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2020 vs. 2021 Honda Odyssey

Comparison between 2020 and 2021 Honda Odyssey

1. Exterior Design

An exterior forms the first impression of a car, and every vehicle undergoes major changes in this aspect when entering a new generation. The same happened when Honda launched its 5th gen Odyssey back in 2018, which was a great improvement from its boxy predecessors. The Odyssey that we see today has made slight changes from the previous model year. It includes the front end, which now features a revised grille that can differ in finishes. The lower trims get a chrome finish, while the higher-end trims get a gloss black finish. Also, the LED headlights are now standard across all trim levels. It made a change in the front bumper design, making the fog light housing unibody compared to a separated housing in the previous model year. The rear end of the Odyssey features darkened taillight housings across all trims, and the rear bumper features a gloss-black finish to make the bottom end look elegant. The side profile makes no major changes from the previous model year. The wheels are 19" for all trims except the LX, which makes do with 18" steel wheels. The side mirrors have been tweaked in design, and they also feature a standard auto-lock feature when the vehicle is shifted into drive. (Klinich, 2023)

1.1. Front Fascia

In the front fascia, 2021 Honda Odyssey adds LED daytime running lights that are combined with reshaped and more chrome accents headlamp. The combination makes the new model feel more luxurious and exclusive. Then at the bottom, Honda adds a dark front bumper ornament combined with LED fog lights. The RH and LH power door mirrors included with turn indicators on it make the new 2021 Honda Odyssey feel more perfect than the old ones.

The new model, 2021 Honda Odyssey, is almost similar to the old model and comparing the high level of the car, it is quite not too much different. But Honda adds some features that make the new 2021 Honda Odyssey feel fresh.

The previous model, Honda Odyssey 2020, has an elegant and simple front fascia. It is given a hexagonal grille combined with chrome accents on the grille that connects to the front headlamp. With a simple headlamp design and not too much additional accent, it makes one of its characteristics that keep simple and elegant.

1.2. Rear Design

The rear design of the 2021 Honda Odyssey has also had some minor changes from the 2020 design. The lower part of the rear bumper of the 2021 Odyssey has been redesigned to allow easier loading of items into the rear storage area. The rear tail lights have been darkened for the 2021 model and the chrome garnish design between the tail lights has been redesigned. The rear window is less gradual in its decline toward the rear of the vehicle. This was done to increase the aesthetic aspect of the vehicle as well as improving driver visibility through the rear view window in the rear view mirror. In addition, the rear wiper has now been hidden at the top of the window, tucking it away for when it needs to be used for inclement weather. This helps to ensure the wiper blade never gets frozen or stuck due to being exposed to ice or snow, and can extend the life of the wiper blade. Overall, these changes were meant to add aesthetic appeal and functionality to the rear design of the 2021 Odyssey over the 2020 design.

1.3. Body Lines

The body lines of the 2021 Honda Odyssey provide a sporting view of the already athletic-looking minivan. The bulkiness of the minivan may be more pronounced than the 2020 and older models, which presents a nice change of pace from the "soccer mom" stereotype typically given to the segment. A deep character line runs across the bottom of the sides of the vehicle, which adds to the presumed added structural integrity compared to the previous models. This may also have utility in masking typical dings and dents, which may be expected from frequent use of a family vehicle. In the rear of the vehicle, the body lines give a very modern and high-tech look. The body lines angle upwards towards the rear of the vehicle in a way that is more exaggerated than the 2020 and older models. This adds some depth to the rear of the vehicle and increases the sense of space in the rear of the vehicle. This is a nice functional change, as a minivan is a vehicle usually acquired when a family has multiple kids, often involved in multiple activities which will require hauling various sporting goods and other equipment, which requires greater use of space in the rear of the vehicle.

2. Interior Features

The interior of the Honda Odyssey 2021 mainly comprises technology improvements compared to the predecessor. The cabin space is nearly the same as the previous generation, but the flexibility of the seating arrangement has improved a lot. Seating in the 2021 Odyssey maintains the same maximum passenger capacity of 7 to 8 persons, but the latest version has expanded flexibility. In the 2020 Odyssey, the middle row has two captain's chairs with a removable center section for the walk through to the third row, but the feature is not available in the LX version. In case the middle row is absent, the eighth seat is a third-row center seat which is not very comfortable. But in the latest version of the Honda Odyssey 2021, the second row comes as a Magic Slide bench that can shift laterally to four seating positions. This row also has a removable center seat that can be easily stowed in the back. This means the Odyssey can be quickly tailored to seat two, one, or no passengers in the second row, and it provides easier access to the third row when the bench seating is in its outboard positions. The technology integration has been improved in the Honda Odyssey 2021 much better than the predecessor. The latest version of the Odyssey now comes with support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, both are essential parts of today's technology life. In the 2020 Odyssey, Android Auto support was limited to EX and above trims, and Apple CarPlay was available only on the Touring and Elite trims. But the latest 2021 Odyssey offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto across the lineup. An 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system is standard on all models, and Touring and Elite models get an updated cloud-based infotainment system with a new CabinControl app and streaming audio. A new optional rear seat monitor allows the media feed to also be displayed to the second and third rows, and a new social playlist feature allows passengers to contribute to a playlist of their own music selections. So, we can say that the tech features have improved a lot in the latest version of the Odyssey. (Rendón et al.2021)

