2021 Honda Odyssey Touring
The minivan segment has been shrinking for the last 15 years as a couple of automakers left the dance, but Honda remained committed to offering the Odyssey. You will find out if it should be on your shopping list if you are interested in a bigger family hauler. Our test vehicle is manufactured in Lincoln, Alabama, and has an MSRP of $54,805.
In 2022, the Honda Odyssey has an understated design compared to its rivals which will suit a buyer looking for a vehicle that blends in. They designed the vehicle to be as simple as possible. In a world where many automakers are going crazy with their front grilles, Honda has gone in the other direction, and we have to give credit where it's due: it is a minivan look, and it isn't trying to hide this fact. In the back, same story, a traditional, no-frills look, practicality is the name of the game.
Inside, the Odyssey can seat up to 8 passengers in every trim; this is a significant advantage if you plan on making a single trip from school to soccer practice with your little ones and a couple of their friends. All the seats are comfortable, and the third row can fold, allowing for bigger trunk space. The second-row seats are versatile since they slide front, back, and left to right; Honda calls this neat feature the Magic Slide. One drawback is the absence of easy access to ISOFIX ports; they are hidden in the seats, which makes installing child car seats even worse than it already is. Parents sitting in front can enjoy heated and ventilated seats, which is always nice. The driving position is pretty high, even at its lowest setting, but with the 12-way power seats, you can easily find a comfortable position.
Once you are sitting in the driver's seat, you will have the benefit of a prominent, easy-to-read digital cluster. Unfortunately, it isn't the new one found in the Civic. It is adequate and displays the most basic information such as your speed, fuel consumption, trip information, practicality, as said earlier. The infotainment system is slower than the competition, so this is a bit of a let-down. You can have a wireless charger, but no wireless Apple Carplay or Android Auto available. There is a Blu-Ray DVD reader for the rear infotainment screen, which is excellent for road trips. The minivan comes with two pairs of headphones and a remote that passengers can use to set their favourite movie or TV episode and control the volume.
The climate controls are slotted under the infotainment screen and are easy to operate without being distracted while driving. It is a tri-zone, meaning you can set your temperature preference in the front and the passengers' preference for each row in the back. You can also set all of them on auto for even less distraction. The steering wheel is wrapped in leather and is nice to feel. The buttons for the Bluetooth are easy to use; we can say the same about the usage of the cruise control. Note also that the wheel is also heated.
Moving on to the driving review, the Honda Odyssey is powered by a V6 engine that makes 280hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. This powerplant is coupled to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The acceleration time is not pertinent for this type of vehicle; it's not a dragster though it still reaches 0-60MPH in 6.6 secs. However, what is relevant is that the towing capability is 3500 lbs, which is great to haul a small boat, for example. Secondly, the engine runs smoothly in the city and the highway, shifting through gears with ease and downshifting when needed without too much hassle. You also shouldn't need to worry about reliability issues, the V6 is known for durability, and there haven't been many complaints on the Odyssey.
In this weird Honda way, the transmission is controlled via a series of buttons underneath the climate controls. You get used to it after a while, but it's still a bit weird. There is also an Econ button, which you guessed is to reduce fuel consumption but doesn't hamper too much on the vehicle's throttle response. We averaged 9.7L/100km during our week of testing. We did about 60% highway, so we aren't far from the official figure from Honda that is 10.6L/100km. It's right up there with the other V6 engines found on other models, but we wish a hybrid option was available.
As for handling and suspensions, the steering is light and predictable. Body roll is present, as anyone may expect on a vehicle this size but nothing too uncomfortable. The suspension is a bit stiff; it bounces a bit more than we expected when the vehicle is empty. Another feature also missing is all-wheel drive; Honda has cleverly tried to hide this by adding a Snow button, but we aren't entirely convinced that it can replicate the feel of an all-wheel-drive vehicle.
At the end of the day, the Honda Odyssey is the no-frills option in this segment. With its neutral styling, most safety features and stellar reliability, it's a pretty good option. The interior is somewhat bland and lacks a touch of modernity, but the excellent resale value may be one of its best-hidden features.