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Looking for a midsize crossover SUV with a ton of utility and versatility? Then the 2021 Honda Passport might strike your fancy. The Passport was discontinued after 2002 but revived for 2019 due to a revived interest in vehicles in this segment. Based on the well-loved Honda Pilot, the Passport is able to put in a strong performance on the paved roadway.
Passengers and cargo alike are given plenty of space inside of the Passport. There is more head and leg room than what you get in the smaller Honda CR-V, and the standard 3.5-L V6 engine has a good amount of get-up-and-go power. And it does this without compromising on fuel economy. Not to mention, the interior is designed with both comfort and luxury in mind as the materials speak to high quality.
New for the model year is a standard 8-inch infotainment touchscreen display. Smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also comes on all trim levels. Other than that, expect everything to carry over from the 2020 line-up.
So, might the 2021 Honda Passport be the vehicle for you? Which trim level should you get? You can choose from the Sport, EX-L, Touring, or Elite this model year. Each one has different features and specs that it offers, so knowing which one will fit you the best will likely be based on which features you want and need the most.
In this trim level comparison review, we will go over each of the Passport's trim levels. Be sure to hang in until the end, where we will give you our verdict on which trim level we the average driver should choose.
Compare the 2021 Honda Passport Sport vs EX-L - What is the Difference?
The 2021 Honda Passport's base trim is known as the Sport. This trim level is powered by a standard V6 engine that generates a power output of 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. This engine does come equipped on all trim levels. It has direct fuel injection, an Eco Assist system, hill start assist, idle-stop, and remote engine start. While all models save for the Elite come with standard front-wheel drive, Honda's intelligent variable torque management (i-VTM4) all-wheel-drive system is available. There is intelligent traction management for snow on the 2WD models and for snow, sand, and mud on the AWDs. The engine is paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission on every trim level.
The Passport models all come with a MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension. Rack-and-pinion steering is electronic-power assisted, and the vehicle rides atop 20-inch wheels. The Sport's wheels are done in split-spoke gloss black alloy while the EX-L's are done in pewter gray alloy.
Honda does not skimp at all when it comes to safety - make no mistake about that. Every single trim level is given the Honda Sensing Suite of standard driver aids. This means that you get the benefit of having features like collision mitigation braking, adaptive cruise control, road departure mitigation, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning. Automatic high beams are also standard issue. The EX-L gets upgraded with a blind spot monitoring system that will help you see the modest blind spots that the Passport's design creates. LED daytime running lights, a multi-angle rear-view camera, and electronic brake distribution are also standard.
Exterior features on the Sport include auto-on/off on the LED low-beam headlights, a fin-style antenna mounted onto the roof, LED brake lights, rear privacy glass, an intermittent rear windshield wiper and washer, a security system, and gloss black power side mirrors. The EX-L gets reverse gear tilt-down, heating, memory settings, and integrated turn indicators on its side mirrors. The door handles and roofline spoiler (which has an integrated brake light) are body-colored.
The EX-L adds a moon roof with tilting and a one-touch function, a walk-away auto-locking feature, a power tailgate, and an acoustic glass windshield.
Now, when it comes to convenience features, Honda goes above and beyond to include a standard sunglasses holder, a push button start function, power locks on the doors and tailgate, cruise control, and one-touch indicators. You also get a locking glove box, sunvisors that can slide, a timer on the rear window defroster, heater ducts for the rear seat, four tie-down anchors for the cargo area, bag hooks in the cargo area, and five beverage holders up front and six in the second row. The Sport has seatback pockets on just the passenger's side while the EX-L adds one to the driver's side.
Other convenience features include floor mats and steering wheel mounted controls that have illumination. There is also a tri-zone automatic climate control system that has an air filtration system as well as humidity control. If you go for the EX-L you get the addition of auto up/down on the front power windows, illumination on the front vanity mirrors, the Home Link remote system, a second-row integrated sun shade, an auto dimming rear view mirror, and a steering wheel that is wrapped in leather.
Both trim levels seat five people and have one-touch folding 60/40-split folding rear seats. The EX-L has a driver's seat that is 10-way power-adjustable with power lumbar support and two-position memory and side mirror memory. The EX-L also has 4-way power-adjustability on the front passenger seat, leather upholstery, and heating on both front seats.
