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Minivan Wars part 2: 2021 Honda Odyssey


Publisher Tim Esterdahl enlisted the help of his wife, Heather, to review the 2021 Honda Odyssey Elite as part of their four-part series of reviews we’re calling the minivan wars.

A Honda classic

Unlike the Pacifica and Sienna, the Odyssey hasn’t seen a major update the exterior for a number of years. The 2021 Honda Odyssey did get a facelift with some more rounded edges, but it is still very much a minivan and a classic Honda when it comes to styling. Heather says she likes it, and she is not alone. The Odyssey is a favorite for many families.

An on-board DVD player in the Elite model means no fooling with streaming from one’s phone or tablet, and a split climate control system allows the driver to control the front and rear climate separately or to sync them for simple adjustments.

Features that make the 2021 Honda Odyssey stand out

Cabin watch is an interior camera system that allows the driver to see every passenger in the van. This is helpful when you have littles in the second and third rows and you need to see why they are being so darned quiet. Did they fall asleep or are they pulling every single wipe out of the diaper bag? Cabin Talk is another wonderful feature that lets you communicate with the passengers in the backseats without shouting. Turn it on, and it will amplify your voice over either the rear speakers or the headsets.

In the second row, the new Magic Slide seats provide a whole new level of versatility, especially for families with kids in car seats. The captain’s chairs can move forward and back to adjust for legroom in the third row, but they can also move side to side allowing you to move a young child away from the door and closer to a sibling. This is extra handy when a car seat is installed in the second row, and passengers need to access the third row.

Many people, Heather included, find there is a learning curve to the new gear selector buttons in the Odyssey. They save space, but they do take some time to get used to. It is also clear Heather enjoys the paddle shifters on the wheel and finds they more than make up for the push-button gear selector.

Not for drag racers

If you’re the kind of driver who likes to punch it as you pull out of the driveway, you may be a little disappointed with the 2021 Honda Odyssey. While the van has plenty of power to pass other vehicles on the highway and gets up to speed in a timely manner, it isn’t the punchiest off the line, and Heather said she found the controlled start more sluggish than she’d like.

The other feature Heather missed was the 360-degree camera that is so common on newer vehicles. The Odyssey does have a nice backup camera, but it does not offer the around view a lot of families like, so hopefully that will be added to the 2022 model.

What do you think? Is the Honda Odyssey the van for you? Would it be in your top-10 family vehicles list like it is for Heather?

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Erica Mueller

Erica Mueller is a Texan, which means she believes that trucks are family vehicles and giant SUVs make good second cars. As part-time auto journalist for almost a decade, Erica enjoys driving all kinds of vehicles and sharing her experiences with others. Erica is the secretary of the board for the Texas Auto Writers Association as well as a contributor at A Girls Guide to Cars.

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