2021 Honda Odyssey Minivan: A Family-Friendly Bubble of Comfort, Convenience and Safety

Honda Odyssey

Updated for 2021, this minivan’s clever features got even smarter.

After spending time in the Honda Odyssey, I have gone from “never, not me,” to “sign me up, I’ll drive a minivan!” I had the chance to test out the updated 2021 Honda Odyssey recently, and it has completely changed my mind.

I was impressed with the luxuries, top-of-the-line safety features and amenities. Additionally, our family fell in love with the space, the feeling of safety and security, passenger comfort and extras.

Related: Could the Honda Odyssey Minivan Be the Best Family Car Ever?

Honda Odyssey

Cabin Watch turns everyone into a ham. Photo: Penny Garduno

New Challenges Mean New Opportunities

Like so many families, Covid-19 was tough on us. We normally plan a lot of weekend trips to the mountains, the beach and theme parks. When we are not traveling, we cover a lot of miles going to soccer practice, girl scouts and school. Therefore, I look for specific features in our family car. Our kids’ activities change over the seasons, and so does the time we spend in the car. With Covid-19, it seems like more and more we find ourselves exploring places further away and less traveled by others. That also means we have to pack a lot more and appreciate standard features that make things easier and keep us safe on the road. 

The Odyssey’s family-friendly features made this all the better. Practicality, luxury and travel friendliness all in one fierce sidekick to mom life. My mind has been changed about a minivan.

Related; 2019 Honda Pilot Elite Review: A Luxury SUV For Adventurers

Honda Odyssey

My family at the Rose Bowl with the 2021 Honda Odyssey. Photo: Penny Garduno

Test Drive to … The Rose Bowl!

We had a fun opportunity to head over to The Rose Bowl in Pasadena with our test drive Odyssey. We were able to park on the lawn for a drive-in movie viewing of the new Lion King, hosted in partnership with Disney. Honda is the official brand sponsor of the Disneyland Resort, so this was a special treat. 

However, the drive to the Rose Bowl was a haul for us. Getting from Orange County to Pasadena through Los Angeles traffic can be awful. Fortunately, the ride was easy in the Honda Odyssey Elite. I was impressed that it was smoother than the SUV I drive daily.

Honda Odyssey

Notice the floor mats’ elegant new design that hides the dirt. Photo: Penny Garduno

Now, let’s chat drive modes. The new Honda Odyssey Elite has a sport option. I went from thinking of a minivan as simple plush comfort to the Odyssey with a kicking engine. Wow, am I driving a sporty mom van with quick pickup and take-off? I am so impressed by Honda, but I have loved the brand for years, so I’m not surprised.

Related: 2020 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring Review: This Might Be the Most Luxury For Your Money, Ever

Honda Odyssey

My kids loved the wireless entertainment system. Photo: Penny Garduno

Second Row Seats that Offer Tons of Options

Honda knows how to pack a lot in a punch, especially for car seat space! The Odyssey will fit three full-size car seats across the second row. If you want to create captain’s chairs, you can remove the middle seat from the second row.  Also, I have to mention that the second-row outboard seats can slide side-to-side or forward or back when the center seat is removed. That also gives passengers easier access to the third row. It’s brilliant. Plus, I’m not going to lie, it was totally fun to slide them back and forth when needed.

The center-row seats can either be fully removed or folded nearly flat for extra cargo space (this is an improvement over the 2020 model).

As a family that travels out to random places in the outdoors, especially during Covid-19, we appreciated so many things that come standard with the Odyssey that most of us would consider extra. A fully functional third-row fit for adults and comfort is a must for our taller-than-average family. With auto-sliding doors, low entry and completely removable second-row seats, cargo space is maximized.

Honda Odyssey

The chance to cut loose and run in the Rose Bowl didn’t escape this one. Photo: Penny Garduno

The third-row seats also fold flat, stowing into the floor. Yet, there’s so much space behind the third row that you may never need to.

It was really fun to pack over thirty balloons into the cargo area and surprise one of my daughter’s friends with a thirteenth-birthday porch set up. We didn’t pop one balloon, brought extra supplies and had so much space to make sure the banners didn’t mix together either! 

