2018 Honda Odyssey vs. 2018 Chrysler Pacifica: Compare Cars

September 21, 2017
2018 Chrysler Pacifica

2018 Chrysler Pacifica

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Minivans hardly get the recognition they deserve as functional family utensils. They're big, comfortable, relatively frugal, and can take toddler temper tantrums in stride.

Two of the biggest names in the minivan world are fresh from complete overhauls and ready to vie for families attentions.

The Honda Odyssey boasts new interior tech and an updated face, while the Chrysler Pacifica combines our perennial favorite mix-and-match seating arrangement with better tech—even a hybrid model.

MORE: Read our full review of the 2018 Honda Odyssey and 2018 Chrysler Pacifica

By the numbers, the Chrysler Pacifica wins by a nose. It shouldn't be much of a surprise either: we named it our 2017 Best Car to Buy because it represented a rethink of minivans on par with the Town & Country model it replaced. The Pacifica looks great, drives well, and nails all the details like Stow 'N Go seats.

The Honda Odyssey is a formidable force for families, and it scores very well overall on our scales. But the Pacifica's looks and small conveniences like easy-opening doors and a common-sense infotainment setup help it outpoint the Honda in the end. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

2018 Honda Odyssey Elite

2018 Honda Odyssey Elite

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2018 Honda Odyssey Elite

2018 Honda Odyssey Elite

Enlarge Photo
2018 Honda Odyssey Elite

2018 Honda Odyssey Elite

Enlarge Photo
2018 Honda Odyssey Elite

2018 Honda Odyssey Elite

Enlarge Photo

Judging a minivan by its exterior looks feels like judging a pizza by the box it comes in; what's inside probably matters more. Still, the Pacifica manages to smooth over its boxy assignment with a handsome shape and a sharp nose that doesn't run from its vast expanses of metal and glass—it embraces them. The Pacifica's big windows are framed with chrome and kick back gently to hide the sliding door rails. Its graceful fenders and subtle flylines underneath the windows have so far escaped the tendencies to "man up" minivans, and it's better for it.

The Odyssey largely takes the same approach, in most places. The stylish "lightning bolts" along the sides of the Odyssey have been tamed this time around. Up front, the Odyssey wears a corporate nose adapted from the Pilot and Civic, although we're not as sold on the look. The Odyssey's face is much more upright and when coupled with a creased hood, daytime running lights, and a descending grille—there's a lot going on is what we're saying.

Inside, both vans are awash in durable materials and surfaces, although the Pacifica reads bigger in our eyes thanks to better packaging. The Honda Odyssey feels much more utilitarian in its dash structure and control arrangement; the Pacifica is just a hint friendlier.

2018 Chrysler Pacifica

2018 Chrysler Pacifica

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2018 Chrysler Pacifica

2018 Chrysler Pacifica

Enlarge Photo
2018 Chrysler Pacifica

2018 Chrysler Pacifica

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Neither minivan trades on its performance potential, so it's a wash here. The Pacifica (mostly) is powered by 3.6-liter V-6 that makes 287 horsepower and drives the front wheels via a 9-speed automatic transmission. The derided 9-speed from Chrysler has largely met its match in the Pacifica by offering smooth shifts and quick kickdowns—we wish we could say the same about other applications for this transmission. We've only noticed occasional hiccups on long highway jaunts, particularly with cruise control engaged; engine braking and downshifts will take some finesse.

The Honda Odyssey uses a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 280 horsepower mated to a 9- or 10-speed automatic. Our time behind the wheel has been limited to the 10-speed, which is a new unit for Honda and is only included on high-spec trim levels of this van. The Odyssey is stiffer and stronger this time around, and feels like the stronger of the two—even though it's down on horsepower. Honda's 10-speed fades into the background and drives the front wheels only (among minivans, all-wheel drive is only available on the Toyota Sienna). Both minivans will scoot in and around town, but the Odyssey is the only one that drives "big." Namely, the Odyssey feels a little cumbersome to park, and outward visibility can be a challenge.

