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Honda Odyssey 2021 review

The Honda Odyssey is powered by a 129kW/225Nm 2.4-litre petrol engine.
EXPERT RATING
7.1
In 2021, SUVs have proven to be the most dominate body style on the Australian market and are available across various sizes. Without a large SUV to call its own though, Honda is hoping the Odyssey people mover can tempt buyers with large families away from a high rider and into a minivan.

Nearly every car brand has jumped well and truly onto the SUV bandwagon in 2021, offering models in small, medium and large varieties for buyers of all budgets and lifestyles.

Honda Australia is a notable exception here however, and while it has the HR-V and CR-V to satisfy small- and medium-crossover buyers, there is nothing for those after a large SUV that seats seven.

To try and fill that gap, Honda has updated its Odyssey people mover with fresh looks, more safety and new tech to not only compete against the Kia Carnival and Toyota Prius V, but also the likes of the Toyota Kluger, Mazda CX-8 and Hyundai Santa Fe.

Can Honda’s Odyssey still cut it in a world that has gone SUV crazy? Let’s find out.

Honda Odyssey 2021: Vilx7
Safety rating
Engine Type2.4L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8L/100km
Seating7 seats
Price from$51,150

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

The 2021 Honda Odyssey range kicks off at $44,250, before on-road costs for the base Vi L7, and extends to $51,150 for the top-spec Vi LX7, which we have here.

Compared with the likes of the Kia Carnival (from $46,880) and van-based Toyota Granvia (from $64,090), the Honda Odyssey is more affordable, but doesn’t skimp on equipment to bring its price down.

As standard, the 2021 Odyssey is fitted with 17-inch alloys, keyless entry, push-button start, second- and third-row air vents, and a powered rear passenger door, while new for this year’s update is a 7.0-inch customisable tachometer, fresh leather-wrapped steering wheel and LED headlights. 

The Odyssey wears 17-inch alloy wheels. The Odyssey wears 17-inch alloy wheels.

Handling multimedia duties is a new 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, as well as Bluetooth connectivity and a USB input.

The 8.0-inch multimedia screen sit proudly in the centre stack. The 8.0-inch multimedia screen sit proudly in the centre stack.

Stepping up to the top-spec Vi LX7 nets buyers tri-zone climate control with second-row controls, powered tailgate, gesture controls to open/close both rear doors, heated front seats, a sunroof and satellite navigation.

The Vi LX7 comes with tri-zone climate control with second-row controls. The Vi LX7 comes with tri-zone climate control with second-row controls.

It’s a good list of equipment, but there are some notable omissions such as a wireless smartphone charger and rain-sensing wipers, while the handbrake is one of those old-school foot-operated ones, which is a shame to see in 2021.

Nevertheless, even the top-spec Vi LX7 we have on test here is still relative affordable compared to rivals, and offers plenty of space for the price.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

Gone are the days where people movers could be considered daggy or uncool. No, please, don’t click away, we’re serious!

The 2021 Honda Odyssey features a new front grille, bumper and headlights that combine for a much more imposing and aggressive front fascia.

The chrome highlights look especially good against the 'Obsidian Blue' paintwork of our test car, at least to our eyes, and between this and the new Kia Carnival, people movers might just be cool again.

The 2021 Honda Odyssey features a new front grille. The 2021 Honda Odyssey features a new front grille.

In profile, the 17-inch wheels do look a little small next to the massive doors and huge panels, but they do feature a funky two-tone look.

The chrome touches also follow along the Odyssey’s flanks and are found in the door handles and window surrounds to break things up a bit.

From the rear, the Odyssey’s large dimensions are hard to hide, but Honda has tried to jazz things up with a roof-mounted rear spoiler and more chrome around the tail-lights and rear fog light surrounds.

The chrome highlights look good against the 'Obsidian Blue' paintwork of our test car. The chrome highlights look good against the 'Obsidian Blue' paintwork of our test car.

Overall, the Odyssey looks handsome and confident without straying into the ‘trying too hard’ or ‘over the top’ territory, and if anything, at least it’s not another high-riding SUV, which are quickly overtaking streets and car parks the world over.

Step inside and the Odyssey’s layout is nothing special, but gets the job done.

The shifter is on the dashboard to maximum interior space. The shifter is on the dashboard to maximum interior space.

The first- and second-row seats are plush and comfortable, while the dashboard also features woodgrain touches to lift the interior ambience.

