Both have advantages and drawbacks
If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck, right? This philosophical question is up for debate when it relates to the Honda Pilot and its smaller midsize counterpart, the Passport. It may look very similar to the Pilot, and share the same chassis and engine, but the 2019 Honda Passport has its own distinct personality. So if you’re unsure on whether to buy the smaller or the bigger SUV, read below to find out the biggest differences between the two vehicles.
The most functional difference between the Pilot and Passport is the seating capacity. While the Passport seats up to five passengers, the Pilot can hold a maximum of eight people, or seven when equipped with captain’s chairs in the second row.
In the first and second rows, you’ll get similar headroom whether you’re in the Passport or Pilot. It’s the same story for front legroom, although second-row legroom varies a bit between the two models, coming in at 39.6 inches in the Passport and 38.4 inches in the Pilot. Those in the third row of the Pilot have 31.9 inches of legroom. Although taller passengers may have a hard time, the third row can reasonably fit average-height adults. So for many, the Pilot’s extra seating capacity is more than just a superficial advantage on paper over the Passport.
Both SUVs come with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine making 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. You won’t notice a great difference between the two while merging onto the freeway
A fully loaded Passport Elite we tested went from 0–60 mph in 6.2 seconds, while a Pilot Elite hit the mark in 6.3 seconds. In the quarter mile, the Passport also performed just slightly better: 14.7 seconds at 94.0 mph (151.3 km/h) versus 14.8 seconds at 93.7 mph (150.8 km/h). In reviews, we’ve praised the Passport’s particularly sporty throttle and its ability to launch hard. Both models offer a nine-speed automatic transmission that can shift harshly at times. This unit is found in all Passports, and on upper trim Pilots instead of the model’s standard six-speed.
The Pilot has a few surprising advantages when it comes to performance. The larger model rounded the figure-eight in 27.6 seconds at an average 0.62 g, beating the Passport’s 28.1 seconds at 0.62 g. The Pilot was also able to brake from 60 mph to a standstill in 120 feet, a full 10 feet less than the Passport.
The Passport has a raised suspension and slightly more ground clearance than the Pilot (up to 8.1 inches versus 7.3 inches). The Passport also has better approach and departure angles for off-roading: 21.4/27.6-degree approach/departure angles on all-wheel-drive Passports compared to 19.7/20.8 degrees for Pilots. Both models offer four different drive modes—Normal, Snow, Sand, and Mud.
“When driving over rocks, the suspension absorbed the movements in good fashion,” we said of the Passport in our First Drive review. But when it comes to on-road performance, it’s not as well damped as the Pilot or Ridgeline, as we noted in our First Test.
The Passport enjoys 41.2 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up, and 77.9 inches with the seats down. The Pilot offers just a bit more room with up to 46.8 cubic feet behind the second row, and up to 83.9 cubic feet behind the first row. With all three rows up, the Pilot still offers 16.5 cubic feet.
Although they look similar at first glance, the Passport is a bit more athletic than the Pilot. Along with additional ground clearance, the Passport has standard blacked-out exterior accents, a floating roof, wider track, and 20-inch wheels. The Pilot comes standard with 18s, although 20s are available. Two accessory packages are available on the Passport, including the Adventure, which adds running boards, fender flares, and a trailer hitch; and Urban, which has front and rear underbody spoilers, cargo storage bins, unique wheels, and roof rails and crossbars.
In government crash tests, the Pilot and Passport both receive four stars in the frontal crash category and five stars in side crashes. The Pilot gets four stars in the rollover test, and an overall rating of five stars, while the Passport has not yet been rated in these two categories.
The 2019 Honda Pilot was named a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS, but the Passport was not. The smaller model lost out because of its Poor headlight rating. However, both vehicles earned top scores in the following crash categories: small overlap front driver’s side, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints.
Oddly enough, the Pilot has a slight fuel economy advantage. Front-wheel-drive Pilots return 20/27/23 mpg (11.8/8.7/10.2 L/100 km) city/highway/combined, compared to the Passport’s 20/25/22 mpg (11.8/9.4/10.7 L/100 km). All-wheel-drive Pilots net 19/26/22 (12.4/9/10.7 L/100 km) compared to 19/24/21 (12.4/9.8/11.2 L/100 km) for the Passport. Both vehicles run on regular gas.