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2021 Honda Odyssey, All you want to know & watch about a Great Car

Aug 23, 2022
2021 Honda Odyssey, All you want to know & watch about a Great Car

2021 Honda Odyssey, All you want to know & watch about a Great Car

 

2021 Honda Odyssey Yearlong Review Verdict: A Van to Love

After one year and 18,258 miles of family hauling in our 2021 Honda Odyssey EX-L long-termer, what have we learned? A lot.

2021 Honda Odyssey EX L front three quarter 2

honda odyssey Full Overview

Dear Honda Manufacturing of Alabama employees,

When we first received your Obsidian Blue Pearl 2021 Honda Odyssey EX-L (VIN ending in 7577) we were elated to finally have the opportunity to use a minivan for one of its many intended purposes: kid hauling. Over the last few years, our editorial team has gone through a bit of a baby boom, including a new arrival for yours truly, so we were looking forward to getting down and diaper dirty in the familiest of family cars.

We got off to a strong start by sending the Odyssey from Los Angeles to Arizona with two different staffers, in support of a baseball tournament and a couple of family road trips. MotorTrend‘s King of the Highway took it on a series of epic quests, and then our Buyer’s Guide leader took his clan on a 1,000-mile odyssey.

But after front-loading the highway miles, we hit a bit of a mid-loan lull, where nobody seemed very interested in going anywhere, except for a run up to Pebble Beach with the Loh fam, your author’s longest road trip of the loan. Ever-changing COVID conditions created strong incentives to stay at home, so by the end of 12 months, we only amassed 18,258 miles, 1,800 miles short of our goal.

Along the way, we did manage to achieve an overall fuel economy average of 19.3 mpg. This is right on target for the Odyssey’s EPA-estimated city mpg of 19 mpg and almost identical to the overall fuel economy we logged with our last long-term minivan test, a 2018 Chrysler Pacifica. We do wish we saw an average closer to the EPA-estimated combined mpg (22 mpg), but the numbers make sense, as we largely schlepped the Odyssey on short trips to the beach and parks nearby and resupply runs to Target, Trader Joe’s, and Vons. The longest regular trip we’d make would be to visit our paternal grandparents, 60 miles away.

2021 Honda Odyssey EX L rear three quarter 2

For the rookie parents, your Odyssey won us over with its smart packaging and comfortable second-row seating area (where parents often split our time). The tilting, sliding (fore, aft, and side to side) second-row seats, with an easily removable middle jump seat, were the perfect perch for a new mother to peer into a hideously expensive, rear-facing child seat and spy upon the head position and breathing pattern her napping newborn, while furiously whispering to her husband to “Slow down!” Ask me how I know.

The Odyssey EX-L-is-for-leather covered seats were not only comfortable for these spying sessions, but seemingly impervious to a myriad of newborn lotions, potions, and secretions, as nearly every horizontal surface in the car was deployed for diaper changes. Note to new parents: The huge cargo area, with its low load height, looks like a great place for changing a baby, but stooping over can be hell on the back.

You’ll want the higher working area provided by any of the seats. The pull-up shades for the second-row windows were also greatly appreciated—not only for keeping the sun off our son, but for the additional privacy for the nursing mother.

For our trips to the beach, that massive cargo area created by the disappearing third-row seat easily swallowed our largest stroller, collapsible beach wagon, sun tent, cooler, all the towels, blankets, sand toys, and diapers—with room to spare, even for long items, like a 7-foot 2-inch surfboard via the aisle created between the second-row seats.

And then there’s the feature that separates minivans from all others. If you’ve never experienced the joys of remotely triggered, sliding doors that open and close at the push of a button (key fob and inside) or tug of the door handle, you have never truly lived—or attempted to get into a car while carrying a sleeping child in his seat, along with a diaper bag and a couple of bags of groceries.

The easy access pays off in these extreme situations, but it’s the little things, too: Tight parking spaces are no match for doors that slide. Nor are odors; the ability to pop both doors and the back hatch to air out a particularly noxious blowout cannot be overstated.

2021 Honda Odyssey EX L dashboard 2

While junior consistently overdelivered in that area, the Odyssey gave us precious little to poop on. Most of our quibbles were about options we wished we had selected, like Cabin Watch for baby spying, or options no longer available (HondaVac for errant puff collection).

The only specific quibble from the helm was a bit of hesitation after pushing the gas pedal. Not something you’d notice if the Odyssey is your sole daily driver, but something you pick up if you’re in and out of other cars. It’s worth noting that, once underway, the Odyssey moves briskly (quickest in class, doncha know) with a revvy engine note that reminds you of Honda’s roots. Passenger complaints were also few—on the hottest of days, adults in the third row mentioned the lack of cooling air flow, as well as tunes from the sound system.

