Automotive

2020 Honda Odyssey Minivan

Battle against the SUVs

Honda launched the Odyssey back in the 90’s.  It is one of the most common 7/8 passenger vehicles and is still going strong.  I remember when I was a kid, SUVs weren’t common, instead minivans such as Honda Odyssey and Toyota Previa/Sienna were commonly seen.  Fast forward 20 years later, SUVs have taken over the auto world and there are plenty of 3 row SUVs available on the market.  What does Honda Odyssey offer to make it competitive against the SUVs?  Let’s find out!

Honda Odyssey can seat up to 8 passengers, comfortably.  The word ‘comfortably’ is, I think, the biggest advantage it has over the competing SUVs.  The amount of leg and head room in the third row is much more generous than most 3 row SUVs offer.  Another huge advantage is the available powered sliding doors on both sides which provide ultimate convenience to loading and unloading passengers.  The Magic Slide Second Row seats come standard on the Honda Odyssey which allows you to reconfigure the second row seats to optimize between passenger comfort, cargo-hauling capability and easy access to the third row.  What I find useful of this feature is you don’t have to choose between second row captain seats vs. bench seats when you purchase the vehicle. Most 3 row SUVs out there force you to make a choice when you buy the vehicle but with Honda Odyssey’s magic seats, you can create captain seats when you feel like it or change it to bench-like seats when you need to carry 8 passengers. The trunk behind the third row provides a lot of cargo volume but at the expense of convenience getting your cargo out of the low trunk. 

What are the pros and cons of the Honda Odyssey?

First, it’s easy to drive and provides a comfortable ride.  The physical dimension of this minivan is 203 inches long and 78.5 inches wide.  As a comparison, the Hyundai Palisade is 196 inches long and 77.8 inches wide.  The suspension of the Honda Odyssey is supple and absorbs the imperfections of the road quite well.  Secondly, the brakes are strong enough to stop this minivan with a weight in the 4500lbs range.  The safety features and driver’s aid features make it easy to control this rather large vehicle.  In tight spaces, the standard rear-view camera provides confidence.

There are, however, some quirks that I experienced with my Touring trim tester.  For some reason the color of the screen when I played a bluray disc looks off; it was too purple. I tried adjusting the settings but didn’t manage to resolve it. Mind you, the system takes bluray as well as DVD so that’s a plus.  On a different note, I find the second row HVAC controls mounted near the ceiling to be inconvenient.  Kids can’t reach that high, especially if they’re strapped in their car seats.  Perhaps that was a good intention (to prevent kids from messing up the controls) but it prevented the passenger behind the driver to change the controls as well.  Why not just put the controls in the middle?

In summary, Honda knows how to build cars.  It drives well; the 3.5L 280hp engine provides plenty of power and the 10 speed automatic helps to deliver the power smoothly.  The safety features and driver’s aid features such as rear view cameras, available blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, forward collision warning and collision braking mitigation system etc. make the Odyssey easy to live with on a daily basis.  I also find some special features very useful, such as the in-car vacuum system (standard on all trims except for the lowest one), available sunshades in second and third rows and the available in-car cabin talk PA system.  

My Touring trim tester is the top of the line which includes all the bells and whistles mentioned in the article.  Its MSRP is $54,355 including freight and delivery.  The Odyssey line-up starts from as low as $41,655 and you can seat 8 passengers across all the trim levels.  In my opinion, if seating 7 or 8 passengers comfortably while keeping the cost at a reasonable level is your priority, I think the Honda Odyssey is a better choice compared to the 3 row SUVs out there. 

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