Embracing the Minivan Life
The 2021 Honda Odyssey gets styling and feature updates this year that increase its appeal for families. Minivans, once the top choice for families, now face stiff competition from a growing roster of crossovers and SUVs. Those cars are seen as cooler, more stylish, and more modern. That makes it more important than ever for today’s crop of minivans to deliver exactly what a family needs at a price they can afford.
Let’s face it – it’s hard look cool when you’re balancing a squirming toddler with one arm and fumbling for your keys with the other and minivans don’t really help the cause. Somewhere along the way they became uncool. They went from being a godsend with their sliding doors, roomy interiors, rear seat entertainment systems, and endless cupholders, to being the car you got because you didn’t really have another choice.
Well, today there are lots of choices and they’re just as well equipped. Whether you need to accommodate a small family or a large one, there’s an SUV or crossover that will do the job quite nicely without the minivan stigma. There are plenty of options, but the reality is nothing handles a family quite so well as a minivan.
People? Cargo? No Problem.
The Honda Odyssey has long been the cream of the minivan crop. It’s nicely styled, has an attractive interior with quality materials, and offers a variety of trims to fit most any budget. There’s seating for up to eight passengers with plenty of room to spread out and plenty of room for all your stuff.
It’s easy to reconfigure it so you can carry the kids and their friends one minute and a load of groceries the next. On weekends, take it for a family getaway or to the local home improvement store where its cavernous interior easily handles all the supplies for your latest project. A minivan is a truly versatile family car.
The Honda Odyssey is available in a range of five trims with the base LX priced at $31,790. The Elite we drove came in at $47, 820 and has a long list of standard features. On the comfort side, there’s tri-zone automatic climate control, integrated sunshades for the second and third row, a heated steering wheel, and heated and ventilated front seats with leather trims.
It’s incredibly comfortable. There’s the possibility it’s so comfortable I fell asleep in the cell phone lot waiting for my daughter’s plane to land and she had to call to wake me up because I didn’t notice her texts. Hey, it was late, it was a long day, and did I mention this thing is comfy?
The Elite trim has an 8-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay, Android Audio, and Sirius XM while the kids get a 10.2-inch rear entertainment system with wireless headphones. As a bonus, when they have those headphones on, they can’t say they didn’t hear you because the CabinTalk in-car speaker system sends your voice through both the Odyssey’s speakers and the headphones.
No matter which trim you get, safety features are plentiful. Collision mitigation braking, road departure mitigation, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and traffic sign recognition are all standard. Honda gets a gold star for making so much standard, even on the base trim, so you don’t have to spend big bucks to keep your family safe.
The Odyssey is available with a single powertrain that includes a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 280-horsepower paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission. It’s smooth and powerful and has no trouble getting this minivan up to highway speeds. The ride is smooth and quiet with nice handling, which is just what you want in a car focused on passengers.
On the downside, the Odyssey is front-wheel drive only. There are other minivans that offer all-wheel drive, which holds lots of appeal if you live where it snows. There’s also no hybrid option, which is again something that’s available on other minivans. The competition is tough in this segment and while the Odyssey is well-equipped, it is missing these key available features.
But what it’s not missing is the versatility to handle family life. Sure, you might look cooler in an SUV, or maybe you just think you look cooler in one. The bigger question is, who cares?
The 2021 Honda Odyssey proves minivans are still a fantastic choice for families. It has safety features to set your mind at ease, comfort that ensures even long trips aren’t a chore, and the versatility to reconfigure for cargo or people at a moment’s notice. If you have a family and you think the minivan life isn’t for you, the Honda Odyssey just might change your mind.