The Honda Odyssey is refreshed for 2021 and loaded with standard safety features. If smart is sexy then the 2021 Honda Odyssey is a knockout. The refreshed minivan is big on space and interior comforts. The Odyssey excels at what it was meant to do well: haul families and their gear in space, comfort, and safety. Like last year, the 2021 Odyssey starts at about $32,000 in base LX trim, then climbs the ladder in features and cost in EX, EX-L, Touring, and top Elite trim, which comes in at just under $50,000. Safety equipment such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control are now standard across the lineup.
The same 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 and a 10-speed automatic with front-wheel drive powers every Odyssey regardless of trim. It’s reasonably efficient with an EPA-rated 22 mpg combined, and the ride is reassuringly calm, quiet, and predictable. Inside, the Odyssey seats up to eight, with enough room for adults to ride in the wayback. Stow the third row in the floor and there’s more cargo volume than most SUVs with all the seats folded down. Safety is as big a priority as space in the 2021 Odyssey, with the NHTSA and IIHS bestowing top crash-test ratings on the minivan. With standard safety features across the lineup for the first time, the Odyssey is a safe choice in any trim.
The 2021 Odyssey looks a little sleeker then the Pilot and other crossover SUVs. Better known for form following function, minivans suffer from a silly stigma of domestic dullness. We still love them. Aside from the rear end, the 2021 Odyssey has a similar family resemblance to the Honda Pilot SUV and Honda Ridgeline pickup truck, partly because they all share some of the same mechanical underpinnings. Updated for ’21, the grille is stretched wider and the chrome bar moves from the center to the top, where it connects new LED headlights. The lower front fascia and fog lights also get buffed up. The sculpted side doors and hidden sliding door track remain. A new design on 19-inch alloy wheels graces the higher trims.
The 2021 Odyssey maintains a soft ride appreciated by minivan passengers but not while sacrificing handling which drivers appreciate. There are no powertrain changes for the 2021 Odyssey, and that works just fine. The 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 and 10-speed automatic transmission powering the front wheels gets the job done well, even when fully laden and heading over the mountains and through the woods. The familiar engine and relatively new transmission combine for a smooth ride, even when flicking through its 10 gears. There’s enough boost for most passing moves, and there’s even a bit of grunt off the line to beat other minivans in the stoplight grand prix. The Odyssey steers well in that it stays centered without much effort, and there isn’t much resistance when turning. For shuttling around town and cruising on road trips, there are few vehicles that do it better, especially for a minivan.
The 2021 Odyssey has above average fuel economy. With a 10-speed automatic and front-wheel drive only, the 2021 Odyssey is a tad more efficient than its all-wheel-drive counterparts, but is otherwise par for the course. The EPA rated the 2021 Odyssey at 19 mpg city, 28 highway, 22 combined. The 22 mpg combined rating is the same as the Chrysler Pacifica in front-wheel drive, but the Pacifica plug-in hybrid and the hybrid-only Toyota Sienna are far better. The Odyssey is 1 mpg combined better than the Kia Sedona. We still wish Honda offered the Odyssey with all-wheel-drive. We averaged 22.8 mpg in our week with an Elite test vehicle, somewhat better than EPA estimates.
The 2021 Odyssey is safe in a crash, and made safer by tech that avoids crashes. This year, the 2021 Odyssey is equipped with standard safety features across the board. Automatic emergency braking along with top crash-test ratings come standard. The 2021 model is largely the same underneath as last year’s minivan, which means we expect its crash-test scores to carry over. The NHTSA gave the minivan a five-star overall rating, while the IIHS awarded certain trim levels a Top Safety Pick. New for 2021, the Honda Sensing suite of active safety features that is standard on all trims includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, and a rear-seat reminder. The Odyssey provides good outward visibility from the front, but the long, wide body has significant blind spots on the sides and rear. Blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alert address that as standard equipment starting with the EX trim.
