2011 Honda Odyssey Touring: Praising the Second Slider
March 14, 2011
New for the 2011 Odyssey EX trims and above is this slick feature: a second-row jump seat that slides forward nearly six inches. Depending on reach, wingspan and seating position, the driver can grab the slider bar and yank the seat forward without turning around if necessary. And with two independent latch points, it's clearly made to shove emergency rations of Cheerios into the hands of a wailing child while on the go. Not that we'd encourage that kind of driving, but you know, theoretically, you could.
Turns out that a second row bench, or variation of, ranks high on The Wife's list of minivan priorities. This was news to me. I prefer the Nissan Quest's arrangement myself: two captain's chairs that fold flat and create a flat -- although elevated — load floor. The Missus, on the other hand, thinks that dual captain's and a center console is a horribly inefficient use of perfectly good kidspace.
To get flat-floor function from the Odyssey, you have to pull all three second row seats (the third row folds flush into the floor). In that configuration, the Odyssey gives you more vertical space than the Quest, and one person can easily tumble, remove and haul out the Ody's seats. Still, I'll sacrifice the vert space for the Quest's convenience for camping, hauling the amps and drums, or converting to a metal palapa for summer beach days.
I'd also take the Quest's CVT over the Odyssey's busy transmission. Don't know what it is -- the new multi-discs in the torque converter's lock-up assembly, cylinder deactivation, hyper ECO calibrations -- but I could never find the Ody's sweet spot when driving around town. It requires a firm roll on throttle to respond, and when it does, it's a sequence of shudders, thumps and quick lurches of engine braking. I couldn't manage to keep it smooth in regular stoplight and stop-sign driving.
Could chalk it up to driver error, but I'm curious to hear what my colleagues think as the Ody makes the rounds.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ almost 2,000 miles.