By on August 3, 2021

2021 Honda Odyssey

2021 Honda Odyssey Elite Fast Facts

3.5-liter V6 (280 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 262 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm)

10-speed automatic, front-wheel drive

19 city / 28 highway / 21 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

12.2 city, 8.5 highway, 10.6 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $47,820 (U.S) / $54,805 (Canada)

As Tested: $49,335 (U.S.) / $57,106 (Canada)

Prices include $1,120 destination charge in the United States and $1,970 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

Life circumstances force some folks to buy minivans. Others do so for the utility – coolness be damned.

Regardless of why one buys a minivan, he or she probably anticipates that the driving experience will be far from fun. But that’s not always the case – Chrysler’s Pacifica Hybrid (review forthcoming) isn’t a chore to drive. And Honda’s Odyssey is more engaging than the Chrysler.

Relative to the class, of course. We’ll get to that.

The Odyssey doesn’t take much of a journey into the unknown for 2021 – the changes amount to mildly refreshed styling and the addition of Honda Sensing, the company’s suite of driver’s-aid features, as standard. Honda Sensing itself gains new features.

The trim walk remains the same – LX, EX, EX-L, Touring, and Elite. Pricing starts at $31,790 for the LX, while an Elite like my tester starts at $47,820. Eye-watering pricing, perhaps, but then again the average transaction price is now over $41K. Given how the market has gone bananas between the time of my loan and the time I write this, that $47k almost sounds reasonable.

2021 Honda Odyssey

The exterior changes include LED headlights that Honda says are more powerful than before, a new front-bumper fascia, new fog-lamp housings, and a new “blackout” grille with chrome strip on top. A chrome strip also tops off the rear gloss-black trim. 19-inch wheels are offered on the Touring trim for the first time.

Interior changes are mostly minor, relating to trim and materials, with perhaps the biggest news being the addition of a third-row USB charging point on Elite and Touring trims, along with hooks for grocery bags in the cargo area and changes to the center console that Honda says makes it easier to manage charging cords.

There’s also a simplified switch system for managing the collision-mitigation braking system, lane-departure warning system, and the blind-spot monitoring system.

A 3.5-liter V6 that makes 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque remains underhood, mating to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

2021 Honda Odyssey

Let’s be clear upfront: No minivan will truly be on par with, say, a sports sedan, but the Odyssey is as engaging as these people-movers come. I’d probably stop short of saying it’s fun to drive, but it’s as entertaining to wheel as minivan can be. It’s better than the unremarkable competency of the Chrysler.

It offers adequate thrust for urban driving, and the ride is acceptably compliant, though it may be too firm for some tastes. This is the minivan for the Accord owner who reluctantly went #vanlife in search of more space/utility.

Safety matters in just about every segment, but it’s often top of mind for parents, and minivans are obviously thought of as family vehicles. To that end, not only is Honda Sensing (adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, collision-mitigation braking with pedestrian detection, traffic-sign recognition, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, and road-departure mitigation) standard, but so is a rear-seat reminder. There’s also a system that uses cameras to keep track of what’s happening in the rear seats.

2021 Honda Odyssey

Safety isn’t the only concern of the parent on the go – everyone likes to be coddled. And if you’re springing for the Elite, you will be. You’ll get an on-board vacuum, power tailgate, heated steering wheel, wireless phone charger, heated and cooled front seats, and rain-sensing wipers.

That’s on top of features that are standard on lower trims, such as LED headlights, third-row USB, Bluetooth, keyless starting, LED fog lights, sliding second-row seats, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, tri-zone climate control, heated front seats, dual power sliding doors, and navigation.

In fact, I am not sure I’d spring for the Elite, as the lower trims are quite well-equipped. Then again, there is an on-board vacuum.

Fuel economy is listed at 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway/22 mpg combined, regardless of trim.

2021 Honda Odyssey

Overall, Honda has executed a well-rounded package that marries minivan practicality with driver engagement. The Odyssey doesn’t feel quite as upscale as its Chrysler rival – or as the price tag would indicate – but like the van from Stellantis, it does the utility thing very well. And it’s about as fun to drive as can be, to boot.

The Odyssey and Chrysler both make solid cases for being tops of the minivan class – hence, the comparisons in this review – but the Honda is clearly the driver’s choice.

[Images © 2021 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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39 Comments on “2021 Honda Odyssey Elite Review – The Driver’s Van...”

  • avatar

    Love it. Makes me wish I wasn’t a childless heathen eating microwaved lobster.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Nothing about Honda Odyssey reliability.

