In the world of minivans, there’s the Honda Odyssey, and than there’s everything else. Having been ranked the #1 minivan in America, and having held that position for 11 straight years now, The Odyssey is the standard by which other minivans are set against. Capturing almost 40% of all retail minivan sales in 2020, to say expectations for great things in 2021 were high, would be an understatement.
The new year sees Honda building on an already winning formula. A formula that firmly places the needs of the modern day family first. After a week of experiencing the impressive Odyssey Elite firsthand, my conclusion is that it must’ve been designed by a panel of sleep-deprived, semi-desperate parents, eagerly expressing their every want and wish for the perfect family vehicle. Every request, than masterfully developed and implemented by Honda’s talented engineers, to give you a minivan that hopes to take on as much of the parenting burden as it can. A minivan that can tackle every situation with ease. One that takes utility and practicality to new heights, and in general, just wants to be as helpful as it can be.
One of the biggest examples of this ingenuity is brand new for 2021. An industry first, rear seat reminder, integrated as part of the impressive CabinWatch camera system on upper trim models. This system uses a camera and microphone to allow parents to easily see what’s happening in the two rows behind them. Everything displayed via the bright infotainment monitor up front. This will ensure that everyone is on their best behavior, and that no child is left behind. A rear entertainment system comes with wireless headsets and a Blueray/DVD player. This will provide the young ones in the back with hours of entertainment. Adding to it though is CabinTalk. A genius little addition that uses a microphone up front, which allows parents the ability to talk to their kids directly through the headsets. That’s right, no more yelling over the latest Toy Story movie, or waving your arms franticly to get their attention.
Second and third row sunshades will darken the cabin, and an 11-speaker premium audio system will enhance the media experience even more. Additionally, from the driver seat, both sliding doors can be opened and closed, and the tri-zone climate control can be fully adjusted. Speaking of adjustable, with the exclusive Magic Slide feature, seating in the Odyssey can be broken down, shifted, rearranged or completely stowed away if one should so desire. A 60/40 fold-down 3rd row will greatly increase cargo capacity in the already deep trunk. The center seat can be removed for a wide pass through to the third row. Center seating can also be split apart for two captain chairs, or scooted together at the middle for a Buddy Mode. They can also be pushed to either side to allow for easier access to the back row. Not to be outdone by the middle row, the back row can be folded flat or completely flipped around to allow for a bench seat facing out the back. Not a seating position for when the Odyssey is on the go, but perfect for when the back hatch is open and you’re enjoying some fresh air at you kids baseball game. Or just in an outdoor group setting and in need of a comfortable place to sit.
A few exterior design changes find their way into 2021. More powerful and efficient LED headlights are part of some front end tweaks that also include a new front bumper fascia, a blackout grille, chrome accents and gloss black trim. With large 19” wheels, the 2021 Honda Odyssey is a far cry from a boring looking old minivan.
On the inside, polish and material quality prevail. Leather wraps the heated steering wheel. Driver and passenger seats are heated and ventilated, with soft, perforated leather on the first and second row seats. Contrast stitching and piping on all three rows add to the upscale look. As does dark trim options like piano black and metallic sheens. With a smart layout, good lighting, and that ultra organized center-console thanks to the push-button 10-speed automatic transmission; you won’t feel like you’ve made a single compromise by going with the more practical minivan option.
The 2021 Honda Odyssey sets out to lighten your parenting load in every way it can think to. Giving you complete control over the space occupied by the messy and chaotic, but ultimately precious cargo in the back. Thoughtful features are meticulously integrated to keep everyone feeling completely safe and thoroughly entertained. With all the driving aides through Honda Sensing that are sure to make easy work of those long trips cross country to visit the grandparents. With so many features that no other minivan has even attempted, let alone perfected, it’s a safe bet that the Honda Odyssey will remain America’s best selling minivan for may more years to come.
Price as tested: $49,335.00