2021 Honda Odyssey Elite: The Classic Minivan Wins Again

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Sometimes a Classic is a Good Thing

Minivans tend to get a bad rap. Most people don’t think they’re cool or desirable, even if they are the most practical and most comfortable option for many families. Brands know this and many of them have tried to redesign the minivan so that it looks more like an SUV. Honda hasn’t done that and the 2021 Honda Odyssey is still a top contender when it comes to minivans choices for families. And I think I know why.

For a Full Technical Review of this Minivan, Visit 2021 Honda Odyssey Minivan: A Family-Friendly Bubble of Comfort, Convenience and Safety

2021 Honda Odyssey Review

The driver and front passenger space is so roomy and I love that big space to set my backpack! Photo: Erica Mueller

Safety is #1

I love the way that Honda thinks about safety and how they include things like their full Honda Sensing safety suite and rear seat reminders on every single trim level. They also pioneered what is commonly known as the fam-cam (Honda calls it Cabin Watch) and have recently added Cabin Speak as well, allowing the driver to speak to the rear passengers without shouting, even when the kids are wearing headsets paired with the onboard rear entertainment system. I loved this technology when I had one kid all the way in the back. Our whole family loved Cabin Watch. It even let me see the baby who is rear-facing and it was especially entertaining after dark when the camera’s night vision mode made everyone look purple and exaggerated the fisheye effect of the camera lens.

2021 Honda Odyssey Magic Slide Seats

Look at the difference that makes in accessing the third row. Photo by Erica Mueller

2021 Honda Odyssey: Where the Magic Is

The Magic Slide center row seats that slide side to side come standard on all of the upper levels as well and were by far my favorite feature and what would make me choose the Odyssey over any other minivan. I thought they were cool when I first saw them at an event, but after a week of using the van, I can say they are a genius addition. It is sooooo much easier to access the third row when you can slide one seat over and I loved being able to move the baby away from the bright sun coming in the window and closer to one of her brothers who could help keep her entertained. I don’t want a minivan that doesn’t have these. Also, can we please get these on SUVs that have captain’s chairs in the second row?

Second favorite thing? Window shades on all the back windows, even the third row. And coming in as a close third would be the massive pass-thru storage in front of the center console, plus the little drawer under the console that can hide items you don’t want in plain view.

Related: Battle of the Minivans: Chrysler Pacifica vs. Honda Odyssey

Everything You Need. Seriously.

The model we drove was the 2021 Honda Odyssey Elite, which is the top-of-the-line trim, so maybe we got a little spoiled. But I think it’s safe to say that finding a trim level that includes all your must-haves in your budget is totally possible.

The Honda Odyssey starts at just $32,090 for the base model (LX) and tops out at $47,820 for
the starting price of the Elite model. Between these are the EX, EXL, and Touring models with
each of them jumping $3-4k depending on the features included.

The powertrain and navigation options are the same sizes across all the models so the
differences are seen in seat coverings, onboard entertainment, technology, and charging
options. The Touring and Elite models upgrade from 18-inch to 19-inch wheels. All models have
a towing capacity of 3500 lb so you can use your van to take a small popup camper or boat to the lake. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all trims above the LX, as are the blind spot info and cross-traffic monitor.


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A Personal Thanks to the Odyssey

“Boy, when you test a vehicle you REALLY test a vehicle,” a friend said when I shared my Honda Odyssey experience on line. That’s because while we had no intentions of testing Honda’s great safety features, we ended up being exceedingly grateful to the car’s steel structure when a driver ran a red light and t-boned us in an intersection. The Odyssey and the car that hit us were both totaled. The sedan’s hood had to be cut to separate the vehicles. But no one was hurt. Not even a scratch. The Odyssey sensed the crash and immediately connected me to emergency services and first responders were on the scene within minutes. The safety features were smart enough to realize it was a side-impact and only deployed the side curtain airbags, protecting me from any glass that might break and from hitting my head on that side. I was so impressed and so grateful for every single engineer who had anything to do with making the Odyssey a safe family vehicle. This incident definitely left me a little biased towards the 2021 Honda Odyssey as an option for our family!

Disclosure: Honda loaned this Odyssey to me for a week so that I could drive it and share my experiences with you. And in case you’re wondering, they were exceptionally gracious about the accident and even called me personally to check on us.

A web developer, digital marketing consultant, auto journalist, truck expert, photographer and lover of gadgets, Erica is a textbook... More about Erica Mueller