Honda Pilot vs. Honda Passport: Compare Crossover SUVs

With two crossover SUVs in the mid-size and large segment, Honda has tried to capture drivers that might be steered toward the likes of a Ford Explorer or Toyota Highlander. But there’s a dividing line between the brand’s own offerings, and the choice is up to you: will it be the three-row, eight-seat 2023 Honda Pilot that emerged this year after a thorough revamp, or the older, five-seat 2023 Honda Passport, due for a renovation of its own?

Each of these crossovers has its high points, and each has some room for improvement. In the end, one scores a resounding win, for the reasons you might expect: technology, safety, and space. Here’s how we rank them, and what to consider if you’re shopping Pilot vs. Passport.

2023 Honda Passport

2023 Honda Passport

Honda Pilot vs. Passport price and trims

  • Base Passport costs just over $42,000

  • Base Pilot costs well below $40,000

  • Best picks: Honda Passport EX-L, Honda Pilot EX-L

Which Honda Passport should I buy?

It’s tough to see the Passport as a bargain when it’s compared with the Pilot. The base Passport EX-L costs $42,445—it’s high because Honda eliminated front-drive and lower-priced models from the Passport lineup in this, its last year in its current iteration. 

The EX-L does come with a lot of equipment, including AWD, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, wireless smartphone charging, heated front seats, leather upholstery, and a power tailgate. At the $47,905 Passport Elite level, Honda fits heated rear seats, cooled front seats, a hands-free tailgate, and a higher-grade sound system. The warranty covers it for 3 years/36,000 miles.

Which Honda Pilot should I buy?

For $37,295, the entry-level 2023 Honda Pilot comes with eight seats, four USB ports, power features, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Android and Apple smartphone compatibility. 

We’d skip that Pilot LX and move at least into the $40,495 Sport, which gains heated front seats with power adjustment—but most drivers opt for the $43,295 Pilot EX-L. It has leather upholstery, wireless smartphone charging, a 9.0-inch touchscreen, a power tailgate, and for $300, swaps its middle bench seat for captain’s chairs. An off-road $49,695 TrailSport edition gets off-road gear and a panoramic sunroof; the $53,375 Pilot Elite has navigation, 20-inch wheels, a removable second-row middle seat, and 12-speaker Bose audio as well as a 10.2-inch digital instrument display, a surround-view camera system, and a head-up display. 

Advantage: The Pilot costs less, though it’s newer and larger. 

2023 Honda Pilot

2023 Honda Pilot

2023 Honda Pilot

2023 Honda Pilot

2023 Honda Pilot

2023 Honda Pilot

2023 Honda Pilot

2023 Honda Pilot

Passport vs. Pilot interior and exterior design

  • The Pilot’s a bit of a throwback

  • The Passport looks dated now

  • Both have modest interiors

Is the Honda Passport a good-looking SUV?

It wears a dated look that’s clearly a shorter version of the last-generation Pilot—which is what it is. It may be familiar but it’s tidy and manages to shrink the vehicle to the eyes though it’s still about 190 inches long. Most of the changes made to distinguish the Passport come at its back, which is bobtailed to make it shorter than and distinct from the bigger Honda SUV. It also wears a Passport-specific grille, and TrailSport editions get their own bumpers, grille, and wheels.

Inside, the Passport has a functionally fine layout that’s dressed in dark plastics and leather on some versions. It has a wide center console with great small-item storage, a saddle-style set of transmission toggle switches, and a central touchscreen flanked by big air vents. 

Is the 2023 Honda Pilot a good-looking car?

It’s a big improvement on the former Pilot and the Passport. Longer and wider, the Pilot has a honeycomb grille and wedgy, thin LED headlights supported by C-shaped air intakes. The grille blends into beefy fenders that lead to an upturned pair of pillars at the rear that mimic the look once worn by the first Honda Passport, which was a clone of the Isuzu Rodeo. The taillights carve into a tailgate embossed with big letters for the car’s name, in Honda’s latest style.

The Pilot interior takes a clean approach to design. Base models have a 7.0-inch touchscreen that stands atop the dash’s slim band of vents, but upper models adopt a 9.0-inch touchscreen. Honda sprinkles buttons and knobs where they’re needed, reversing its trend to bury controls inside touchscreen commands or in rocker switches and swipe controls. Pockets for smartphones, a wireless charging pad, and twin-needle stitching dress up various versions. At first glance it doesn’t seem so different from the previous version—but it’s all been streamlined into a clearer human-machine interface.

Advantage: The Pilot, thanks to its blend of past and present.

2022 Honda Passport TrailSport

2022 Honda Passport TrailSport

2022 Honda Passport TrailSport

2022 Honda Passport TrailSport

2022 Honda Passport Trailsport

2022 Honda Passport Trailsport

2022 Honda Passport TrailSport

2022 Honda Passport TrailSport

Pilot vs. Passport size, seating comfort, and cargo capacity

  • The Pilot has three rows of seats

  • The two-row Passport has lots of cargo space

  • The Pilot’s removable seat might make sense for your family

How big is the Honda Passport? 

The Passport can comfortably seat five adults in its spacious two rows of buckets and benches. It’s a key strength for this crossover SUV, though for long trips the front passengers might want for a little more lumbar support. In the back bench seat, Honda carves out 39.6 inches of legroom and fits a three-person seat with good tilt to the bottom cushion and a good degree of recline to the seatbacks.