Technology is also plentiful on the 2021 Honda Passport. The Sport trim level comes equipped with a 1.0-amp USB audio interface, a 7-speaker sound system with an accompanying subwoofer, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity for phone calls and audio streaming, an MP3/auxiliary input jack up front, a radio data system, and speed-sensitive volume control. The center console has one 2.5-amp charge-only USB port, and the front and center consoles each have a 12-volt power outlet. There is a standard 8-inch infotainment display and smartphone app integration from Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The EX-L gains a remote compatibility system called Cabin Control. It also has a SMS text messaging function, HD Radio, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. A 2.5-amp port gets added to the center console as well.
Compare the 2021 Honda Passport EX-L vs Touring - What is the Difference?
The next level up is known as the Touring trim. It does not get any serious safety upgrades, but it does receive some important interior and exterior upgrades. Let's take the outside first. The exterior of the Touring trim level gains power folding and automatic dimming on its side mirrors. The power tailgate is given hands-free access for even easier entry. Acoustic glass is added to the front and rear doors. There are also roof rails, front and rear parking sensors, and auto on/off LED headlights.
Inside, you will find a greater presence of creature comforts. The Touring level gains an array of convenience features. These include courtesy door lights for the front row of seats, ambient LED lighting done in white, and illuminated beverage holders in the front row. Heating is added to the rear outboard seats.
Technology upgrades are also quite numerous. You get the addition of features like wifi hot spot connectivity, Honda HD digital traffic and voice recognition with the built-in satellite-linked navigation system, a 115-volt power outlet, and a 10-speaker 540-watt premium audio system with an included subwoofer. A compass and turn-by turn directions get added to the driver information interface.
Compare the 2021 Honda Passport Touring vs Elite - What is the Difference?
At the top of the line is the Elite trim level. This vehicle is the most luxury-oriented trim level you can get, and it packs quite a few additional features in. First and foremost, all-wheel-drive comes standard on the Elite trim level, whereas it is optional on all of the lower trim levels. This means that the Elite is able to easily handle snow, sand, and muddy terrain. The wheels get upgraded to 20-inch solid spoke gloss black alloy. Since this is an AWD model, the EPA estimates drop down to 21 mpg combined (with 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway). This is only approximately a 1 mpg drop, so the difference is relatively little.
Hardly any upgrades get made to the Elite trim level. The only real upgrade that gets made are the rain-sensing variable intermittent front windshield wipers. Otherwise, most things are the same as they are on the Touring trim level.
A few more changes do occur inside of the Elite trim. The front row gains LED lights instead of the regular map lights. Also, the leather-wrapped steering wheel has a heating function on the Elite. The front seats are upholstered in chic perforated leather upholstery and have both heating and ventilating functions. You will also find that there is a wireless phone charger, a standard all-wheel-drive torque indicator, the intelligent traction management system (for snow, mud, sand, and normal terrains), and an all-wheel-drive indicator.
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Which Trim to Choose?
As you can see, there are a lot of different features to be found on each trim level of the 2021 Honda Passport. But which one is the trim level that will appeal to the most to the average buyer? We suspect that buyers will be the most attracted to the EX-L, and this is the trim level we recommend checking out.
Why is this the case? Well, the EX-L is only the second trim level in the line-up but has a ton of standard features that it tacks on to what the base Sport trim level has to offer. Getting upgraded to the blind spot monitoring system on a mid-tier trim level like this is quite a good bargain. The leather seating looks nice even though it is not as plush as the perforated leather that comes on the Elite. But for the price you pay on the EX-L, the leather seats are quite nice.
The Touring and the Elite both have their bonuses, to be sure, and some buyers will prefer those over the EX-L. Having standard AWD on the line-topping Elite trim level is definitely a huge plus. However, you can opt for AWD on any trim level and will only be paying a little bit extra. That means that you can opt for AWD on the EX-L if 2WD is not really up your alley.
Overall, the 2021 Honda Passport has a lot to offer its buyers. The fact that it was reinstated into the Honda family after such a prolonged absence shows just how much the automobile market has shifted since the early 2000's. Drivers want more versatility and flexibility; they also want more choices. The Passport is one of the choices that is hard to pass up, and the EX-L trim level provides a solid deal for drivers wanting a good bargain.
• Compare the 2020 Honda Passport Trim Levels