The 2021 Odyssey rides like a luxury living room on wheels. Inside, this ideal road-tripper is all about space and storage. The higher trims wear new refinements such as piano black trim across the wing-shaped dash and door panels, as well as perforated leather seats with contrast stitching. With room for seven or eight passengers, the 2021 Honda Odyssey offers the kind of spacious comfort only a minivan can provide. The Odyssey is one of the comfiest, specifically with supremely comfy front- and second-row seats, but also the interior versatility, quality materials, and capacious cargo room are all at the top of the minivan class.
The power-adjustable front seats on all trim levels are well-padded and comfy, and on the EX-L and above they come shod in leather in the first and outer second row seats. That row is comfy too, especially with the armrests on all but the base trim. In back, the third row could fit adults with plenty of head room and 38 inches of leg room, which is more than most sedans. With all three rows in place, there is 33 cubic feet of cargo space. That rear seat splits 60/40 and can be stowed into the floor with an easy pull of the strap for either side. That balloons cargo volume to 88.6 cubic feet, which is more than many three-row SUVs with both rows of seats down, including the Honda’s own Pilot at 83.9 cubic feet.
On all but the base LX trim, which seats seven, the second row in the Odyssey comes with Magic Slide seats that move laterally for easier ingress and egress when the middle seat is removed. Removing the other second row seats has historically been a load, but Honda says the seats in the 2021 Odyssey are easier to remove. We can report that while they might be a smidge lighter, it’s still somewhat of a chore. It can’t be as easy as the Chrysler Pacifica’s, which fold into the floor. With all seats folded or removed, there is a truck-like 144.9 cubic feet of cargo room.
The 2021 Odyssey has clever features and some of the best minivan driving manners. The Odyssey is made for road tripping in comfort and with convenience, except for the base LX and its tiny 5.0-inch display screen. For 2021, Honda offers the Odyssey in LX, EX, EX-L, Elite, and Touring levels, at a price that starts reasonably and tops out near $50,000. The 2021 Odyssey LX is not nearly as basic as a Chrysler Voyager. In addition to the standard safety features and nifty third-row seating mentioned above, the base model comes with a power driver’s seat, keyless ignition, two USB charging ports, Bluetooth connectivity, and 18-inch wheels.
Skip the LX for an 8.0-inch touchscreen that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. We prefer CarPlay for navigation and voice commands, and would rather leave the touchscreen and its narrow buttons for the passenger and let the driver use the steering wheel controls. There are a lot of deeper features through the Odyssey’s infotainment screen. The PA system on EX-L and above trims uses the Bluetooth mic to project the sound of inviolable authority from the driver’s seat without anyone needing to raise their voice. Odyssey’s CabinWatch on top trims lets you see a 180-degree view of the rear-seat passengers through a ceiling mounted camera that projects onto the 8.0-inch touchscreen. You can also zoom in on low light, or switch to infrared at night, and the fish-bowl view lets you check in on the littlest of passengers in rear-facing car seats.
The EX hits our sweet spot of value by adding room for one more passenger to seat eight. The second row “Magic Slide” seats can slide laterally to reconfigure the seating area, which is especially helpful on road trips so you can either have an aisle or make the cooler accessible to anyone, provided you go through the less cumbersome process of removing a seat. In addition to the standard content on LX, the EX trim includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, remote start, heated front seats, power sliding rear doors, three-zone climate control, and blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert.
The Odyssey EX-L adds leather-trimmed seats, moonroof, power tailgate, an in-car PA system, dual rear USB ports, and an available rear entertainment system with a 10.2-inch high-resolution screen. We’d skip it, unless everyone’s been grounded from their iPads already. The Touring trim includes that entertainment system and throws in a bunch of other thoughtful family goodies, like a built-in vacuum, an in-car camera to watch the second and third rows, wi-fi hotspot capability, and LED headlights and fog lights. At the top, the Elite trim adds heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, power-folding side mirrors, 19-inch alloy wheels, a wireless phone charger, and a boosted audio system with 11 speakers.
For 2021 Honda’s Odyssey continues to be at the top of the minivan class. New standard safety features, a refined ride and driving dynamics, and cutting edge technology for 2021 only help make the Odyssey even better. Whether your needs consist of running kids all over town, hauling home improvement supplies, or a fully loaded road trip; the 2021 Honda Odyssey excels at all of it and retains is class-leader title.
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