    Consumer Reports says 2021 model predicted reliability is two out of five, similar to earlier model years.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      My 05 Odyssey was a lemon (complete with a 9-month lawsuit) because the arrogant dealer couldn’t keep it fixed. Never again.

      • 0 avatar

        “My 05 Odyssey was a lemon (complete with a 9-month lawsuit) because the arrogant dealer couldn’t keep it fixed. Never again.”

        That’s a very common take on Honda nowadays.

        The dealer couldn’t keep it fixed because “not able to be fixed” was built into its DNA from the moment the engineers pulled out the first sheet of clean paper.

      • 0 avatar

        SCR to AUX Do you realize you comment on every article Honda or not about your 2005 Odyssey? Frankly it’s annoying and had nothing to do with 2021. It sounds like uncle Rico talking about 1982. Your persistent spam comments about the 2005 Odyssey make cringe reading the comments and are almost as bad as Norm.

        • 0 avatar

          That’s funny. I’ve never noticed any other posts about his 2005 Odyssey.

          What about them bothers you so much that you feel the need to tell him to solve your personal problem for you by not saying anything about his 2005 Odyssey?

          Because it’s your personal problem to solve for yourself.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          @johnds: Yes, although it was another reader who brought up Honda quality, and I only offer the abridged version of my story at this point.

          Most Honda reviews are glowing. If readers come here to be informed, it seems the first-hand ownership experiences of the B&B are worth hearing.

          And actually, my experience does have something to do with 2021. Mfrs fail to realize that they usually have one shot with a new customer, and Honda lost their chance with me. Moreover, mfrs tend to perpetuate design features (and flaws) for many years. Under the sheet metal, there is likely a lot in common across those models years.

          Conversely, for a brand like Fiat, I’m always interested to hear from people that have had a great experience.

          • 0 avatar

            I’ll second the notion that auto manufacturers get one shot with a new customer. For me and Honda, it was with a brand-new 1985 Accord sedan. With less than 10k miles, the front disc rotors warped, and Honda refused to replace them under warranty (‘normal wear-and-tear’). I paid to have the rotors replaced and immediately traded it. It was my first and last Honda purchase.

    • 0 avatar

      There’s been 4 Odysseys towed in to the dealership I work at during the last month with blown transmissions, all with less than 200 miles on the odometer. As of right now I’d stay away from the 10-speed until the kinks get worked out.

      • 0 avatar

        Any issues with the 10-speed on the Accord?

        • 0 avatar

          I haven’t seen them come in for anything catastrophic, though I know there’s been complaints about it. Although I’m wondering if it has something to do with this transmission piloting a 4600 lb. minivan down the highway, ha.

          • 0 avatar

            Even if the transmission was made of glass, failures at 200 miles sounds like a manufacturing failure not a wear issue.

          • 0 avatar

            Just curious – I bought a new car recently, and the Accord Sport with 10-speed was one of the other cars I shopped. Worked great, but I have heard not-so-great reports on the transmission.

        • 0 avatar

          I had a 2014, 2016 and 2018 Accords, 2014 and 2016 with CVT, both were just “OK”, they had a “whine” in slow speeds and both cars would not move in reverse as soon as you start the engine, I had to wait a min or so till the car would move, the problem is you can’t replicate it at a dealer shop.
          The 2018 had the 2.0t and 10 speed, the transmission would kick bet 2nd and 3rd gear, I googled it and people said it will go away at 6 or 7k miles and it did but came back in a different way at around 15k, I did nothing about it since I hated all Honda service departments, also, the car had a recall that require leaving the car for a day but Honda does not provide loaner cars, no matter who I spoke too in Honda headquarter, nothing, they did not care the car in a leased vehicle and I do not own it so I simply skipped the recall.
          This alone left bad taste in my mouth so after 2 years and 4 month I got rid of the Accord and got myself a Mazda CX-5, I don’t know if it has anything to do with country of origin but the built quality of the Mazda is way better than the Honda, one example, my 2018 Accord was EX-L with the 10 speaker audio, not only that the sound quality was not so great, they never took the time to make sure the whole car is rattling (specially the back shelf) when you put just a little volume, they had a fix for it but only for the shelf, what about the rest of the car?
          In the CX-5, the Bose system works so good, not a single rattle or distortion no matter what volume, and this is by no means a luxury car.
          No more Honda’s for me!

