The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica and 2018 Honda Odyssey are loaded with creature comforts both for parents and kids, but their second rows are where they shine — in very different ways. Parenting on the go is often a chaotic traffic jam of carpool drama, snot, giggles and tears, and minivans take some of the bumps out of the road. These two new vans have upped their game, especially in the second row.
Chrysler's segment-exclusive Stow 'n Go seats that fold into the floor return as standard in the Pacifica, quickly and easily taking it from passenger van to moving van if need be. For 2018, the Odyssey has a Magic Slide second row that slides in many ways, making the second row very versatile.
Both are helpful features, but who does it best?
2018 Honda Odyssey's Magic Slide
The Odyssey's second-row bench can fit three people across, but removing the center seat opens up a ton of flexibility. The outboard seats can slide both forward and back and side-to-side into various positions. I used this in two ways: I moved both seats to one side to create a large pathway to the third row — even when rear-facing car seats are installed. Also, when my twins got on each other's nerves, I was able to separate them by moving them to each side of the van, leaving a lot of space in between.
The seats have one more helpful trick: When the second row's center seat is installed, it can be slid forward to put your little one within easy reach. No more twisting in your front seat when you're trying to hand your child a snack.
The Magic Slide second row isn't available on base Odysseys, but it's standard on all other trims.
2017 Chrysler Pacifica's Stow 'n Go
Chrysler's Stow 'n Go seats are useful in a lot of ways. Not only do they easily fold into underfloor bins — switching the van from people hauler to cargo hauler in a pinch — but when the seats are upright, the empty bins are the perfect place to stash stuff out of sight. For 2017, Chrysler improved the already excellent system with wider, cushier seats and an enhanced folding maneuver.
Previously, you had to move the front seats forward before stowing the second-row seats. You still have to do that in the Pacifica, but now it's easier thanks to a one-touch button on the B-pillar. Also, the seats now tumble without having to first move the floormats out of the way. Lastly, and perhaps most helpful for families with small children, the Easy Tilt seats slide and lift when an empty car seat is installed, creating a walkway to the second row.
Second and third row Stow 'n Go seats are standard on all Pacificas but unavailable on the Pacifica Hybrid.
I put my family of five into both vans and was impressed by the flexibility and versatility of their second rows, but Honda wins for its usability in everyday life. Being able to flatten the Pacifica's seats in a pinch to move a couch is great — and in the Odyssey, you have to remove and store the heavy seats in order to get rid of them — but it's not something I do every day or, heck, even every week. Getting my first-grader into the Odyssey's third row without an awkward shimmy around two rear-facing car seats and separating my bickering toddlers, however, are daily chores that the Odyssey makes just a little bit easier.