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The 2020 Honda Odyssey has been challenged in every way by the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica. You can see the Chrysler advantage when you look at certain technologies, whether they are entertainment or safety features. Yet the Honda continues to assert its dominance over the minivan world.
The competition between these large family rides changed this year as you will see. Challenges come in the form of different pricing schemes, altered trim levels, fancy technologies, and clever storage ideas. There are even differences in how driver assistance systems are doled out. These two refuse to make it easy for shoppers to simply pick one and be satisfied.
If you are looking at how the van drives to help you make a decision between these two, the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica and 2020 Honda Odyssey won’t make it easy on you. These front-wheel drive minivans have exactly the same 262 pound-feet of torque. Horsepower is very similar. The Odyssey V6 engine produces 280 horsepower while the Pacifica V6 generates 287 horsepower.
The same horsepower could be a problem if one were heavier. However, when it comes to size, these two are practically twins. They will need the same big parking space. The turning diameter is also too close to call.
Likewise, there would be an obvious winner if there was a difference in fuel economy. Yet the two earn the same 19 miles per gallon on the city and 28 mile per gallon on the highway. Both are expected to use the same amount of gas on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis, according to the fuel economy calculator at the U.S. Department of Energy. In fact, both are superior to their rivals.
The only difference, of course, is if you go for the Pacifica Hybrid. This plug-in minivan earns the equivalent of 82 miles per gallon. That blows all other minivans and three-row SUVS off the road. If you want the federal tax credit, you should check with your accountant about whether you will qualify for the whole amount. Just in case you are wondering, the Odyssey doesn't come in a hybrid.
Chrysler and Honda have the same warranties. It’s the basic three years for Limited coverage and five years for Powertrain coverage. The Pacifica Hybrid has longer coverage than either of its gas-powered counterparts.
It is important to note here that the Odyssey has an average reliability rating while the Pacifica rating is below average. This difference could mean more expenses in the future for the Pacifica owner. Or, it may mean that Pacifica shoppers should plan on trading when the warranties are set to expire.
Furthermore, Hondas generally have higher resale values than Chryslers. This means that Odyssey owners have a better chance of recouping more of their money at trade-in.
How do these vehicles make their driver happy? And what about the family for whom this is a home away from home?
When it comes to handling, the Chrysler doesn’t quite match up to the Honda. Even though it is peppy, the Pacifica may lag a bit, and that can make you less confident every time you need to enter the highway at full speed. The Odyssey’s wider gear range means you have more torque at low speeds when you are moving uphill. You can also expect it to accurately harness the van’s velocity at higher speeds. On this point, the Honda pulls ahead.
While ride comfort is much the same, the firm seats of the Pacifica minivan's second row aren’t nearly as inviting as the Odyssey’s plush chairs. Ironically, this is due to one of the Pacifica’s best features, the wonderful Stow-n-Go seats. It’s a trade-off that parents will want to think about before purchasing one of these vans.
Another comfort element is legroom. The Odyssey has nearly two extra inches of second-row legroom and about 1.5 inches of extra third-row room. At this point in the comparison, it may have occurred to parents of teenagers that the Honda is a better idea.
Of course, if your kids are in carseats, legroom and seat cushioning may not be an issue. Parents will be happy with four LATCH-equipped positions to choose from.
As for cargo space, the Odyssey has a deep well that allows it to claim a remarkable 38.6 cubic feet. Pacificas have a reasonable 32.3-cubic foot hold. Still, this six-cube deficit could make a real difference to a big family on a vacation. Behind the second row, the difference is about five cubic feet, but this may not be a make-or-break for families comparing the two vans.
Stow-n-Go seating makes the Pacifica very appealing. You have special storage units in the floor. Then, if you need space, you fold the second row into the floor for a large flat space. If you want to get that in the Odyssey, you’ll have to take out the second row at home. While the Pacifica’s ease of use gets top marks, removing the Odyssey’s seats nets you an extra 15 cubic feet of space.
For years, the Odyssey was the only vehicle with a built-in vacuum. The Pacifica changed all of that. You’ll find the vacuums on the Odyssey Touring and the Pacifica Limited. If you go by MSRP, you are saving about $500 if you choose the Chrysler. Even better, that level nets you a tri-pane sunroof.
With the exception of the base five-inch screen in the Odyssey, the two infotainment screens are similar. The Honda screen is eight inches while the Pacifica has a seven-inch and an 8.4-inch screen choice. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make a huge difference in how many apps you can transfer to your screen. There are no complaints to make about either system. They are responsive, logical, and easy to operate.
