Oh, 2020, you were so full of surprises. But seriously, folks, who expected a reactivation of the minivan wars?
For those who’ve not been following along, Chrysler dropped a perfectly timed grenade in 2017 with the new – and brilliant – Pacifica. Perfectly timed, as the Toyota Sienna was extremely long in the tooth and the Honda Odyssey was still three years from its mid-cycle refresh.
Well, the 2021 model year brings the Odyssey’s refresh – and an all-new Sienna, which we haven’t seen or driven yet – and if anyone doubts Honda’s passion to stay on top, the 2021 Odyssey is all the proof you need.
The styling of the Odyssey has been the main point of controversy in recent years, because there were a lot of competing angles and edges. Those are smoothed out in the ’21, which also gets interior upgrades including leather upholstery in the top-of-the-line Elite model, which is the one I test-drove.
No changes under the hood. The Odyssey continues to be powered by Honda’s venerable 3.5-liter V6, making 280 horsepower. It features variable cylinder management for fuel economy, which is also aided by a 10-speed automatic transmission. The Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy estimate is 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway.
And like previous models, the new Honda Odyssey Elite has room for people and stuff. And yes, there are more cup holders than there are seats. If you have kids, you’ll understand.
The base price for the 2021 Honda Odyssey Elite is $47,820. The highlights of the standard equipment at that price include leather-trimmed-interior, 11-speaker premium audio system, navigation, Blu-ray/DVD rear-seat entertainment system and the ingenious HondaVAC built-in vacuum cleaner (again, if you have kids, you’ll understand).
And thanks to Honda’s one-price per trim level policy, that’s it. Apart from $395 for the Forest Mist Metallic paint, there were no extra-cost options. So, with $1,120 destination and handling charges, the as-tested price of the 2021 Honda Odyssey Elite is $49,335.
It’s hard to imagine a more complete, better minivan than the 2021 Honda Odyssey Elite. We should have the new Toyota Sienna soon, and it will be interesting to see what Chrysler, in the midst of yet another merger (this time with Peugeot under the name Stellantis) does to keep the Pacifica competitive.