2011 Honda Odyssey Touring: You Caaaaan't Have It
May 12, 2011
Vans used to be cool. Big Ford Econolines, Chevy G-Series and Ram Wagons with their rear-wheel-drive V8s. Thirsty fuel pigs, the whole lot of 'em.
Remember those? They were personal spaces, not just modes of transport. A place to hang out. Two captain's swivel chairs, maybe a short bench along one of the sides, next to a sink or micro-fridge. A row in back that extended into a bed. A few readers here likely began their world's travels in just such a homey environment.
Not the most dynamic transporters, of course. Rolling in a straight line at speed, you didn't want to upset them. But mash the gas and that straight line got a lot longer, a lot faster.
I don't get any of that in what pass for vans today. All the Econolines now serve church groups and adult daycare centers. Fixed row seating, pack 'em in. Careful around the corners. Just, as JRiz noted the other day, buses.
The van makers want you to feel a little of that magic, though. I got this mailer from Honda recently, after half-heartedly shopping a used Odyssey. Nice little package. Good photography and design treatment, matte paper finish. Probably cost a small penny, but good to see they hire folks into bands like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Where's the Like button?
The Odyssey is nice and all. A soft, hydrofoil ride home after a long day at the mindhive. It does all you could ask of a pillowy metal box of cotton. But it's not cool. I don't want to hang out here. Nothing about it makes me want to roll up to the beach, or the park, or the campsite, slide open the doors and pull out the ukulele. Too much plastic, too many gadgets, too much order. I don't even want to track sand in here. I'm afraid the thing might get a rash.
Now THIS, this is more like it.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor