A blue 2020 Honda Odyssey is shown from the side driving in a city.

A Minivan Showdown

In your quest to nab the ultimate minivan, you have most likely been faced with some serious dilemmas. It isn’t always easy picking out the perfect little people-mover that doubles as a road trip warrior and home project material delivery vehicle. Whatever your primary purpose for wanting a new minivan, as you narrow down your search, you will most likely come to a few different models to pick from. And out of all the options, the decision usually comes down to the 2020 Honda Odyssey or the 2020 Toyota Sienna. Both minivans are made by reputable car companies known for producing high-quality, reliable cars, trucks, SUVs, and minivans.

While both of the mentioned are solid choices, it might be worth determining which one really is the better buy. So to help you as you try to decide which minivan is right for you and your family, here are a few key points about both the Odyssey and the Sienna you might want to keep in mind.

Why a Minivan?

There are many reasons minivans are extremely popular and a solid choice when it comes to buying a new vehicle. Things like cargo capacity, interior layout, availability of advanced technologies and modern conveniences, and, of course, cost, all come into play when it comes to choosing the best minivan. These are the essentials and things that often matter most to minivan drivers. There are, however, most likely a few factors that aren’t as important. If towing capacity were a huge concern to you, a minivan probably isn’t the best fit. And if fuel efficiency is your holy grail, you might want to consider something a bit smaller. For our purposes, we can forgo many of those specs and zero in on some others.

It is also worth noting that in regard to many of the key points minivan buyers look at when considering which model to buy, the Odyssey and Sienna are somewhat similar. For example, they both have V6 engines and come with high-quality infotainment systems. With all that being said, for the purpose of comparison, we will look at how they are different and move forward with the following framework to determine which of these two minivans is the better buy. We will look at cargo capacity, interior layout, and the availability of cutting edge technologies, among a few other factors.

A silver 2020 Toyota Sienna is driving on a tree-lined road.

Cargo Capacity

Cargo Capacity or cargo volume is a big deal for minivans because it’s what makes them so versatile. Many minivans today have either foldable seating or stow and go seating so you can configure your interior to either haul 7-8 passengers or carry nearly as much as pickup owners can move in their trucks. What makes the 2020 Honda Odyssey especially so impressive, is the massive amount of cargo it can handle in a variety of configurations. If you routinely need to bring tools or materials home from the hardware store for projects or renovations, then the Odyssey has got you covered with up to 158 cu.ft. of space.

Accessing all that space is easy, too, with a second row that is easily removable and a third row that stows directly into the floor in one easy motion. With minimal effort, the Odyssey is transformed from a school or soccer bus into a minivan that can haul some serious stuff.

What you will notice about the 2020 Toyota Sienna is that the cargo volume is just not quite as expansive as the Odyssey’s. You can definitely feel the smaller space as the Sienna maxes out at 150 cu.ft. And that smaller space is more challenging to access too. So if carrying both passengers and luggage, boxes, tools, equipment, or anything else is one of the primary reasons you are interested in a minivan, then you might want to consider the Odyssey instead of the Sienna. The more accessible, roomier Odyssey is just a step ahead in this case.

Interior Layout

Another notable aspect of the 2020 Honda Odyssey that edges out the Sienna is the interior layout—especially the Magic Slide second-row seats. One of the nice things about the Odyssey is that the second-row seats are captain’s chairs. This feature makes getting to the third row easier and for more comfortable seating.

However, especially with little ones, it is sometimes difficult to reach from the front row to the edge of the middle row where the seats are to help with sippy cups, books, and whatever else has been dropped. With the Odyssey’s Magic Slide second-row seats, however, you get the convenience and comfort of captain’s chairs with the benefit of putting your front or rear-facing children in the center of the vehicle. The two captain’s chairs can slide toward the middle of the vehicle and sit side by side.

While this innovation might seem simple, those of us with small children know better than to overlook the benefits of being able to move the second-row seats in this way. It can be a real lifesaver when your toddler is hungry and needs a snack or thirsty and needs a drink. And the Sienna lacks this outstanding feature and comes with either row seating in the middle (some of the Sienna’s trims can seat eight passengers) or captains chairs that cannot slide to the middle of the vehicle.

Stow and go seating, and other minivan innovations that have long since become standard weren’t always so, and that is the sense you get with the Magic Slide second-row seats in the Odyssey. Not every minivan has this great feature, but maybe one day they will. If you get the 2020 Honda Odyssey, you’ll be an early adopter and grateful for it.

A family is walking towards a silver 2020 Honda Odyssey in a parking lot after winning the 2020 Honda Odyssey vs 2020 Toyota Sienna comparison.

Other Modern Advancements

Both inside and outside, the Odyssey is loaded with other goodies too. For example, the 2020 Odyssey Elite (the highest of five trims) comes with a wireless phone charger to keep your car from becoming a jungle of cords and wires. The last thing you need after loading everyone into the car is to realize you forgot your charger in the house. With the wireless charger, making sure your phone’s battery is full bars is easy and hassle-free. The Odyssey also comes with HondaVAC, a built-in vacuum cleaner that will help you keep your minivan neat and tidy. The interior also boasts CabinWatch, which will keep your little ones entertained as you get from point A to point B.

As for safety features, Honda Sense and the Road Departure Mitigation System will keep your family safe no matter where you are going. And the Sienna’s comparable trim, the Premium Limited, doesn’t have any of these features and feels a touch out of sync with what minivan drivers want and need these days.

A Final Word

Of course, the cost is also a factor when it comes to buying any vehicle, including minivans. The fantastic thing about these two minivans is that the Honda Odyssey is also the more affordable of the two. The standard trim Odyssey LX starts at $30,790, whereas the Sienna L starts at $31,640.

When you weigh all these points together, a consensus starts to form that the 2020 Honda Odyssey is the better buy. With superior cargo room, a better interior layout, and more goodies and advanced features on a number of its top trims, the 2020 Honda Odyssey is one of the most incredible minivans on the market today.