- Front-wheel drive
- Heated front seats
- Magic Slide lets you move second row seats front to back and side to side (when middle seat is removed)
- CabinWatch lets you keep an eye on kids and CabinTalk lets you talk to people in the third row without shouting
- CabinControl app lets passengers control rear temperature, add music to a playlist and send an address to the navigation system
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allow you to use some of your phone's apps through the infotainment system
- Wi-Fi tethering
Aptly named, the Honda Odyssey is a minivan well equipped to carry families through all kinds of journeys. With flexible seating, lots of cargo space, an impressive range of standard safety features and great integration of tech, the Odyssey offers families a minivan that doesn’t feel like a minivan. And it’s competitively priced, too.
Today’s Parent Approved editors put the Honda Odyssey through its paces and arranged week-long loans for three families, and everyone was impressed by this minivan’s manoeuvrability and its family-friendly tech features that let you keep an eye on little ones in the rear seats. The Odyssey is offered in six trim levels, each with front wheel drive and eight-passenger seating. We spent our time in the top-level Touring trim and found it was a treat to drive.
Lots of safety features come standard on the Odyssey, including four-wheel anti-lock brakes, collision mitigation braking system, forward collision and lane departure warning systems, road departure mitigating system, auto high beams and a full complement of front, side and knee airbags. It all sounds technical, but the bottom line here is that if you want a vehicle to warn you when it feels a collision is pending, to help you with braking if it thinks you haven’t reacted quickly enough, to keep you from drifting into another lane, to maximize nighttime visibility on dark roads, and to cushion the impact if a collision does occur, the Odyssey has you covered. Our editors were impressed by the level of standard safety features, including some that are usually only offered at higher trim levels, such as adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist. Adaptive cruise control is a big help as it keeps a specific self-adjusted distance between you and the vehicle in front without having to touch the brake and deactivate the cruise control—great for highway driving.
The only option that requires an upgrade to the top-end Limited trim is a Blind Spot Information system with Rear Cross Traffic monitoring, which is designed to alert you to anything found in your blind spot and to warn you of any crossing traffic when you were backing out of a parking spot. While editors found the blind spot in this minivan quite minimal, the vehicle’s visual alert (a lit up icon on the inside of both the driver’s and passenger’s window frame) is a good gut check before making a lane change. Parent testers were also fans of this feature, and found the other features—such as lane keep assist and brake assist—kept them calm and confident on the road. All of our testers felt their family was very safe and protected while riding in this minivan.
Given its purpose, it should come as no surprise that there’s plenty of space for passengers inside the Honda Odyssey. Both our testers and editors were impressed by the amount of space available in the second row. Editors felt that adults would be able to comfortably sit in the third row with leg and headroom available (pretty typical of minivans, but something that you’ll appreciate if you’re trading in an SUV with a cramped third row). Editors and parent testers found the seats comfortable throughout. For the driver’s seat, all trims aside from the base LX offer 12-way power adjustable seating including four-way lumbar support, so you can find the most comfortable, ergonomic driving position. The front passenger seat also has four-way power adjustments. Heated front seats are standard throughout all trim levels, and the top-end Touring trim adds ventilation.
Keeping everyone comfortably cool or warm is easy with the Odyssey’s tri-zone climate control, which is standard on all but the base model. The separate temperature controls for the driver, front seat passenger and everyone in the rear rows prevents complaints about it being too warm or too cold, and it’s especially helpful if the kids tend to get overheated in car seats. Plus air filtration is built into the system; it’s capable of filtering out nearly 100 percent of particulates over eight microns in size (the size of most pollen), as well as about 40 percent of particulates down to 0.3 microns (about the size of diesel emissions). The filter system circulates both air within the vehicle, as well as drawing in air from outside to eliminate exhaust fumes and odours.
