The Toyota 4Runner Outshines the Honda Passport In 1 Crucial Way

The Honda Passport and the Toyota 4Runner are among the most rugged options you have in the midsize SUV class. Some critics have recognized the Passport as a well-rounded performer. The 4Runner, not so much. But as you do your research, you’ll see that the 4Runner outshines the Passport in a crucial way.

How the 2021 Toyota 4Runner performs 

a trail edition 4runner SUV off-road in some hilly countryside
2021 4Runner Trail Edition | Toyota

Both the 4Runner and the Passport exhibit rugged looks. However, the 4Runner is the one that lives up to its brawny persona. The 4Runner is one of the few models that handle off-road torture like the Jeep Wrangler. Base 4Runners are capable adventurers and have 9.6 inches of ground clearance. Although, you’ll want to consider the TRD trims for the most off-road goodies. 

Like many versions before it, the 4Runner features a 270-hp, 4.0-liter V6 engine linked to a five-speed automatic. The 4Runner offers adequate in most situations. However, there are few drawbacks regarding this Toyota’s performance. Most critics complain that its handling is sloppy and that its transmission is unrefined. Furthermore, the 4Runner’s old-fashioned, body on frame design makes for a jarring ride on smooth roads. Because of these flaws, the 4Runner isn’t an ideal daily driver. 

How the 2021 Honda Passport performs

2021 Honda Passport parked in a canyon
2021 Honda Passport | Honda

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Honda’s Passport bests the 4Runner in a few areas. The Passport boasts more power and poise. This Honda features a 280-hp, 3.5-liter V6, and a nine-speed automatic. Not only does the Passport offer more potency than the 4Runner, but it’s also more fuel-efficient. 

The Passport has an EPA rating of up 22 mpg overall; the 4Runner only gets up to a combined 17 mpg. Notwithstanding, the Passport can’t master rough terrains as the 4Runner can. The good news is that the Passport is capable enough to handle mild excursions when properly equipped. Passports with all-wheel-drive have Honda’s Intelligent Traction Management system, which optimizes performance on different road conditions. 

Comparing car cabins 

2021 Honda Passport Interior
2021 Honda Passport Interior | Honda

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There are a few trade-offs on the inside of the Passport and the 4Runner. The Passport appeals with its modern interior design and soft trimmings, as U.S News highlights. It has enough room for five, and cloth upholstery is standard. 

The biggest news for the 2021 Passport is that the SUV now comes with an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Honda’s infotainment systems aren’t the most user-friendly, but we appreciate the Passport’s new connectivity features. It also comes with active safety features, including adaptive cruise control and forward-collision warning. 

Front row of the  2020 Toyota 4Runner
2020 Toyota 4Runner interior | Toyota

Some may consider the 4Runner’s interior as outdated; others might find it charming. The 4Runner is available as either a five-seater or a three-row SUV that can carry seven. Toyota has made the 4Runner more modern with desirable infotainment and safety gadgets. One advantage the 4Runner has over the Passport is that its touchscreen is easier to use. 

Where the 4Runner really outshines the Passport

2021 Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition off-roading
2021 Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition | Toyota

The 4Runner may seem archaic compared to most of its classmates. But the fact that it hasn’t changed much over the years works to its advantage. Consumer Reports’ data shows that the 4Runner is one of the most reliable SUVs you can buy. The 4Runner also contributes to Toyota’s current standing as one of CR’s most reliable car brands

2021 Honda Passport driving in the desert
2021 Honda Passport | Honda

Conversely, the Passport is below average for predicted reliability according to CR. The Passport’s low score reflects some troubles with its transmission and driveline vibration issues. CR also says to skip the Passport since it doesn’t live up to performance as Honda’s Pilot or CR-V.