, and a wide and deep center console. A lot of dark and black trim could use some relief, though, and the Passport’s dinky 5.0-inch audio display can’t hold a lumen to the standard 8.0-inch screens found in cheaper rivals—or in the Passport EX-L, for that matter.

Review continues below

2021 Honda Passport


The Passport doesn’t have hardcore off-road hardware, but it’s talented enough.

The Passport’s the most adventurous vehicle in its family, which includes the Pilot, the Ridgeline truck, and the Odyssey minivan. That translates into an easy-to-use vehicle without complicated off-road systems that it might never or rarely use. Leave that to the Broncos and 4Runners of the world; the Passport just wants to shuttle you to the nearly wild.

We give it a 6 for performance, with a point above average for its ride.

The Passport borrows the 280-hp 3.5-liter V-6 from its kin, and their 9-speed automatic, too. The engine’s energetic and sounds great, but the 9-speed falls shy in places. Its pushbutton gear selector takes up console space, and the transmission itself hesitates frequently in lower gears when it’s trying to decide which to choose next. The Odyssey’s 10-speed automatic might be the fix.

The Passport’s sound deadening and light steering gobble up miles on interstates with casual indifference. When the pace quickens, it leans into corners and reminds you it’s only distantly related to the Civic Type R. It’s a bulky crossover and its handling’s better suited to broad curves, not hairpins.

With all-wheel drive on the options list, the Passport lets drivers choose their adventure, but the big, low-sidewall 20-inch wheels and tires wouldn’t be our first choice for picking through rocky trails. We drove the Passport in Moab and it performed well nonetheless, without too much jostling. Drive modes—Sand, Snow, Mud, and Normal—alter the Passport’s traction, throttle, and shift patterns, but the Passport has no low-range transfer case, so the truly thrilling off-road adventures will require something else from the garage, despite the Passport’s 8.1 inch ground clearance (on all-wheel-drive versions).

The Passport can tow, though: up to 3,500 pounds in front-wheel-drive versions, up to 5,000 pounds with all-wheel drive. 

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2021 Honda Passport

Comfort & Quality

Space is another frontier the Passport conquers.

The Passport was spawned from the Honda Pilot, so interior room and cargo space aren’t a problem. We give it an 8, with points for five-passenger seating, good rear seats, and a vast cargo hold.

The two-row Passport’s six inches shorter than the three-row Pilot. Both could use better cushioning; the flat front seats demand you stretch every hour or so, but they’re power-adjustable and covered in leather on most versions (Sport editions have manual seats and cloth covering). Outward vision is fine, and so are leg and head room.

Back-seat riders have it better, though. Wide rear doors, a broad cabin, and a well-shaped bench seat with 39.6 inches of leg room mean the Passport can tote up to three adults in back.

With about 41 cubic feet of cargo space the Passport writes its own ticket to adventure. Fold the seats down and nearly 78 cubic feet of space means you can bring the tent, the folding chairs, the bonfire material, everything. The hidden storage bin under the floor can hold wet gear from a day of river tubing, though the tub’s not so easy to clean.

Honda wraps the front-seat areas in better materials than it does in the back, where hard plastics rule. It’s a step down from the stuff you’ll find in, say, a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

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2021 Honda Passport


The Passport earns mostly top crash-test scores.

With good scores from the NHTSA and the IIHS, the Passport merits an 8 for safety.

The NHTSA says it’s worth a five-star overall rating, though frontal-impact protection gets an individual four-star score. The IIHS calls its standard automatic emergency braking “Superior” and gives it “Good” scores in crash tests, save for the passenger-side small-overlap test, where it’s rated “Acceptable.” It doesn't win a Top Safety Pick award, though.

Every Passport also gets adaptive cruise control and active lane control. The EX-L and above add on blind-spot monitors. It's also blessed with good outward vision.


2021 Honda Passport


The base Passport comes better equipped this year.

The base Honda Passport upgrades its in-car technology that gives it a point above average for a 6. 

Honda sells the Passport in Sport, EX-L, Touring, and Elite versions. With front-wheel drive, the base Passport Sport costs in the mid-$30,000s, and has cloth upholstery, 20-inch wheels, keyless start, two USB ports, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility upgraded from last year's dinky 5.0-inch audio display. 

The EX-L gains a sunroof, a power liftgate, more sound deadening, power-adjustable and heated front seats, roof rails, and leather upholstery. It’s how we’d stamp our book, but costs about $4,000 more. All-wheel drive costs $2,000 on any Passport where it’s not standard, which means the Elite.

Passport Elite crossovers come with cooled front seats, heated front and rear seats, wireless smartphone charging, and navigation. With a price in the mid-$40,000s, this Passport’s a first-class ticket, and a pricey one.

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2021 Honda Passport

Fuel Economy

The 2021 Passport could improve on gas mileage.

The front-drive Honda Passport earns an EPA rating of 20 mpg city, 25 highway, 22 combined. We give it 4. Even with all-wheel drive, it doesn’t sink too far: 19/24/21 mpg. 

The problem is, most of its rivals earn higher ratings. Nissan’s Murano gets 23 mpg combined; the Ford Edge is pegged at up to 24 mpg combined. You’d have to look at a vehicle like the Toyota 4Runner to see numbers significantly worse—in this case, 17 mpg combined.

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Styling 5
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