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2020 Honda Odyssey Review

The 2020 Honda Odyssey is quite possibly the most overtly family-oriented vehicle on the road today. The design makes no attempt at fashion and this latest generation (introduced in 2018) moves away from the sharper driving dynamics of its predecessors. The Odyssey is unapologetically a minivan: a parenting tool as dedicated to the job as a BOB stroller or a BabyBjorn. It’s about the kids, not the driver.

As such, the big news for this minivan is in the back. The second-row seat in every Odyssey but the base LX trim is dubbed "Magic Slide," with outboard seats that slide side-to-side to move the kids closer together or further apart, ease access to the third row or create room for a middle seat that ups total capacity to eight. For some, this may be preferable to the Toyota Sienna and the Kia Sedona’s far-sliding captain’s chairs, or the Chrysler Pacifica’s Stow ‘n Go seats that fold away into the floor. You have to physically remove the Magic Slide seats if you want to turn your minivan into a cargo van.

There are noteworthy tech toys as well. Besides additional USB ports, various places to store handheld electronics and a user-friendly touchscreen for mom/dad/chauffeur up front, the CabinWatch camera lets you keep an eagle eye on those in the back (there’s also a standard convex mirror that does a similar job). There’s also CabinTalk, which allows those in front to do their best impression of an airline pilot over the rear speakers and wireless headphones. "Stop hitting your brother!" should be heard loud and clear.

Those are really just some of the Odyssey’s highlights. In short, it’s a must test drive for families, but to dig deeper, check out our long-term test of the 2018 model.

What’s New for 2020?

The 2020 Odyssey picks up a newly available 25th Anniversary accessory package, which adds some tasteful chrome. Also, the 10-speed automatic transmission with Idle Stop is now standard on every trim of the Odyssey. This transmission was previously reserved for the Touring and Elite trims. See the 2020 Honda Odyssey models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Loads of parent- and kid-friendly features

  • Supremely comfortable ride

  • Uniquely adjustable second-row seats

  • Safety tech standard on all but base trim

  • Newly standard 10-speed transmission

What We Don’t

  • Second-row seats don’t slide as far back or fold into the floor

  • Not as sharp to drive as past Odyssey generations

  • Fewer USB ports than rivals

How Much?

$30,690-$47,320

Fuel Economy

Every 2020 Honda Odyssey comes with the same engine: a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. A 10-speed automatic transmission with Idle Stop is standard on every trim which is new for 2020. Gone is the previously standard 9-speed. Fuel economy for every 2020 Odyssey is rated at 19 miles per gallon in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg in combined driving.

Standard Features & Options

The Odyssey offers five trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L, Touring and Elite. The base LX seats seven, while all others have the second-row "Magic Slide" seats with a removable middle portion that ups the seating count to eight.

Standard equipment on the LX ($30,690) includes 18-in wheels, a backup camera, rear privacy glass, automatic climate control, push-button start power front seats (8-way driver, 4-way passenger), cloth upholstery, a "conversation mirror" for keeping an eye on rear passengers, two USB ports (both in the front) and a 7-speaker sound system with a 5-in color display, an auxiliary audio jack and Bluetooth.

The EX ($34,690) steps things up considerably with forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, automatic headlights and high beams, LED running lights, fog lights, body-colored mirrors and door handles, power-sliding doors, proximity entry, tri-zone automatic climate control, second-row sunshades, heated front seats, driver 4-way power lumbar support, the CabinControl remote-control app and an 8-in Display Audio touchscreen interface that includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite and HD Radios and customizable feature settings.

The EX-L ($37,960) adds a sunroof, a power lift gate, an acoustic windshield, first- and second-row leather upholstery, third-row vinyl upholstery, driver-memory functions, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and two additional USB ports in the second row. The EX-L is eligible for an option package dubbed EX-L w/ Navi/RES ($40,060). That includes a navigation system integrated into the Display Audio touchscreen and a rear-seat entertainment system that includes a 10.2-in ceiling-mounted screen, a Blu-Ray player, an HDMI input, built-in streaming apps and the CabinTalk in-car PA system that pipes the voices of those front into the back (including through the RES wireless headphones).

