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The Honda Odyssey is one of the country's longest-standing minivan nameplates, first arriving for the 1995 model year. The latest version, the van's fifth generation, was introduced for the 2018 model year. The Odyssey continues into 2019 unchanged from last year. While minivans can have an uncool image, the Odyssey remains a favorite among our staff because it offers incredible practicality, a huge feature seat and excellent driving dynamics.
The 2019 Honda Odyssey offers one engine and a choice of two automatic transmissions, both of which come standard with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The engine is a 3.5-liter V6 rated for 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. That's almost exactly how much power is offered by the Odyssey's main rival, the Chrysler Pacifica (287 horsepower/262 pound-feet.) Most versions of the Odyssey use a nine-speed automatic transmission. That returns fuel economy ratings of 19 miles per gallon city and 28 miles per gallon city -- again right on par with the Pacifica (19/28 mpg).
The Touring and Elite trim levels use a 10-speed automatic transmission instead, which also features engine stop-start tech. Despite that, fuel efficiency ratings for those version are unchanged, at 19/28 mpg -- but you may see real-world economy gains that aren't reflected in the EPA tests.
Like most minivans, the Honda Odyssey can tow lighter loads. Versions with the nine-speed automatic are rated to pull 3,000 pounds while the 10-speed transmission ups that figure to 3,500 pounds. That's 100 pounds behind the Chrysler Pacifica's tow rating.
The Honda Odyssey is spacious for both passengers and cargo. In terms of cargo, you'll fit 32.3 cubic feet of belongings behind the third row, 88.8 cubic feet behind the second row and 144.9 cubic feet behind the first row. That beats out the Chrysler Pacifica by just a little bit (32.3/87.5/140.5 cubic feet).
As to passengers, the Odyssey EX and higher trim levels have what Honda calls Magic Seats in the second row. They slide and tilt to maximize space as needed, and can be removed from the vehicle without any tools. The seats can also slide close to one another in so-called Buddy Mode, which permits easier access to the third row.
The Honda Odyssey offers two infotainment systems. The base option in the LX trim level uses a simple 5-inch display with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, as well as AM/FM radio. Every other trim level uses an 8-inch touchscreen that is among our favorites in new cars today. It comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support.
Optional features include satellite radio, integrated navigation and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Other neat features include a zone setting that lets drivers play music only, say, in the front row of seats. An optional rear entertainment system features a 10.2-inch screen that can play Blu-ray or DVD discs, with wireless headphones for rear-seat occupants. Using the built-in Wi-Fi hotspot or a paired smartphone, the screen can even stream certain Smart TV content. Finally, it has a How Much Farther? app that integrates with the navigation to appease kids.
Active-safety technology is in abundance on all but the base Odyssey LX. It includes precollision warning and braking, lane-departure warning, road-departure mitigation, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. The Touring and Elite trim levels also have a feature called CabinWatch. It has a camera in the van's roof that can show a driver on the infotainment display what's happening in the second or third rows -- are the kids behaving or sleeping?
Honda offers the 2019 Odyssey in six trim levels at prices that mostly mirror what you'd pay for equivalent rival minivans. It starts with the LX model that costs $31,065 with destination. Its standard-equipment roster includes push-button start, a basic infotainment system with Bluetooth, 18-inch wheels, power front seats and automatic climate control. The next step up the ladder is the $35,035 Odyssey EX. Major upgrades include the touchscreen infotainment system with CarPlay/Android Auto and satellite radio, trizone climate control, heated front seats, power-sliding doors, blind-spot monitoring, remote start and the Honda Sensing active safety suite.
Then the EX-L trim level adds leather seating, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a sunroof and a power liftgate for $38,585. The next move upward is the $40,505 EX-L Nav/RES, which stands for navigation and rear entertainment system. Unsurprisingly, built-in navigation and a Blu-ray/DVD player for the rear seats is included, along with a 115-volt power outlet and Cabin Talk, a feature that uses a microphone to broadcast the driver's voice to rear-seat occupants more clearly.
The $45,635 Odyssey Touring is the first trim level to swap from the nine-speed to the 10-speed automatic transmission. It also adds engine stop-start, LED headlights, second- and third-row sunshades, a Wi-Fi hotspot, front and rear parking sensors and HondaVac, a built-in vacuum. Finally, the fully loaded Odyssey Elite lists for $47,945. Compared with the Touring, it adds an 11-speaker sound system, wireless phone charging, a heated steering wheel, cooled front seats, 19-inch wheels and rain-sensing wipers.
The 2019 Honda Odyssey is on sale nationwide now. Given that there no changes over the 2018 model, however, it might be worth shopping last year's Odyssey, too, in case dealers are offering deals on older stock.