The Pacifica has an exceptionally good rear entertainment system. It is a UConnect system, meaning that it can connect you to your streaming entertainment service. Honda has good entertainment, too, but it doesn’t have that capability.
On the other hand, only Honda has CabinControl which works on your smartphone. Likewise, you’ll want the Odyssey if you want CabinTalk. This PA system allows parents to talk to the kids on the second and third rows. Even better, CabinWatch has a camera that can show you what is happening in the back. You’ll see who is still awake, who is arguing, or who is getting into mischief.
If you are looking at safety features, the first thing to know about these two is that they are evenly matched. They both have the coveted five out five star rating that vehicles should have from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. There was a time when minivans couldn’t make the cut, but these two have all angles covered.
There’s a bit more to learn from the Institute for Highway Safety. The Odyssey got good ratings in every crash test while the Pacifica did not have a perfect record. One acceptable rating blemished the fact that it earned good in the other categories. To get the better headlights, according to the IIHS, people would do well to pick the Touring or Elite Odyssey or the Pacifica Limited trim equipped with Advanced SafetyTec package. On all other trims of the Odyssey or Pacifica, the headlights get a poor or marginal rating.
Some would say the Odyssey is superior for its three-way multi-angle rearview camera. However, the Pacifica rearview camera is paired with a standard rear traffic alert to tell you when another vehicle is zooming into your rearward path.
The Pacifica continues its dominance with the affordability of its excellent parking features. In the all-inclusive $1,000 SafetyTec package, Chrysler includes perpendicular and parallel park assist and a 360-degree parking camera.
This same Chrysler package equips the Pacifica with advanced braking assistance to reduce the chances of forward collisions. Likewise, a lane departure warning and blind spot monitor are ready to work together to reduce the chances of straying into another vehicle’s path. Drivers will appreciate automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
The Honda packaging combines all of the driver assistance including an exclusive road departure system to recognize danger and help correct the van’s trajectory. It reserves its parking system, however, for its Touring and Elite trims.
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Which Has the Best Value
If this were the 2019 model year, this review would have said that the Odyssey has the most expensive starting price. However, the 2020 Odyssey now saves you around $4,000.
How did this happen? For 2020, the lower trim levels of the Pacifica have been spun off into a less expensive, less fancy model, called the Chrysler Voyager. As such, Honda can claim a lower price than the Pacifica. The lower MSRP on the Odyssey LX gets you the smaller five-inch touchscreen, a power driver’s seat, and spill-resistant fabric, a parent’s friend. Technophiles will miss Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
If you are deciding between two moderately priced minivans, you are really looking at these two. For $4,000 more, the EX has power-sliding doors, all of Honda’s advanced safety features, and the largest touchscreen. You have to compare it to the similarly priced Pacifica Touring, Chrysler’s base trim. This Pacifica has only the blind spot monitor and the rear cross traffic alert. On the other hand, it does have a power liftgate, power driver’s seat and a tri-zone automatic climate system. It’s only $1,000 more to score that huge SafetyTec package with items you won’t find on the Honda list.
Edging up $2,000 more, the Chrysler picks up leather seats with front-row seat heaters. However, you will still be paying more for the better touchscreen. Asking an extra $3,000, the Odyssey EX-L also has leather seating, and all of those good things on the EX. If you are choosing here, the extra $1,000 for the EX-L seems like the better value.
Inching very close to $40,000 MSRP, the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica Touring L hits a sweet spot. It piles on the bigger touchscreen, navigation, the UConnect Theater, a Wi-fi hotspot, and heated second-row seats. If you notice, however, you still don’t have power-sliding doors.
Pacifica Limited models have the vacuum, multi-pane sunroof, Nappa leather, and finally the hands-free power-sliding doors. Priced about $500 more, Odyssey Touring models include the vacuum, CabinWatch, CabinTalk, and finally a Wi-Fi hotspot.
If you still want more, you can choose the 2020 Honda Odyssey Elite for ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, and maximum luxuries and technologies. Competing for the luxury label, the Chrysler Pacifica Red S edition has Rodeo red and black Nappa leather seats.
Which is Better?
Putting aside the dance of pricing vs. value, a minivan's worth is measured in overall livability. Here, the Odyssey edges out the Pacifica. A big family will want more spacious seating and a bigger cargo hold. Honda's exclusive high-tech features, CabinTalk and CabinWatch, are certain to make it popular with parents of younger children. Drivability is another angle which gives the nod to the 2020 Honda Odyssey. Finally, reliability propels the Odyssey to the finish line.
Considering the many positives of the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica, however, you don’t have to stop your search with this review. It’s still worth it to price out your favorite options, test drive both, and see for yourself which one is right for your family.