2020 Honda Odyssey: The Perfect People Hauler?
A Review of the 2020 Honda Odyssey EX-L
Today we are talking about a minivan. That’s right, you read it correctly, a minivan. This is the 2020 Honda Odyssey EX-L. While it’s no secret North America is shifting away from minivans, the Odyssey remains one of six still made today. Personally, I don’t like the shift from minivan to SUV, because of how handy the minivan is, but we’ll get into that later. First, the history of the Honda Odyssey.
The Odyssey was first released for the 1995 model year. Similar to the Civic, the Honda Odyssey was born as the result of a crisis, this time Japan’s economic crisis of the ‘90s. There are actually a couple of Honda Odysseys; this North American version, an ATV, and the international-smaller Odyssey. Funnily enough, Honda marketed the North American Odyssey in Japan from 1999-2005 as the Honda LaGreat. The original Odyssey was based on the Accord’s platform. It came with swing open doors rather than the convenient sliding doors.
The current-fifth generation Odyssey was released in 2018. The fifth-generation is narrower and taller than the fourth generation. It also came with new technology like magic slide seats, CabinTalk, and CabinWatch. New for 2020, all Odysseys receive a 10-speed automatic transmission standard. Honda announced there would be a 2021 facelift bringing new styling, Honda Sensing standard, minor interior changes, as well as a rear-seat reminder for the forgetful parent.
The paint color on this $41k Odyssey EX-L w/ Navigation and Rear entertainment system is Obsidian Blue Pearl with 18” wheels, but you don’t care about styling because you’re buying a minivan. The Odyssey comes in Honda’s basic five trims and starts at about $31k:
2020 Honda Odyssey Trims
Each Odyssey comes with a 19.5 Gallon fuel tank, a max towing capacity of 3,500 lbs, as well as a 10-speed automatic transmission:
2020 Honda Odyssey Engine
The Odyssey hits 0-60 in 6.6 seconds, which is .2 seconds faster than Honda’s “sporty” Civic SI, but that’s a conversation for another time.
What It's Like to Drive
First things first, the Odyssey has plenty of power with the 3.5L V6. Also, if you’re cruising around and some fool’s trying to race you in the minivan, you’re in luck, this one comes with paddle shifters. It also comes with a snow mode which is great, however, they don’t yet offer the Odyssey in AWD which is not so great. Again, this has the conversation mirror which is great because it’s basically a school bus. It rides and maneuvers similarly to the Pilot, don’t get me wrong it’s not a smart car but it’s easy to navigate.
The Odyssey offers plenty of technology to keep the driver and the abundance of children entertained. It comes with the familiar 8” infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as a navigation system. This one comes with the rear entertainment system with streaming apps, HDMI, and the “How Much Further” app. It also comes with the CabinControl App if rear-passengers want to use it to change their climate control or control the entertainment system. If you opt for the more expensive Touring or Elite trims, you also get the CabinWatch app which uses a camera in the rear to display what’s going on in the back on the infotainment system. This is great because now you can watch your kids while driving instead of the road!
All the seats in this Odyssey are trimmed with leather. The second row has integrated sunshades, if you want the sunshades for the third row, again you’ll have to splurge for the Touring or the Elite trims. To keep the parents happy in the front it comes with a 12-way seat with two position memory, as well as heated front seats. Finally, the Odyssey comes with a remote start to get your climate control started before you get in.
The Odyssey comes with plenty of capability as a family carrier with things like a power tailgate, as well as seating for up to eight people. The Odyssey really outshines the Pilot with things like the Magic Slide Seats, which not only recline but they slide both front and back and side to side. On the Touring and Elite trims, it comes with a built-in HondaVac which is brilliant for a family car to clean up the inevitable messes from the kids. As well as seats that go into the floor for the third row and lay completely flat. For the second row if you need to haul something you can “easily” remove the seats and have a huge open space in the back. As you can see, the Odyssey offers far more cargo space than the Pilot:
2020 Honda Odyssey vs 2020 Honda Pilot Cargo Space
Finally, the Odyssey comes with an ejector seat similar to what you see in a James Bond film. The power sliding doors can be controlled from the driver's seat. So, if your kids want to get lippy, open the door and take a sharp turn. Problem solved.
People don’t buy minivans because they look cool, they buy them to haul small people and they want to know those small people are going to be safe. This Odyssey accomplishes this with an IIHS Top Safety Pick as well as Honda Sensing, Honda’s suite of driving assists, which are described in the Honda Pilot article. As well as a blind-spot information system to keep you from cutting someone off, making people hate minivans even more. It comes with a multi-angle backup camera to keep you from accidentally running over one of your spawn. As well as an auto-dimming rearview mirror and this cool reverse gear tilt-down, which drops the passenger mirror when you put it in reverse to keep you from curbing those sweet 18’s.
Honda Odyssey vs. Toyota Sienna
The Odyssey’s closest competitor is the Toyota Sienna. The Odyssey comes with the optional HondaVAC, Magic Slide seats, and Cabin Watch. All of which are not offered on the Sienna. The Odyssey is also more agile and fun to drive than the Sienna. Most importantly, the Odyssey is safer with its IIHS Top Safety Pick, something the Sienna does not have. For capability, the Sienna has five extra cubic feet of cargo space and offers AWD. Also, the Sienna offers better standard technology such as tri-zone climate and Android Auto/ Apple CarPlay compatibility. My winner here is hands down the Odyssey because it’s the more equipped family car with the optional vacuum, Magic Slide seats, and IIHS Top Safety Pick.
- Cargo Space
- People Space
- Seat Versatility
- Powerful Engine
- No AWD
The purpose of the minivan is simple, compromise style for capabilities. If you have more than three kids and need something with third-row seating I implore you to check out minivans because they’re where it’s at. With things like eight-passenger seating, an optional vacuum, and a ton of cargo space it’s what you need for a family. While it may not look as good as a Pilot, it’s time to put style aside. You have three kids. It doesn't matter how attractive your SUV is, you’re not picking someone up at the bar. If I had a flock of children I can guarantee you I would be driving the Honda Odyssey, not a Pilot or other third row seating SUV.