Honda Odyssey In Snow & Winter Driving? (Explained)

The Honda Odyssey is an exceptional family vehicle brimming with loads of creature comforts and advanced tech features. With the popularity of the Odyssey, you might wonder if it performs well in snow.

We closely examine the Odyssey to answer this question.

Here is the short answer about whether the Honda Odyssey is good for snow and winter driving:

Although it’s a FWD vehicle, the Honda Odyssey has an Intelligent Traction Management system with a dedicated Snow Mode that enhances traction in adverse winter conditions. Electronic stability control, ABS, and Traction Control keep the Odyssey stable when navigating ice and snow. 

Is a Honda Odyssey Good in the Snow?

With its cavernous interior and comfortable styling, the Honda Odyssey is a great family vehicle. But, if you live in a cold-weather region, you’ll be concerned about its snow handling capabilities.

Well,  the Honda Odyssey handles well in snow. Even though it lacks 4WD/AWD, it still has other qualities that make it ideal for driving in snow.

For instance, it has the Honda Intelligent Traction Management System that comes with a Snow Mode. Activating the Snow Mode adjusts the Odyssey’s performance for maximum control and traction in snow.

Beneath the Odyssey’s hood lies a 3.5-liter V6 that pumps out a decent 262 lbs-ft of torque and 208 horsepower. With such power, your vehicle will have enough momentum to handle snowy terrain.

The Odyssey’s snow handling capabilities also benefits from its front-wheel drive drivetrain.

As the weight of the vehicle rests on the drive wheels, the vehicle has better weight distribution. This gives the vehicle enhanced traction in slippery conditions such as snow and slush.

What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?

Below are features that improve the Honda Odyssey’s winter driving ability:

Intelligent Traction Management

Intelligent Traction Management is perhaps the best reason the Odyssey is good in winter. The ITM system inspires confidence in drivers when navigating winter roads because it increases stability and control in slick conditions.

Intelligent Traction Management allows you to handle winter’s harsh conditions with the push of a button.

It comes with two modes: Normal Mode and Snow Mode. Selecting the latter will optimize vehicle performance to provide enough power for maximum traction on slick surfaces.

The Intelligent Traction Management system works with the Vehicle Stability Assist, Drive-by-Wire throttle and the transmission to maximize traction on winter roadways.

Vehicle Stability Assist (Electronic Stability Control)

The Odyssey’s Vehicle Stability Assist system helps improve control and stability during the winter.

VSA uses a suite of sensors to track your vehicle’s motion and intervene to curb loss of stability.

It can decrease throttle response to prevent loss of control. VSA can also brake individual wheels to return the car to its original path.

Traction Control

Traction Control is part of the Odyssey’s Vehicle Stability Assist system. It minimizes wheel slip and protects your vehicle’s stability in uneven road conditions, e.g. snow.

Traction Control will use sensors to monitor wheel rotation to detect wheel slip in advance.

When Traction Control senses wheel slip, it will cut power to the slipping wheels. It will also apply brakes on the affected wheels to reduce their speed and prevent them from slipping. 

Antilock Braking System

The Antilock Braking System aids drivers in maintaining control in less than ideal road conditions such as ice and snow. It ensures wheels maintain acceptable levels of traction in hard braking situations.

This way, you can use the brakes without the wheels locking up and skidding.

The ABS uses sensors fitted to your vehicle’s wheels to send wheel speed data to the Electronic Control Unit.

When the ECU detects wheel lockup in braking situations, it decreases brake force to the affected wheel. This causes the wheel in question to regain speed, preventing wheel lockup..

Electronic Brake force Distribution

The Electronic Brake force Distribution system on the Odyssey modulates brake performance for improved control on surfaces. It will stop wheel lockups just as the ABS, but it works differently.

The EBD system can avert wheel lockup by applying proportional brake force to each wheel.

The EBD system shifts brake force away from wheels that have less weight on them to those with more weight. (Wheels with less weight are more likely to lock under hard braking.)

Creature Comforts

Traveling in winter can be uncomfortable because of the frigid conditions.

Honda seems aware of this and packed the Odyssey with enough creature comforts to make winter driving as comfortable as possible. This definitely increases the Odyssey’s appeal as the consummate family vehicle.

Some of these comfort-focused features include:

  • Heated steering wheel
  • Heated seats
  • Tri-Zone Climate Control

Please also read our article on common problems with the Honda Odyssey.

