December 07, 2011
Wagons are great and all, but if the day comes when it's time to get a minivan, I will embrace it. Seriously, these things are great, and I say that not as a completely out-of-touch journalist who has just discovered minivans, but as a casual minivan enthusiast who has driven the last three generations of the Odyssey and its competitors (we had a '99 Odyssey in our long-term fleet, then a 2001 Grand Caravan, a 2004 Sienna, a 2004 Quest, a 2005 Odyssey, and so on). It's like driving around in a whole room of a house, but it's smaller than a camper and therefore easy to park anywhere.
So I drove our 2011 Honda Odyssey last night. Although I still think it has a more compliant ride quality, more comfortable seats and better cabin electronics than any previous generation of this van, there are still a couple things I would change if I could.
1. I don't love the way this six-speed automatic is programmed. When I gave the van a healthy dose of throttle last night to get up to get up to the 70-mph nighttime freeway pace, there was a pause and then the transmission dropped a couple gears and it wasn't overly smooth about it. A few years ago, or even a few months ago, I wonder if I would have even taken note of the pause, which likely factors into the Odyssey's fuel mileage (which is the best of any large minivan), but recently, I've sampled some newer automatics that provide a much sharper response when the driver goes to accelerate.
Maybe it's silly to expect that in a minivan, but as Josh has written, you get something closer to that in our long-term Sienna, and the Nissan Quest's CVT also feels pretty responsive even if its track numbers don't reflect that.
2. I'm not totally happy with the steering. It's great around town, where it's precise and communicative to an extent that nobody expects in a minivan. But I wish the effort was a little higher at highway speeds, because the Odyssey doesn't feel as locked-in as I'd like through the faster freeway interchanges. Wouldn't mind a little more weight to it on-center, either.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 17,356 miles
November 14, 2011
Our long-term 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring is a great road trip vehicle. I drove several of my friends to Vegas for the 11/11/11 / Manny Pacquiao fight weekend. (I made $20 on the PacMan for the Decision, but mistakenly also bet on a KO.)
My friends loved it and thought it was a spacious and comfortable road trip vehicle. I agree.
The Odyssey has light steering that's great for parking but a bit numb on the highway. The ride quality is comfortable and not too floaty, although impact control could be improved. The body structure is pretty tight. I didn't hear any squeaks or rattles with the radio always on. Also, the Navi and the sat radio interface are both excellent.
Power is decent, but in my recollection our long-term Sienna did a better job of handling the grades on The 15. And there's plenty of room for people and gear.
I ended up getting 23.6 mpg over the course of the 600 mi trip. Impressive.
A couple of gripes...
You can't open the power side or back doors if they are locked. For that matter, you can't open the front doors either without unlocking them first. A minor inconvenience, but it got annoying after mistakenly trying this many times on the trip. And the pleather isn't even a good effort.
The Odyssey is asking for B1 service now at 16K miles. And the rotors are warped -- there's big shudder when braking from highway speeds.
I don't like minivans but my buddy thinks they're cool. He said when you go out you can "roll deep." There's need for your group to take several vehicles, and when you arrive at the club, he added that no one will mind -- provided that your F/M ratio is sufficient. Whatever, it's fine.
Yeah, the Odyssey is great road trip vehicle. We're thinking of taking it to San Franciso or San Diego sometime soon.
Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 16,000 miles
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
October 10, 2011
It is time for another suspension walkaround from the long-term fleet. Lamborghini Aventadors only come around so often, right? This week its time for a trip back to reality in the form of our 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring.
Those of you with sharp eyes will notice that everything in the following shots looks a bit too clean for something that's been in the fleet for 8 or 9 months. You may also notice that these shots were taken in the driveway of my old house.
Yeah, I've been sitting on these shots for awhile. It's high time I finally do something with them.
August 08, 2011
Had to take the Odyssey on a long round trip this weekend. Not the most exciting vehicle to rack up the miles in, but like most minivans it's a great cruiser. Here's my list of hits and misses:
- Solid power from the V6. Never has trouble keeping up with traffic even on the long uphill grades. Overdrive toggle switch is nice to have.
- Quiet at speed. Had no trouble listening to the satellite radio even at 80mph.
- Satellite radio. When you're in the middle of California's central valley, it's a life saver.
- Adjustable armrest. The ratcheting armrest makes it easy to find the perfecting seating position to knock out a couple hundred miles.
And the Bad:
- Suspension is too soft, even for a minivan. On some of the rougher parts of the Intersate, the Odyssey bounces and jitters too much. Feels sloppy.
- Likewise, the steering is a little too vague on center. Would prefer it to feel a little more locked in.
- The fact that the nav system works on the road is good. The fact that it's hard to get gas station icons to show up is not good. Probably an error on my part, but it seems like this should be something you don't have to read the manual to get working properly.
- Windshield washers shoot half the fluid right over the roof. Makes wipers less effective and annoys fellow motorists.
Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com
April 29, 2011
The Honda Odyssey has long been the favorite "car guy" minivan thanks to its car-like handling and incredibly responsive / informative steering. It was the solution for the people who liked to drive and also needed to haul some stuff and some people.
