- We drove the Honda Odyssey, the Toyota Sienna, and the Chrysler Pacifica.
- We compared cargo space, infotainment systems, and the driving dynamics of each vehicle.
- There were a lot of similarities, but one of the minivans stood out among the rest.
In 2017, I spent some quality time with the three most important minivans in the US market.
It's easy to conclude that all minivans are the same — but they aren't. Each carmaker brings its own mojo to the task of building these versatile family-haulers, which continue to sell decently decades after their introduction but are stigmatized and often overlooked in favor of SUVs.
Our warriors in the Great Minivan Battle of 2017 are the Honda Odyssey, the Toyota Sienna, and the Chrysler Pacifica (formerly the Town & Country).
Can you predict the winner? I thought I could, but there were some surprises along the way.
The mighty Honda Odyssey starts us off.Matthew DeBord/BI
Here's what I wrote in my review of the feature-packed, $47,610 Elite trim-level test car we sampled: "The versatility is unbeatable and always has been, and Honda has done a great job of updating and upgrading a venerable platform. The latest generation is completely current as far as modern infotainment and connectivity go."
As a former Odyssey owner, I was primed for the 2018 edition of the vehicle — the fifth generation of a minivan that has won long-term fans thanks to Honda's preoccupation with superb engineering. In minivan land, the Odyssey is the BMW of people-haulers.
The Odyssey is known as a "driver's minivan," and while I know that whole concept is preposterous, 0-60 mph in a shocking 6.6 seconds is nothing to sneeze at. The Odyssey's tasty 3.5-liter, 280-horsepower V6, one of the greatest engines available on any vehicle, provides confident merging and passing power, while the steering is responsive and the brakes do a good job of bringing the bulky car to a stop.
The styling has been toned down a bit from the previous generation, but the new Odyssey is still the most flamboyant minivan on the market.
All-wheel drive isn't available, but a 10-speed transmission helps to deliver very decent EPA-rated fuel economy of 19 mpg city/28 highway/22 combined.
The Odyssey is a roomy, versatile vehicle that's easy to live with.Matthew DeBord/BI
All three of our minivans under consideration checked off the relevant boxes for abundant space for seven or eight passengers and lots of gear. Like the Sienna and the Pacifica, the Odyssey I tested came with power doors and a power liftgate, making getting in and out a breeze.
Just to cut to the chase: It wasn't possible to give any of the three minivans the edge in this department. Some consumers might want to compare cargo capacity, but in practical use, they're all in the same league.
The basic form of the minivan has been perfected at this stage of the same. Unless somebody builds a double-decker version and figures out a way to create a Tardis effect for the interior, that isn't going to change.
Yes, the operation of seats can vary, and in the case of the Odyssey it was quite easy to configure everything so that access to the third row was easy. But that wasn't enough to tip things decisively in Honda's favor.
As for cupholders: There are many.
Honda's infotainment and audio system is very good — but not great. Overall technology is excellent.Matthew DeBord/BI
The infotainment setup was all I could find to complain about in the Odyssey. Both Honda and Toyota are lagging the industry on this front.
However, the Odyssey's system gets the job done and doesn't lack for anything consumers would expect, from Bluetooth connectivity to a second-row entertainment screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available, and you have plenty of places to plug in a USB cable to connect or recharge.
Safety for the Odyssey is typically superb — our tester's model year hadn't yet been rated by the government — with airbags everywhere, and a suite of driver-assist features enhances the highway-cruising aspect of the vehicle.
Bottom line is that the new Odyssey is as good as it ever was — but in a few places, it could be better. Our test vehicle came with an onboard vacuum, by the way, which counts toward extra credit.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider