No minivan has been able to beat the Honda Odyssey in quality for the last decade, but is a used Odyssey better than a new model?
The Honda Odyssey has been on a heroic journey since its inception. First, it pushed all minivan manufacturers to build more innovative products. Then, it made minivans cool when it released the almost sporty looking and fairly powerful second generation. Now, in its 5th generation, it’s continuing to push the limits of what a minivan can be and selling more than any of its competitors. It’s comfortable, it’s reliable, and it’s, dare we say, stylish. The current version came out back in 2018 and from what we can tell it’s by far the best ever. What we wonder though is if the most recent model is worth the extra cash you might save over buying a well-cared-for used Honda Odyssey.
When the latest Honda Odyssey was released in 2018, it came with the same powerful 3.5-liter V6 that the 2021 edition has. Most trim levels came with a 9-speed automatic transmission, but the used 2018 Honda Odyssey Touring model we’re taking a look at rolled off the line with the same 10-speed automatic that’s in the 2021 Odyssey Touring. Since both use the same powertrain, they both get identical efficiency numbers with 22 mpg combined after scores of 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. While the new minivan is priced at around $42,000, the used Honda Odyssey can be had for a shade under $30,000.
No major updates have been made between these two models, but that’s ok. The used Honda Odyssey drives far better than any other option of the same year and we’d say it’s actually more engaging for the driver than many brand new rivals. The 10-speed automatic is the perfect complement to its engine. That’s because, while it’s not particularly powerful compared to many trucks and higher-end SUVs, it’s strong enough that the transmission allows it to stay in the power for more of the time. It’s also pretty nimble considering its mass and height. Past generations were actually based on car platforms and that DNA makes its way through to this version that feels far smaller than it actually is.
Both of these minivans are supremely comfortable, but the 2021 Honda Odyssey did get a slight upgrade by providing the same 4-way power lumbar support to the front passenger seat that it did already on the driver side. Both are front seats are also heated and effective. Seating throughout the vehicle is comfortable even in the third row, though we wouldn’t put adults back there for very long. Something that is truly impressive is how effective the tri-zone HVAC system is throughout the vehicle. While many minivans struggle to heat and cool all zones, the Odyssey can freeze passengers out or keep them warm on the coldest of nights regardless of where they’re sitting. Frankly, we like how the second-row vents are in the pillar as opposed to the ceiling. One noticeable difference is that the new Touring model is considerably quieter than the used Honda Odyssey version. That’s largely due to the noise quieting windows used throughout that weren’t installed in the 2018 model.
One of the reasons we chose the Touring trimmed models in this new vs used comparison is to test that it’s going to have all the most desirable features for minivan owners. Both the 2018 and the 2021 come with an integrated vacuum, LED headlights, a WiFi Hotspot, a rear-seat entertainment system, and an 8-inch infotainment system for the front passengers. The LX for both years is the only Odyssey that we’d skip since it’s not nearly as well equipped as the next level up, the EX. The 5-inch central display, for example, is the biggest eyesore in the otherwise attractive interior. The EX-L is even better, but if you’re looking at the used Honda Odyssey, we’d push for the Touring as it isn’t plagued by the less refined 9-speed auto. Auto stop/start is a bit unpolished, but if it really bugs drivers it’s defeatable.
Perhaps the most important package for any minivan driver though is HondaSensing, a full suite of safety features that are standard on all Odyssey models in 2021 and all but the LX in 2018. That suite includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, and Lane Keeping Assist System. Those features help both Hondas achieve top scores from the IIHS and NHTSA.
While there’s no doubt that having the peace of mind that a brand new car with its warranty provides, we don’t think that the $10,000+ difference in price between a used Honda Odyssey and a brand new one is worth spending that extra cash. The Odyssey is well known for its reliability and it’s unlikely you’d spend that much on a used model anytime soon. While many of our new vs used comparisons can come out pretty close, this isn’t one of those cases. Save yourself the money and find a great used Honda Odyssey to take on a long fun road trip somewhere this summer.