Finally admitting you need the space and comfort of a minivan is easy. But deciding which one to buy can be a challenge. The good news is there are really only four minivans to choose from now that the Nissan Quest is being discontinued. In our opinion, the new 2018 Honda Odyssey and 2017 Chrysler Pacifica are at the top of their game and quite similar in a lot of ways. Both are fresh off a new redesign, but here’s how they differ in key areas.
When it comes to handling, the Odyssey is more responsive and corners well, so in-town driving is fun. The Odyssey is also quieter than the Pacifica. On the highway, we prefer the Pacifica’s softer, smoother ride. Be sure to do both types of driving when you test-drive.
For those craving a little luxury, the Pacifica’s interior feels more upscale thanks to more premium-looking materials, a huge sunroof, available two-tone leather and a more substantial steering wheel. But where these two minivans really differ comes down to their second- and third-row seats. If you spend most of your time toting little people around, the Odyssey’s sliding second row is going to change your life, or at least make it a heck of a lot easier. The seats travel up and back, as well as side to side, so getting kids in and out of the car or just handing them a snack is a whole lot easier. But those who need to quickly shift from hauling lots of people to hauling lots of stuff will be impressed with the Pacifica’s power third row and Stow ‘n Go second row. The seats simply drop flat into the floor for maximum cargo space. No other van does this.
As for parental gadgets, you can’t help but like Honda’s Cabin Watch, which lets you keep an eye on the kids, even in the dark. Then there’s Cabin Talk, an integrated p.a. system that will save your voice . . . and, quite frankly, your sanity, when you have noisy kids in the back.
Kids will likely prefer the Pacifica’s dual-screen entertainment system over the Odyssey’s single dropdown screen. And this could be a deciding factor if your kids like to bicker over which movie to watch.
In terms of connectivity, you only get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on the Odyssey. The Chrysler has a homegrown system that does the same thing, but . . . it’s kind of not the same and requires an app on your phone.
As for safety, both minivans are outfitted with lots of driver-assist technologies that are mostly found on the mid to upper trim levels.
Price wise, both base models start at around $30,000. A fully loaded 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite will run you about $5,000 more than a similarly equipped Pacifica Limited. Both vehicles offer a typical 3-year/36,000-mile warranty. But Chrysler offers five years of roadside assistance versus Honda’s three.
Bottom line, it’s a close call. Deciding between these popular minivans really comes down to lifestyle, tech preferences and, quite possibly, budget. The Odyssey is more fun to drive, but the Pacifica has a more upscale vibe. We’re going to call this one a tie.
As you stand on the dealer’s lot, both vans are very compelling. The Odyssey is more fun to drive, but the Chrysler feels more like a luxury car. The Honda is quieter, but the Pacifica’s dual rear touchscreens might be a deal-maker for some families.
But there are a few things we can’t really measure during a week-long comparison. For example, we think the Honda will retain more of its value over the long haul. Since the Chrysler Pacifica is an entirely new van, this is just speculation. We believe the Honda will be more reliable over the long run, as well. However, we’ve recently had two long-term Chrysler vehicles and had absolutely no problems, so, again, this is speculation on our part. True, it’s speculation based on a measurable history, but, given how new these vans are, it’s hard to say with certainty.