2011 Honda Odyssey Touring: Four Dudes, One van
October 06, 2011
"Just lay back. No. Not that far."
"This is worse."
"No, no...you're too far back. Lean forward."
Leg 1 of our not-quite-a-road-trip 170-mile trek was complete and, after a few hours on a track, four of us were headed back to LA in our 2011 Honda Odyssey and the above conversation made its way to the front seat of the Odyssey.
"What's happening back there? Can you hear them? Shoud I get the hose?"
I guess we should probably start at the beginning of this story...
I had grabbed the keys to the most sensible vehicle possible for the trip while the other guys had managed the keys to the Volt and the 911. The 911 driver had intended, along with our photo guru Kurt Niebuhr, to take the fun route while the Volt driver, Riswick, and I would carpool on the highway enjoying a quiet morning of coffee and not vomiting from carsicknenss before 5am. We were still, at this point, in fierce debate between the Volt and the Odyssey.
But then the rain happened and the 911 driver wussed out. Something about not wanting to be damp all day. That made the carpool decision that much easier and since I'd been smart about car choice, I got to drive. Four guys in a car that seats 42 (8 actually) shouldn't be a problem at all.
From the driver seat the Odyssey is pretty great: Solid visibility, good power, accurate steering, comfy seat, logical controls. All the stuff we've talked about before in the blog and when we gave the Odyssey the win over the 2011 Toyota Sienna XLE. I felt as fresh after 90 minutes of driving as I did after 9 minutes.
From the backseat, though, things weren't quite as refreshing. Above the clacking of helmets from the hatch, one of our editors, let's call him Mark Takahashi, could not figure out how to get comfortable. "I wished the seat cushion had some adjustments. It wasn't comfortable reclining because I felt like I'd slide off the seat," he later said. Now, it's possible that at 5'10, an adult and fresh out of some race-prepped cars, Mark wasn't the ideal rear-seat tester. Those of us in the front seats had endured the same back-breaking day and were thrilled to be lounging in the supportive, heated front buckets.
The other issue we encountered was that rear seat passengers and front seat passengers had a difficult time communicating. This isn't uncommon, especially in vehicles with such massive interior spaces (148.5 cu-ft of space behind the first row), but the Honda-spec road noise levels make inter-row communication like trying to talk to someone who's across the aisle on an airplane. You can manage it, but after a while, you just don't want to bother anymore. Mark and Kurt had their conversations, James and I had ours.
Nobody wants their kids comfortable or to know what they're talking about anyways, do they?
Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Edmunds.com