2011 Honda Odyssey Touring: Four on the Board
October 21, 2011
Like many of you, I'm mixed on the current-gen Odyssey's looks. The lightning zag and seemingly disjointed rear caboose just look jarring compared to the classic flat beltline of the last generation. Then again, this Odyssey in Crystal Black or Metal Metallic looks fairly sleek, with the dark color tones (glass, tires, sliding door channel) obscuring the otherwise "edgy" design. And the new nav/multimedia system is almost reason enough to consider a current-gen Odyssey over a last-gen model.
But for me, the biggest deal breaker has been the six-speed transmission in our Touring model.
It's just too jerky, elastic and confused around town, and I've never been able to adapt or find its sweet spot. We've all remarked on this in some way during the Odyssey's time with us, and opinions on the six-speed range from "sucks" to "eh, don't even notice it."
I was squarely in the former camp until I started using the D4 button for city driving. The transmission PCM feels like it actually changes the mapping, adjusting where the torque converter locks up, as opposed to simply locking out 5th and 6th gears. The first three gears definitely hold longer than when D4 is disengaged.
Making 45-50 mph surges between stoplights on busy avenues and trawling through parking lots is no longer such a loopy effort. The slushbox still surges more than I personally like, but works well enough that I'd call the deal back on and consider buying a new Odyssey. Not sure I'd look forward to rebuilding the trans at 70,000, though.
The lower Odyssey trim levels still offer a five-speed. Now I'm curious to drive one to see if it behaves more like last-gen, or more like current gen with one less gear.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor