The Odyssey is a minivan, and the Pilot is a midsize SUV with a third row of seats.
They both have seating for up to eight, but the Odyssey can fit eight people more comfortably than the Pilot.
A lot of families who want a roomy, safe, practical family car are hesitant to buy a minivan. A lot of families are opting for SUVs instead because of their versatility, styling and ride height. However, drivers who are more focused on practicality than style are still opting for traditional minivans as their family haulers.
If you’re trying to decide between an SUV or a minivan, Honda has two great options for you with the Pilot and the Odyssey. They’re mechanically very similar, but have a few key differences you should know about. Let’s take a look at which family vehicle is right for you.
While they both share some of Honda’s design language, there are clear visual differences between the Odyssey and the Pilot. For starters, one is a minivan, and one is an SUV. The Odyssey has a traditional minivan shape, but its styling is actually pretty different from anything else on the market, and it might be the most eye-catching entry in its class. The 2018 Honda Pilot has a rather subtle, pragmatic appearance, and it’s boxier than the Odyssey. The Odyssey is longer, but the Pilot is taller.
Another big difference you’ll probably notice is that the Odyssey has sliding doors and the Pilot doesn’t. Sliding doors are great for getting kids in and out of the back easily, especially in tight parking spots. There’s nothing wrong with the hinged doors on the Pilot, but sliding doors are a nice convenience, especially optional power sliding doors.
The Odyssey and the Pilot both have seating for up to eight people. If you get into the higher trims of both and opt for second-row bucket seats, then the seating capacity goes down to seven. While you can technically fit three in the way back of a Pilot, the Odyssey’s third row has significantly more legroom. Since it’s a minivan, adults can fit pretty comfortably in the third seat of the Odyssey, while the Pilot’s third row should really only be used for kids.
The Odyssey also has the clever Magic Slide second-row seat system. This allows you to push one of the bucket seats in the second row toward the middle of the van. That makes it easier to get into the third row, even if there’s a child seat in both of the second-row seats. This is standard on 7-seat Odysseys and isn’t available in the Pilot.
From the driver’s perspective, the interior design of the Pilot and the Odyssey are pretty similar. The Odyssey is a little more generous with interior storage space. In both Hondas, the seats are comfortable and the interiors have a premium feel that makes it seem like you’re in a more expensive car.
The Odyssey and the Pilot both offer one engine in every model, and it’s identical. It’s Honda’s 3.5-liter V6 that makes 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is slightly different, with the Pilot getting 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway and the Odyssey getting 19 mpg city/28 mpg hwy.
A big mechanical difference between the two is that while they both come standard with front-wheel drive, only the Pilot is available with all-wheel drive. That makes the Pilot a bit more versatile in inclement road conditions or in mild off-roading.
Features and Technology
The Odyssey and the Pilot share a lot of features and technology, like the Honda Sensing safety tech suite. Honda Sensing includes collision mitigation braking, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist. Honda Sensing is standard on every Pilot and every Odyssey with the exception of the base Odyssey LX model.
A few other features that are available on both Hondas is Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, navigation, premium audio, a rear entertainment system and leather seats. A few features unique to the Odyssey are a built-in vacuum, an intercom so everyone in the van can hear the driver and Cabin Watch, which allows you to see what’s going on in the third seat on your infotainment screen, even in the dark.
The Odyssey and the Pilot are priced very similarly, but the Odyssey is a little more affordable across the model range. The Pilot starts at $30,900, and the Odyssey starts at $29,990. Since the trims of the two vehicles are so similar, you can compare the prices of each trim, and they’re very close. However, when you get into the top Elite trim, the price gap goes up. The Pilot gets more expensive, because the Pilot Elite has standard AWD and the Odyssey Elite is still FWD. So if you’re okay with FWD, the Odyssey is a slightly better value than the Pilot.
If you’re looking for the most practical family vehicle, then the Odyssey might be a better pick than the Pilot. However, if you just can’t bring yourself to get a minivan, then you might prefer the Pilot. Advantages like sliding doors, a roomy third row, Magic Slide seats and even an optional built-in vacuum make the Odyssey an attractive choice for big families, but if you really want AWD, or if you have your heart set on an SUV, the 2018 Honda Pilot is one of the most family-friendly minivan alternatives on the market.