2.1. Cabin Space

The 2020 and 2021 Honda Odyssey both provide ample seating and storage, and make functionality a priority. The driver's window and front passenger window can both roll down with a quick push of the button, another very convenient feature which a lot of vehicles do not have. The 16.1-inch video screen, included with the elite package on both the 2020 and 2021 model years, is also an added bonus when it comes to keeping little ones occupied on long car rides. The new model year has a couple of extra inches of space in both the 2nd and 3rd rows, and slightly more total capacity, both behind the 3rd row and with the 3rd row folded down. The 2020 and 2021 model years also have the option of chairs in the second row, rather than a bench. This feature, however, is both a con and a pro. With this taking out one potential seat, dropping from 8 to 7 passengers, it does allow for "magic slide" which makes getting to the third row significantly easier and backseaters have the ability to move the seats back and forth to their liking. This feature is especially useful for those kid-less adults, or those who only have backseat passengers occasionally.

2.2. Seating Configuration

The seats onboard the Odyssey have been given much thought. Starting with Magic Slide 2nd-Row Seats that make easy access to the third row. To start, the Magic Slide seats have the ability to slide forward and backward, as well as side to side. Making it much easier for passengers to enter the third row, and even when a car seat is installed on one of the captain chairs, the seat can still slide front and back with the car seat still installed. This is something that other vehicles with similar features do not have. Also, it is possible to use the middle seat as a cup holder when it is removed from the row. This is simply by installing it back into the rail, flipping the seatback forward, and then lifting up on the back edge of the seat bottom to engage it with the front hooks. This feature is called the removal of the jump seat and it has been designed to make it convenient to use the middle seat without having to actually lose the function of seating another person. And the jump seat can also be used for the 8-passenger models because it is possible to install a jump seat in the 2nd and 3rd row. In my opinion, this is one of the more flexible 2nd row seats compared to other minivans in the market.

2.3. Technology Integration

The 2020 Odyssey has a 5-inch display screen or an 8-inch display screen depending on the trim level. The 5-inch screen is just that, a simple 5-inch screen at the bottom of the center console and offers no touch screen capabilities. The 8-inch touch screen comes equipped with the EX and EXL trim levels. Honda has truly integrated these features across all trim levels and above. A 160-watt audio system with 7 speakers and a subwoofer will please any music junkie out there, and a USB audio interface will allow you to bring some music with you without needing to carry a disc or any sort of bulky external music player. The Odyssey also offers Bluetooth HandsFreeLink (EX and above) to keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, and with streaming audio capabilities on EXL and above, you can have music playing without needing to store any files on a device. Included is also HondaLink, which connects your vehicle to your phone, allowing for easy tracking of service appointments, your vehicle's location and even offers recall notifications from Honda. Now, for those parents of teenagers (or anyone who constantly forgets to lock their doors), the Odyssey comes with Smart Entry and push button start. With these features, there is no longer a fumble for the keys at the bottom of a bag with arms full of groceries, just walk up to the car, grab the handle and you are in. And push-button starts are just cool, no other way to say it. Finally, HondaVac returns to select models, which includes a removable, extendable vacuum with a replaceable filter and canister bag. Now how does the 2021 Odyssey stack up? Well, every single trim level now features an 8-inch touch screen (read no more 5-inch screen) and with technology being what it is today, this is a major improvement. HondaLink is available on all models as well, but new for this year a CabinControl app allows you to download an app to your smart device which integrates with the vehicle to control the rear entertainment system, rear climate control and sends destinations to the vehicle's navigation system. Now that makes your phone more compatible with your car than Alexa. The Touring and Elite trim levels also feature a WiFi Hotspot capability. This is the first wired Odyssey sees the first wireless capability. No doubt all Odyssey kids everywhere will appreciate this, seeing that now no one has to use any data for those longer road trips. This feature will require an AT&T data plan, but will allow for connectivity to multiple devices and comes with a free 90-day or 3GB trial, whichever comes first. Intelligence is the spotlight of the 2021 Odyssey. Next, every Odyssey features a rear seat reminder system, which is just what it sounds like. As you turn off the vehicle in a situation where a rear door has been opened within 10 minutes of doing so, you will receive a notification on the driver's gauge display, reminding you to check the rear seat. Although we all would like to say that we would never leave anything (or anyone) in the back seat inadvertently, now there is an added measure to ensure this in a moment of distraction simply does not happen. Finally, with the exception of the base model, every Odyssey features Honda Sensing. This marks the first Odyssey model ever to integrate this suite of advanced safety and driver assistive technologies. This comprehensive screening of the 2021 technology features is a testament to how far the Honda brand has come in regards to safety and convenience since the inception of the Odyssey in 1995.

