2021 Honda Pilot vs. 2021 Subaru Ascent

2021 Honda Pilot vs Subaru Ascent

If you’re taking a hard look at a 3-row SUV for your family, you’ve no doubt come across the Honda Pilot and Subaru Ascent. They’re perennial leaders in the segment, offering extraordinary passenger comfort, versatility, and plenty of style. On paper they match up well, too—comparably priced, excellent safety ratings, similar dimensions.

However, there’s a reason why the Honda Pilot is still considered the reigning class leader. Let’s compare the many reasons why the 2021 Pilot is a better buy than the 2021 Ascent.

Convenient Features

Rear Entertainment System

What would a family SUV be without some form of fun? Every new Pilot Touring and Elite is equipped with Honda’s Advanced Rear Entertainment System. This includes a 10.2-inch high-resolution fold-up screen, attached to the center of the roofline, with built-in streaming apps, a Blu-Ray™ and DVD player, and second-row HDMI connections.

To get a similar form of entertainment in the Ascent, you’ll need some extra green—over $1,000, to be exact. Subaru’s Entertainment Anywhere Kit is a piece of standalone equipment that must be ordered and installed by a dealer. Unfortunately, you don’t get a DVD or Blu-Ray player, so all forms of media must be streamed via Wi-Fi or stored on the tablets’ hard drives.

Rear Entertainment System

Wireless Charging

You cut cords at home; why not do the same in your SUV? With the Honda Pilot, you can do just that. Special Edition and Elite models all come standard with a wireless phone charger that’s compatible with most new Qi-enabled smart devices. Wireless charging pads are only available as pricey add-ons in the Subaru Ascent.

Wireless Phone Charger

Multi-Zone Audio

Sleeping baby in the back? No need to turn down the tunes. Just mute the audio system in that section of your Pilot to ensure she stays snoozing. Multi-Zone Audio isn’t available in the Ascent.

One-Touch 2nd-Row Seats

Experience the sheer convenience of Pilot’s one-touch 2nd-row seat! Easily move around the cabin and access the back row with the push of a button. The Subaru Ascent doesn’t come with this level of versatility, try as it might.

Hands-Free Power Tailgate

Subaru Ascent’s Power Rear Gate is clearly convenient, offering automatic opening and a one-touch closing mechanic. However, Honda Pilot’s hands-free power tailgate sets the standard in its class. No need to tap a key fob or push a button with the Pilot; simply activate Honda’s hands-free liftgate by kicking underneath the bumper. Easy as pie.

Hands-Free Power Tailgate


Communicating with every passenger in a full-size SUV can sometimes be a challenge. Instead of throwing your voice out in a shouting bout, opt for Pilot’s built-in PA system, CabinTalk. The system, which comes standard in Pilot Touring and Elite trims, allows those in the front row to broadcast to everyone in the cabin, either via the speakers or through the entertainment system’s headphones. Subaru Ascent doesn’t offer the same parent-friendly convenience.




A 3.5-liter 280-horsepower V6 is equipped in every 2021 Honda Pilot trim, from the base LX to the Elite. Tap the accelerator and you can immediately feel the power course through the direct-injected engine’s veins.

The Subaru Ascent lacks the same level of get-up-and-go. Under its hood is a 2.4L turbo-four that makes just 260 horsepower. It’s also mated to a standard 8-speed transmission, while the Pilot utilizes a 9-speed with paddle shifters.

2021 Pilot 2021 Ascent
Engine 3.5L V6 2.4L Turbo 4-Cylinder
Horsepower 280 260
Transmission 9-Speed 8-Speed

Max Towing

Did you know the entry-level Subaru Ascent can only tow 2,000 pounds? With the Honda Pilot LX, you have power to haul around 3,500 pounds in 2WD, and up to 5,000 pounds in AWD. The base Pilot is, quite literally, a pound-for-pound better value if you plan on towing your toys.

2021 Pilot LX 2021 Ascent
Max Towing
3,500 lbs/5,000 lbs* 2,000 lbs

Interior Room

Cargo Volume

Let’s face it: Big SUVs should be more than just people-haulers (and occasional boat-haulers). When you need extra space, Honda Pilot serves you better than Subaru Ascent. From liftgate to front row, Pilot Elite models offer up to 108.5 cubic feet of cargo volume—over 20 cubes more than the Ascent Limited with a moonroof.

2021 Pilot Elite 2021 Ascent Limited
Cargo Volume (to 3rd row) 18 cu ft* 17.6 cu ft
Cargo Volume (to 2nd row) 55 cu ft* 47 cu ft
Cargo Volume (to 1st row) 108.5 cu ft* 86 cu ft
Cargo Volume

3rd-Row Comfort

Passengers six, seven and eight are humans, too! Treat them with a dignified amount of third-row space—treat them to a Honda Pilot. Compared to the Subaru Ascent, Honda’s 8-seater offers more rear headroom, legroom and shoulder room, even with a moonroof.

2021 Pilot Elite 2021 Ascent Limited
Rear Headroom (inches) 38.9 36.3
Rear Legroom (inches) 31.9 31.7
Rear Legroom (inches) 57.6 57.2


Maximum towing capacity for AWD models is 5,000 lbs. Maximum towing capacity for 2WD models is 3,500 lbs. Towing requires the addition of the Honda accessory towing kit, trailer harness and hitch ball. Please see your Honda dealer for details.

Cargo volume based on SAE J1100 cargo volume measurement standard plus, where applicable, floor space between seating rows and seats in their forward-most and upright position.