      • 0 avatar
        A D H

        My transmission made it to 11k before skipping between 2nd and 3rd. Total replacement by Honda. Now have 26k and I have started driving it daily after selling an extra car.
        Quiet, comfortable, and plenty of power. Transmission still seems to get lost occasionally.
        Build quality on these could be much better! Lots of small details that aren’t finished well: carpet cuts, driver door gap, fuel door sticks out, etc. But it still has best interior, in my opinion, over the chromed-up Chrysler.
        Final item they need to address is the rear suspension is too soft. Kids complain of the bounce in the third row. When loaded, I had to re-arrange seats to do 3 across in second row and one kid in third to put weight between axles. Rocket box on top. And I added 5 psi to the rear tires for the trip.
        My favorite is the stiff chassis. For a vehicle with a gaping holes (doors) in the mid-section, it feels much more solid than prior generation.

    • 0 avatar

      yes, Honda reliability. I can tell you all the stories.

      There was a time where every vehicle in my fleet was a Honda product–and same with my family. Those days are gone, and Honda has nobody to blame but themselves. I now have a GTI, another GTI, an old Prius, and our new non-Honda van.

      We love having a minivan in the family, so a few months ago when we went to replace the 07 Odyssey (my wife bought it 4 years ago from a friend for CHEAP, so I bit my tongue), we went to the automall and drove all four of them. Toyota was worst to drive (I’m still astounded), Carnival was perfectly fine but sucked gas, Honda was fine but no thanks, and surprisingly enough we ended up with a Pacifica Hybrid.

      It was the best driving of the bunch, and it ticked off my requirement never to be ticked off again by paying to run a 14mpg vehicle. I’d been doing it for 20 years, and never again. Kia and Honda were both unapologetically “we suck gas like a sinkhole”.

      We immediately took the Pacifica on a two week family vacation, where it performed in a stellar fashion. Did it get Toyota Sienna Hybrid gas mileage? No, it got only 30mpg–not 36. But compared to the 14/22 the Honda V6 gets in the real world, I’m happy with that.

      Then we came home. I last filled the tank back on June 6, and it still shows above 1/4 tank. Take that, Kia and Honda. But when we go out to see family an hour away, we’re not stuck worrying about charging–the gas engine works great.

      All the advantages of a PHEV with a very smooth ride and absolutely none of the disadvantages of being stuck with Honda’s complete lack of reliability.

    • 0 avatar

      2 more stars than the Pacifica.

      • 0 avatar

        “2 more stars than the Pacifica.”

        I’m staring at CR’s 2021 minivan “predicted” overall ratings. Chrysler and Honda each get a 68. Kia Sedona gets a 61 (2022 Carnival not yet tested). Toyota gets a 77.

        In the reliability column, Chrysler and Honda each get a 2. Toyota and Kia get a 3.

        For 2020, Chrysler Pacifica achieved a 5 out of 5 in reliability. Honda and Toyota each got a 3.

        Can you clarify where you come from with your comment of “2 more stars than the Pacifica.”??

        With regard to driving experience, Pacifica rates 5/5 on driving experience, comfort, and styling. (And I understand why.) Honda rates 4/5 on each of comfort and styling, and only 3/5 on driving experience.

        Of course, in the details CR shows “Hybrid version loses stow n go seating” as a “con”, without mentioning the PRO of “Hybrid version gets significantly superior second row seat comfort”.

        Regardless, American Honda can go pound sand given the cars they build and how badly they support them. Back in the 80s and 90s, Honda was king–cars were lightweight, engines were small, and transmissions were simple (usually manual). The farther they move from that sweet spot, the worse they get.

        Starting in MY 1998 they got heavy enough and engines powerful enough that Honda simply couldn’t engineer reliability into those systems. It started with the V6 Accord in 98, followed by the big Odyssey introduced in 99. Glass transmissions all around. And that went through MY2005 before they finally figured it out.

        They had the hybrid systems, which they engineered so badly the only way they could get out of crushing warranty claims was to recall the cars and reprogram the hybrid system–so that it didn’t use the battery as much! Yeppers, quit using the battery and watch the problems go away. Except, suddenly those Civic owners who paid a premium for their hybrid cars are getting gas mileage no better than their non-hybrid counterparts, which had cost their owners significantly less. Screw you, customers!

        And then they went head first into cylinder deactivation, which turned out to be a complete mess. But what did they care, they needed the cars to last only through the warranty. Kick that can down the road, guys. The aftermarket took care of that, but only for people who bothered to find out. Get a simple harness jumper with a resistor and fool the ECU into thinking the engine is *just* cool enough not to meet the engagement requirements. Those who didn’t know, had burned up cylinders and big repair bills and claims from Honda that “well, we don’t think it’s a problem”.

