There’s a reason the cover of a popular driving video game features a Porsche 911 GT2 RS instead of a minivan. One has 700 horsepower and racing stripes. The other reminds you of changing diapers.
But when it finally comes time in your life to put down the game controller and face the reality of family-hauling duty, no vehicle is better suited than a minivan. Here’s a look at two of the newest models — the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica and 2018 Honda Odyssey — to help you choose.
Sliding rear doors. It’s why you buy a minivan instead of a crossover SUV. For easy loading of people and cargo (especially in a tight parking lot), sliding doors can’t be beat. Both the Pacifica and the Odyssey have power-operated sliding doors as a standard feature on most of their trim levels.
Inside, the two minivans have different approaches to seat design. The Pacifica champions its Stow ‘n Go seats. Minivans typically have a third row that neatly folds flat into the floor. The Pacifica goes one step further with second-row seats that also fold into the floor. In just a few minutes, you can transform the Pacifica from a seven-passenger people mover into a two-seat cargo shuttle. If you want to do the same in the Odyssey, you’ll have to manually remove the second-row seats entirely, which is a hassle.
Honda counters with its Magic Slide second-row seat design. In addition to the typical forward and backward adjustments, the seats can also be easily slid into the center of the van or pulled out toward the edges by more than a foot. Pushing a seat toward the center of the van quickly creates a usable step-through walkway to the third-row seat. And the sliding function works even if child safety seats are installed.
The Honda Odyssey has long been the most enjoyable minivan to pilot, and it remains true with the redesigned 2018 model. From the driver’s seat, the new Odyssey has an almost sedan-like feel that gives you confidence in its abilities should you need to make a sudden turn or lane change. The Pacifica isn’t far behind, though, and is stable and secure when you’re driving around turns.
Both vans have strong, standard V6 engines. In testing, we’ve found the Odyssey has a slight edge in acceleration. In real-world driving, however, both vans provide authoritative power when you need to quickly get up to speed on a highway or make a pass on a two-lane road.
At the pump, you can expect nearly identical fuel economy from these minivans. The EPA pegs them both at 22 mpg in combined driving. For maximum fuel economy, however, Chrysler has a surprising ace in the hole: the Pacifica Hybrid. It’s the first plug-in hybrid minivan on the market.
When it comes to keeping you and your family safe, the Pacifica and Odyssey each earns top scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
We do like how Honda makes the Odyssey’s accident avoidance technology (such as a forward collision warning and mitigation system) standard equipment for all trim levels except the base LX. On the Pacifica, these features are typically optional. The Pacifica, however, does offer a special feature that can be used to set certain parameters, such as limiting top speed, for young drivers. There’s no equivalent available on the Odyssey.
FEATURES AND TECHNOLOGY
Both minivans are up-to-date with the latest features. The infotainment systems have big touchscreens and include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. Notably, the Pacifica and Odyssey are also the only two minivans to offer onboard vacuum cleaners. Each has a few distinctive features as well. The Pacifica offers a 360-degree camera system and an automated parking system, while the Odyssey has a rear-seating monitoring camera and a special smartphone entertainment app the whole family can use.
The 2018 Pacifica starts around $27,000; the 2018 Odyssey, $30,000. At the high end, fully loaded versions of these vans end up being around $48,000. The sweet spot from a value and feature content perspective, though, are the midrange Pacifica Touring L and the Odyssey EX-L. These have MSRPs of about $38,000.
Choosing between the Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Odyssey largely comes down to your needs. Do you want a van that’s equally great at being a family taxi or a cargo van? You’ll probably prefer the Pacifica because of its Stow ‘n Go second-row seating. Have a gaggle of little kids? The Odyssey, with its Magic Slide seating and interior camera feature, is likely the better choice.
This story was provided to The Associated Press by the automotive website Edmunds. Brent Romans is a senior editor at Edmunds.