Japanese automaker Honda are fabled for their reliability and expertise in engineering engines. The Odyssey and Pilot are two of their most popular 8-seat family haulers, but which one is the better choice? In this head to head we’ll be taking you through how each model fares in various categories and, ultimately, which model makes more sense for the average family.
SUV or Minivan?
Most people typically narrow down their search to vehicles within the same type, but this comparison is different. The Odyssey is a minivan while the Pilot is a midsize crossover SUV.
Minivans often get a bad rep which is reflected in their lower sales figures compared to SUVs. They’re considered unsexy, boring to drive and less sporty than SUVs.
The reality, however, is that newer minivans not only offer decent performance and handling, but are often much more practical for the average family.
Sure, their smaller ground clearance and lower amount of torque means they don’t do well off-road or make them particularly good at pulling trailers. But on the flip-side, you get a significantly roomier interior as well as various family friendly features like automatic sliding doors.
Therefore, it’s important to consider where your priorities lie. The choice between a minivan and SUV should probably be the biggest factor in your purchase decision.
The Odyssey and Pilot are similarly priced. The Odyssey LX starts slightly cheaper at $30,690 while the Pilot LX starts at $31,550. However, comparing the EX, EX-L and Touring models, the Odyssey is slightly more expensive.
It’s worth noting that the Odyssey LX is a bit of an exception within the Odyssey family, as it only seats 7 people and doesn’t feature any of the driver assists. The Pilot LX, on the other hand, is much closer to the Pilot EX and features Honda sensing driver assists.
The Honda Odyssey received a complete makeover in 2018, and the 2020 maintains a similar design. Meanwhile, the Honda Pilot had a major redesign in 2019. As with most Hondas, neither the Odyssey or Pilot sport particularly bold designs, and instead opt for a sensible, low-key design.
The Pilot is 194.5” long and 78.6” wide. The Odyssey is similar in width, but longer, measuring 203.5” from front to back.
For an SUV, the Pilot doesn’t offer a great amount of ground clearance at 7.3”. This is still significantly more than the Odyssey’s 5.8” clearance, but no one is exactly purchasing an Odyssey for off-roading.
Comparing the amount of interior space made available for passengers and cargo, the Odyssey is the clear winner.
The Odyssey is very slightly more generous when it comes to legroom, headroom, shoulder room and hip room. It offers a total of 163.6 cubic feet of passenger volume, compared to the Pilot’s 152.9. That said, the difference is quite slight and won’t be noticeable for the average passenger.
When we look at the cargo space, however, the Odyssey has the Pilot easily beat:
|2020 Honda Odyssey||2020 Honda Pilot|
|Cargo Volume (behind 3rd-row)||32.8 cu ft / 38.6 cu ft||16.5 cu ft / 18.5 cu ft|
|Cargo Volume (behind 2nd-row)||88.8 cu ft / 92.0 cu ft||46.8 cu ft / 55.9 cu ft|
|Cargo Volume (behind 1st-row)||144.9 cu ft / 158.0 cu ft||83.9 cu ft / 109.0 cu ft|
The Odyssey also offers some unique ways to reconfigure the interior seating arrangement. The center seat in the second row can be removed to turn it from a 3 person seating bench to a pair of captain’s chairs. The pair of chairs can then be rearranged further from left to right to make access to the third row easier.
Both the Odyssey and the Pilot share the same 3.5-liter V6 that produces 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque.
However, as an SUV, the Pilot is better suited to towing and is rated to tow up to 3500 lbs. By comparison, the Odyssey minivan has a maximum towing capacity of 3000 lbs.
The Odyssey features a 10-speed automatic transmission, whereas the Pilot is available with a 6-speed automatic transmission (LX, EX, EX-L) or a 9-speed automatic transmission (Touring, Elite and Black). A higher number of gears makes gearing more aggressive and progressive, but different drivers have different preferences, so a test drive is the best way to find out what feels best for yourself.
FWD/AWD: The Odyssey is only available as a FWD, while the Pilot can either be FWD or AWD. An all-wheel drive is superior for rougher terrain and wintry conditions.
Both the Odyssey and Pilot offer good fuel economy for their size. The Odyssey has an ever so slightly superior fuel efficiency with 28 mpg on the highway and 19 mpg in the city. By comparison, the Pilot manages 27 mpg on the highway and 19 mpg in the city.
There is some variation across the Pilot range, however, depending on the model in question. Going for an all-wheel drive Pilot will reduce the fuel efficiency by around 1mpg, and opting for a 9-speed transmission will result in a 1 mpg increase.
Driver Assist Technology
Honda’s main driver assist technologies are Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Auto high-beam headlights and Blind Spot Information System (BSI).
All four of these driver assists are present on the Odyssey and Pilot starting with the EX.
With the base LX, however, things are a bit different. The 2020 LX Odyssey doesn’t come with any of these Honda Sensing assists, whereas the 2020 LX Pilot comes with all but BSI.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Both the Odyssey and Pilot similar infotainment setups. The base LX models only feature a 5-inch LCD display, while the EX and above feature 8-inch touchscreen displays with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Meanwhile, the Pilot Touring, Elite and Black have a rear entertainment system with a 10.2-inch HD screen, blu-ray player and built-in streaming apps.
USB and 12-volt outlets are numerous in both models, although slightly different, with the Odyssey offering one more 12-volt outlet but two less USB ports.
Safety is incredibly important for any vehicle, and even more so when transporting a larger number of passengers.
According to NHTSA safety ratings, the Honda Odyssey and Honda Pilot are some of the safest cars around. The Honda Odyssey scores a perfect 5-star rating across all crash tests. The Pilot gets 5-stars in all but one – front passenger side – which received a 4-star rating.
In IIHS testing, both Hondas were given top safety pick awards in 2019.
The Odyssey makes a lot more sense for larger families who will often find themselves utilizing the third row. With sliding doors and seats that can be rearranged, it is a lot more convenient to get everyone inside. It also leaves more room for cargo, meaning you won’t have any problems fitting things in for your next family holiday.
For those who don’t see themselves driving large numbers of passengers around often, the Pilot is the better choice. It’s more fun to drive, easier to park and on those occasions when everyone wants to jump in, can still fit up to 8 people.