2014 Honda Odyssey offers such interior amenities as a
what age do you finally realize that you’re no longer young?
Is it when you
no longer recognize a song in the Top 10? Is it when you enjoy a bit
of peace and quiet? Or maybe it’s when you realize, to your
ultimate shock and horror, that a minivan really is handy for
hauling people and stuff.
For those who
succumb to the inevitable, there’s one minivan that stands as the
hippest vehicle in an un-hip category: the 2014 Honda Odyssey.
that way from the beginning.
When it was
first introduced, Honda’s Odyssey stood out. It wasn’t as large
as its competitors. Its engine had only four cylinders, not six. Its
doors never slid open, but swung open. Clearly, the Odyssey marched
to the beat of a different drummer. It was the minivan to drive if
you hated minivans. But it never sold in the numbers more
traditional minivans did. It seems that minivan buyers didn’t have
the inclination to try something different. Honda obliged them by
making the Odyssey more like its competition.
conservative consumer base, it’s understandable why, for 2014, the
current Odyssey, which debuted in 2011, undergoes modest styling
changes. The refresh does little to offset the odd side styling,
which stands apart from other minivans.
Odyssey minivan is hardly mini, and is barely able to fit in a
standard-size garage, it offers an amazing amount of space to travel
in comfort. The front seats are wide, with enough adjustments to
satisfy both short and tall drivers. In fact, this vehicle is wide
enough to easily accommodate three passengers in the second row —
as long as they’re not siblings. Even the third row is habitable
for full-sized human beings. And check out all of that cargo space
— perfect for trips to the warehouse club.
Odyssey is packed with convenience features, although how many you
get depends on trim level. It starts with the base LX, and ascends
through EX, EX-L and Touring trim levels before reaching the
undeniably well-equipped Touring Elite. It is this model that has a
particularly useful feature: the HondaVac.
For any parent
who has spent too much of their lives vacuuming up wayward Cheerios,
animal crackers and gummy bears, this will be worthwhile. For those
of you who don’t want to spend so much money to get one, just
stash a car vac in the cargo net.
option is more useful than some others. For instance, the rear-seat
16.2-inch widescreen DVD entertainment system seems worthwhile until
you realize that sibling squabbles would be more easily banished by
buying them each tablets, rather than listening to them fight over
which movie to watch.
and whistles, such as a rear-vision camera, Pandora interface,
Bluetooth connectivity, four-way power passenger’s front seat and
optional flip-up trash bag ring, are joined by some worthwhile
safety items, including a blind-spot display, which shows vehicles
in your van’s blind spot, as well as forward collision warning and
lane-departure warning. That’s in addition to electronic stability
control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake distribution, brake
assist, front and side-curtain airbags and active front seat head
Given this, it’s
little wonder that the Odyssey has once again garnered the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s top "Overall Vehicle
Score" with five-star ratings for the front-crash safety test
and both side-crash safety tests. In addition, the Insurance
Institute for Highway Safety gave it a "Top Safety Pick
Plus" safety rating.
When it comes
time to start your own odyssey, the Odyssey still has the handling
precision you’d expect despite the priority given toward ride
comfort. The van’s size and weight is hard to mask in corners and
the steering lacks feedback that prior versions had. But it’s
precise enough to easily maneuver this big bus. The body leans
somewhat while cornering, but not alarmingly so, and the ride
absorbs bumps fairly well without excess body motion. Braking is
As in 2013,
the 3.5-liter V-6 still produces 248 horsepower. Now, however, it’s
hooked to a six-speed automatic transmission on all models. Last
year, only the Touring and Touring Elite models got a six-speed. The
others had a less-efficient five-speed.
V-6 is surprisingly up to the task of moving all of this metal. It
always retains its air of refinement, even when asked for more
power. The transmission shifts unobtrusively, smoothly and quickly.
It goes about its job efficiently, just what you’d expect from a
And aside from
its odd styling, the updated Honda Odyssey remains at the top of its
class for handling, fuel economy, comfort, safety and features. If
you have a family, and all of the baggage that comes along, a
minivan gives you maximum bang for your buck.
And the 2014
Honda Odyssey is best in class.
3.5-liter SOHC V-6
space: 38.4-148.5 cubic feet
capacity: 3,500 pounds
(city/highway): 19/28 mpg
consumption: 24.5 mpg
safety rating: 5 stars
base model: $28,825
test model: $44,450
including destination charge: $45,280