Related: What Drives Her: Lara Harrington, Honda US Chief Engineer is Focused on What You Want in a Car

Honda Odyssey

The 2021 Honda Odyssey. Photo: Penny Garduno

Talk About Minivan Awesomeness: Sport Mode!

We decided to grab a soda and take a drive before our test drive was over. I *may or may not* have (but totally did) put the Odyssey into sport mode, and wow, she takes off. The handling is tight on turns and easy to control. The cabin is so quiet even on the freeway driving 65mph.

Safety with Honda Sensing

The Honda Sensing system is standard on all trims. Honda has added road sign assist, which displays speed limit and other signs on the display screen. Honda Sensing also has an electronic brake booster, which applies the brakes when the system senses traffic ahead of you slowing. Additionally, it has adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, making stop-and-go traffic easy. I felt safe, and the ride was so smooth. My daughter actually fell asleep within moments of getting on the freeway, despite driving through stop-and-go traffic. 

Honda Odyssey

A big spill is nothing for the Honda Vac. Photo: Penny Garduno

Technology That Connects You – Even In This Big Space

I could not get enough of the Cabin Watch camera feature–yes, a camera in the cabin that displays on the screen up front! It comes in handy to see what’s going on with your kids or to make sure you don’t leave anything or anyone behind. Plus, your kids can have fun making faces at you. 

Cabin Watch works in conjunction with the Cabin Talk microphone and speaker system throughout the car, so you can see and hear what’s going on.

I also loved that there are five easily accessible charger ports and how simply the Odyssey connects to all smartphone devices for a safer, more manageable drive. Plug in your phone, and Apple CarPlay pops up on the screen.

Something I didn’t think about but also totally appreciated was the vacuum. It came in handy for those after-soccer nights when the turf pieces and dry grass are all over the place. Simply take the vacuum from the cargo all the way up to the passenger area to easily clean up the mess.

Highlights of the 2021 Odyssey

Here are some other highlights I wanted to point out that we just loved about the Odyssey:

  • The newly refreshed “face” with streamlined headlights and black details gives the Odyssey a more modern look
  • A rear seat reminder lets you never forget anyone or anything in the back; it remembers that you opened the doors and reminds you to check the back seats when you turn the engine off
  • Elegant new floor carpets that have a more modern look and hide even more dirt!
  • 22 mpg average with 19 city and 28 highway. Important for families who go from local driving to longer travel on the weekends
  • 280 horsepower V6 engine gave me the power to climb hills but maintain steady speed in the carpool lane
  • Hands-free tailgate always comes in handy for loading up the cargo area, as well as contactless delivery and pick-up options that we’ve gotten used to these days
  • Rain-sensing windshield wipers and all-season tires are a dream for a family that travels from sea to mountain and then some
  • Remote engine start is just plain awesome. It really comes in handy in colder weather states, but I’ll take it since we do get rain and some colder mornings. Anyone who knows me would say this is my go-to for cooling seats and getting the air-conditioning started on hot days
  • DVD rear entertainment system with wireless headphones. A bonus for the kids on long drives. This was wonderful during our drives, so I could listen to SiriusXM up front while the kids watched movies in the back. We played some of our favorite playlists too


Pricing starts at a very family-friendly $32,910 and peaks at $48,490 for the top-of-the-line Elite edition. The price of the 2021 model is about $1,000 more than the 2020 but has more standard features. All to convince me that a minivan is the way to go. And it worked. Mind: Changed.

Honda Odyssey

The large cargo area is perfect for loads of balloons. Photo: Penny Garduno

What to Listen to in the Honda Odyssey

Honda and Disney have a super fun partnership to launch the 2021 Honda Odyssey. You can follow along with their curated playlist and see some of the campaign by following the hashtag #EnchantedOdyssey. That inspired our latest family playlist for our test drive in the Odyssey… a blend of Disney favorites and some of our own. 

Disclosure: I was Honda’s guest at the “drive-in movie” at the Rose Bowl, and a Honda Odyssey was provided for my test drive. All opinions are my own.

Honda Odyssey

These seats are made for tailgating. Photo: Penny Garduno

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OnTheGoOC - Orange County CA Mom of 2 amazing kids & 2 furbabies! Inspired to keep positive, cook, travel,... More about Penny OnTheGoOC