We visited our local Honda dealership for two scheduled service appointments. The first one we wrote about extensively, because the very reasonable $92.52 oil change, multipoint inspection, and tire rotation grew by another $417.34, to repair a cross-threaded lug nut. A few of you emailed wondering why this was not covered under warranty, so we asked. American Honda’s PR rep replied, “It seems very likely that the repair would have been covered under warranty…” if we had asked the service advisor. But we didn’t, so bad on us.

Our second and final service appointment (B1, in Honda-speak), was a blissfully uneventful oil change, inspection, and tire rotation that cost us $125.79. In total, we spent $218.31 in maintenance on the Odyssey, which is reasonable in comparison to the last two minivans we tested: $276.88 for two service appointments for our 2018 Chrysler Pacifica and $364.30 for four scheduled appointments with our 2016 Kia Sedona. It’s also in line with the many three-row SUVs we’ve had in our long-term fleet, which range from as low as $0 (for brands that cover routine maintenance) to as much as $350 in a year.

As the newest parents on staff to spend time with your minivan, we’d like to say thank you and salute the Honda of Alabama employees who screwed together our Odyssey (except for the lug nut fella—he owes us 400 bucks). After getting over the initial hump of being a mom in a minivan, my wife quickly became a convert. She loved the space, convenience, and stress reduction that came with being anonymous.

Your author was 180 degrees the other direction: proudly stoked to have the ability to carry everyone and everything we needed, 24/7, no questions asked. Over time, the Odyssey became a stalwart and trusted friend. And like every good friend, we were very sad to see it go.

2021 Honda Odyssey Starting at $33,015

9/10C/D RATING
2021 honda odyssey front
  • HIGHS: Super practical interior, thoughtful tech features, novel second-row adjustable seats.
  • LOWS: Heavy rear seats are a chore to remove, slightly firm ride on 19-inch wheels.
  • VERDICT: Thanks to a roomy interior, reconfigurable seating, and lots of cargo space, the 2021 Odyssey is a great choice for modern families.

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Overview

While its name may suggest that it will turn the next family road trip into a grand adventure, the 2021 Honda Odyssey is far more likely to be appreciated for its day-to-day practicality. Its spacious and reconfigurable interior is perfect for hauling kids, cargo, or both and it offers a collection of inventive features that are intended to make family life a little easier, all of which helped it earn an Editors’ Choice award.

The Odyssey also drives far more pleasantly than its dowdy shape suggests and its silky-smooth V-6 engine pulls strong for highway merging and passing. Honda also makes plenty of safety features standard across the Odyssey lineup, but its main rivals—the Chrysler Pacifica and Toyota Sienna—do the same and also offer optional all-wheel drive.

What’s New for 2021?

Expected to go on sale by the end of 2020, the 2021 Odyssey wears updated exterior styling that gives it a slightly more macho look. New headlamps flank a revised front grille while more subtle tweaks have been made to the rear liftgate. The interior of the fancy Elite model is now fancier thanks to leather upholstery with contrasting seat piping and stitching.

Other Odysseys see small enhancements such as piano black trim, revised climate controls, and new floor mats. The base LX model receives the same standard driver-assistance features as the rest of the lineup—including adaptive cruise control and automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection.

 

Pricing and Which One to Buy

LX
$33,015
EX
$36,415
EX-L
$39,685
Touring
$43,725
Elite
$49,045

Go with the EX-L. The LX and EX come well-equipped, but the EX-L adds luxury features that families will love, such as leather seats, extra USB ports in the rear, and a power-operated rear liftgate.

 

Engine, Transmission, and Performance

Fleet-footed, efficient, and polished, the Odyssey’s powertrain is a sweetheart that requires zero compromises. The Odyssey changes direction crisply, and from behind the wheel it’s easy to forget you’re piloting a three-row van. The steering is direct and the effort is light, but more feedback from the road would be welcome. Driving enthusiasts won’t rave—it’s still a minivan, after all—but the Odyssey is the best-driving minivan, and its nimbleness makes it competent in corners and easy to drive on narrow roads.

Our Elite test van’s ride wasn’t as compliant as that of our long-term Pacifica, but its standard 19-inch wheels could be partly to blame. Our EX-L test vehicle wore 18-inch wheels and seemed better-suited to pockmarked Michigan roads. Over most road surfaces, the Odyssey displays a comfortable ride, and few passengers will complain.

2021 honda odyssey rear

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

The 2021 Odyssey is rated at 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, according to the EPA. In our real-world highway testing, our test vehicle outperformed its EPA estimate, delivering 30 mpg. For comparison, the all-wheel-drive Toyota Sienna delivered 27 mpg and our long-term Pacifica managed 33 mpg.

