No one grows up dreaming about driving a minivan. However, there comes a point in life where practicality wins out and you find yourself shopping for a truly family-friendly vehicle. Luckily, the Honda Odyssey exists. This minivan has enough comfort and features to make you genuinely excited about driving a minivan.
The Honda Odyssey was redesigned for the 2018 model year, and the new generation has a powerful engine, tons of space and family-friendly features like spill-resistant cloth seats designed to keep stains at bay. The previous generation of the Honda Odyssey was slightly less spacious and powerful, but still a good option among minivans.
If you’re considering buying a minivan, here’s everything you need to know about the Honda Odyssey, and why this is a van you’ll love to drive.
Price and Value: A new 2019 Honda Odyssey costs about $30,000 for the base trim, with higher trim levels costing more than $47,000. The Odyssey is slightly more expensive than other minivans, but it has vastly better reviews, so it’s worth spending on.
To save money, shop for a used Honda Odyssey. The most recent generation launched in 2018, so to get the most up-to-date Odyssey chose a 2018 or 2019 model. You can save even more by buying a previous-generation model, from years 2017 or earlier. However, keep in mind that generation had a smaller engine (248 horsepower versus 280 horsepower), slightly less space, and a middle row that is not as versatile as that in the new generation.
Size and Capacities: The Honda Odyssey comes standard with seating for seven people in the base trim. All other trims in the most recent generation have seating for eight, with a flexible bench in the center row that allows for the middle seat to be removed if you wish. The previous generation came standard with seating for seven, with an optional middle-row bench that gives the van seating for eight.
The Odyssey really shines when it comes to cargo space. The most recent generation has 39 cubic feel of cargo space behind the third row (for context, that’s the same as the massive Chevy Suburban). With the seats folded down, the Odyssey has a maximum cargo space of more than 140 cubic feet, more than almost any other passenger vehicle. The previous generation had 38 cubic feet of space behind the third row, and more than 90 cubic feet of space with the third row folded.
The Honda Odyssey can tow 3,000 to 3,500 pounds, depending on the trim (for maximum towing, chose the Touring of Elite trim levels). That’s enough to move a pop-up trailer or small boat, making the Odyssey a good option for active, outdoor families.
Engine and Fuel Economy: The latest generation of the Odyssey comes with one engine option: a 280-horsepower V6 that gets 22-mpg combined. The Odyssey is available only in front-wheel drive, and comes with a nine- or ten-speed automatic transmission.
The previous generation of the Odyssey (years 2017 and earlier) came with a 248-horsepower V6 that also got 22 mpg combined fuel economy. That generation comes with front-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission.
Features and Trims: The Odyssey is designed with families in mind, so Honda has filled it with family-friendly features. The latest generation of the Odyssey comes standard with stain-resistant cloth seats, designed to help keep your vehicle just a bit more clean when it’s filled with children. Speaking of children, the Odyssey has four LATCH systems, which are easy to use. Trim levels EX and higher come with Magic Slide second row seats, which allow you to remove the middle seat from the second row and slide the outboard seats into the middle of the vehicle, making it easier to reach children from the front seats.
The Odyssey is available in five trims. Here’s what you can expect from each (using specs from the 2019 model year):
- LX: Seating for seven; spill-resistant cloth seats; review camera with multiple angles; remote entry and push-button start; 5-inch display screen; Bluetooth connectivity
- EX: Seating for eight; heated front seats; 8-inch display screen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and high-definition radio; driver-assist suite, including automatic braking, blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control; Magic Slide second row seating.
- EX-L: Adds leather-trimmed seats; moonroof; power lift-gate; memory driver’s seat
- Touring: Adds parking assist; hands-free power lift-gate; an in-van vacuum; a Wi-Fi hotspot; and CabinWatch, a camera system that allows you to see the rear cabin from the touch-screen display.
- Elite: Adds 19-inch wheels; ventilated seats; automatic windshield wipers; in-car PA system; and a premium audio system.
Safety: The Honda Odyssey is a very safe vehicle. Every model since 2014 has received a five out of five safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The latest generation comes standard with a back-up camera, but safety-conscious consumers should choose the EX trim or higher. That will give you access to driver-assist features including blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist and departure warning, emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and parking assist.
Reliability: The Odyssey is a reliable vehicle. Model years 2016-2018 have a slightly above-average reliability rating of 3.5 out of 5 from J.D. Power and Associates. The 2019 model has average reliability – it was rated 3 out of 5.
There are six recalls on the 2019 Honda Odyssey, and five on the 2018 model. If you’re buying a used Honda Odyssey, be sure to check the VIN to see if the vehicle is subject to the recalls and whether the repairs have been completed.
Ratings: The Honda Odyssey consistently ranks highly among minivans in both of the last two generations. It’s considered an outstanding minivan in terms of performance and features, and the best buy for the money.
The Takeaway: The Honda Odyssey is genuinely a great vehicle. Its 280-horsepower V6 engine feels lively, while unique features like Magic Slide Seats and stain-resistant upholstery show the thought that Honda put into the vehicle. With tons of cargo space and decent towing ability, the Odyssey will never run out of space. While you might have once thought of choosing a minivan as admitting defeat, the Odyssey is a minivan that you can really get excited about.