Does an Odyssey Have Snow Mode?

The Odyssey has  Snow Mode courtesy of the Intelligent Management System. Pressing the Snow Mode button optimizes the Odyssey for improved performance in snow. 

With Snow Mode active, your wheels will get more stability and less spinning action. You get a better grip as your vehicle becomes easier to start from second gear.

If you want more grip you should consider replacing the standard all-season tires with regular show tires.

The combination of these actions stabilizes your vehicle in snowy conditions and makes for safer driving.

Here’s a video about the snow mode button:

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on Odysseys?

From our research, installing snow gear on Odysseys is easy, and recommended, in fact. Snow gear is a useful addition to your Odyssey and will improve its traction in deep snow.

Here are some examples of snow gear for you:

  • Tire studs
  • Snow socks
  • Snow tires
  • Snow chains

How Much Snow Can an Odyssey Handle?

The Odyssey is not a high-riding SUV or pickup truck, so it cannot handle heavy snowfall.

Specifications show that the 2020 Odyssey has 4.5 inches of ground clearance. This is quite low, meaning you may have difficulty driving in enormous snow drifts.

You can use the Odyssey only for driving in moderate snow. We recommend driving in anything under four inches or you may get stuck in snow.

How Do Odysseys Handle Low Winter Temperatures?

Odysseys sport fuel-injected engines that run fine in all weather conditions. That temperatures drop to below-zero levels in winter doesn’t affect the Odyssey’s performance.

However, there are some issues that may predispose your Odyssey to poor running problems in low winter temperatures:

  • Clogged filters
  • Battery issues
  • Spark plug faults
  • Malfunctioning electrical system

Can a Honda Odyssey Drive on Ice?

The Honda Odyssey drives confidently on ice, as it does in other winter conditions. However, the Odyssey’s large mass makes it somewhat difficult to control on icy surfaces.

Thankfully, the minivan’s minimal center of gravity keeps it close to the ground, reducing the likelihood of the car losing balance.

Even so, we recommend driving with caution in icy conditions. You can easily slide off on ice and crash an Odyssey if you overspeed.

Make sure to read our article on Toyota Sienna statistics.

Does the Odyssey Have 4WD?

The Odyssey does not have four-wheel drive (4WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). It is a front-wheel drive (FWD) model that has a front-engine layout.

The absence of 4WD/AWD somewhat limits the Odyssey’s winter performance. However, a closer look at the minivan shows that it more than makes up for the absence of 4WD/AWD.

It has Intelligent Traction Management, a feature that offers benefits similar to 4WD/AWD. The vehicle also has Vehicle Stability Assist and Traction Control that increase stability and control on winter roads.

What About Older Odyssey Models And Winter Driving?

The ability of older Odyssey models in winter driving varies. For instance, the first and second generation Odysseys had ABS as the only notable (and standard) safety feature.

Electronic Stability Control (Vehicle Stability Assist) didn’t become standard until the third generation starting in 2005.

If you want a winter-ready old Odyssey model, go for one released after the 2005 model year.

It will have standard Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Assist, Antilock Brakes and Electronic Brake Distribution—features that improve winter driving ability.

If you are considering buying a new car, check out our article on the differences between Toyota and Honda vehicles.

Do Odysseys Need Snow Tires?

Asides 4WD or AWD, snow tires are the greatest factor determining winter driving abilities. Although the cost may seem exorbitant, snow tires pay for themselves in the value they offer. Below are benefits of snow tires:

Snow tires have a unique tread compound that remains soft in cold temperatures unlike all-season tires that become stiff in the same conditions. Stiffer tires cannot grip the pavement well, which may cause traction loss.

Snow tires reduce accident risk by preventing hydroplaning. They have sipes and grooves that dispel water from the tread. This prevents hydroplaning, which could lead to a crash or collision.

Snow tires improve braking and cornering ability on winter roads. Unlike all-seasons, snow tires have better grip in the wet, which makes it easier to brake and corner safely.

Read this article to know whether tires are balanced when rotated.

Can You Mount A Snow Plow On An Odyssey?

The Honda Odyssey is not a large SUV or pickup, so we won’t advise fitting a snow plow on the Odyssey.

You could void your warranty by plowing with the Odyssey, especially if a component such as your engine or transmission suffers damage.

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