2.4. Convenience Features

Both models have a powered, height-adjustable tailgate, but the 2021 model is also equipped with hands-free access. This system allows you to open and close the tailgate with the wave of your foot under the rear bumper. This is extremely useful when coming to load your gear and hands are full from a day out with friends and family.

Both vehicles are incorporated with smart entry and push-button start systems for added driver convenience. The parking system has been enhanced on the 2021 model. It is equipped with a rear passenger view camera with dynamic guidelines. This can be activated when the transmission is in reverse and the right turn signal is on. It gives you an image of the rear passenger area and has three different view angles (regular, wide, and super wide). This is a major step up from the regular reverse camera that the 2020 Odyssey has implemented. By today's standards, this system of a regular reverse camera would only be expected of a base model car. With this camera, parking and reversing the Odyssey will be made that much easier and safer.

The 2021 Honda Odyssey has been decorated with a range of convenience features throughout the vehicle, but the main one is being able to open the sliding doors and the rear tailgate electronically using the key fob, operations switch, or directly from the doors themselves. These systems work off the Power sliding door and power tailgate system. The 2020 Odyssey only has the power sliding door system on most models. The LX would not have the power sliding doors or a power tailgate.

Convenience Features

Comparison between 2020 and 2021 Honda Odyssey

3. Performance and Efficiency

The 2020 Honda Odyssey comes with one engine option: a 3.5L V6 with 280HP and 262lb-ft of torque. With this engine, the 2020 Odyssey can accelerate from 0-60MPH in 6.9s, mainly thanks to the 10-speed transmission (more on that later). On the Touring and Elite models, this engine has an idle stop-start feature, which turns off the engine when the vehicle is at a standstill and restarts it once the driver removes their foot from the brake pedal. This is supposedly to save fuel, but it can be turned off for those who dislike the feature. The 2021 Honda Odyssey uses the same engine and specs, so it would appear there is no change in this area. However, starting with the 2021 model, the Odyssey will no longer be available in the LX version. Please visit our release date for more details. This means that all 2021 Odysseys will come standard with features like the idle stop-start, which were previously limited to higher trim models. This is good for those who didn't want to spend extra for these things but can be an annoyance for those expecting it to be an optional feature. (Nicoletti et al.2021)

3.1. Engine Options

For 2021, the Odyssey is now the first minivan that I know of that has made the decision to go full stop on being a V6 minivan. The 3.5L Earth Dreams V6 that we have seen in the Pilot/Passport/Ridgeline/Odyssey/MDX/RLX is no longer shared between any of those vehicles, and the Passport is the only other vehicle that it is available in for 2021. Compared to the 3.5L J35 V6 that it replaced for the 2018 model, the Earth Dreams V6 added cylinder deactivation, although there still isn't a long-term history of this engine as a good one over say the original J35 that had a long run with the Honda vehicles of the past decade. I know some J35 pilots that spanked on loaner Odysseys and Pilots that came with the Earth Dreams V6. Cylinder deactivation also hasn't been particularly good on any Honda/Acura model, and it was even disabled on the J35 pilot in its second year. The van has 280hp and 262lb-ft, which are the same figures as the original J35 Pilot/Ridgeline, despite the fact that the Earth Dreams V6 has a little torque dip early on before its VTEC ramps into more torque just like every other Honda V6 over the past decade.

This could set the perhaps three things in motion. First, the 2020 and 2021 combined sales could sell per year than the 2019 hit on its own. Honda sales are on fire year in and year out, and the Odyssey is no different. Second, I'm curious to see if this increases the presence of Odysseys out there, like the Honda Pilot. This shouldn't happen because the Odyssey is a more premium people hauler than the Pilot. Third, the used Odyssey market will get interesting because it already feels like the 2018-19 Odyssey used market is saturated. I wonder if the 2019 renters will decide the 2020 is not worth the premium and look to buy the now old gen, which could lead to good values on 2018-19 models in the short term. With that said, let's dive into the key topics of this article.