The Touring ($44,960) adds LED headlights and fog lights, a hands-free power lift gate, front and rear parking sensors, the HondaVac integrated vacuum, third-row sunshades, in-car Wi-Fi, the CabinWatch rear-row camera monitor and everything from the EX-L w/Navi/RES package.

The range-topping Elite ($47,320) gains 19-in wheels, automatic wipers, power-folding mirrors, acoustic front and rear door glass, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, wireless smartphone charging and an 11-speaker sound system.

The new 25th Anniversary package celebrates a quarter-century of the Odyssey with chrome accents, special badging, and available 19-inch wheels. This is purely cosmetic and costs $1,500 or $2,800 if you opt for the available 19-inch wheels.

Safety

Every Odyssey comes with anti-lock brakes, stability control, front-side airbags and 3-row side-curtain airbags. All but the base LX trim has the Honda Sensing driver assistance tech suite, which includes forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and steering assist, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems and automatic high beams.

The government gave the Odyssey top 5-star crash scores for overall, front and side protection. The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named it a Top Safety Pick for its best-possible scores in all crash tests plus crash-prevention tech and LATCH ease of use. Its Acceptable headlight rating also contributed to the award.

Behind the Wheel

The Odyssey used to be the most car like minivan to drive, often compared to a big Accord. That’s no longer the case, as the latest Odyssey ultimately focuses on providing a supremely quiet, comfortable and isolating transportation experience. Steering, in particular, is light in effort and feedback, and not especially indicative of other Hondas. For some, this should be good news, but for others seeking a less overtly minivan-like driving experience, competitors might be a better call.

Every 2020 Odyssey has the same engine and transmission. The Odyssey’s newly standard 10-speed automatic transmission features an impressively well-executed automatic stop/start system. This transmission used to only be available on the high-end Touring and Elite trims and we’re very happy to see it as standard kit on every 2020 Odyssey.

In terms of the Odyssey’s interior, the word "driver-focused" never comes to mind. The overall design is very van-like up front, but the overall material quality is greatly improved from its plastic-y predecessor, and Honda’s latest touchscreen interface is a massive improvement over what’s in the Pilot. It’s not only easy to use, but it’s available with more features like CabinTalk and CabinWatch, which lets you better communicate and keep an eye on the little ones in the back.

Other Cars to Consider

2020 Chrysler Pacifica — We also had a long-term Pacifica and loved it so much we didn’t want to turn over the keys. It has its own unique set of clever, family-friendly features that you might prefer over the Odyssey’s as well as its excellent plug-in hybrid model.

2020 Kia Sedona — The Sedona doesn’t have quite as many toys as its rivals, but its design and driving experience are a little less overtly minivan like, which should count for a lot with many drivers. We also like how far its second-row seats slide compared to those in the Odyssey and the Pacifica.

2020 Toyota Sienna — The Sienna is the old man in the group, but an influx of tech last year helps keep it competitive. Its far-sliding second-row seats, strong engine, and sharp-handling SE trim level are standouts.

Used Honda Odyssey — Do you want the toys found on the upper trim levels, but your budget is restricting you to the lower trims? Well, why not consider a used Odyssey? The previous generation doesn’t have all those toys, but most of them are still present and you really won’t be giving up that much in most other respects. We recommend a model from the 2014 face-lift or newer.

Autotrader’s Advice

Skip the base LX. If a low price is that important, it’s probably smarter to get a used Odyssey. Otherwise, the EX provides such an abundance of extra equipment for the money that it’s really the best deal and should easily satisfy both your needs and wants. And sure, clever items like the HondaVac and CabinWatch are appealing, but they’re also restricted to the top two trims that start about $10,000 more. As for the new 25th Anniversary appearance package, we could take it or leave it. Find a Honda Odyssey for sale

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