If they clean up after themselves, like the 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite with its HondaVAC vacuum cleaner, it’s even more so.
Possessing a stigma that may be undeserved, Minivans by their nature, have managed to push some buyers into SUVs. Still, there are many compelling reasons why they remain consistent sellers. Read on to find out about the Odyssey.
What is it?
The 2014 Honda Odyssey is an (up to) eight-passenger, five-door minivan that contains all the features the public has grown to love about the brand in a futuristically styled haul-all. Available in five different trim levels ranging from base LX and stepping through to EX, EX-L, Touring and Touring Elite models, all are powered by the company’s widely utilized 3.5-liter 24-valve SOHC V6 with i-VTEC. This engine, which makes the rounds in everything from the Accord, and Crosstour as well as Acura’s TL and MDX, can produce 248 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque using regular unleaded fuel.
The engine incorporates the use of Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management system that upon reaching cruising speed can drop down to four-or-three cylinders for reduced fuel consumption. It is almost a natural for rougher rides to result from such deactivation and to that end, Honda has incorporated the use of active engine mounts and Active Noise Control (similar to noise cancellation) to help fight off any additional engine thrum.
Odyssey rides on a front-drive, Accord-based platform driven by the firm’s six-speed automatic transmission, which replaces the previous five-speed unit. Previously the six-cog box was only available on top-line models but is now standard throughout the lineup. The EPA says to expect this 4,613-pounder to achieve 19/28 mpg with an average of 22 mpg. That’s an increase of 1 mpg over last year’s rig.
The Odyssey’s unibody setup incorporates a MacPherson strut front suspension with a multi-link double wishbone kit in the rear. Steering is from a variable power assisted rack and pinion set, which manages to provide for a 36.7-foot turning diameter. When properly equipped, the Odyssey is capable of towing a cargo payload up to 3,500 lbs.
Our tester was equipped with forward collision warning (FCW), lane departure and blindspot warning systems to alert you, should you mistakenly- or intentionally, for that matter, wander from your lane without first checking the side view mirrors, or further yet, turning your head.
Although numerous optional items are available on lower-line models, our Touring Elite version came standard with streaming Bluetooth, SMS texting, HondaLink, parking sensors, blind spot monitors, navigation, a wide-screen rear-seat entertainment system and that built-in vacuum cleaner to suck up life’s little crumbs and the occasional errant French fry.
What’s it up against?
The Honda Odyssey is not a “Johnny Come Lately” to the minivan set, but regardless, it has its share of tough competitors. Chief amongst them are the segment-pioneering Chrysler Town and Country Minivan, and its Dodge Grand Caravan twin. Toyota’s Sienna and Nissan’s Quest help to round out the admittedly shrinking van segment.
How does it look?
With its distinctive side profile, the Odyssey jets forth with a futuristic vibe that appeals to both adults and their kids that spent days doodling away at drawing cars when the should have been studying math or science.
New for 2014 are black-trimmed headlights, and a newer, more muscular appearing hood. Nicely shaped sheetmetal carries the day throughout, except at the rear quarter panels, which appear as though they were penned by a completely different team than those who designed the front 3/4ths of the Odyssey.
The rapidly descending chrome trim at the rear of the ultra-convenient sliding side doors appear to have been lifted from a different vehicle from within the Honda design studios.
And on the inside?
While the outside has not seen much of a change since its fourth generation introduction in 2011, the interior of the Odyssey dismisses complaints of a higher ticket price than some competitors, but with more standard features than before. Now on the included side of the column is a high-line Pandora and Bluetooth enabled audio system, an eight-inch color display and power passenger seat.
Our Touring Elite model featured a standard tilt and telescoping steering wheel with redundant controls, as well as nicely trimmed leather seating and a moveable center armrest on the second row, which could be removed for pass-through or optionally, side access to the rear seat. Materials won’t impress luxury car buyers, but they’re durable and appear to have been carefully selected.
Also on the Elite is the second monitor for audio and vehicle operations. It joins the fold-down-from-ceiling rear-seat entertainment system for a total of three in-car monitors. Incidentally, PS4 or XBOX-packing passengers can plug into the rear seat HDMI inputs, which thankfully include a pair of wireless headphones.
Cargo area throughout the line starts at 38.4-cubic feet behind the third row. Remove both rows and the capacity grows to an impressive 148.5-cubic feet.
But does it go?
We found the Odyssey to have somewhat sporting pretensions, seemingly bolstered by its hunkered down appearances. But we also experienced a trace amount of body lean when throttling the minivan in an aggressive manner, because as we are reminded, the Odyssey and others of its ilk are anything but sports cars.
Still, it managed to hold its own during rapid lane changes or slicing and dicing through slower moving traffic. At other times, it was a capsule of serenity with a minimal amount of road noise except during excursions on some of the coarser aggregates used to pave modern highways.
In the steering department, the power-assisted rack and pinion kit is pretty spot-on, surprisingly agile and capable providing good driver feedback. We saw 0-60 come up in 7.9-seconds, which was pretty quick for a family cruiser.
Cruising at 80 mph had the engine purring at a nice and relaxed 2,100 rpm, but a check of the fuel economy gauge showed an average of 19.3. Not stellar by any stretch, its low number is deceiving until you take into account the number of people you may be hauling. Dollar/cost averaging, and all, don’t you know?
Leftlane’s bottom line
Not the least expensive tool in the shed, the 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite caries an “all-in” vibe, hitting the marketplace with virtually every option on the build sheet. When viewed strictly from a price standpoint, it makes sense and is able to lock horns with nearly all the other fully equipped competitors.
Chrysler might be known as the minivan innovator, but Honda was the first with a vacuum cleaner. That’s serious bang for the buck at any price.
2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite base price, $44,450. As tested, $45,280.
Photos by Mark Elias.
Note that some of the photos were shot using an Optrix PhotoProX and an Apple iPhone.