The Odyssey and Pacifica have long lists of optional features and accessories that ease the burden of family commutes—or at least quiet the pain to a dull roar. What's more impressive is the standard three rows of seats—all of them comfortable for adults—and the flexibility to store and fold those seats when more cargo space is needed. Honda offers a sliding seat system than can move the outboard second row seats across the cabin for a flexible layout, but requires removing the center console and exposes some easily tripable rails. Pulling out the second row requires removing the seats, which weigh 70 pounds each, and not tripping on the rails.

2018 Chrysler Pacifica

2018 Chrysler Pacifica

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The Pacifica skips it all. Chrysler's Stow 'N Go system tumbles the second row into a flat floor in a breeze and is one of the smartest systems on the planet. We like that.

The minivans carve their own niches for tech goodies. The Honda Odyssey can project the driver's voice through the third-row speakers (we call it "Shout and pout") or give front-row riders a peek into the second row with a in-car camera—useful for rear facing car seats—or warring siblings in the second row (we call it "Crime cam").

The Pacifica offers seat-mounted touchscreens with road-trip apps such as Checkers or "Are We There Yet?" that display trip and navigation information. Offering dual touchscreens is very nice for long trips, although we noticed that big families may not be able to put them to best use: infant car seats are best accessed in the second row, and older siblings who could use the touchscreen could be relegated to the third row.

Thankfully, the features that we couldn't live without made it to both minivans: in-car vacuum and a surround-view camera system—the former for helping clean up messes, and the latter for helping to avoid them in parking lots. 

In the end, the Pacifica earns our nod for the little things that don't show up in the scores, but add up in our minds. The Pacifica's sliding doors can be opened with a button, while the Odyssey's open by pulling a handle that'd be hard for a small child to reach or pull. The Odyssey requires drivers to engage lane-keep assist every time the van is started; the Pacifica remembers the last setting by default. And so on.

Day in, day out, both vans will get the job done. Perhaps the Pacifica will do it all with a little less headache? That's what the kids are for, after all.

Summary

8.0
Expert Rating
The redesigned 2018 Honda Odyssey is exceptionally well thought out, brimming with cool tech, spacious, comfortable, and well controlled on the road. Add in plenty of safety features, and it's a smart way to carry the family.
8.3
Expert Rating
The 2018 Chrysler Pacifica continues to be one of our top-rated vehicles, thanks to excellent safety, flexibility, utility, and features.

Styling

6.0
Expert Rating
Its lightning-bolt profile adds visual interest and the Honda Odyssey has some presence, but it isn’t pretty.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
The Chrysler Pacifica drops suave urbane style, inside and out.
Read More

Performance

7.0
Expert Rating
The 2018 Honda Odyssey is the best controlled and quickest minivan on the market.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
The Chrysler Pacifica tackles roads with almost the same zeal with which it tackles ground-in Froot Loops and cranky, attention-craving mini-humans.
Read More

Comfort & Quality

10
Expert Rating
For families with kids, the Honda Odyssey has lots of space and versatile seating that tops the class for comfort.
Read More
10
Expert Rating
In minivans, there’s no substitute for flexibility. The Chrysler Pacifica has all of it.
Read More

Safety

9.0
Expert Rating
With the Odyssey, Honda earns near-perfect crash-test scores.
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9.0
Expert Rating
The 2018 Chrysler Pacifica nearly aces its crash tests.
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Features

10
Expert Rating
All Odysseys offer the features you need to haul the family in comfort, but only top models get the new 10-speed and the most desirable tech gear.
Read More
10
Expert Rating
The 2018 Chrysler Pacifica has everything we’d want to have in a minivan.
Read More

Fuel Economy

6.0
Expert Rating
The Odyssey gets the top fuel economy ratings in the class, other than the Pacifica plug-in hybrid, with either transmission.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
The 2018 Pacifica ranks as the top minivan for fuel economy.
Read More

MSRP

from $29,990
from $26,995

Invoice

from $27,428
from $26,865

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

22
22

Engine

Regular Unleaded V-6, 3.5 L
Regular Unleaded V-6, 3.6 L

Drivetrain

Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
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