Minivan Best Buy of 2019
- Still fresh after its 2018 redesign
- Top-notch quality, first-rate utility
- Handy seating configurations
- Loaded with active and passive safety features
- Resale values are top among minivans
- Pricing starts at $31,085 (including $995 destination charge) | Price yours
- On sale now | See Odyssey models for sale near you
Still the Best Family Car in the World
The minivan category in today’s U.S. automotive scene isn’t exactly brimming with choices, featuring only the Chrysler Pacifica, Dodge Grand Caravan, Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona and Toyota Sienna. But don’t let that take anything away from the multi-talented Honda Odyssey, which for the second year in a row (and four times over the past five years) has claimed the KBB Minivan Best Buy Award.
While the Chrysler Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid put up a great fight (and have plenty of vocal supporters), topping the Odyssey in the KBB Minivan Best Buy category has thus far proven to be an insurmountable challenge. Honda’s minivan is just that good. It was totally redesigned for 2018, so it’s still very new, and for the 2019 model year we still maintain our assertion that the Odyssey is the best family car in the world.
Hype? Not really. We have spent a lot of time in an Odyssey (we have one in the KBB long-term fleet right now), which has given us a great understanding of its sophistication, its top-notch quality, its abundant features and its excellent overall utility.
Oh, and one other thing: Honda Odyssey resale values, along with KBB 5-Year Cost to Own data, are tops among minivans.
What Makes the Odyssey so Good?
It all starts with the minivan essentials: a solid chassis, seats for eight, a pair of sliding side doors, a spacious cargo area and cupholders galore. And of course, the 2019 Honda Odyssey is loaded with safety features. There are LATCH accommodations for up to five child safety seats, and a suite of eight standard airbags includes a pair of curtain airbags that offer side-impact protection for all three rows of seats. Also noteworthy: Honda Sensing is standard on almost all Odysseys. Besides active cruise control and collision-mitigation braking, this safety suite includes forward collision warning, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist and road-departure migration.
Versatility is perhaps best highlighted by the Odyssey’s Magic Slide second row, which features outboard seats that can be moved side to side or fore/aft. This allows parents to separate squabbling siblings or use the seats as a traditional full-width bench that’s remarkably comfortable for three. Alternatively, the seats can be slid to one side and all the way forward to improve access to the third row. As in all previous Odysseys, that third row folds and flips cleverly into the floor to create a flat and handy load space when the seat is not needed.
Other thoughtful touches? An interior camera lets the driver and front passenger keep tabs on the seats behind, even infants in rear-facing car seats. Also, Honda offers a CabinTalk system that broadcasts the driver’s voice on the rear speakers and headsets. (The communications system, we’re happy to report, works in only one direction -- from front to back.)
Convenience, Connectivity, Entertainment
Convenience is king in minivans, and here the Odyssey delivers abundantly. The Odyssey Elite we tested boasts a broad range of convenience items, everything from pushbutton start and an onboard vacuum to a tilt/telescope steering wheel and a premium Display Audio system featuring navigation, voice recognition and a multiview rear camera. If that’s not enough, it also has power sliding doors, a power rear hatch and power front seats, together with a power moonroof, a capless fuel filler and sun shades for the second and third rows.
In connectivity and entertainment, the Odyssey also delivers. A Blu-ray/DVD player is available, as is Sirius/XM satellite radio, wireless smartphone charging, and Apple CarPlay/Android Audio integration. Also, if you pay a monthly fee for a built-in cellular data connection, you can turn your Odyssey into a rolling Wi-Fi hotspot and stream video content to the 10.2-inch rear-seat entertainment system. Heck, you can even plug in your Xbox or AppleTV via the Odyssey’s HDMI input and wall-type power outlet. Of note, a Cabin Control app allows rear passengers to control the front audio system, the rear entertainment, and even the rear climate control via their smartphone. (You might not want to tell your kids about this...) The infotainment interface, by the way, is like that of your smartphone, with tap, swipe, pinch and zoom functionality.
The Driving Experience
Another Odyssey strong point: The 3.5-liter V6 engine, paired with a slick-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission, is a model of civility. It’s well isolated from the cabin, yet it pulls this van up to highway speeds with authority, returning about 20 mpg in mixed daily use. Driving the Odyssey is a smooth overall experience, aided by comfortable seats (at all positions) and accurate steering that has just the right amount of electric assist. Moreover, the ride quality is excellent, thanks to a supple suspension that artfully manages to soak up bumps and potholes without making this 8-seat van feel even the slightest bit wallowy. On curvy mountain roads, this front-wheel-drive Honda minivan belies its large size and continually reminds us of why we once called the Odyssey “the best-driving minivan we’ve ever driven.”
5-Year Cost to Own
Smart shoppers include our KBB 5-Year Cost to Own data in their research. Too often, consumers opting for the “great deal” on a car will end up paying more than if they’d paid a little extra up front for a more desirable model. While our Cost to Own figures take into account expenses such as fuel, insurance and maintenance/repair costs, the resale value component typically contributes to the biggest differences in total ownership cost. It’s the main reason a great $30,000 car can cost less in the long run than a good $25,000 car.
Used Honda Odysseys typically sell for more than a comparably equipped Chrysler Pacifica (or older Town & Country). Although we expect the much-improved new Pacifica to begin closing that gap, several factors will continue to fall heavily in Honda’s favor.
With its lower total ownership cost, its exemplary build quality and its abundant safety and convenience features, the comfortable but fun-to-drive Honda Odyssey is back in a familiar place -- earning itself another KBB Minivan Best Buy Award.
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