Honda has continued to show their commitment to the minivan segment, and have been rewarded by legions of faithful fans of their Odyssey. So, ’21 sees a host of updates to keep those fans happy, as well as perhaps entice some new households to think twice before buying that “less practical” crossover.
While seeing a minivan roll into the MotorWeek lot for testing, certainly won’t draw the crowds of say... a high end sports car; depending on where you are in your life stages, or what vacation plans you may be contemplating, a minivan could be a dream come true.
And, this 2021 Honda Odyssey has plenty to offer families, as well as maybe even a little something for the sports car fans as well.
That’s primarily because it continues to be a minivan that we actually enjoy driving. It’s not a canyon carver per se, just a solid and capable platform that doesn’t seem chore-like to wheel around, despite its very big size.
And indeed, getting right to the track; our test driver found it quite fun to run through our slalom course, and not just “for a minivan”. The lack of body roll was comforting, and the Odyssey changed directions really well.
We could feel some stability control working in the background, but it never stepped in fully to shut things down like we’ve seen in many family haulers.
Nothing new in the powertrain department, still front-drive only, no all-wheel-drive is available. But the 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6’s 262 lb-ft. of torque is more than adequate to get a family van load up to speed quickly, and tow the minivan typical 3,500-lbs.
Originally just available in Touring and Elite trims, a 10-speed automatic transmission is now standard across the board.
The combo propelled our Odyssey to 60 in just 6.8-seconds; a bit quicker than in ’18 when this gen debuted. Full-throttle launches will spin the wheels a bit, but again here, the traction control system seems to just aid in finding grip, getting you away with confidence instead of just halting progress.
Automatic shifts are quite gentle, and there’s no real drop off in power as you make your way to the higher gears. ¼-mile completed in 15.2-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour.
Braking performance was decent as well; stops were solid and stable, with a 112-foot average from 60; though the brake pedal did start to get mushy after a few runs.
As much as we appreciate the Odyssey’s above average ability, none of that is really necessary for a minivan. It is of course what’s inside where minivans tend to really make your life easier.
There’s not only comfortable seating for 7 or 8, but a massive cargo van’s worth of space when you need it.
Plus, things that today’s family depend on.
Like lots of small item storage, multiple cup holders at every conceivable location, and of course charging ports, are all well-represented here.
Tech upgrades for ’21 include a new Rear Seat Reminder system integrated into CabinWatch; so not only do you get a prompt to check the rear seats, but can actually see them right in the central screen.
At 8.0-inches, that screen is maybe a little small by current standards, but still quite functional; and its location, high, front and center of the dash, not recessed into it, makes it easy to reach.
Ease of use has also been enhanced with the Magic Slide 2nd row outboard seats that fold flatter than before, though still not into the floor.
Regardless, this should make big item loading less of a pain, while also making the seats easier to remove for max cargo, as they are still heavy. That space remains a cavernous 32.8 cubic-ft. behind the 3rd row, 86.6 behind the 2nd, and 140.7 with 3rd row folded and 2nd row removed.
All but the base LX get material and trim upgrades; Elite getting even more piano black trim than before, as well as additional luxury-minded touches.
New features have also been added to the Honda Sensing safety suite, which is now standard with all trims.
The Odyssey is certainly not the prettiest of machines, even standing out in the minivan class; but they’ve tried to add a little more form to the function for ’21.
There’s the expected new grille and front fascia, updated lighting, and black trim connecting the lift-gate tail lights instead of chrome. But really, it’s still a big box on wheels that screams practicality, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 19-City, 28-Highway, and 22-Combined. We averaged a good 24.7 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
So, slightly below average for the Energy Impact Score; 15.0-barrels of annual oil consumption, with 6.5-tons of CO2 emissions.
Changes for ’21 do come with a price increase, as the base LX is up $1,100 to $32,965; higher trim levels see less of an increase, with top Elite trim up just $500 to $48,995.
The Odyssey has been the best-selling minivan in America for over 10-years now, so clearly Honda has been doing their homework to provide the best overall minivan experience going right now. The 2021 version offers something new and better for every member of the family to enjoy.
Engine: 3.5L V6
Torque: 262 lb-ft
0-60mph: 6.8 seconds
1/4 Mile: 15.2s @ 95 mph
EPA: 19 City / 28 Highway / 22 Combined