Over my 5-plus years with Autotrader, I’ve driven more minivans than I ever thought I would in my entire life. And in that time, I’ve become what I guess some would call a minivan convert. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still choose an SUV for aesthetic reasons every day of the week. But as a mom with young kids, I have been totally won over by the siren call of the minivan, with her sliding doors, low floor, clear pathway to the third row, rear-seat entertainment and much, much more. Over the past two months, I’ve been driving Autotrader’s long-term 2018 Honda Odyssey test vehicle almost exclusively. And last year, I got to spend a good bit of time with the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. For a thorough comparison of the two, check out our video 2018 Honda Odyssey vs. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica: Which Is Better?
Let’s Get Physical
A recent trip to the beach with my family had me using the Odyssey’s third row in a way I never had before. We needed to put an adult in the far back, but we also needed enough cargo space for the luggage and supplies of five people. The Odyssey has a 60/40-split bench in the third row, so we had to arrange it in such a way that would be most comfortable for the adult but still give us enough room for our stuff. The entire third row was up when we started contemplating the best configuration. We decided to leave the larger section (the "60") up for our passenger and fold down the smaller section (the "40"). The back of each section is outfitted with a strap that you have to pull in order to fold the seats down into the floor. It’s not hard to do, but does require a bit of physical effort. And at one point, the seats were partially down and it took me a few minutes to figure out how to get them back up. I was sweating by the end of it.
The Push of a Button
This is where the Odyssey largely differs from the Pacifica. You’ve heard the words "Stow ‘n Go" before, right? Surely, you have. Chrysler’s been marketing its proprietary seating and storage system for years. All you have to do is press a button (there are a few, allowing you to choose to fold or unfold the entire bench or just a section) and the third-row seats fold flat entirely on their own. I remember doing this in the Pacifica last year and thinking to myself that the folding process was a little slow. But after manhandling the seats in the Odyssey, I was seriously wishing for a mechanical folding feature!
Neither system is 100 percent perfect, and neither one would make or break my decision to purchase one of these outstanding vehicles. But it’s definitely interesting to note the differences. If you think you’ll be going back and forth between using the third row for seating and for cargo space fairly often, the Pacifica’s electronic folding system might be the way to go. But if a little sweat doesn’t bother you, or you think you’ll mostly use the third row one way or the other, the 2018 Honda Odyssey could work just fine. Find a Honda Odyssey for sale
Check out our 2018 Honda Odyssey New Car Review