Yes we get it, no one wants a minivan. Well get over the stigma, since it’s hard to beat the functionality of a minivan if you need to transport the family and all your gear. Yes a SUV may look cooler, but with eight people belted in, a minivan is way more comfortable than even some of the largest SUVs. One excellent example is the 2020 Honda Odyssey, which is better at hauling people and gear than the brand’s three-row crossover, the Pilot.
2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the Odyssey. Back in 1995 the minivan segment looked entirely different. Chrysler offered three different badges for its popular minivan, Ford played in the game with the Windstar and there were also the twins from Mercury and Nissan, plus countless other options. Today there are really only three players, the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. All three are excellent, but the most fun to drive option is the Odyssey.
You’ll hardly ever hear a buyer say that they want a fun to drive minivan, but the Odyssey is not only versatile and comfortable, but it’s also more enjoyable to drive than you expect. The Odyssey is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that’s now mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. With 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft. of torque on tap, the Odyssey picks up speed fast and its V6 even has a nice athletic sound.
The Odyssey is rated at 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.
Around town the Odyssey is comfortable and quiet, but you’ll be surprised to see how well the Odyssey performs once the road gets a bit twisty. On a road trip up to the mountains we loved how well the Odyssey hugged the road and its paddle shifters provided even more fun. There’s now way that we could have zoomed up to the top of the mountain in a three-row crossover with their higher center of gravity. It felt like we were driving a taller sedan or a large wagon, instead of a clumsy minivan. Kudos to Honda for managing to inject some fun where you wouldn’t expect it.
Inside there’s room for seven or eight passengers depending on which trim level you choose. It’s doubtful that any of your passengers will complain about not being comfortable, since ever seat is a great seat. The first two rows are comfortable and feel like you’re riding in a first class seat. There’s also the removable center section in the second row, once you remove it the second row seats can slide from side to side to make it easier to enter the third row. There’s only one thing that some buyers may wish the Odyssey had, Chrysler’s Stow ‘N Go seats that fold into the floor.
In the third row there’s plenty of room, which is something you’ll have a hard time finding with a three-row crossover. The Odyssey’s third row can actually fit adults. When you don’t need it the Odyssey’s split third row can also be folded into the floor to give you more cargo space.
In addition to the numerous cubbies and cup holders, the Odyssey’s interior is packed with tech features. There’s a DVD player to entertain your passengers and even the HondaVac vacuum in the rear cargo area to help keep your interior clean on the go. There’s a tri-zone climate control system and the front seats offer heated and ventilated. At the front there’s an eight-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Lastly there are two other unique features that you may have never thought you need, CabinWatch and CabinTalk. The CabinWatch system helps drivers keep their eyes on the passengers in the back due to a small camera in the headliner that shows what’s going on, on the eight-inch screen. If you get tired of having to scream at the passengers in the rear, the CabinTalk system lets you talk with the passengers via the speakers so you can save your voice.
To keep everyone safe, the EX and above trim levels come the Honda Sensing safety suite, which includes adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, road departure mitigation, and lane keeping assist. The systems function well, but the only gripe we had is that the adaptive cruise control won’t bring you to a stop if traffic stops, so instead it slows you down but then makes you bring the Odyssey to a stop on your own.
At the end of the day you’ll have a hard time finding a more versatile, spacious and fun to drive vehicle for your family than the Odyssey. Yes it doesn’t look as cool as some three-row crossovers, but the Odyssey more comfortable and you can do a lot more with it.
The 2020 Honda Odyssey is offered in five trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L, Touring, and Elite. The pricing starts at $31,785.