It was (and is) also a Honda, which means that besides the people who bought it for the solid chassis, lots of people bought it simply because it was a Honda. And for 2011, it seems that Honda has done more to appease the masses who bought for the reliability than for the enthusiasts who bought for the fun / function compromise.
Our Odyssey makes 248 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque from a 3.5-liter V6. The transmission is a six-speed automatic. It weighs 4,522 lbs.
So how does it stack up on our track? Follow the jump...
Drive Type: Transverse, front-engine, front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: six-speed automatic
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 3,471/212
Redline (rpm): 6,300
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 248 @ 5,700
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 250 @ 4,800
Steering System: Speed-proportional rack and pinion power steering
Suspension Type (front): Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent double-wishbone, coil springs
Tire Size (front): P235/60R18 102T
Tire Size (rear): P235/60R18 102T
Tire Brand: Michelin
Tire Model: Primacy MXv4
Tire Type: All Season
Wheel size: 18-by-7 inches front and rear
Wheel material (front/rear): Painted Alloy
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,522
0-30 (sec): 3.1
0-45 (sec): 5.3
0-60 (sec): 8.0
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 7.7
0-75 (sec): 11.6
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 15.9 @ 87.9
30-0 (ft): 33
60-0 (ft): 126
Slalom (mph): 58.2 (57.9 with T/C OFF)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.74 (0.75 with T/C OFF)
Db @ Idle: 42.5
Db @ Full Throttle: 76.4
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 65.9
RPM @ 70: 2,000
Acceleration: Virtually the same w/without traction control and / or wheelspin. Upshifts are quick and smooth at redline. Engine sounds snarly and aggressive -- especially for a minivan. nice.
Braking: Best stop was the first, then consistent distances thereafter showing good fade resistance -- not even odor or smoldering pads which is expected of a Honda. Firm pedal, straight stops, controlled dive.
Handling: Skidpad: Tire-howling understeer but good balance and steering feel / weight. With ESC on, there was little (if any) interference (perhaps the throttle pulled back a little? ) ergo nearly identical results. Slalom: Driver controls and chassis feedback make the Odyssey feel more capable than it truly is. It's easy to overdrive this van because you can, but the tires cannot cash the check written by sensations the chassis writes. Actually went a little quicker with (excellent) ESC turned on because it can apply a single brake ( and I cannot) to snub understeer.
April 19, 2011
Honda did an excellent job with the Odyssey's throttle calibration, with a nice and subtle tip-in.
More and more cars these days have abrupt throttle delivery, making for a lurch forward when you hit the accelerator pedal from a stop, as if you're trying to race somebody. Whether it's an effort by manufacturers to make their cars feel quicker off the line, or just bad calibration, it's an annoying trend.
The Odyssey's throttle delivery is supple, and not because the V6 doesn't produce any power; it does. There's never any lurching, no matter if you just casually ease into the throttle or plant your right foot hard. The mark of good calibration is when it's so natural that you don't have to think about being smooth, it just happens.
I do wish the automatic transmission wasn't so eager to get into top gear, though, and conversely reluctant to kick back down. I know why it does this (fuel mileage); I just wish it didn't.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 4,468 miles.
March 24, 2011
Although we drove from Santa Monica to Mammoth Lakes in dry, warm weather, the drive home was a different story. It began snowing an hour after we arrived and Mom Nature continued to dump the white stuff through the entire weekend. When we woke Monday morning conditions were questionable. We starting thinking we weren't going to make it out.
And neither did anyone else. When we were checking out of our hotel, the bellman asked if we had four-wheel drive, snow tires and chains. When I told him no, no and no, he basically said we were screwed. "When you get stuck," he said, "walk on back and we'll find you another room for the night."
March 23, 2011
Our 300-mile drive from Santa Monica north to Mammoth Lakes was in dry and unusually warm conditions. And our long-term 2011 Honda Odyssey was in its element out in the countryside, where the urban sprawl quickly became desert landscape and ultimately snow covered peaks.
The Odyssey proved perfectly comfortable and wonderfully quiet at highway speeds. Seat comfort is exceptional and the van's endless list of amenities (navigation, sat radio, heated seats, triple zone climate controls) worked as advertised and kept every member of the Oldham clan in the happy zone.
And it has plenty of motor.
March 10, 2011
I have been looking for a new pet long-term car since the Mazdaspeed 3 left the fleet. The Countryman seems like the obvious choice, or maybe the Mustang, but right now, I am really enjoying our 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring.
This is no surprise, really, as I dug the previous Odyssey, too, but this new van takes the steering feel and body control to a new level for minivans. This isn't just a case of a jaded writer getting out of a sports car (or sport compact, whatever) and being surprised by how good the pedestrian vehicles of the 21st century are. The way this Odyssey handles is as, or even more, enjoyable as many of the sedans in our fleet, and it's certainly well ahead of the Sienna. Driving to the mall in it (shown above) is just fun. I'll be doing this a lot over the next 11 months.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 1,795 miles