Refresh makes the already excellent minivan even more compelling.
Although today’s families are clamoring for crossovers and SUVs, the minivan market remains very competitive even as the choices in it shrink. One constant? The Honda Odyssey’s excellence. For the 2021 model year, the already great van gets a makeover and benefits from a refreshed exterior design, more standard safety features, and second row seats that are easier to remove for those cargo-heavy Ikea and Home Depot runs.
The 2021 Odyssey’s new front-end design includes a blacked-out grille topped by a strip of chrome and improved LED headlights. Just below, the various intakes, vents, and fog light housings have been redesigned for a sleeker look. The minivan also gets gloss-black trim under the rear window that echoes the grille’s finish, and Elite models receive new 19-inch alloy wheels.
Previously standard on mid-level EX trim levels and above, Honda Sensing is now standard on all Odysseys, including the base LX. This is a significant addition considering how well the system works; we’ve praised the integration of the adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist in previous reviews. Now, Honda has updated the feature to include pedestrian-sensing automated emergency braking and adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow capability.
Also new on the safety front? Honda added a feature that reminds you to check the back seat area before exiting the vehicle, with an audible alert and a message in the driver’s display. Although similar to setups already offered by General Motors, Honda takes it one step further on the Odyssey Touring and Elite trims and uses the CabinWatch camera system to display what (or who) is actually in the rear seat using the audio information screen—an industry first.
The 2021 Honda Odyssey’s interior receives modest improvements, the most notable of which are second-row seatbacks that fold flat, making the seats easier to remove. Unlike the Chrysler Pacifica’s clever Stow ‘n Go second-row seats, which can be folded into the floor to make a flat load floor for bulky cargo, the Honda’s second-row seats must be removed entirely—a more cumbersome process we hope these new seats improve.
Unseen in the photos Honda provided of the 2021 Odyssey are the update climate controls, and the rest of the van’s changes, visible or otherwise, are minor and vary by trim level. On EX anad higher models, for example, there are illuminated USB ports and tricolor floor mats. Odyssey EX-L and higher models also get upgraded seats with contrast stitching, power lumbar adjustment for the front passenger seat, and seatback pockets for the second row. Piano black trim adorns the Touring and Elite trims, and Elite models get perforated leather seats in the first and second rows, and contrast stitching and piping on all three rows.
Nothing changes under the ’21 Odyssey’s hood, where a 280-hp 3.5-liter V-6 engine paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission still lives. That should mean Honda’s minivan remains quicker and boasts better handling than the Toyota Sienna, just a few reasons why it’s an overall stronger pick. But as we’ve noted, the Chrysler Pacifica is the king when it comes to versatile seating configurations and interior features.
We’ll learn more about the 2021 Honda Odyssey when it debuts at the New York Auto Show in April. That’s the plan, at least. But since coronavirus fears thwarted plans for this month’s Geneva Motor Show, we wouldn’t be entirely surprised if New York met a similar fate.
Prices for the Honda Odyssey will be released closer to the model’s release date later this year.
Pictured below is the pre-refresh Odyssey, in addition to the new 2021 model.