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 6.0, dragged down somewhat by sparse features on the base Sport.
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 makes do with a small 5.0-inch audio and rearview-camera display, while the EX-L gets leather, blind-spot monitors, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. It’s our pick of the Passport line, the way we’d choose to sail through customs, all for about $38,000.