Quick Look: 2021 Honda Odyssey Elite

According to Merriam-Webster, an odyssey is any long, complicated journey, often a quest for a goal, and may be a spiritual or psychological journey as well as an actual voyage. The year 2020 in itself has felt like a bit of an odyssey, filled with unexpected twists and turns. I guess it’s fitting that Honda dropped off an Odyssey minivan to finish the year out in style.

Unfortunately, my time with the Odyssey was shorter than I like to have for most of my vehicle reviews because of some travels that crept up. But I still got to spend a few days admiring the merits of the Odyssey — and realizing just how lucky today’s kids are. In the late 1980s, my brother and I used to ride in the bed of a pickup truck on a homemade bench seat – for reals. I think it had a seatbelt, but I can’t remember.

Contrast that with the plush accommodations found in any late-model minivan and it makes modern travel feel like an executive white-glove transport service. The Odyssey has rear air, entertainment, bucket seats, and a versatile demeanor that can suit a family of just about any size.

The Odyssey rides now on its fifth-generation platform, having been around since the mid 1990s. The van had humble beginnings, powered by a 2.2-liter 4-cylinder mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. Today, it has a 280-hp VTEC V6 which effectively puts it beyond even the power output of my 1992 NSX.

Couple that performance with packaging and content that rival most modern luxury cars, and you can see why the van gets 40% of retail minivan market share today. It’s also been the top-selling retail minivan for 10 years. While the one I tested had a sticker of nearly $50k, lower models start in the $30s. The window sticker is below. If I didn’t know better, the van feels way more “Acura” than “Honda.” And that’s a great thing.

While I didn’t get a chance to put more than a couple hundred miles on this van, I fell in love with it more than I thought I would. The easy step-in, comfy buckets, and heated steering wheel / seats were just part of the welcoming demeanor. I put together a 13-min video on my YouTube of some of my observations.

Back to my holiday weekend fun now. At 1:30 today, I’m picking up the buyer of my 1999 Integra GS-R and he’s driving it home. The car is headed back to California where it spent its entire life except the year I’ve owned it. I hope you all had a very happy and safe Christmas!

10 Responses to “Quick Look: 2021 Honda Odyssey Elite”

  1. This thing is a beaut! My neighbors directly across the street have an ‘18 in Touring trim (one cog down from your Elite). Empty nester couple, but they travel a lot and love the comfort and versatility. They can load it up with all kinds of stuff, including their bikes, with some room to spare. Definitely a vehicle Honda has nailed!

  2. Nice write-up and video review. I had relatives who owned the original Odyssey (that had basically the same engine as my 1994 Accord) – as you say, it’s certainly come a long way! From a driving dynamics perspectives, what was something you really liked, and what was something you felt could be improved? Just curious.

    • Driving dynamics, I liked the power. Those 280 hp were readily available and eager. As for a dislike, honestly, every time I do a car review I keep a notepad and pen in the center console for the duration of my evaluation with 2 lists: good and bad. I had a tough time putting anything down that was negative.

  3. Enjoyable video, Tyson!

    • Total hodge-podge of stuff in there, but I enjoyed putting it together. Next on my shopping list for sure is a decent GoPro camera for some driving scenes. Thanks Mark!

  4. My guess is that with Covid now being a thing we can look forward to seeing more of these than ever. In fact I’d venture to guess that the pandemic may have just saved the Minivan!

    As I mentioned to you previously our new 2nd gen 1999 EX (which was top of the line) way back when was about $27K. In additon if you include the ridiculous market adjustment of $2k that was charged (and I was dumb to pay) I’m guessing that doesn’t come close to the list price of this one even adjusted for inflation…

    • I read that Covid has caused a “baby bust” and fewer children will be born for the next several months. It will be interesting to see whether that holds any truth! Either way, families have it pretty good with this van!

  5. Ty MacWalters Says:

    Oh the memories that will be made in that van. I have lovely memories of road trips in our family van growing up, and now with COVID being such a dominate part of family planning and travels I see this generation recreating that family road trip experience. With the creature comforts that come with the Odyssey it hardly seems fair :). Great write-up. Happy Holidays Tyson!

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