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Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

Hauling people and things to places near and far is a minivan’s primary mission, and the Odyssey completes said mission with aplomb. Its second and third rows are among the roomiest in the class, and its second-row seats are far more comfortable than the Pacifica’s. Honda’s inventive second-row Magic Slide seats (standard on EX trims and up) slide both side to side and fore and aft, allowing for multiple configurations.

Throw in a quietest-in-class cabin, a sprinkle of ingenuous tech—like an in-cabin camera that enables you to monitor the kids in the second and third rows—and the Odyssey is a hauler that is fit for the modern family. Its square shape and low load floor mean there is a lot of space for hauling cargo, but some rivals do it better and with less hassle. Removing those second-row seats requires muscle, as the two outboard seats weigh 68 pounds each.

Once removed, the optional Magic Slide seat mechanism remains on the floor, creating an obstacle for loading cargo. With the third row of seats stowed and its second row removed, our testing revealed that the Odyssey hauled five fewer carry-on suitcases than the Sienna.

2021 honda odyssey interior

Infotainment and Connectivity

Except for the base LX trim, all Odysseys get an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system called Display Audio. The software allows for customization of the menu layout and smartphone connectivity not only via Bluetooth, but also via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. Standard on both the Touring and Elite is a rear-seat entertainment system with built-in streaming apps.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)

View Crash Test Results

The 2021 Honda Odyssey earned a five-star crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but the latest model year was not named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but previous model years have performed well for both agencies. Honda also provides a full suite of driver-assistance technology, called Honda Sensing, as standard equipment on all Odyssey models. Key safety features include:

  • Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
  • Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
  • Standard adaptive cruise control

 

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

Honda’s standard warranty package on the Honda Odyssey mirrors that of most of its rivals and offers nothing that stands out in the crowd. The Kia Sedona is the warranty winner here, with a 10-year policy for its powertrain and a limited warranty that lasts two years longer than any of its rivals.

  • Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
  • No complimentary scheduled maintenance

 

Specifications

2021 Honda Odyssey

VEHICLE TYPE
front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 8-passenger, 4-door van

PRICE AS TESTED
$48,940 (base price: $32,910)

ENGINE TYPE
SOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement
212 in3, 3471 cm3
Power
280 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque
262 lb-ft @ 4700 rpm

TRANSMISSION
10-speed automatic

CHASSIS
Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 12.6-in vented disc/13.0-in disc
Tires: Bridgestone Turanza EL440, 235/55R-19 101H M+S

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase: 118.1 in
Length: 205.2 in
Width: 78.5 in
Height: 69.6 in
Passenger volume: 163 ft3
Cargo volume: 33 ft3
Curb weight: 4574 lb

C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 6.5 sec
100 mph: 16.6 sec
110 mph: 20.5 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 6.7 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 3.4 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 4.5 sec
1/4 mile: 15.1 sec @ 96 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 111 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 182 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.76 g
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.

C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 21 mpg

EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 22/19/28 mpg

 

Performance

How does the Odyssey drive? The Odyssey just might be the exception where it is OK to use the words “minivan” and “fun” in the same sentence. Its V6 engine offers enough power for your merging and passing needs even when you’ve got the cabin full of passengers. In our testing, the Odyssey Elite accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds, essentially an average time for a V6-powered minivan.

Precise steering and stable braking and handling give the Odyssey a confident presence both on the highway and along tighter roads. Is the Odyssey sporty? Not really. But it is well sorted and enjoyable to drive. Everything feels cohesive.

A smooth-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission unobtrusively chooses the proper gear for the situation. Standard steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are nice if you want to shift for yourself. If we had to nitpick, it’d be that the engine stop-start system (it turns the engine off at stoplights to save fuel) is a bit unrefined, but it can be disabled.

Comfort

How comfortable is the Odyssey? The Honda Odyssey is slightly ahead of its peers in yet another area. The front seats are great for logging miles on extended drives. The second-row seats are equally suited for kids or adults. Third-row legroom is limited, but two grown-ups can survive back there for shorter distances. Our Odyssey Elite’s 19-inch wheels likely gave it a firmer ride than the smaller available wheel options (smaller wheels mean more absorbent tire sidewalls). But generally speaking, there aren’t many bumps the Honda can’t absorb with ease.

Honda deserves credit for its noise-reduction efforts, and the Odyssey is the quietest minivan in the segment by our measurements. The available cabin intercom also lets you bypass the low-level road noise. A microphone picks up your voice and broadcasts it to the rear of the van via the speakers or through the rear entertainment system’s headsets. Now you can say “Stop touching your sister!” without having to turn your head around to shout it.