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  • Writer's pictureMitchell Weitzman

2024 Honda Odyssey review: Time for an update

Updated: Jun 18

This quintessential family-hauler is ready for a refresh

2024 Honda Odyssey Elite review | The Road Beat

2024 Honda Odyssey review by The Road Beat

Words and pictures: Mitchell Weitzman

I don't dislike minivans. After 30 years around the sun, or 30 years of the sun revolving around me in our increasingly self-important world, I have gradually warmed to the idea and concept of the minivan. Frankly, there is basically no possible vehicle with increased interior space efficiency. In other words, if the goal is to fit loads of people in a car in comfort, there's no alternative that improves upon a van. And there, Honda's best-selling Odyssey minivan still excels. Problems do arise with the Odyssey in particular, though, because there's no hiding how old the current version looks once inside, with a refresh needed to keep the Odyssey deservedly at the head of its pack.

With increased and increasingly compelling competition from Toyota and Kia, father time has done its spell on the aging Odyssey. Kia has recently announced a hybrid variant of its Carnival while Toyota has made the new Sienna exclusively electrified. This has paid dividends for the Toyota, which can easily average over 30 MPG and also offers AWD (the Odyssey omits this currently). The Honda with its big and thirsty V6? 21 MPG after a week. That's not a small difference, with a Sienna using 50% less gasoline on a daily average, and with inflation a constant news topic, paying less at the pump matters to a lot of consumers more than ever.

2024 Honda Odyssey review

Another area where there is little hiding the wrinkles is in the cabin. While other models have had stylistic updates inside, the Odyssey looks 10 years old inside, and it's borderline crazy to think this is a brand new vehicle in 2024, and a $50,000 one at that. It's not nearly as guilty as a 4Runner, but it contends strongly for worst offender. The small center display is the biggest giveaway, and why on Earth is the screen angled upwards towards the sunroof? At least it's easy to use, but it's small and cluttered nature severely ages the interior environment. Other choices, like the placement, look, and size of the PRND buttons don't do any further favors either. The newly simplified, almost industrial chic aesthetic of the new Pilot or Accord desperately needs to be integrated in here to breath-in some fresh life. Also, there was some kind of clunk coming from somewhere in the bones of the car on slower, imperfect sections of road, and clearly not just a loose interior rattle.

Good news is this minivan is still as comfortable as ever, with generous space no matter where you choose to sit. Adults in the third row? No Problem! Chrysler still wins for convenience with their easily folding stow 'n go seats that neatly fold into the floor in the second row, but the levers to manipulate the seats are still intuitive here. Even with the third row of seats in place, cargo storage is plentiful and deep, though I was dumbfounded by the lack of any kind of light back there at night. One evening, I opened the tailgate to retrieve some items, and with it dark outside, I just couldn't see. So many cars have trunk lights, but the Odyssey suspiciously omits any kind of source lighting to help illuminate the cargo area at night. The third row section has a light, but the seats block it from reaching the lower realms of the cargo stash and where your things actually are. For a practical vehicle, pulling out my phone to use its flashlight was anything but practical. I just want to be able to see, is that too much to ask? Little things sometimes are big things. On the bright side (pun unintended), this Odyssey Elite does come with every tech and safety feature you could wish for, including wireless Apple CarPlay, blind spot monitoring and so forth. For such a convenient vehicle, the lack of the tailgate light almost annoys me more now.

2024 Honda Odyssey Elite interior

Fortunately, good news is back when it comes to on-road dynamics, with the Odyssey steering in typical Honda-fashion, that is, rather well. Steering is precise, nicely weighted, and even has some morsels of feedback coming through the wheel, giving you confidence when the road is less than straight. In this case, to say the Odyssey drives like an older car is a compliment, because so often new cars are vague and too isolated. Toyota's Sienna is a perfect example, with zero steering feel and almost toy-like responses. To say you can hustle an Odyssey down a country road might be an overstatement, but hustle this you can, and out-hustle other minivans at that.

The 3.5L V6 might be weak on the low end, but when spun up and aroused, its satisfyingly smooth and pulls with conviction. You also don't get the trash compactor impressions that four-cylinder engines are known for, as the six cylinder make a pleasing noise to let occupants know when you're angry. The 10-speed automatic is definitely an improvement over the nine-speed unit in other Hondas, but downshifts are still lazy, and shift logic sometimes can be seemingly confused. An example would be how the Odyssey behaves when using cruise control on the highway, where ascending and descending the rolling hills of Placerville, CA means the Honda regularly loses two to three MPH up each hill before then changing down a gear and accelerating to make back up the lost speed, hardly a good sign for efficiency and annoying once you notice it. Still, with the surprisingly deft handling and charismatic engine, this is definitely the driver's choice when it comes to minivans.

2024 Honda Odyssey Elite interior review

The Odyssey was a great, foolproof vehicle, but that was over six years ago when this current iteration debuted. With no few meaningful updates in too many years, this minivan is ready for a vast refresh and rethink. I reckon a hybrid powertrain will definitely be on the table, and the new interior and exterior design language of recent Hondas will do many favors here to instill some life in this otherwise currently stale interior. I'm a fan of the Odyssey in general, but the journey to the next one will definitely be the one worth waiting for. I just hope the next one still drives this good.

2024 Honda Odyssey Elite

Price as-tested: est. $51,000

Pros: Huge interior and impressive driving dynamics

Cons: Outdated interior design; Poor fuel economy

Honda Odyssey Elite interior rear seats
2024 Honda Odyssey Elite exterior

2024 Honda Odyssey exterior

honda odyssey screen

Honda Odyssey Elite third row seats

2024 Honda Odyssey review.


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