Honda has made a confusing decision to take what seems like two identical SUVs and give them two different names. There are lots of differences between the two models. There are also lots of identical components like the chassis, engine, and even the dash. They also have almost identical starting prices. What’s Honda doing with the Pilot and Passport? Let’s try and sort it out.
As stated, there are many differences between the Pilot and Passport. But, the biggest distinction is that the Honda shoved the third row of seating into the Pilot. Eight will fit into the Pilot, though that third row of seating is a bit tight. With captain’s chairs as an option for the middle row, the capacity goes down to seven.
Legroom is a bit tighter in the Pilot’s second row than the Passport’s. Obviously, that’s to help out with some space for the third row. Legroom is reduced in the back but you can seat adults into it-maybe smaller peeps should sit in that third row.
The difference between the Pilot and Passport becomes minute after seating
This is a big distinction between the two models. After that, the differences become a bit like splitting hairs. Both use the identical 3.5-liter V6. It generates 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. While the Pilot comes standard with the nine-speed automatic transmission, the Passport does not.
The standard Passport trans is a six-speed. For the nine-speed automatic you have to step up to the higher trim levels to get it. Beyond that performance times and stats are very similar for both models. With that third seat, the Pilot is carrying around some extra poundage so its times are slightly less.
For different driving conditions, both models are able to change modes. They are Normal, Snow, Sand, or Mud. The Passport is raised a bit more than the Pilot so ground clearance and approach/departure angles are better.
Fuel economy is almost identical
Fuel economy figures for both models are very similar, being off by only a mile here and there. Those figures are about average for this size SUV at 20 mpg City, 27 mpg Highway, and 23 mpg overall. With all-wheel-drive, the numbers drop slightly with 19 mpg City, 26 mpg Highway, and 22 mpg average.
On the safety front, both models had the same results in the IIHS safety tests, but only the Pilot was given the Top Safety Pick rating. The Passport’s standard headlight performance was less and so it lost out on the Safety Pick rating. For the various crash evaluations, they are identical.
Externally the Pilot’s rear overhang and front end are the big difference
Externally the Pilot has a bit more overhang in the rear to accommodate that third row of seats. It also has a bit more of an aggressive front design, and a bit more trim detail. The Passport comes with a wider track than the Pilot, and also standard 20-inch wheels. The Pilot comes standard with 18-inch wheels.
The price for the Passport Sport starts at $33,035 and the Pilot LX at $32,500. The Passport Elite comes in at $44,725 while the Pilot Elite is higher at $49,065. But, the Pilot Elite package includes things that are not in the Passport Elite package like a panoramic roof, entertainment system, and center-row captain’s chairs. That explains the spread between the two Elite trims.
When it’s all said and done the third row of seats is the biggest difference. The sportiness of the Passport might be another determining factor, but it is a bit puzzling why Honda can’t put more distinction between these two models. It would give buyers a better reason to pick one over the other.