The 8.0-inch multimedia screen sit proudly in the centre stack, while the shifter is on the dashboard to maximum interior space.

How practical is the space inside?   9/10

Measuring 4855mm long, 1820mm wide, 1710mm tall and with a 2900mm wheelbase, the Honda Odyssey is not just an imposing behemoth on the outside, but also a spacious and practical people mover on the inside.

Up front, occupants are treated to plush and comfortable seats with electronic adjustment and individual fold-down armrests.

The first-row seats are plush and comfortable. The first-row seats are plush and comfortable.

Storage options abound, with deep door pockets, a dual-chamber glove box, and a tricked-out centre storage console that can retract into the centre stack and features two hidden cupholders.

Because of the compact engine and transmission package, and the fact the centre console tucks away, there is actually just empty space between the two front occupants, which is a missed opportunity.

Maybe Honda could have put another storage bin there, or even a cooled box for chilled drinks on long road trips. Either way it’s a notable, unexploited cavity.

Storage options are endless in the Odyssey. Storage options are endless in the Odyssey.

The second-row seats are probably the place to be in the Odyssey, though, with its two captain’s chairs offering supreme comfort.

Adjustability is also plentiful, with forward/backwards, recline and even left/right positioning available.

However, while there are cupholders and roof-mounted climate controls present, there really isn’t much else to keep second-row occupants, well, occupied.

The second-row seats are probably the place to be in the Odyssey. The second-row seats are probably the place to be in the Odyssey.

Would be nice to see some charging ports or even entertainment screens to keep kids and adults placated on long journeys, but at least the head, shoulder, and legroom is generous.

In the third row, it’s a tighter squeeze, but I managed to get my 183cm (6'0") frame comfortable.

The three-row bench is the least comfy place to be, but there is a charging outlet and cupholders back there.

The third row is a tight squeeze. The third row is a tight squeeze.

Those with child seats also take note, the second-row captain’s chairs top-tether anchor point is very low down on the seat back, meaning you might have to max out the strap length to get it there.

Also, because of the captain’s chairs, the top tether strap can be knocked off quite easily, as the inner shoulders of the seats are smooth offering nothing for the strap to catch onto if pushed towards the middle of the car.

And you can’t even install the car seat in the third row because the bench seat doesn’t feature any ISOFIX points

With all seats in place, the boot will happily swallow 322 litres (VDA) of volume, more than enough for groceries, school bags or even the stroller.

With all seats in place, boot space is rated at 322 litres (VDA). With all seats in place, boot space is rated at 322 litres (VDA).

However, the boot floor is quite deep, making the retrieval of bulkier and heavy items a little cumbersome.

With the third-row folded, though, that cavity is filled in and the Odyssey features a completely flat floor then able to take on 1725L of volume.

Cargo capacity grows to 1725 litres with the third-row folded. Cargo capacity grows to 1725 litres with the third-row folded.

Honda has even found a place for the space saver spare wheel, though it’s not underneath the car or tucked into the boot floor as you'd expect.

The spare is under the two front seats, and requires the removal of some interior carpets and trim to access. 

It’s not in the most convenient of places, but props to Honda for getting one in there when other seven-seaters just opt for a puncture repair kit. 

The spare is stored under the two front seats. The spare is stored under the two front seats.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   5/10

All 2021 Honda Odysseys are powered by a 129kW/225Nm 2.4-litre ‘K24W’ four-cylinder petrol engine, which drives the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

Peak power is available at 6200rpm, while maximum torque is on stream from 4000rpm.

Honda diehards might note the K24 engine designation and be reminded of the rev-hungry 2.4-litre unit of the Accord Euro from the early 2000s, but this Odyssey’s powerplant is built for efficiency rather than performance.

The 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine produces 129kW/225Nm. The 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine produces 129kW/225Nm.

Compared to the likes of the Kia Carnival (which is available with a 216kW/355Nm 3.5-litre V6 or 148kW/440Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel) the Odyssey is noticeably down on power.

The Australian Odyssey also doesn’t feature any form of electrification, such as the Toyota Prius V, which would excuse the lower outputs and push the Honda people mover more into green territory.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

The 2021 Honda Odyssey, regardless of grade, will return a fuel consumption figure of 8.0 litres per 100km, according to official figures.

This betters the fuel economy of the petrol-powered Kia Carnival (9.6L/100km), as well as the Mazda CX-8 (8.1L/100km) and soon-to-be-replaced Toyota Kluger (9.1-9.5L/100km).