        Finally Honda was so tired of dealing with it, their answer was to remove the dash light that told you the variable cylinder deactivation system was activating. Way to stick your head in the sand, Honda. “Let’s just stop telling the customers about our horrible failure that allows us to get a better EPA number on the tests. And it doesn’t have to last for more than 3 years/36K miles, at which point it’s not our problem anymore.”

        Then turbos. Turbos? Yeah, turbos. Ask a turbo CRV owner about gas in his oil, and about how Honda told him “that’s no problem, just change the oil sooner”.

        And now the CVTs, which are questionable even on a Toyota. Oh, wait–there were the continued glass geared transmissions, as they moved to the horrible 9 speed. And now the 10 speed is in question, on the heavier cars? Imagine that.

        I remember when Honda would fall on its sword to help out a customer with an issue that just plain shouldn’t be happening. Now they simply acknowledge that they build such problems right into the cars on purpose, so they don’t need to help out customers who are experiencing what American Honda designed the experience to be.

        The emperor has no clothes.

  • avatar

    I thought GM in the late 1980s was scattershot with button placement, but this Odyssey takes it to a whole new level. I think lane keeping assist is solely there to keep you from flying into the ditch or oncoming traffic when you try to find something in that mess.

    • 0 avatar

      How the mighty have fallen… Honda was once the leader in simple, straight forward dash layouts, but not anymore. Instead I’ve found Hyundai has taken over the crown from them.

  • avatar

    Would the $35,000 EX really be that much less fun to drive? Almost fifty grand for a minivan seems REALLY dear to me.

    While I’m at it, can we lament the death of nice, clean, conservative styling at Honda? Wow, is this thing overstyled.

  • avatar
    Funky D

    Maybe it’s just me, but any vehicle that has “adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, collision-mitigation braking with pedestrian detection, traffic-sign recognition, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, and road-departure mitigation” automatically included can’t be called a “Driver’s” anything.

  • avatar

    Honda internally claims their driving benchmark for the Odyssey is and has been the 7 series BMW, so…
    Also I guess Honda found another supplier for the vacuum. IIRC it was discontinued when ShopVac (the company) went under.

  • avatar

    Still no AWD? I’d say the Sienna AWD with hybrid standard would be a better bet than this for the role of Family Truckster. Looking at the transmission issues noted above, Toyota’s hybrid synergy drive is a well proven technology.

  • avatar

    It’s not that it’s OVERSTYLED, it’s that it’s UGLY. That droopy kink that makes the rear of the vehicle look like it was involved in a collision is design travesty.

  • avatar

    I’ve owned a 2014 vintage in Elite Trim since new. Nearly 100K now and it has been bulletproof. it was 42K out the door and though the monthly payment made my eyes water for 3 years, it has been worth every penny. The Elite was the only trim that offered the vacuum and blind spot monitor at the time, plus the 6-speed AT, and deals with all tasks much better compared to the 5 speed on my ’06 Ridgeline. Surprisingly tows better the the Ridgeline (after bagged, with p/s and trans cooler)as well while still maintaining 5 mpg better than the truck. I think Honda is their own worse enemy as the evolution of their styling doesn’t get better (worse in some cases, i.e. Ridgeline) and the features really don’t improve either. A ’06 Ridgeline has about 85% of the features of a ’21 ridgeline, and I just installed bluetooth in my ’06 for 30 bucks. My ’14 Odyssey infotainment is crap by today’s standards, but it’s not going to be obsolete enough for me to spend over 40K for the latest and greatest tech. In short, Honda has made good and bad engineering decisions on their models like every other company. But when they roll out a good product they are reliable to a fault (my ridge has 227K, and refuses to give me any problems).

  • avatar
    Avid Fan

    Just bought a 22 from our local Honda shop. This is probably our 8th or 9th Honda and all have been trouble free.

  • avatar

    I’ve never been a fan of white vehicles but it suits this

  • avatar

    For a minivan, the first choices would be either Pacifica (hybrid) or Sienna. They both have AWD options (although it’s not available on the hybrid version of the Pacifica).

    Next would be Carnival. Dragging up the rear would be the Odyssey.

    That’s right, a Kia before a Honda. The only thing the Odyssey has is that the 2nd row seats are removable, whereas they’re not on the Carnival. But, then, the same can be said for the Sienna versus the Pacifica.

    Regardless, they’re all in about the same price range when similarly equipped, and there’s no way the Odyssey is worth as much as the other three.

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