By on July 30, 2020


It’s true that the once-hot minivan segment was shrinking rapidly even before the pandemic hit. Since then, things have only gotten worse for a vehicle type once seen as the go-to conveyance for growing families.

How bad is it? Our own Tim Cain recently traded in his Honda Odyssey for a shiny new Ridgeline pickup. We were aghast.

Well, this turn of events hasn’t stopped Honda from putting what it feels is its best minivan forward. For 2021, the Odyssey returns with a fresh(ened) face and new content. But can it budge the sales needle when it goes on sale next month?

This is one of those times when a before-and-after comparison is necessary to help illustrate the design refresh. The 2021 model is on top; ancient pre-refresh Odyssey on bottom:


But we’ve covered the new Odyssey’s cosmetic alterations already. Arriving at dealerships next week, the ’21 Odyssey asks an extra $1,000 for its base LX trim, retailing for $32,910 after destination.

The extra dough covers the addition of a standard Honda Sensing suite of driver assist features that incorporates such niceties as lane keep assist and collision-mitigating braking, as well as adaptive cruise. All Odysseys gain a rear seat reminder function to prevent kid tragedies. Elsewhere in the cabin, outboard second-row seats can now fold nearly flat (in EX trim and above), aiding their removal from the vehicle. These available Magic Slide seats can be pushed together after the center seat is removed, or bumped to either side of the cabin.


Useful additions to a well-regarded minivan, but what are Honda’s chances? Odyssey sales sunk 6.8 percent in 2019 compared to the previous year, dipping into the five-figure range for the first time since 1999. From 2012 to 2016, U.S. volume topped 120,000 units each year. Back in the late 2000s, Odyssey sales topped 170,000 each year.

The first half of 2020 showed a pandemic-accelerated dip of 24.4 percent compared to a year earlier, ensuring that this year will make 2019 look like a dream. The refreshed 2021 model faces a steep challenge, to say the least.

[Images: Honda]

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16 Comments on “2021: A Honda Odyssey...”

  • avatar

    Unfortunately, they have not addressed the horrible droopy a$$ design.

    • 0 avatar

      Minivan buyers purchase minivans for the utility.

      All of the swoopy “expressive” lightning bolts and jags don’t fool anyone into thinking it is anything but a minivan. But they *do* detract from its utility.

      (Note to stylists: The big-screen television loads from the rear of the vehicle. That means the rear aperture is the limiting factor. Get it?)

      [“Ethan (in third row) do you see the mountains over there?” “No, Mom.”]

  • avatar

    We leased a 20 Odyssey EXL in March right before the world closed down. We like it a lot more than our 17 Sienna SE that was a lease as well. I’m sure the new Sienna will be decent, but even our 17 was showing it’s age as a vehicle. Simply, compared to the current Sienna, the Honda just does things better. The 10 speed auto is fine, especially with Eco mode disabled and besides the infotainment system (which is still mediocre, just like our 14 Odyssey was) I have no real issues with the van. In another 3 years, likely to be another Honda, though maybe with a buy this time.

    Mini van is the best vehicle for family conveyance and nothing will change my mind from that.

  • avatar

    looks like someone bent it.

  • avatar

    I hope these don’t go the way of the manual. Nothing more versatile than a mini-van.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    The unibrow still annoys me.

    • 0 avatar

      They hid it slightly, but yeah it’s still pretty bad. Then again I’ve not been a fan of bifurcated headlights since they first bowed on Camrys 10ish years ago.

  • avatar

    When i see a family man driving a Mini Van, I think, cool. The guy has a big family and he s proud of it. Good on him !

    I think there is a way to market them as the cool vehicle for men that put the family’s needs above his need for peer approval of the car he drives.

  • avatar

    It looks more like a gen1 odyssey from the front now.

  • avatar

    I’ve got to believe the new Sienna will be as good as the Honda in most respects while delivering 50% better fuel economy for little if any upfront cost. FCA (or whatever the h*ll its called now) and Kia will rule the bargain bins. Honda will have a tough year ahead of it.

    • 0 avatar

      Suspect the new Sedona will pull a Telluride and attract a lot of buyers for its top trim.

    • 0 avatar

      We just purchased a Pacifica Limited. Granted it only has one option: the tow package. I wouldn’t call it bargain bin. It gets up to 25 mixed and 33 hwy. Lots of room and the sto-n-go is awesome. The 9 speed is smooth and goes unnoticed and works well with the Pentastar.

      I would (and do) drive the minivan over the CUV. It is better at everything so far. We will see what winter brings and how well it warms the cabin.

    • 0 avatar

      Unlikely. Toyota’s middle row seats are not removable. For those that buy minivans for utility (like me), that is a deal breaker.

      Also, Honda’s drive much nicer than the Toyotas and their interiors are more refined.

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