2020 Honda Odyssey vs. 2019 Ford Flex

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/10/15

The Odyssey has a standard Whiplash Mitigation Front Seat Design, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Whiplash Mitigation Front Seat Design system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Flex doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Odyssey EX/EX-L/Touring/Elite has standard Collision Mitigation Braking System, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Flex offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.

The Honda Odyssey has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Flex doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

The Odyssey EX/EX-L/Touring/Elite’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Flex doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Odyssey offers optional Parking Sensors to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or, for the Odyssey Touring/Elite in front of the vehicle. The Flex doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

Both the Odyssey and the Flex have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Honda Odyssey is safer than the Flex:

Odyssey

Flex

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Restraints

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

2 cm

11 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

0%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Tibia index R/L

.5/.43

.53/.69

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, its “Good” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Odyssey the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 88 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Flex was not even a standard “Top Pick” for 2016.

Reliability

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The engine in the Odyssey has a single overhead cam for simplicity. The engines in the Flex have dual overhead cams, which add to the number of moving parts and the complexity of the cylinder heads.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Honda vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Honda 3 places higher in reliability than Ford.

Engine

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The Odyssey’s 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 8 lbs.-ft. more torque (262 vs. 254) than the Flex’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the Odyssey gets better fuel mileage than the Flex:

MPG

Odyssey

FWD

3.5 DOHC 6-cyl.

19 city/28 hwy

Flex

FWD

3.5 DOHC 6-cyl.

16 city/23 hwy

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Odyssey’s fuel efficiency. The Flex doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Odyssey’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Flex doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Honda Odyssey uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Flex Limited requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Odyssey has almost a gallon more fuel capacity than the Flex (19.5 vs. 18.6 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

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A 10-speed automatic is standard on the Honda Odyssey, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Flex.

Brakes and Stopping

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The Odyssey stops much shorter than the Flex:

Odyssey

Flex

70 to 0 MPH

180 feet

192 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

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For better load carrying, ride, handling and brake cooling the Odyssey has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Flex SE.

The Odyssey has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Flex doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

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For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Odyssey is 1.9 inches wider in the front and 1.8 inches wider in the rear than on the Flex.

For better maneuverability, the Odyssey’s turning circle is 1.1 feet tighter than the Flex’s (39.6 feet vs. 40.7 feet).

Chassis

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To almost totally eliminate engine vibration in the passenger area, the Odyssey has an electronically controlled liquid-filled main engine mount. A computer-controlled electric current in the liquid changes its viscosity, allowing the mount to dampen the engine completely at all RPMs. The Flex uses conventional solid rubber engine mounts.

The front grille of the Odyssey uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Flex doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Odyssey uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Flex doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

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The Odyssey offers optional seating for 8 passengers; the Flex can only carry 7.

The Odyssey has 7.8 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Flex (163.6 vs. 155.8).

The Odyssey has 3.1 inches more front hip room, 4.7 inches more front shoulder room, 9.8 inches more rear hip room, 3.5 inches more rear shoulder room, 4.8 inches more third row legroom, 7.3 inches more third row hip room and 9.2 inches more third row shoulder room than the Flex.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Odyssey’s middle and third row seats recline. The Flex’s third row seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

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The Odyssey’s cargo area provides more volume than the Flex.

Odyssey

Flex

Behind Third Seat

32.8 cubic feet

20 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

88.8 cubic feet

43.2 cubic feet

Max Cargo Volume

144.9 cubic feet

83.2 cubic feet

A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the Odyssey easier. The Odyssey’s cargo hatch lift-over height is 22.5 inches, while the Flex’s liftover is 30.5 inches.

The Odyssey’s cargo area is larger than the Flex’s in every dimension:

Odyssey

Flex

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

25”/56”/91”

16.5”/47”/83.3”

Max Width

50”

46”

Min Width

48”

40.5”

Height

54”

40”

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Odyssey Touring/Elite’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Flex doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Towing

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The Odyssey’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Flex’s (3000 vs. 2000 pounds).

Ergonomics

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The Odyssey’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Flex’s parking brake has to released manually.

The Odyssey EX/EX-L/Touring/Elite’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Flex’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

If the windows are left open on the Odyssey the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Flex can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Odyssey’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The Flex’s power mirror switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

The Odyssey has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Flex doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The Odyssey’s available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Flex’s headlights are rated “Marginal” to “Poor.”

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Odyssey EX/EX-L/Touring/Elite detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Flex doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

When the Odyssey EX-L/Touring/Elite is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Flex’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the Odyssey owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Odyssey will cost $375 to $1795 less than the Flex over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Odyssey is less expensive to operate than the Flex because it costs $264 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Odyssey than the Flex, including $55 less for a water pump, $329 less for a muffler, $8 less for fuel injection, $41 less for front struts, $684 less for a timing belt/chain and $95 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Honda Odyssey will be $783 to $5304 less than for the Ford Flex.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/10/15

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Honda Odyssey, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels. The Ford Flex isn't recommended.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Odyssey first among minivans in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Flex isn’t in the top three in its category.

The Honda Odyssey outsold the Ford Flex by over five to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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