Full 2012 Honda Odyssey Review
What's New for 2012
The 2012 Honda Odyssey expands feature content on EX models, which now includes Bluetooth, a USB audio interface and a multi-information display with an 8-inch screen as standard equipment.
If you've ever savored the convenience of power sliding doors, you know there are certain things only a minivan can provide. The 2012 Honda Odyssey is a front runner in this competitive segment; the model has long been a class leader, and a redesign last year made it even more appealing. Relative to the previous generation, the current Odyssey is bigger than its predecessor, which translates into more legroom for second- and third-row passengers. Its styling is more interesting as well.
Minivan buyers expect high levels of family-friendly functionality and the Odyssey doesn't disappoint. There's seating for up to eight passengers, an easy-to stow third-row seat and versatile second-row seating that can be configured to accommodate up to three child seats. Ride quality is smooth and handling is better than average, plus the van's V6 delivers both fuel efficiency and brisk acceleration.
The Odyssey won't be the best match for some shoppers. The Toyota Sienna is available with certain high-end features that you won't find on this Honda -- namely all-wheel drive, keyless ignition/entry and adaptive cruise control. The Nissan Quest provides a higher-quality cabin and its second row folds easily into the floor. Price-conscious buyers, meanwhile, might be better served by the more affordable Dodge Grand Caravan. But for most, the Honda Odyssey is an ideal choice, offering the sort of universal competence that fosters mainstream success.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Honda Odyssey is offered in five trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L, Touring and Touring Elite. The entry-level LX comes reasonably well equipped with 17-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, automatic headlights, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a power driver seat, a 60/40 split-folding third-row seat, air-conditioning, full power accessories, cruise control and a five-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.
Step up to the midrange EX and you'll get 17-inch alloy wheels, power-sliding side doors, heated outside mirrors, tri-zone automatic climate control, a removable front center console, a multi-adjustable second-row seat, retractable second-row sunshades, a conversation mirror, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a multi-information display with an 8-inch screen. EX models also come with an upgraded audio system offering 2GB of digital music storage, seven speakers, a USB audio interface and steering-wheel-mounted controls.
EX-L versions add a power liftgate, a sunroof, leather upholstery, a power front passenger seat, heated front seats, a chilled storage box, a rearview camera, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and satellite radio. The EX-L's options list includes a choice of two systems: a voice-operated navigation system with 15GB of digital storage and a multiview camera (which presents a wider spectrum of visibility than the standard rearview camera), or a rear-seat entertainment system. These two systems can't be ordered together on the EX-L.
Move up to the Touring model and you gain 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, front and rear parking sensors, memory settings for the driver, retractable third-row sunshades and a fold-down armrest for third-row passengers. Additionally, both the navigation and rear-seat entertainment systems are standard. The Touring Elite model adds xenon headlights, a blind-spot warning system, an upgraded rear-seat entertainment system with a widescreen video monitor and a premium 12-speaker surround-sound audio system.
Powertrains and Performance
The Honda Odyssey comes with a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 248 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. The LX, EX and EX-L models send that power to the front wheels through a five-speed automatic transmission; Touring and Touring Elite versions get a six-speed automatic. EPA estimates for the five-speed automatic-equipped versions are 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined, while those fitted with the six-speed transmission post 19/28/22.
In testing, a six-speed Odyssey Touring Elite accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds, which is essentially a dead heat with the Toyota Sienna's 7.7 seconds. However, opting for a five-speed model ups that time to 8.8 seconds.
The 2012 Honda Odyssey comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags that cover all three rows. In Edmunds brake testing, the Odyssey required 129 feet to come to a stop from 60 mph, which is an average distance among minivans.
In government safety testing, the Odyssey scored a perfect five stars in overall, frontal- and side-impact crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the Odyssey a "Top Safety Pick," with the minivan earning a top "Good" rating in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash testing.
Interior Design and Special Features
Owners of the current Odyssey enjoy a second-row seat that's nearly 4 inches wider than the one seen in the previous generation, and this change makes the seat roomy enough to fit three car seats side by side. The reconfigured seat's center section also slides forward 5.5 inches (except on the LX trim) to put little ones within easy reach of mom and dad. Compare this to the twin captain's chairs found in many other minivans that can seat only two.
The current model outpaces the previous generation when it comes to third-row legroom, with an additional 1.1 inches; the 60/40 split-folding bench is also easier to use, thanks to changes in the folding mechanism. Unlike with the Dodge Grand Caravan and the Nissan Quest, one must physically remove the Odyssey's second-row seats should you require its total interior cargo capacity of 148 cubic feet.
Clever details abound, including a removable center console with a handy flip-up trash bag holder and a "cool box" beverage cooler built into the bottom of the dash's center section. Top-of-the-line Touring Elite models also get a rear-seat video entertainment system that includes a super-wide high-definition 16-inch screen that can display two different program sources -- say, a DVD movie and a video game, for example -- at the same time.
With more than 80 buttons and dials at the driver's command in the range-topping Touring Elite, the Odyssey's dash can be a bit daunting. Fortunately, most of these controls are logically grouped for easier operation, but we found their small labels hard to decipher at a glance.
Even though the Odyssey is outpowered by the Toyota Sienna's 266-hp V6, its acceleration is still brisk enough to allow for confident highway passing and merging. Touring models are a bit more responsive thanks to a six-speed automatic transmission that executes quick, smooth shifts. The current generation features a retuned suspension that delivers a comfortable ride and relatively crisp handling.
On the inside, the 2012 Honda Odyssey is as quiet as a premium luxury sedan. Road and wind noise are almost completely absent, as is noise from the drivetrain. Honda's continuing use of active noise-cancelling technology contributes to the impressively peaceful cabin by emitting counter-phase sound through the speakers to eliminate much of the drone that passengers would otherwise hear.