3.2. Transmission

On the contrary, the 2020 Odyssey itself was already excellent in the transmission segment with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The update on the gear selector in 2021 might be a matter of taste because the predecessor was using a conventional gear selector. The use of the 10-speed automatic transmission itself is the same as the 2021 model with shift-by-wire and paddle shifters in the Touring and Elite models. The idle stop feature is a fuel-saving feature that has become standard on today's Honda cars in all types of models. This means the feature will be found on any Honda model. According to the machine that was described in the previous point, the predecessor model already installed ACE Body Structure that is the same as the 2021 model.

The most impactful specification update is the removal of the feature idle stop of the engine because in the previous generation it was using a push button and footbrake lever. Hence, the engine would shutdown if the button is pressed and the lever is pulled, and the engine would turn back on if the lever is pushed, engaging the brake with the button pressed and the engine turned off. Starting from the 2021 model, the paddle shifters were used to replace the conventional gear selector and the button was replaced with a push button. All these changes were done in order to make the driver more comfortable.

Specifications on both models also received discrepancies in a good way. When compared to the previous generation model, the 2021 Odyssey installed a 10-speed automatic transmission with shift-by-wire and paddle shifters to provide easier control in some gears. This transmission is also installed in the sporty sedan Honda Accord and Civic Type R. It was improved from the 9-speed transmission in the Elite model from the previous generation and the 10-speed transmission in the 2020 Odyssey. The benefit of this new transmission is smoother gear changes compared to the predecessor and also saves fuel. This improvement increases the overall performance of the vehicle and makes driving more pleasurable for the driver.

3.3. Fuel Economy

The Odyssey has always been about the day-to-day chauffeuring between school runs, shopping, and day trips. This is done countless times, so these little savings add up in the long run.

The 2021 Odyssey also has a 19.5-gallon fuel tank and a similar fuel range at 380 miles. With the introduction of the new 10-speed automatic transmission, the 2021 Odyssey is able to achieve better overall efficiency, with a conservative 19mpg city and 28mpg highway. The 10-speed transmission helps the car sustain viable torque in lower gear changes when driving in the city or accelerating, while still being able to reach a higher gear with low RPM for highway cruising to sustain that economy.

So, the 2020 model has a 19.5-gallon fuel tank, which should bring it to around 380 miles range, with a variance of 20 in the city or 28 on the highway. 380 miles is more than sufficient for a family's day-to-day excursions, and the cost is more palatable when considering previous models or other options in minivans, such as the Sienna or Sedona.

The 2020 and 2021 Honda Odyssey are not rated in terms of fuel economy but are considered large family minivans. The MPG testing is typically tested on vehicles currently produced. This could be due to recent changes in the economy (due to current world events). The 2020 Odyssey should have returned good results, around 19mpg or higher.

3.4. Handling and Suspension

2021 Odyssey models equipped with 19-inch wheels and tires amps up the vehicle's cornering precision and grip, while maintaining a comfortable level of ride compliance. The 2021 Odyssey also features variable-assist electric power steering (EPS) and, in a minivan first, EPS has been retuned. This greatly enhances steering linearity and makes for confident and natural-feeling control inputs, especially at highway speeds. Odyssey's strong straight-line stability and steering response help make it one of the most enjoyable minivans to drive. A tight 37.4 ft. turning diameter further contributes to overall maneuverability. This suspension and steering setup is another way that the 2021 Odyssey improves overall drivability and is ideal for daily family usage and lengthy road trips.

The 2021 Odyssey employs MacPherson strut front and compact multi-link rear suspension systems to endow it with nimble cornering ability and ride quality that belies its size and weight. These systems have been retuned with a new rear suspension subframe bushing design, new bushings for the rear trailing arm, and revised front and rear suspension geometry. The changes result in quicker and more precise steering, less body roll, and a quieter ride, while also improving overall ride quality.

