Two similar yet surprisingly different family crossovers go head to head.
The good news is that the family crossover market is stacked with choices. The bad news is that with so many choices, it can be time-consuming and frustrating to pick through those choices and figure out the differences. The good news here with a comparison between the reborn Honda Passport and the old-faithful Honda Pilot, as there are some big model differences that could make the choice for you.
For example, the Pilot has three rows of seats, so it can seat more than five people. However, if cargo space is a big deal for your smaller family, you might be better off with the Passport. There's a lot to consider, so let's take a deeper dive because bigger isn't always better, and for 2023, there's a new Pilot generation in town.
For reference, in the photos below, the blue, red, and silver vehicles are the Pilot, and the grey is the Passport. In comparison images, the Pilot is first.
Both the Passport and Pilot crossovers share the same underlying platform. Both crossovers use a trusted V6 engine layout, but the Pilot makes use of a new DOHC design - the first since the first-gen Acura NSX - and both use different transmissions. However, both are still closely related, and reliability should be equal.
Inside, the Pilot has three rows of seating with configurations for seven or eight people, while the Passport is a five-seater. The Passport is an old Honda name but a new model revived with Honda pitching it as a more adventure-biased vehicle with some off-road chops compared to the family hauler status of the Pilot. However, the reality is that you need to get an adventure trim for the Passport to unlock all of its soft-roading goodness. However, Honda now offers a TrailSport trim for the Pilot with all-terrain tires, just like the Passport.
The Passport has just three trims available. EX-L is the base trim and comes well stacked at $41,100 with all-wheel-drive and luxuries like heated front seats and a moonroof. The Pilot starts at $33,950 for 2023 with the front-wheel-drive LX trim, which rides on 18-inch alloy wheels and comes with tri-zone automatic climate control inside. All-wheel-drive is available through the Pilot's more extensive range of trims, topping out with the fully-loaded Elite trim at $52,030. The Passport also tops out with an Elite trim but at a price of $45,930. The Passport's TrailSport comes in at $43,600, while the Pilot TrailSport comes in at $48,350.
The Pilot has grown to become 199.9 inches long compared to the Passport's 190.5 inches. The Passport comes in at 78.6 inches in width, which is a negligible difference from the Pilot's 78.5 inches. There is a change in track (width between the wheels), though, for TrailSport models. The Passport has a track width of 66.7 inches as standard and 67.1 inches for the TrailSport version. The Pilot has a standard track of 67.5/67.8 inches front/rear but shrinks a tiny bit in TrailSport form to 67.2/67.4 inches.
Side by side, the Pilot is 71 inches tall except in TrailSport guise, where it gains an inch due to a change in ride height. The Passport is 71.6 inches and rises to 72.2 inches in TrailSport trim.
It's no surprise that the inside of both vehicles is identical in places and similar in the rest, but there are changes owing to the two- and three-row configurations.
The Passport immediately offers more cargo space, with no third row vying for space. Upfront, there's plenty of elbow and headroom, and the rear offers the same and an adult-sized 39.6 inches of legroom. For 2023, the Pilot has grown and now offers 40.8 inches of legroom for middle-row passengers. However, the interior starts to differentiate drastically from the Passport here.
As well as the third row of seating, the Pilot has what Honda describes as a "multi-function removable middle seat" and allows for three seating configurations. Well, according to Honda, anyway. Taking the seat out allows easy passthrough for the third row, but it can also be put down to create more comfortable chairs for the two passengers with extra cupholders, or it can be left in as a traditional bench seat.
The Passport provides a wealth of room for loading up a weekend or week's gear for a road trip with 41.2 cubic feet of space on offer. Behind the Pilot's third row, just 22.42 cubic feet are available, but with the third row folded down, that expands to 60.1 cubic feet to use. However, it has another trick up its sleeve. Under the removable floor panel is another three cubic feet of storage space. With the floor removed, there's an extra 5.5 inches of storage depth to the Pilot's cargo area at its deepest point.
Both SUVs feature a 3.5-liter Honda V6, but they are not the same. The Passport uses a VTEC motor that makes 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. The new Pilot comes with a newly-designed version of the engine that ditches VTEC in favor of a dual-overhead cam configuration and gains an extra 5 hp - totaling 285 hp and 262 lb-ft. It's the first time such a configuration has been employed by Honda since the original Acura NSX. This motor is paired with Honda's second-generation torque vectoring system and a ten-speed transmission.
The older engine on the Passport comes with a nine-speed transmission and comes together to make 20/25/22 mpg city/highway/combined. The Pilot's fuel economy figures come in at 19/27/22 mpg in front-wheel-drive guise and 19/25/21 mpg. TrailSport editions are a little less efficient. Both models have a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds.
The Passport comes with an eight-inch touchscreen display across the trim lineup, but the Pilot gets a mixed bag, starting with a seven-inch screen on base models and a nine-inch one on the rest, while the top-spec Elite trim adds a 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard in both SUVs, and there's a wealth of options going up the trims. The Passport gets a 215-watt, seven-speaker audio system in the main trims and a 12-speaker Bose sound system in the Elite. The Pilot gets its Bose system in the Touring and Elite models, but frankly, we've yet to meet a Bose system we enjoy.
Both SUVs are on point if you're looking to go a little upmarket. For a larger family or when factoring school runs or activities with extra kids on board, the Pilot is king thanks to its extra row of seating. For a family with two or three kids, the Passport has a ton of room and a copious amount of cargo space.
We wouldn't sweat the fact the Pilot has a newer engine and transmission as gas mileage is still better for the Passport, likely due to its lesser weight, and we stand by the V6 and nine-speed transmission as a smooth and reliable pairing. The Pilot has grown in length and separated itself from the Passport a little more, so the choice should be easier. It boils down to whether you need the third row and how much luxury you want if you've got the money to go up the Pilot trim levels.
Join The Discussion