2015 Odyssey New Car Test Drive
The Honda Odyssey is about function and making family life easier. It can carry a family of eight, or half a high-school soccer team, along with all their coolers, balls, tents, shoes, whatever. It can tow a small trailer with a motorcycle or watercraft. Odyssey can carry 4×8-foot plywood flat on the floor. In fact, 10-foot-long boards could be stacked on them, extending between the front seats when the convenient removable console is taken out. Best of all, it's loaded with conveniences designed to simplify life.
The Honda Odyssey was thoroughly redesigned and re-engineered for the 2011 model year, marking a new generation of one of America's favorite multi-purpose vehicles.
For 2014, Odyssey got minor tweaks to trim that freshened its appearance. Noteworthy equipment updates included the addition of Bluetooth and Pandora as standard equipment, plus the industry's only built-in vacuum cleaner. Standard in the top (Touring Elite) model, it works better than any cordless vacuum we've used and better than most corded handhelds. Neatly stowed in the left rear cargo area wall (where lesser models secure the second-row middle seat not in use), the Shop-Vac built HondaVAC unit runs for 8 minutes on battery, indefinitely with the engine running, and can reach anywhere in the van.
The 2014 Odyssey also gained in safety, with more warning systems and driver assists, a benefit of its revised structure. Odyssey was the first van to earn an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus, including a Good rating in the small overlap front crash test. (The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is a lobbying organization for the auto-insurance industry.)
Because the Odyssey received a number of upgrades for 2014, the 2015 model continues with no significant change.
Though still called a minivan, there's nothing mini about the modern minivan. The Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Town & Country, Nissan Quest, and Kia Sedona are big passenger vehicles, most stretching past 16 1/2 feet in overall length. If you need a true mini-van, you might consider the Mazda5, which is sized more like European family vans.
For many uses, and especially for carrying people, a Honda Odyssey or one of its competitors makes more sense than a full-size sport-utility or crossover. A minivan often handles better and is generally more space- and fuel-efficient. The Odyssey is less expensive than a luxury SUV, gets better fuel economy, and has more cargo room, with greater flexibility in how the space is configured.
Unless you need all-wheel drive or you tow a big car or boat, the Odyssey should work nicely. Odyssey's third-row seats set a new standard in legroom, with as much space as the front seats in a Cadillac Escalade, or even the Odyssey itself.
Honda's 248-horsepower V6 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission lead the class in fuel economy without lagging in performance. Active cylinder management lets the engine run on 3, 4 or 6 cylinders as needed, improving fuel efficiency. Specifically, the EPA estimates Honda's minivan at 19 mpg in city driving and 28 mpg on the highway (22 mpg combined).
Comfort and poise are excellent, even with six large people on board. Six airbags, including three-row side curtains, are standard. Blind-spot and lane-departure warnings, Honda's LaneWatch right-side camera view, and forward collision warning are optional.
Odyssey's main competition is the Toyota Sienna, which offers more choices with a four-cylinder engine, a sport model and available all-wheel drive; Sienna does not offer eight seats, however. Dodge Grand Caravan and Nissan Quest are the primary alternatives to the Honda and Toyota, and Kia has redesigned its Sedona for the 2015 model year.
All 2015 Honda Odyssey models use a 248-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. Each has a 3500-pound tow rating. The only mechanical differences among them are wheel material and size.
Odyssey LX ($28,975) seats seven on cloth upholstery. It includes front and rear manual air conditioning, eight-way power driver's seat, four-way power passenger seat, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, one-touch signals, power windows, power locks, power mirrors (with wide-angle element for driver), adjustable second-row seats, 60/40-split fold-in-floor third row seats, 240-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 seven-speaker (including subwoofer) stereo system, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, USB port, intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID) with 8-inch touch-screen, rearview camera, Bluetooth hands-free and streaming audio, Pandora interface, SMS text function, auto-off projector headlights, cruise control, reading lights for all rows, trip computer and 10 beverage holders.
Odyssey EX ($32,275) has eight seats and adds power sliding side doors, three-zone automatic climate control, 10-way power driver's seat with power lumbar, LaneWatch, pushbutton start, second-row sunshades and multi-function seats, alloy wheels, removable front center console with two more cupholders, 270-watt audio with seven speakers, HomeLink, HondaLink with Aha, conversation mirror, security system, heated mirrors, wiper-linked auto on/off headlights, compass and outside temperature display.
Odyssey EX-L ($35,775) upgrades to leather upholstery and steering wheel-wrap, power moonroof and tailgate, forward collision and lane-departure warnings, heated front seats, XM satellite radio, front cool box, and auto-dimming mirror. EX-L is offered with rear entertainment or navigation, but not both: An EX-L with RES ($37,375) adds the rear-entertainment system (RES) with 9-inch screen, wireless headphones/jacks and a 115-volt AC outlet. Odyssey EX-L with Navigation ($37,775) adds navigation with voice recognition, FM traffic info, multi-view rear camera and 15GB disk drive.
Odyssey Touring ($42,030) gets 18-inch wheels and mild aerodynamic changes like side sills and mirrors with signal repeaters. Touring also adds to EX-L a driver-memory system linked to reverse-tilt mirrors, an acoustic windshield, standard navigation and rear entertainment, third-row sunshades, third-row center armrest, multi-information display, corner and backup sensor indicators, fog lamps and ambient footwell lighting.
Odyssey Touring Elite ($44,600) is a Touring model with blind-spot warning system, high-intensity-discharge (HID) headlamps, HondaVAC, and a dual-input 16.2-inch widescreen rear entertainment system linked to a 650-watt, 12-speaker Neural 5.1 surround sound system with HD radio.
Safety features on every Odyssey include frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, a rearview camera, three-row curtain airbags, tire pressure monitors, electronic stability control, ABS, EBD, and brake assist. LaneWatch, lane departure warning, forward collision warning and blind-spot monitors are standard on some versions.