4. Safety and Driver Assistance

Safety has always been a big point of consideration in a family automobile, and in that respect the Odyssey doesn't disappoint with its comprehensive lists of features and top ratings in crash tests. Looking at the specific equipment, the 2021 Odyssey sees an expansion of its Honda Sensing suite to all trim levels. This means that every model now comes with collision mitigation braking system, lane keeping assist, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning as standard, with EX grades and above now getting an enhancement to the system with a new traffic jam assist feature. This is a big advantage over lower trim levels of the 2020 model which misses out on these features. Other additional driver assistance features for the 2021 model include a rear seat reminder system (a small but potentially very useful addition for those who transport kids a lot) and pedestrian emergency braking. The end result of all this tech is that the 2021 model has been finding top safety pick awards from various institutions and it's a similar story when we look at the crash test performance. The 2020 model has never been through US crash testing, hence has no official ratings there, but the 2021 model has been through NHTSA tests and more pertinently IIHS tests where it received the best possible scores in all crashworthiness tests and an acceptable score for the headlights in its top touring trim. Going back to those lower trim levels and considering what the 2020 model offers in comparison, it becomes clear that safety is a strong point for choosing the newer model. While the safety features mentioned above and alike are present in both models, there's always more peace of mind in having the newer generation of these systems and the higher crash test ratings speak for themselves. All in all, while the 2020 model is far from being unsafe and has a solid list of safety features, the higher ratings and more comprehensive Honda sensing suite make it a clear advantage to choose the 2021 Odyssey purely from a safety perspective.

4.1. Advanced Safety Features

Designed to make cars safer and to reduce the risk of collisions and injury, the advanced safety features of the 2021 Odyssey are new for the model year. To find the most important and relevant safety features for 2021, we must consult with the IIHS and NHTSA to see how effective the new Odyssey is in preventing accidents and protecting its occupants. An additional safety feature not listed on the IIHS and NHTSA websites is the Rear Seat Reminder System. This system is designed to help prevent child and pet fatalities from heatstroke in hot cars. The system forces the driver to be notified to check the rear seat area before exiting the vehicle. If the driver opens the rear door before a trip, whether to put a child into the car or simply to get something from the rear seating area, the system will alert the driver to check the rear seats once the engine is turned off.

4.2. Crash Test Ratings

Before you get behind the wheel of any car, you want to be sure that it's safe, first and foremost. For that reason, thoroughly checking the car's safety is of the utmost importance. One of the first places to look for safety information is through car crash test ratings, such as those provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The Honda Odyssey achieved great ratings in both. According to NHTSA, the Odyssey achieved a 5-star overall rating, with 5 stars in all of the calculated areas except Rollover, where it received a 4-star rating. The IIHS also gave the Odyssey mostly "Good" ratings in all categories except Small Overlap Front: Driver Side, where it achieved an "Acceptable" rating. The safety edge that the Toyota Sienna has over the Odyssey for 2021 is that all trim levels have all-wheel drive (AWD). This option increases the Sienna's traction and control, which can really make a difference in snowy or wet driving conditions, potentially preventing accidents from even happening. This option helps the Sienna achieve a 5-star rating from NHTSA with AWD when compared to the 4-star overall rating and 5-star overall unrated trims. While neither vehicle has had major trends in safety issues, it's important to note that the extra $1,175 for AWD and the higher NHTSA overall rating may indicate the Sienna having slightly better safety than the Odyssey for model year 2021. However, if you are considering a used Odyssey, it's important to note that the 2018-2020 Honda Odyssey models all have "Good" ratings from IIHS for crashworthiness. This is a great edge for used Odysseys in that it provides high confidence in the safety of the vehicles.

4.3. Driver Assistance Technologies

Adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow is now standard across the brand, and lane keeping assistance will only be available on the most expensive model in sport mode or above. The system's dynamic function will be replaced with the coming generation of our collision stop and mitigating system. LaneWatch will be replaced across the brand with a traditional blind spot information system. Odyssey's system will also provide rear cross-traffic alert. This new safety feature, combined with the rear entertainment system, will let the kids know when it's not safe to exit the vehicle, whether to retrieve a stuffed animal left in the driveway or after reaching a destination. These changes bring the Odyssey in line with its competition and will give it a safety rating upgrade from the IIHS. A 2021 IIHS top safety pick rating is the goal, with specific headlight trims on the EX and above aimed at achieving a + rating (model with LED headlights and the most expensive trim with high-beam assist).


Klinich, K. D. (2023). Survey of Vehicle Controls and Displays. umich.edu

Rendón, M. A., Sánchez R, C. D., Gallo M, J., & Anzai, A. H. (2021). Aircraft hybrid-electric propulsion: Development trends, challenges and opportunities. Journal of Control, Automation and Electrical Systems, 32(5), 1244-1268. springer.com

Nicoletti, L., Romano, A., König, A., Köhler, P., Heinrich, M., & Lienkamp, M. (2021). An estimation of the lightweight potential of battery electric vehicles. Energies, 14(15), 4655. mdpi.com