Sunday, October 24, 2010

2011 Honda Odyssey EX-L - The Van Does Beckon

2011 Honda Oyssey
Yesterday my 10 year old son and I drove the newly re-designed Honda Odyssey in Petaluma, CA.  It was raining cats and dogs, but we got a great tour of the interior and drove on some bumpy country roads. The Odyssey handled very well, the bumps were barely noticeable, the seats were comfortable, and I have no doubt that this is a very well-made, reliable minivan.

  • Great reliability (It is a Honda after all.)
  • Comfortable seats in 3 rows
  • Seating for 2-8
  • 5 LATCH equipped seats
  • Well-thought-out family features (see list below)
  • Rear-view camera with excellent resolution (and different angle options)
  • USB jack in glove box
  • Voice recognition with satellite-linked navigation with 60 GB of memory
  • Ability to store music on an audio system hard drive (high-end models)
  • Cool Mom Score: 8
  • Son's Score: 10

I like the new look of the Odyssey, it's a bit edgier than previous years -- but only on the outside. The inside is comfy and calm and totally usable, and not overly fancy. The lack of wood grain and ambient lighting may keep luxury SUV owners from converting, but the benefits of sliding doors and copious amounts of cargo capacity will certainly entice buyers. Even the interior colors aren't too flashy: beige, gray or darker gray (called "Truffle"). The new Odyssey ads suggest that the 2011 model is bringing sexy back to the minivan (assuming it was there before). But if I'm to think this Odyssey is sexier and "sets the mood," I'd like a black interior -- black makes everything look sexier. I don't think this family car is Justin Timberlake material...
Good Mood Lighting Here...

However, if your main interest in a car is more practical, and you like minivans, then you have to give the Odyssey a long look. There are great features for parents: 
  • automatic side sliding doors and lift gate (with buttons on the key), 
  • easy-to-fold seats, 
  • 10 cup holders, 
  • integrated sun shades to shade your sleeping backseat passengers, 
  • a cool box in the front to keep drinks and snacks cold, 
  • removable center console in front for easier access to backseats,
  • the ability to lock the rear passengers out of climate control, 
  • an available rear DVD system with a huge 16.2" split screen, and
  • Easy to Reach Components
  • good cargo space behind the third row for a stroller, bags, and muddy shoes.
I have several friends who own older Odyssey's and they love them. One couple fights over their van: she wants it for hauling kids and he wants it to haul his windsurfer. We vacationed with another family in August and were shocked at how much they packed into their Odyssey: 2 coolers, boxes of groceries, 1 bike inside (3 on the bike rack), 4 suitcases, plus their family of 4. We had dinner with them last night and they brought up the enviable capacity of their Odyssey and the fact that my Lexus RX was packed to the gills even with the Thule roof rack on top. 

Other highlights abound: The headroom inside this 4th-generation Odyssey is great -- even for the 3rd row. And they made it two inches wider, not something we usually brag about, but this additional width allows the 2nd row seats to move in and out as well as back and forth. For all the new cars I review, safety features are now so standard, I forget to mention them. The Odyssey has side-curtain airbags and a great front-passenger detection system that keeps the side airbag from deploying if it detects that a child or smaller adult is in it's path (and would be severely injured otherwise). There is traction control, ABS, and tire pressure monitors that alert the driver if a tire needs some attention.

Gas mileage is good at 18 MPG - 28 MPG (depending on the model and engine size). And power doesn't seem to be an issue. The power and efficiency in the available V-6 comes from the Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) engine that activates or deactivates cylinders based on power requirements. It can run on 3, 4 or 6 cylinders so you get power and efficiency together. This Odyssey meets the California Ultra-Low-Emission Vehicle (ULEV-2) standards for light trucks. Certainly a feature that should get more play in reviews and on TV.

If you've been reading my reviews, you know I'm not a minivan driver myself, but I completely understand where they fit in and why they're so popular. It doesn't surprise me that not only families turn to the Odyssey for hauling people and gear. I followed an Odyssey taxi the other day and have seen several handyman vans around Marin. Sometimes practicality should lead the decision-making process, especially with a family car. I would love to take the 2011 Odyssey out for a few days and run it through my daily routines with the kids. I'm also driving the new Toyota Sienna this week so I'll have a comparison post soon.

If you buy a 2011 Odyssey you will not be disappointed in the ability to configure it to suit your needs. I suggest you wear black if you're looking for a more suggestive ride.

(My thanks to Hansel Honda in Petaluma, CA, for showing us the Odyssey and letting me take it out for a spin in the rain. Hansel is a very family friendly dealership with a play room inside for the kids and a great service department.)

Photos from Honda:

(c) Copyright 2010-2016. Erika JN Fish. Car Mama. All Rights Reserved.

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