Test Drive: 2021 Honda Odyssey Elite
Miles Driven: 536
Fuel Used: 24.5 gallons
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||A|
|Power and Performance||A-|
|Fit and Finish||A|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||280-hp 3.5 liter|
|Drive Wheels||Front-wheel drive|
Real-world fuel economy: 21.8 mpg
Driving mix: 45% city, 55% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 19/28/22 (mpg city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Regular Gas
Base price: $47,820 (not including $1120 destination charge)
Options on test car: Platinum White Pearl ($395)
Price as tested: $49,335
The great: Super-spacious cabin; fully equipped with helpful, family-friendly convenience features
The good: Satisfying acceleration; nicely balanced handling for a minivan
The not so good: Traditional stand-alone options aren’t available; not all drivers like push-button gear selector
More Odyssey price and availability information
You hear the term “freshening” applied to a vehicle and you imagine a different bend in the grille, a change of wheel designs, two new paint colors, and maybe an inch added to the standard infotainment screen. Rest assured that term means a degree more to Honda for the 2021 Odyssey minivan.
Yes, the Odyssey—which dates to 2018 in its current form—has been cosmetically tweaked up front with a restyled grille, bumper fascia, and lights while new chrome-accented gloss-black trim is applied beneath the rear window. Deeper down, though, are changes to the seating styles and interior trim, plus improvements to tech and safety features. The beneficiary of the most of these upgrades is the top-trim Elite, which just happened to be the one that Consumer Guide editors drove for this test, wouldn’t you know.
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The Elite starts at $48,995 with delivery and packs much of what there is to possess in an Odyssey. Only a spray of Platinum White Pearl paint, one of four extra-cost premium colors (in addition to four standard shades), raised the tab for the test van to $49,390.
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Elite-exclusive upgrades for ’21 include a switch to perforated leather for seats in the first and second rows, and seats in all three rows are spiffed up with contrast stitching and piping. Dash trim takes on a deeper metallic appearance, too. The exterior features auto-dimming mirrors and redesigned 19-inch machined alloy wheels painted Shark Gray. Other alterations shared with some of the remaining four models further down the line include piano-black trim on the dash, doors, and around the front door handles; front passenger-seat power lumbar adjuster; and dirt-concealing tricolor floor mats. Second-row seats now fold almost flat, which Honda claims makes them easier to remove to expand cargo-carrying options, and they come with storage pouches attached to their backs. Grocery-bag hooks are added to the backs of third-row seats, and the center console is modified to help manage the placement of charging cords for phones and other devices.
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In the tech realm, new functions for the Honda Sensing safety package are “Low-Speed Follow” (added to the adaptive cruise control), pedestrian detection (added to the collision-mitigating braking), and traffic-sign recognition. They join the existing lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and road-departure mitigation. Note that Honda Sensing is now standard in all Odysseys. A rear-seat-check reminder is new, and the CabinTalk in-car P.A. and CabinWatch overhead rear-seat monitor can now be used simultaneously. The CabinControl smartphone app that allows rear-seat passengers to control rear climate and entertainment-system functions receives an interface that is easier to use. A USB charging port has been added to the third-row area.
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What the Odyssey already had wasn’t bad. Honda’s answer to the need for minivan seating flexibility is “Magic Slide.” Removing the middle seat of the second row opens a passage to the third row, but the remaining outboard seats can be pushed laterally to one side or the other to create back-row access, or they can be centered in a sort of mobile love seat. The central section of the 40/20/40 middle-row seat has three cup holders molded into its back, so when flipped down it serves as a functional console for the outboard seats. Room and comfort are excellent throughout, even in the third row that will legitimately hold two adults or three kids.
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Elite interior materials have a plush look and feel, with soft-surface material well distributed across the dashboard and doors. For in-cabin storage front doors have two levels of storage pockets. The glove box is good-sized and the console box is deep. What the latter lacks in length is redeemed by a drawer that pulls out of the forward part of the console and a “purse porch” on the floor ahead of the console. Long door pockets with bottle holders are found in the sliding side doors. Four exposed cup holders are in the console, the rearmost pair for the use of second-row riders. The sidewalls include cup holders and entertainment-system headphone-jack inputs in the third row.
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Back-row seats fold into the floor, establishing a useful cargo area. The manual-folding 60/40-split rear seats can be returned to their upright position just as easily as they can be retracted. With all seats up, the exposed depression in the floor helps to maximize load space—up to 38.6 cubic feet. The tailgate is of the hands-free type in Elites.
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The sole Odyssey powerteam remains a 3.5-liter V6 and 10-speed automatic transmission. The engine develops 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, enough for responsive launches from a standing start and easy highway cruising. Honda’s signature button-and-lever trans selector would be a bit more helpful if the range indicators were lighted. In darkness, say in a garage—even in daytime—it’s kind of guess finding the right button in a hurry. “Variable Cylinder Management” allows the engine to switch between 3- and 6-cylinder operation in a quest for fuel-efficient operation. The EPA rates the Odyssey at 19 mpg in the city, 28 mpg out on the highway, and 22 mpg in combined use. This driver charted 23.5 mpg in a 68.3-mile stint with 55 percent city driving, which was almost 2 mpg better than CG’s overall figure. Ride is quiet and sufficiently damped for a high level of comfort and there’s nothing terribly ponderous about the handling, which might surprise some people judging the Odyssey by its looks.
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With its comprehensive list of tech features, comforts, and conveniences—especially those that are new or improved for 2021—the freshened Honda Odyssey Elite is a vehicle that minivan shoppers certainly should seriously consider.
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2021 Honda Odyssey Elite Gallery
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