The Honda Odyssey is about function and making family life easier. It can carry a family of eight, or half a high-school soccer team, with all their coolers, balls, tents, shoes, whatever. It can tow a small trailer with a motorcycle or watercraft. Odyssey can carry 4x8 plywood flat on the floor, with 10-foot-long boards can be stacked on them, extending between the front seats when the convenient removable console is taken out. Best of all, it's loaded with conveniences designed to simplify life.
The Honda Odyssey was thoroughly redesigned and re-engineered for the 2011 model year, marking a new generation of one of America's favorite multi-purpose vehicles.
For 2014, Odyssey gets minor tweaks to trim that freshen its appearance. Noteworthy equipment updates include Bluetooth and Pandora as standard equipment and the industry's only built-in vacuum cleaner, which works better than any cordless vacuum we've used and better than most corded handhelds. And the 2014 Odyssey is safer yet, with more warning systems and driver assists, a benefit of its revised structure for 2014. It is the first van to earn an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus, including a Good rating in the small overlap front crash test. (The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is a lobbying organization for the auto-insurance industry.)
Though still called a minivan, there is nothing mini about the modern minivan. The Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Town & Country, Nissan Quest, and Kia Sedona are big passenger vehicles, most stretching past 16 1/2 feet in overall length. If you need a true mini-van, you might consider the Mazda5.
For many uses, and especially for carrying people, a Honda Odyssey or one of its competitors makes more sense than a full-size sport-utility or crossover. A minivan often handles better and is generally more space and fuel-efficient. The Odyssey is less expensive than a luxury SUV, gets better fuel economy, and has more cargo room, with greater flexibility in how the space is configured. Unless you need all-wheel drive or you tow a big car or boat, the Odyssey should work. Odyssey's third-row seats set a new standard in legroom, with as much space as the front seats in a Cadillac Escalade or even the Odyssey itself.
The Honda 248-hp V6 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission lead the class in fuel economy without lagging in performance.
Comfort and poise are excellent, even with six large people on board. Six airbags including three-row side curtains are standard. Blind-spot and lane-departure warnings, the LaneWatch right-side camera view, and forward collision warning are optional.
Odyssey's main competition is the Toyota Sienna, which offers more choices with a four-cylinder engine, a sport model and available all-wheel drive; Sienna does not offer eight seats, however. Dodge Grand Caravan and Nissan Quest are the primary alternatives to the Honda and Toyota.
All 2014 Honda Odyssey models use a 248-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, front-wheel drive and have a 3500-pound tow rating. The only mechanical differences among them are wheel material and size.
Odyssey LX ($28,825) seats seven on cloth upholstery. It includes front and rear manual air conditioning, eight-way power driver's seat, four-way power passenger seat, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, one-touch signals, power windows, power locks, power mirrors (with wide-angle element driver), adjustable second-row seats, 60/40-split fold-in-floor third row seats, 229-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 five-speaker stereo system, rearview camera, Bluetooth hands-free and streaming audio, Pandora interface, SMS text function, auto-off projector headlights, cruise control, reading lights for all rows, trip computer and 10 beverage holders.
Odyssey EX ($32,125) has eight seats and adds power sliding side doors, three-zone automatic climate control, driver power lumbar, LaneWatch, pushbutton start, second-row sunshades and multi-function seats, alloy wheels, removable front center console with two more cupholders, 2GB CD library and seven speakers with subwoofer, USB port, HomeLink, HondaLink with Aha, intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID) with 8-inch touch-screen, conversation mirror, security system, heated mirrors, wheel-mounted audio controls, wiper-linked auto on/off headlights, compass and outside temperature display.
Odyssey EX-L ($35,625) upgrades to leather upholstery and steering wheel-wrap, power moonroof and tailgate, forward collision and lane-departure warning, heated front seats, XM radio, front cool box, and auto-dimming mirror. EX-L is offered with rear entertainment or navigation, but not both: An EX-L with RES ($37,225) adds the rear-entertainment system (RES) with 9-inch screen, wireless headphones/jacks and a 115-VAC outlet. Odyssey EX-L with Navigation ($37,625) adds navigation with voice recognition, FM traffic info, multi-view rear camera and 15GB disk drive.
Odyssey Touring ($41,880) gets 18-inch wheels and mild aerodynamic changes like side sills and mirrors with signal repeaters. Touring also adds to EX-L driver-memory system linked to reverse-tilt mirrors, an acoustic windshield, standard navigation and rear entertainment, third-row sunshades, third-row center armrest, multi-information display, corner and backup sensor indicators, fog lamps and ambient footwell lighting.
Odyssey Touring Elite ($44,450) is a Touring model with blind-spot warning system, HID headlamps, HondaVAC, and a dual-input 16.2-inch widescreen rear entertainment system linked to a 650-watt, 12-speaker Neural 5.1 surround sound system with HD radio.
Safety features on every Odyssey include frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, rearview camera, three-row curtain airbags, tire pressure monitors, electronic stability control, ABS, EBD, and brake assist. LaneWatch, lane departure warning, forward collision warning and blind-spot monitors are standard on some versions.