The 2021 Honda Passports had very similar specs to the 2022 models and were even able to achieve a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds!
You did have to have the right drivetrain configuration equipped in your vehicle plus a very important accessory in order to achieve that rating, but other factors also came into play like how many people you had in the vehicle, which I go into in this article and lay everything out you need to know. Let's dive in!
I do recommend that you read through your owner's manual and that you follow all of Honda's recommendations and requirements when it comes to anything regarding your vehicle.
2021 Passport Overview
Overall Towing Capacity: The overall towing capacities for the 2021 Honda passports did range quite a bit, having a 2,750-5,000 lb. rating range for all models.
If you had an all-wheel drive model without an ATF cooler or a two-wheel drive model, then your range was a little bit lower on the higher end, having a maximum capacity of 3,500 pounds, but still having that lower rating of 2,750 pounds.
If you had an all-wheel-drive model and the optional ATF cooler, then you had less of a range compared to the other configurations. The maximum trailer weight rating was set at 5,000 pounds, while the lowest rating was set at 4,250 pounds.
Engine Options: There was only one engine available for the 2021 models, along with nearly every other model passport, and this engine was the 3.5 L engine which Honda used on many different vehicles. Less engine options means that the charts were a lot easier to read and less cluttered with data.
Trim Levels: There were four different trim levels available as well, but the trim level you had did not really affect the trailer weight ratings, other than the fact that some trim levels had two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations available, which would impact the numbers indirectly, but not directly.
Assumed Weight: Honda did specify an assumed weight for each occupant in the vehicle, which you can find at the bottom of the tow chart, in the notes section. If we read those notes, we can see that each occupant was assumed to have a weight of 150 pounds, plus Honda allowed additional weight for cargo for each passenger of 17.6 pounds, which brought the total of each occupant up to 167.6 pounds.
The maximum trailer weight ratings that each vehicle was able to achieve listed two occupants in the vehicle, so Honda is assuming that a driver and one passenger are in the vehicle in order to obtain the highest weight ratings.
If you or any of your occupants weigh more than 150 pounds or your cargo weighs more than what is specified, you will have to deduct that from the weight ratings in the charts in order to get a more accurate figure based on the increased weight that you have in the vehicle.
The chart was pretty similar to the 2022 models, if not exactly the same, but there were a few differences in the 2021 models that I noticed. The chart is exactly the same, with the number of occupants listed on the left-hand column, along with all-wheel drive models and two-wheel drive models and their maximum trailer weight ratings.
We also saw the two different all-wheel-drive models in the chart, ones that had an ATF cooler and models that did not have the cooler installed. All-wheel-drive models that did not have the cooler installed shared the same specs as the two-wheel drive models and were only able to achieve a 3,500 pound rating max.
The highest capacity ratings in the chart were reserved for all-wheel drive models that had the optional ATF cooler, which was an option for all four trim levels, if you had the all-wheel drive configuration. Again, we can see that the more occupants you had the vehicle, the less overall trailer capacity you had.
Tongue Weight Rating:
The tongue weight ratings were also listed in their very own chart that I found in the owner's manual and posted in the screenshot below. Honda specifies two different tongue load ratings, one for boat trailers and the other for all other types of trailers.
Your tongue load weight rating should be between 5 to 15% of the trailer's total weight if you are pulling a boat trailer behind your SUV and that amount is increased to 10 to 15% of the trailer's total weight for all other types of trailers.
We can also see in the chart that Honda specified the maximum tongue load weight ratings that were about 10% of the maximum trailer weight ratings that were listed in the tow chart.
If you are planning on pulling a trailer behind you, then you will need to have trailer brakes installed on your trailer if it weighs over a certain amount of weight. Nearly all of Honda's vehicles specify that if your trailer weighs 1,000 pounds or more, it has to have its own braking system installed.
This is pretty typical of all manufacturers and is actually the law in most states, but you will need to check your own state laws to see what they require as far as trailer weights and trailer brakes, to make sure you comply with those specifications, as well.
Trim Levels:There were four different trim levels lifted for the 2021 models and as you can see in the image I have posted below these were labeled as the: Sport, EX-L, Touring and Elite models. Only the all-wheel-drive models were able to achieve that higher 5,000 pound rating if they had the ATF cooler installed, but the ATF cooler was only an optional accessory for all-wheel drive vehicles and were not available for the two-wheel drive vehicles.
The image below shows which models had a 2-wheel drive and all-wheel drive option and it looks like the only trim level that had the all-wheel drive configuration as a standard option was the elite models.
Other than this little detail, the trim level that you had equipped on your vehicle had no impact on the trailer weight ratings, instead the number of occupants in the vehicle, whether you had an all-wheel drive or two-wheel drive model and whether you had the optional ATF cooler installed were the three main factors that determined your maximum trailer weight rating.
 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.
GVWR, GCWR and GAWR Figures:
The gross vehicle weight rating, gross combined weight ratings and both gross axle weight ratings were also listed in the owner's manual and these figures are very helpful if you wanted to break down the amount of weight in your vehicle and in your trailer and are usually used for more complex weight load calculations, but is good information to know anyway.
GCWR: The gross combined weight rating is the amount of weight your vehicle plus the weight of a trailer is capable of handing. If we look at the specs for the gross combined weight ratings for the 2021 model passports, we can see that it was listed at 8,025 pounds for two-wheel drive models and 9,755 pounds for all-wheel-drive models.
GVWR: The gross vehicle weight rating is how much the vehicle itself can handle, without a trailer, just the vehicle alone. If we look at the chart above, we can see that it was also broken up by two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive models, but the gross vehicle weight rating for both models was the same, set at 5,291 pounds.
GAWRs: The gross axle weight ratings were pretty simple to figure out, these were just the amount of weight that each axle can handle, which were divided up into the front axle and the rear axle.
If we look at the data in the chart, we can see that two-wheel drive models had a front axle weight rating of 2,734 pounds, while the all-wheel-drive models had a slightly higher rating of 2,855 pounds.
The rear axle had a bit more capacity for both models and for two-wheel drive configurations, the maximum weight rating was specified at 2,965 pounds, while the all-wheel drive models had, yet again, a slightly higher 3,141 pound rating.
What I Found On The Transmission Cooler...
Like I mentioned earlier, only the all-wheel-drive models had the ability to have the optional ATF cooler installed and is verified by the note that I found in the owner's manual, which I posted a screenshot of.
Honda required this cooler if you're planning on pulling more than 3,500 pounds and is why we see models that did not have this cooler equipped have a maximum limit of up to 3,500 pounds.
Other Notes I Found:
I was also able to find a couple of additional notes that talked a little about the minimum octane rating of gasoline, performance of the vehicle that can be affected by certain road conditions and the use of weight distribution hitches.
First off, Honda recommends that you use a gasoline in these vehicles that has a minimum octane rating of 87, but you can use an octane rating higher than that, if you choose to do so.
We can also see that certain road conditions like higher outside temperatures, higher altitude areas and even steep uphill grades can influence your vehicle's performance, so you will have to compensate for these types of conditions if you encounter them, especially all three together.
The last note talks about weight distribution hitches and how the 2021 Honda Passports were designed to not need one of these types of hitches, but they go on to state that you can use one if you would like to, they just want to make sure that it is properly installed and set up.