The official combined fuel figure for the Odyssey is 8.0 litres per 100km. The official combined fuel figure for the Odyssey is 8.0 litres per 100km.

In our week with the Odyssey Vi LX7, we managed an average of 9.4L/100km in a mix of inner-city and freeway driving, which isn’t too far off the official figure.

Though the fuel consumption isn’t too bad for a naturally aspirated petrol engine, those who want to save costs at the bowser should look to the petrol-electric Toyota Prius V hybrid, which sips just 4.4L/100km.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

The 2021 Honda Odyssey wears a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating from its test in 2014, as the current model is a heavily revised version of the fifth-generation car that launched seven years ago.

While back then the Odyssey did not come with advanced safety features, a key part the model’s 2021 update is the inclusion of Honda’s 'Sensing Suite' comprising, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control.

On top of that, the Odyssey also comes standard with blind-spot monitoring, hill-start assist, a reversing camera and rear cross-traffic alert.

The long list of safety is a huge boon for the Odyssey, and with it featuring a third-row of seats, also comes with curtain airbags that extend to seats in the rear.

There are some omissions to the safety list though, with a surround-view monitor not available and the third-row seats missing out on ISOFIX anchoring points.
 

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   6/10

Like all new Hondas sold in 2021, the Odyssey comes with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, with six-years of rust protection assurance.

Scheduled service intervals are every six months or 10,000km, whichever occurs first, but this is much sooner than the industry standard of 12 months/15,000km.

According to Honda’s 'Tailored Service' price guide, the first five years of ownership will cost buyers $3351 in servicing fees, averaging out to around $670 per year.

The Kia Carnival petrol meanwhile, is about $2435 to service over five years, averaging out to be about $487 per year.

The Toyota Prius V also needs to be serviced every six months/10,000km, but the cost of the first five years of ownership totals just $2314.71 – more than $1000 less than the Odyssey.

What's it like to drive?   7/10

Though the Honda Odyssey looks like a bus on the outside, it doesn’t feel like one behind the wheel.

The Odyssey drives differently to an SUV, which is a good thing, feeling more hunkered down and connected to the road compared to the wallowy and bouncy nature of some high-riders.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t Honda’s best handling model, but there is certainly enough feedback in the steering wheel to know exactly what’s happening underneath, and the Odyssey always feels predictable, regardless of road condition.

And because visibility is excellent all around, the Honda Odyssey is just an easy, no-fuss car to drive.

The second-row is also great while on the move, and might actually be the better place to be.

The seats do a great job at soaking up little bumps and road imperfections, and there is plenty of room to stretch out and relax while someone else handles driving duties.

It’s a shame, then, that there isn’t more going on in the second row to keep passengers happy.

The third-row seats, though, are nowhere near as comfortable.

Maybe it’s the fact they are positioned right over the rear axle, or it’s the thick and vision-obscuring C- and D-pillars – or a combination of both – but time in seats five, six and seven, aren't ideal for those prone to motion sickness.

Maybe kids, or those with stronger stomachs can get comfortable in the third row, but for us, it was not a pleasant experience.

Verdict

The Honda Odyssey isn’t a bad choice for those looking to ferry around a large gaggle of people, but its far from the best option.

The first two rows are great and are supremely comfortable for those four occupants, but third-row usage will depend on how much those passengers are susceptible to motion sickness.

However, the Odyssey’s biggest weakness might be its sluggish engine and mundane CVT, with rivals like the new Kia Carnival and even Toyota Prius V offering better performance and better economy, respectively.

Still, the Honda Odyssey, and people movers in general, remain a solid option for those that don’t want another SUV or value the practicality and space afforded.

Pricing guides

$45,145
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$39,140
Highest Price
$51,150

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
VTi 2.4L, ULP, CVT AUTO $39,140 2021 Honda Odyssey 2021 VTi Pricing and Specs
VTi-L 2.4L, ULP, CVT AUTO $48,740 2021 Honda Odyssey 2021 VTi-L Pricing and Specs
VIL7 2.4L, ULP, CVT AUTO $44,250 2021 Honda Odyssey 2021 VIL7 Pricing and Specs
Vilx7 2.4L, ULP, CVT AUTO $51,150 2021 Honda Odyssey 2021 Vilx7 Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.1
Price and features8
Design8
Practicality9
Engine & trans5
Fuel consumption7
Safety7
Ownership6
Driving7
Tung Nguyen
News Editor

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Pricing Guide

$51,150

Lowest price, based on new car retail price

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