Minivans offer more cargo space than most family vehicles (with the exception of some SUVs). With all three rows of seats in use, the Honda Odyssey has 929 litres of cargo space available thanks to the large recessed area in the back that’s needed to store the third row seats. Our editors had no problem loading up strollers of all sizes—from a full-size single stroller right on up to large double and jogging strollers—with room to spare for a diaper bag and other baby gear. For those times you need more space and have fewer people in the minivan, the Odyssey offers 2453 litres of space with the third row fully stored away and flat to the floor. These seats can be folded in two sections (the outer seat and middle seat together and the other outer seat independently) for some cargo-to-seat space flexibility. And for rare occasions when you have something really big to move (like furniture or supplies for a home reno), the second row seats can be removed, too. (They detach easily enough with the pull of a lever, but they are a bit heavy.)
A power liftgate is standard on all trim levels of the Odyssey. It can be raised remotely with the use of the key fob from as far away as 50 feet, and there’s a stop and hold feature to prevent it from opening too high and hitting objects above. For those with low ceiling garages, the liftgate (on all trims except for the LX and EX) can be programmed to open at a set height to prevent any damage to both the liftgate or the ceiling. This can be done easily with the press of two buttons: when the liftgate is opening and reaches your preferred height, you simply press the trunk button on the bottom of the liftgate (or on your fob), then program the height by pressing this button again and holding until it beeps twice. The top-of-the-line Touring trim also adds hands-free access to the cargo area. With just a kick of your foot under the rear bumper, the liftgate will open—super useful when your hands are full with shopping bags, sports equipment or if you have a little one in hand. While these hands-free liftgates can be a little finicky, our editors and testers found there were no problems with it working consistently once they found the right spot to swipe their foot.
When it comes to unloading large or heavy things from the cargo area, you’ll have an easier time of things if the third row of seats are stowed because the floor of the cargo area becomes flush with the liftgate frame, making it simple to slide out strollers, heavy bags and so on. If you’re using the third row of seats, the cargo area is recessed, so a little lifting will be required. Regardless, families who tested the Odyssey said unloading things was easy-peasy.
The Honda Odyssey is one of the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid minivans available in Canada. The Odyssey’s nine-speed transmission (on all models except for the Touring) uses 12.6 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres in city driving and 8.4 L per 100 km on the highway. In real-world driving, this should mean you get about 10.7 L per 100 km on average. If you choose the top-end Touring trim, the 10-speed automatic transmission is slightly more efficient overall thanks to better efficiency in city driving. It has a fuel efficiency of 12.2 L per 100 km in the city and 8.5 L per 100 km on the highway, which averages out at 10.6 L per 100 km.
Minivans are purposely designed for optimum functionality and interior space, so the feel of driving one is different than with other types of vehicles. The Odyssey, with its lower overall height compared to other minivans, doesn’t feel overly large and our editors and testers found it quite nimble on streets and in parking lots. Our testers noted that sightlines in the Odyssey are good and editors found the seating position for the driver is high enough and comfortable overall. Our parent testers found no great difficulty with either merging on the highway or driving on narrow streets (with the exception of one tester, who found driving in tight areas only somewhat easy). Editors were able to pull a tight U-turn while driving the Odyssey–not something every minivan can accomplish as swiftly—and weaving through winding subdivision streets was effortless. Overall, editors felt the manoeuvrability of the Honda Odyssey is similar to that of a compact SUV.
Parking is generally a bit more tricky with a larger vehicle, but reversing into a spot is made easier with the Odyssey’s multi-angle rearview camera, which provides a live video feed to the eight-inch display audio system screen on the dash. The camera has three different angles including wide, normal and top down for added perspective and easier reversing. All parent testers had no problems reversing or pulling into a parking space, and those who attempted a parallel park reported zero troubles—in fact, one tester was surprised by how easily he was able to pull this off in the Odyssey.
One thing about driving the Odyssey that may take some getting used to is the way you shift between drive, reverse, neutral and park. The traditional gearshift has been replaced with buttons aligned vertically in the centre-stack, just below the touchscreen. This eliminates the gearshift that used to sit between the steering wheel and entertainment display in earlier Odysseys, and allows the driver an unobstructed view of a single touchscreen and all controls in the centre stack.
