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Using vehicle speed sensors and seat sensors, smart airbags in the Passport deploy with different levels of force or don’t deploy at all to help better protect passengers of all sizes in different collisions. The Passport’s side airbags will shut off if a child is leaning against the door. The Highlander’s airbags don’t have smart features and will always deploy full force.
Compared to metal, the Passport’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Toyota Highlander has a metal gas tank.
Both the Passport and the Highlander have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.
The engine in the Passport has a single overhead cam for simplicity. The engines in the Highlander have dual overhead cams, which add to the number of moving parts and the complexity of the cylinder heads.
The Passport’s 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 95 more horsepower (280 vs. 185) and 78 lbs.-ft. more torque (262 vs. 184) than the Highlander’s standard 2.7 DOHC 4 cyl.
An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Passport’s fuel efficiency. The Highlander doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.
The Passport has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Highlander doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.
A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Honda Passport, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Highlander.
For better traction, the Passport Touring/Elite’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Highlander (265/45R20 vs. 245/60R18).
The Passport Sport/EX-L’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Highlander’s standard 60 series tires. The Passport Touring/Elite’s tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Highlander SE/Limited/Platinum’s 55 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Passport has standard 20-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the Highlander. The Highlander’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.
The Passport has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Highlander doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.
The Passport has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Highlander doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Passport’s wheelbase is 1.1 inches longer than on the Highlander (110.9 inches vs. 109.8 inches).
For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Passport is 2.4 inches wider in the front and 2.6 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Highlander.
For greater off-road capability the Passport has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Highlander (8.1 vs. 8 inches), allowing the Passport to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.
The Passport uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Highlander doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.
The Passport has 1.9 inches more front hip room, 2.7 inches more front shoulder room, .2 inches more rear headroom, 1.2 inches more rear legroom, .2 inches more rear hip room and 2.3 inches more rear shoulder room than the Highlander.
Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Passport’s rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Highlander doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.
To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Passport Touring/Elite’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Highlander doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.
The Passport’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Highlander’s (3500 vs. 1500 pounds).
The Passport has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Highlander doesn’t offer a remote starting system.
The Passport Touring/Elite’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Highlander doesn’t offer an easy entry system.
If the windows are left open on the Passport the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Highlander can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.
When the Passport EX-L/Touring/Elite is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Highlander’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.
The Passport Elite has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Highlander offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
The Passport has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the Highlander.
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