The Passport has 41.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat, and when it’s folded down, opens up to 77.7 cubic feet. There’s also underfloor storage hidden beneath a panel that can sequester messy camping gear or hide valuable electronics out of sight.

How big is the Honda Pilot?

It’s big. The 2023 Pilot can hold up to eight passengers, with a couple of pieces of luggage in tow. Front passengers get supportive seats with power adjustment that, on all but the base version, also come with lumbar support and heating. Leather upholstery is available, and so is a wireless smartphone charger that sits ahead of the shift lever. Honda also molds in a storage niche in front of the passenger for their smartphone and sunglasses.

In row two the Pilot offers a bench seat split into three sections, but on EX-L trims and above, twin captain’s chairs can be had. Touring and Elite versions have a removable middle seat that stows in the cargo compartment and weighs about 25 pounds. It’s an interesting offering that enables walk-through access to the third row of seats, where two 6-foot passengers can fit in reasonable comfort.

Cargo space has grown to 22.4 cubic feet behind the third row. Fold down the second row and there’s 60.1 cubic feet; with all but the front seats folded the Pilot offers more than 112 cubic feet of space.

Advantage: The Pilot seats more people and swallows more cargo.

2023 Honda Pilot

2023 Honda Pilot

Honda Passport vs. Pilot towing, off-road, and performance

  • TrailSport editions give both moderate off-road ability

  • V-6 engines provide strong grunt

  • 10 speeds are better than 9

Is the Honda Passport 4WD?

It’s standard on all Passports for the 2023 model year, and because it has shorter overhangs than the bigger Pilot, the Passport can be more rugged than its bigger sibling. Its moderate off-pavement ability comes with the aid of drive modes like Snow, Mud, and Sand.

Honda specs the Passport out with 8.1 inches of ground clearance, and it’s capable of towing up to 5,000 pounds.

How fast is the Honda Passport?

The Passport may have rugged looks and hardware, but one of its best attributes is a softly tuned ride and a well-insulated cabin. It’s a swell long-distance cruiser. It’s quick enough thanks to a 280-hp 3.5-liter V-6 engine with lots of midrange grunt and smooth revs. The 9-speed automatic transmission that comes with the Passport sometimes lags when shifts are needed, though. 

Is the Honda Pilot 4WD?

Front-wheel drive is standard on base models, but all-wheel drive can be had on every model. It’s a new system that splits torque between the front and rear wheels, and then also splits it between rear wheels for more efficient and effective power delivery. The Pilot TrailSport uses its standard hill descent control to help control the vehicle on downhill treks. Honda says its TrailSport is more than enough to handle easy and moderate trails. It can also tow up to 5,000 pounds.

How fast is the Honda Pilot?

It’s quick enough thanks to a revamped 285-hp 3.5-liter V-6 coupled with a 10-speed automatic. The power’s similar to that of the Passport, but here the extra gear allows a wider spread of ratios, and it has more precise downshifts. With up to seven drive modes—ranging from Sport to Snow to Tow—the Pilot can handle almost any driving situation with good traction and with above-average acceleration.

Ride and handling are another Pilot plus. Its light steering feels responsive even on base 18-inch all-season tires, while the comforting ride doesn’t get brittle when it’s shod with the available 20-inchers. 

Advantage: The Pilot’s better on road, though the Passport has size working in its favor.

2022 Honda Passport Trailsport

2022 Honda Passport Trailsport

Honda Pilot vs. Passport fuel economy

  • Passport tops out at 21 mpg combined

  • FWD Pilot gets 22 mpg

  • Neither offers hybrid models

Is the Honda Passport good on gas?

Not very. The EPA has it set at 19 mpg city, 24 highway, 21 combined. 

Is the 2023 Honda Pilot good on gas?

It’s worse than the previous Pilot despite the more refined transmission, but it’s slightly better than the Passport, since it comes in a front-drive model. That version earns an EPA rating of 19 mpg city, 27 highway, 22 combined, while other models dip as low as 20 mpg combined for the TrailSport.

Advantage: The Pilot’s better.

2023 Honda Pilot

2023 Honda Pilot

2023 Honda Pilot

2023 Honda Pilot

2023 Honda Pilot

2023 Honda Pilot

2023 Honda Pilot

2023 Honda Pilot

Passport vs. Pilot safety

  • The NHTSA gives the Passport five stars

  • Automatic emergency braking comes standard on both

  • The Pilot doesn’t yet have crash-test scores

How safe is the Honda Passport?

The NHTSA scores the 2023 Passport at five stars overall, with a four-star rating for front passenger side-impact protection. The IIHS doesn’t give it a Top Safety Pick award, however, due to a “Marginal” score in the group’s updated side-impact test. All models get automatic emergency braking, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control, but there’s no option for a surround-view camera system.

How safe is the Honda Pilot?

Neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA has checked in with ratings yet, but the Pilot has been a consistent top scorer. We’ll update this section when ratings have been published. All versions have automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and automatic high beams. Base models lack blind-spot monitors, and the base LX and the Sport version also don’t get parking sensors.

Advantage: The Passport, for the moment.

2023 Honda Pilot

2023 Honda Pilot

Which is better: Honda Pilot or Honda Passport?

With a TCC Rating of 5.8 out of 10, the Honda Passport makes an above-average showing, thanks to generous safety features and a roomy interior. But the Pilot scores a resounding win even before crash testing: it’s bigger, has better infotainment and a more muscular design, and even gets better fuel economy. It earns a TCC Rating of 6.8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Winner: The Honda Pilot, by a large margin—but there’s a new Passport in the works.

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