2021 Subaru Ascent vs. Honda Pilot: There’s 1 That Makes More Sense

If you’re shopping for a midsize SUV with a strapping presence, you might be intrigued by the Honda Pilot or the Subaru Ascent. The Pilot has earned many fans thanks to its versatility. Others like the Ascent because it’s adventurous and trendy. But out of the two, which would, you say is better? 

Driving the 2021 Honda Pilot vs. the 2021 Subaru Ascent 

2021 Honda Pilot in the mountains
2021 Honda Pilot Elite | Honda

Critics recognize the Pilot and the Ascent for a few of the same reasons. Both are glossy rides that are quick off the line and can haul up to 5,000. But of course, there are various distinctions between these two.

The Pilot is slightly more powerful than the Ascent. All Pilots come with a 280-hp, 3.5-liter V6, and a nine-speed automatic. Additionally, front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive available across the lineup. This Honda also has a decent ground clearance of 7.3 inches. One of the Pilot’s main flaws is its subpar fuel economy; it has an EPA rating of up to 23 mpg. 

2021 Subaru Ascent parked outside of a house
2021 Subaru Ascent | Subaru

Comparatively, the Ascent isn’t a standout out for efficiency either, but it is one of the most dynamic options in the segment. Unlike rivals, including the Pilot, the Ascent doesn’t have a V6. Instead, the Ascent features a 260-hp, turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder linked to a continuously variable automatic. Plus, the Ascent’s 8.7 inches of ground clearance and standard AWD system makes it more ideal for hitting the trails. 

The Ascent is slightly more spacious than the Pilot 

A woman and a child loading luggage in the trunk of a red Subaru Ascent.
A 2021 Subaru Ascent at the rear The 2021 | Photo via Subaru

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Both the Ascent and the Pilot have functional car cabins that can carry up to eight people. These models are also among your best picks if you desire a family car with ample storage room. The Ascent has 86.5 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats folded. The Pilot’s total capacity is slightly less, with 83.9 cubic feet of cargo space. 

A front view of the Honda Pilot Elite's interior.
Honda Pilot Elite interior layout | Honda

Which model has a more stylish interior, you might wonder? Well, that all comes down to personal preference. Honda and Subaru are known for fashioning high-quality cabins. Though, reviewers at U.S. News felt that the Pilot’s interior was more upscale than the Ascent’s. The two come with cloth upholstery, and you can upgrade either with leather and a few other frills.

Which one comes with more tech?

Bright, open Subaru Ascent Interior featuring white upholstery
Front seats of the Subaru Ascent

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We like that advanced safety is a priority for both the Pilot and the Ascent. They have similar standard active safety features, including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and collision mitigation functions. They differ more in the infotainment department.

2020 Honda Pilot Elite center console
2020 Honda Pilot Elite center console | Honda

Ascents come with a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Standard infotainment features for the Pilot include a 5-inch display screen and Bluetooth. You have to upgrade your Pilot to get smartphone integration apps. 

So which is better, the Honda Pilot or the Subaru Ascent?

A white 2021 Subaru Ascent parked in front of a house
The 2021 Subaru Ascent on display | Photo via Subaru

The 2021 Honda Pilot starts at $32,250, and the 2021 Subaru Ascent begins at $32,295. We get it if you’re more excited about the Ascent because it’s roomier and more adventurous. But the Pilot presents itself as the more sensible choice. 

An electric blue 2021 Honda Pilot on the track.
2021 Honda Pilot Elite | Honda

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that Consumer Reports named the 2021 Ascent as one of the least reliable cars of the new model year. There have been a significant amount of owner complaints regarding Ascent’s transmission and in-car electronics. On the flip side, the Pilot is one of Consumer Reports’ recommended choices due to its long-term quality.