Our testers were impressed with the look and feel of the Honda Odyssey’s bright and spacious interior. All trim levels offer seating for eight, but the middle seat in the second row can be removed, leaving you with a pair of captain’s chairs and a bit more roominess. When the eighth seat is removed, you can use Honda’s Magic Slide, a remarkable feature available standard on all trim levels; this allows the two captain’s chairs to not only move forward and back, but also side to side. This unique feature gives families easy access to the third row without having to disrupt a child seat, plus the second row chairs can be placed side by side or separated—handy if your kids tend to get on each other’s nerves. Once the middle seat was removed, our editors found this feature super easy and intuitive to use and agreed it made getting in and out of the third row a breeze.
Fabric seating is standard on the LX, EX and EX-RES trims, and you’ll get leather seats in the EX-L RES and EX-L NAVI models. The top-trim Touring edition comes with premium grey leather seating with perforations for ventilation, which our parent testers found breathable and durable. Overall, editors and parents felt the Touring edition’s leather seats and siding materials are high quality, and they found the interior stylish and appealing.
A pair of really cool features in the Honda Odyssey—CabinWatch (available exclusively on the Touring trim) and CabinTalk (available on the EX-RES and EX-L trim)—make it easy for parents to keep an eye on kids in the rear rows and talk to them. CabinWatch’s roof mounted camera provides a clear view of both the second and third rows on the 8-inch centre touchscreen—especially nice when kids are in rear-facing car seats. When using CabinTalk, voices of the driver or front seat passenger are amplified into the rear seat speakers so that occupants can hear you better. If people in the back are wearing headphones connected to the vehicle’s entertainment system to watch a movie, CabinTalk will interrupt the audio feed so that they can hear you, just as it would be on an airplane when announcements are made from the flight deck. Automatic projector-beam halogen headlights across all trims (except the Touring trim which has LED headlights) also allow for clear visibility during nighttime driving.
While it may seem like a small thing pre-kids, parents know that the number and placement of cupholders is kind of a big deal. The Odyssey comes equipped with 15 well-sized spots for cups and water bottles and, for the most part, are quite accessible. Two of the cupholders for passengers in the second row are on the back of the front seat centre console, placing them perhaps just out reach for some kids in booster or car seats.
All trim levels of the Honda Odyssey come standard with carpeted floor mats, which can be a bit of a magnet for crumbs. But this minivan has a built-in vacuum (standard on all trims but the base LX trim), which makes cleaning up a breeze, especially when you’re on the go. One parent found this particularly useful when his son’s newly potted plant tipped over in the cargo area on the way home. (Just picture how easy it would be to get your car sand-free after a day at the beach.) That said, if you want an option that’s easy to hose down, you can get a set of all-season rubber mats for $291.09.
INSTALLING A CAR SEAT
You can install five car seats in the Odyssey: three in the middle row and two in the back. The LATCH anchors are very easy to access when attaching UAS/LATCH connectors, so you won’t end up with scratched fingers or broken nails. There are six tethers—three in middle, three in back—for forward-facing car seat installation, but they’re very low on the back of the seat so you’ll need to get behind the seat to secure the clip. Our editors liked that the headrests are easy to move up and down, making it simple to thread the tether through.
Since the dual sliding passenger doors offer wide openings, it’s very easy to place car seats in the vehicle, and to get kids and infant car seat carriers in and out once they’re installed. Plus, if you have the middle seat in the second row removed, Magic Slide lets you bring the Odyssey’s seat close to the sliding door while also having plenty of room to work around it during the installation. It’s worth noting that when we installed a convertible car seat rear facing at the infant recline angle (which needs the most front-to-back space), the Odyssey’s front seat needed to be moved slightly forward, but only slightly—not enough to impact the comfort of the front passenger. For forward-facing installation, our testers found it best to recline the vehicle’s seat a little in order to get the best fit.
