Minivans are unbeatable for their functionality and practicality as passenger vehicles, offering lots of room for people, pets and cargo, with good fuel economy and pricing within reach.
Counting retail sales alone and excluding fleet sales, the Honda Odyssey has been the top-selling minivan in the United States for the past 10 years.
The 2021 model has an appearance update for the front end including a new grille, bumper, and LED headlights. In back, there’s a new horizontal glossy black accent piece with a center chrome strip.
Inside the new Odyssey, the highly variable sliding second-row seat system is modified. Outboard seats now fold nearly flat, so they’re easier to remove.
The Honda Sensing group of driver assistance and collision avoidance technology is now standard equipment on every Odyssey model. Three significant components have been added to Honda Sensing for 2021: adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and traffic sign recognition. They join the preexisting forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, and road departure mitigation.
Odyssey’s trim level lineup stays the same for 2021: LX, EX, EX-L, Touring, and Elite.
The LX model ($32,910 including a $1,120 destination charge) has seven-passenger seating and comes with a respectable list of standard items including rear seat reminder, a feature new for 2021 on all Odyssey models to warn the driver against leaving the vehicle with a child or pet in the back seats. It can be integrated with Honda’s CabinWatch child viewing camera system.
Spend an extra $3,400 for the next-level EX and you acquire eight-passenger seating and some pretty tasty features beyond the basics, such as heated front seats with 12-way power for the driver, Honda’s Magic Slide second-row seats that slide sideways as well as forward and back, power sliding side doors (a must-have, IMO), three-zone climate control, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, SiriusXM satellite radio, and blind spot monitoring. LED fog lights are newly standard on the EX for 2021.
My Odyssey tester was the $48,940 Elite model, a rolling extravaganza with everything on the EX plus navigation, premium 11-speaker audio, rear seat entertainment system, sunroof, mobile hotspot, wireless phone charger, second- and third-row sunshades, power tailgate with hands-free function, built-in vacuum cleaner, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, rain sensing wipers and I could go on and on but I’ve already gone on too long.
The Odyssey engine is a wonderful 3.5-liter V6 producing 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. Its mate is a 10-speed automatic transmission and they are a perfect couple. Fuel economy ratings are 19 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined. Regular fuel is recommended.
All-wheel drive isn’t commonly found in minivans, and is not available among the Odyssey models. But Odyssey’s front-engine, front-wheel drive configuration provides a good head start for driving in snow. I had the Odyssey Elite during our recent big snowstorm, and with the minivan’s standard all-season tires and Snow driving mode, it was as right as rain.
2021 HONDA ODYSSEY ELITE
Base price, including destination charge: $48,940
Price as driven: $49,335
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.