2021 Honda Odyssey Elite

2021 Honda Odyssey Elite

If you’ve got a few kids, a minivan is often the most practical choice to transport the family. Yes, you could also go with a big SUV but they’re usually not as economical. The Honda Odyssey has been the best-selling minivan in the U.S. for 10 years in a row. It’s comfortable, roomy, has an upscale cabin and lots of features and tech, and even has relatively spirited driving dynamics!

Base Price: $47,820
As Tested: $49,335
Horsepower: 280
Mileage: 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway/22 mpg combined

The Odyssey gets refreshed for 2021 including some interior and exterior tweaks, and the Honda Sensing driver assistance technology bundle becomes standard, including adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, pedestrian detection, and traffic sign recognition. The updated Odyssey also gets second-row seats that fold flat, boosting cargo space. Previously, the Odyssey got a makeover for 2018 and some updates in the years since.

The 2021 Honda Odyssey comes in five trims: LX, EX, EX-L, Touring, and Elite. Starting prices range from $31,790 to $47,820, making the Odyssey one of the priciest minivans. But you do get all the features you’d want in a family-hauler so it does offer good value for the money. The Odyssey only comes with front-wheel-drive. Some competitors offer all-wheel-drive.

The Odyssey can seat seven or eight passengers, depending on whether you get captain’s chairs in the second row. The base Odyssey has the captain’s chairs. Other trims have three seats in the second row with Honda’s Magic Slide system. This lets you move the seats forward, backwards and sideways, and place the seats in several configurations. For example, you can move a child in the second row closer to the center of the vehicle within reach of the front passenger, making space near the door to make it easier for other kids to access the third row.

You don’t get behind the wheel of a minivan and expect lively driving dynamics. But the Odyssey is actually pretty fun to drive!

All trims have the same engine: a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is quick, and there’s little or no hesitation when speeding up to merge or pass at freeway speeds, even when the minivan is loaded down with passengers and cargo. The 10-speed automatic shifts quickly and smoothly and always seems to find the right gear. The ride is smooth, even over rougher roads.

Fuel efficiency is slightly above average for the class. EPA ratings for my tester are 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway with a combined rating of 22. I got 22 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.

When properly equipped, the Odyssey can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

The interior is everything you’d want in a family hauler. The cabin is roomy and comfortable. Front- and second-row passengers have good leg- and headroom. Even the third row is spacious enough for adults. Materials are nice and things are sensibly laid out. There are lots of practical and functional features. My tester has some nifty optional features including HondaVac, a built-in vacuum, CabinWatch camera and CabinTalk intercom system. The vacuum is great for picking up crumbs from snacks—like dropped Cheerios—the camera lets you keep an eye on the kids from the infotainment screen, and the intercom system projects your voice into the rear seats.

Standard features include push-button start, multi-view rear view camera, cloth upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, four-way power-adjustable passenger seat, automatic climate control, five-inch display screen, seven-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, and two USB ports.

 Available features include proximity keyless entry, remote start, leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control, 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, driver’s seat memory settings, heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats,  ventilated front seats, eight-inch touchscreen, navigation, premium audio system with 11 speakers, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, HD Radio, satellite radio, rear seat entertainment system, wireless device charger, three additional USB ports, Wi-Fi hotspot, second- and third-row sunshades, power-sliding rear doors, Magic Slide second-row seats, moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights with automatic high beam, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a universal garage door opener.

Standard driver assistance technologies include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, pedestrian detection, and traffic sign recognition. These are included in the Honda Sensing suite.

 Available driver assistance technologies include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and front and rear parking sensors.

The  base LX trim comes with a basic infotainment system with a five-inch display screen. All other trims get a user-friendly eight-inch touchscreen. The interface is simple, menus are logically laid out and it comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The cavernous Odyssey has a lot of cargo space. There are 38.6 cubic feet with all three rows of seating in place, and the third row folds flat into the floor. (This recessed place in the floor can be used for storage when the third row is in place.) However, you have to raise and lower the third row seats manually which takes some muscle. There are 92.3 cubes with the third row folded, and a whopping 158 or 156 cubes with both rows folded, depending on the trim. The second row also folds flat; however the second-row seats are bulky and challenging to remove. The wide hatch opening makes it easy to load large items. A hands-free power tailgate is available.

The good:

Lively driving dynamics

Smooth, comfortable ride

Upscale interior

Many standard and available features

Honda Sensing driver assistance tech suite is standard

Roomy, practical cabin

Lots of cargo space

Available Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

The not-so-good:

Third-row seats have to be manually lowered and raised

Second row seats are bulky and challenging to remove

Pricing info:

My tester starts at $47,820. The Forest Mint exterior paint is $395. Destination fee is $1,120 bringing the grand total to $49,335.

Bottom line:

Minivans are meant to haul families and gear, and the 2021 Honda Odyssey does it well, whether you’re venturing out on a family road trip or picking up a bookcase to assemble. The upscale cabin is comfortable and roomy, there’s a long list of standard and available features and tech, and this minivan actually has peppy performance!  The Odyssey definitely needs to be on your list if you’re considering buying a family hauler.

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