Car trips in a minivan always benefit with some good driving tunes, and the Honda Odyssey comes equipped with a 150-watt AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3/Windows Media audio playback capability and seven speakers including subwoofer. On the top-end Touring trim you upgrade to a standard 550-watt system with 11 speakers.
Bluetooth streaming as well as both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility are standard. When either your iPhone or Android is connected via USB to the Odyssey, you are able to make phone calls, check your voicemail, read and reply to texts, use your phone’s navigation system and listen to music. Both devices can be used hands-free with a press of the talk button found conveniently on the steering wheel, helping you to keep your eyes on the road. Our editors found the voice control on the Odyssey to work consistently, however, there are set commands you must use in order for the system to understand you. You are also able to connect your phone via Bluetooth (which most parent testers were able to do easily) to make phone calls, stream music and access text messages without taking your hands off the wheel, making it easy to keep in touch with your busy family on-the-move. SiriusXM Satellite radio is available standard on the EX-L RES trim and up. The top-level Touring trim additionally offers a wireless charging system for your smartphone located by the centre console up front.
Also available on certain trim levels is an advanced rear entertainment system with a 10.2-inch, high-resolution screen, Blu-ray player and embedded streaming media apps. The overhead screen is mounted on the roof and drops down for viewing, allowing for clear visibility for those in either the second or third row, so everyone in the second and third row has a good view. The Touring trim level is also equipped with a “How Much Farther” app, which allows passengers to keep track of where they are and how much longer until they get there based upon the destination that’s been set in the navigation system. The Odyssey is also equipped for Wi-Fi tethering, which allows you to use your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot in order to access apps through the vehicle’s entertainment system.
Not all families looking for a minivan will have the same needs or the same budget. With that in mind there are six trim levels to choose from and six corresponding prices to go along with them. Pricing starts at $34,890 for the base-level LX trim and goes up to $50,290 for the top-level Touring. The base LX model of the Odyssey offers great value when it comes to parent-priorities, such as standard safety features, great cargo space and flexible seating. Moving up to the Touring trim will give you all the gravy, including features like CabinWatch, ventilated front seats and an advanced entertainment system. Each trim level offers an increased number of features and benefits so the value equation ultimately depends upon which trim level is the right choice for you.
Overall our testers were very impressed with the versatility and family-suitability of the Honda Odyssey. With a host of family-focused technologies, modern and clean styling and a comfortable driving experience, our editors feel that the Odyssey is a great choice for growing families who want a vehicle that provides flexible seating and cargo options, and is fun to drive. Parent testers were taken with the spaciousness of the interior and the comfort of the cabin. All gave it good to very good ratings for ease of use and quality, and they felt the technologies, entertainment system and appearance add to this minivan’s overall value. Plus, our testers all said they preferred the Odyssey to other minivans they’ve driven—quite an endorsement. With its impressive line-up of safety features, comforts for the whole family and slick, nimble package, the Odyssey is made for family adventures.
- Up to 8 passengers
- 3 rows of seating
- LATCH anchors for 5 car seats
STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES
- Front, side, front knee and side curtain airbags
- Adaptive cruise control to maintain a safe distance without needing to brake
- Electronic brake-force distribution
- Forward collision warning with collision mitigation braking system
- Lane keep assist with lane departure warning and road departure warning
- Hill start assist
- Tire pressure monitoring system
- HondaLink Assist Automatic Emergency Response System
- City: 12.6 L/100 km
- Highway: 8.4 L/100 km
- Combined: 10.7 L/100 km
ENGINE, HORSEPOWER, TOWING
- 3.5-litre, 24-valve direct injection SOHC, i-VTEC V6 engine
- 9-speed automatic transmission
- 280 horsepower at 6,000 rpm
- 262 lb.-ft. torque at 4,700 rpm
- 1360-kg (2998-lb.) towing capacity