Where do you want to go? I want to go on an odyssey. Hmmm. That makes it time to pack up the bags and move onto greener pastures. What I meant was that the name Odyssey struck me like something. The odyssey in its entity would mean just a trip or journey and the Honda Odyssey is a perfect tool for that. Launched way back in 1994 and for the North American market in 1995, the Honda Odyssey didn’t quite cut the mustard early on. It was more of looked down due to its lesser interior features and somewhat down market looks. But then when the second generation model was launched, it became a hit and then onwards, there was no looking back for the minivan. Currently in its 4th generation, the Honda Odyssey 2011 model is a good buy. I have the Honda Odyssey 2011 model with me for a review and obviously it is to a holiday destination that I am headed towards.
Ahem! it still looks like a minivan from every end however Honda have put in some character for the Honda Odyssey 2011 model. It looks as if some after market tuner has done some chopping and hacking on the minivan. You get side skirts and even a front airflow spoiler. It is said that this car is now 2 inches wider and about an inch longer.Can’t say that from the outside apperance as for me, the Honda Odyssey was always big. Somewhere down the line, it also reminded me of the 3rd generation Honda Accord. The somewhat boomerang shaped head lamps do cut a distinct shape for this car. 17 inch steel wheels are available for the base variant whereas the higher ones or rather the top end variant boasts of having 18 inch alloy wheels with that same after market look been carried forward. The door mirrors are big but not body colored even for the top end variant. Moreover, they have the side indicators at the very corner. The side profile also reveal two kinks which gell smoothly into the overall design. The rear design shows that this car has got the big thing man. Unlike an MPV which usually gets the Christmas tree type tail lamps, this one has got the beefed up split tail lamps found in the earlier generation Accord. The roof mounted stop lamp gets black panels to be supported against. The tail pipe cannot be seen and I would have definitely thought it prudent enough for Honda to display them on such a big car. The reflectors find themselves pushed to the lower bumper.
Particularly dark interiors don’t please me and the ones in the Honda Odyssey 2011 are the same. But then shoot my views and take a seat or rather throne in the front seats and you would be forgiven for thinking that you are in a Lexus. The meter dials are a simple affair and whereas the 4 spoke steering wheel feels a tad bigger than what one would expect from a Honda. It has got all the controls like audio, Bluetooth and also cruise control. A dead pedal is also available to rest your left foot. Honda has cleverly moved the gear lever onto the central console rather than make it floor mounted. There is a 12 speaker, 650 watt surround sound system with the 2 zone climate control and also rear seat entertainment package. Not to forget the satellite navigation system. Rear seat passengers are also a pampered lot with a video monitor which is 16 inches wide with HDMI output. The extra width and long may seem insubstantial but then over the 2010 model, the 2011 one gets more space. Unlike other minivans, this has good space for even the last row of passengers. Trust me, it’s a 6 footer’s words. Unlike other Hondas however you sit higher here. The air conditioner works fine here and even while being seated in the third row, there wasn’t a problem in the hotter clime areas. For newly christened parents, Honda has cleverly ensured that the second row of seats has a center section which can actually move 5.5 inches ahead, so that the parents wouldn’t have to worry about tending for their kid. The folding mechanism for the 60:40 split third row of seats is also a much easier process now. With the third row of seats folded away, the space delivered is a huge 148 cubic feet. In the middle row of seats, there is also a “cool box”.
Moreover, the earlier cluttered feeling of the dashboard has now changed a bit but then it still does give that feeling that there are too many buttons as compared with a Toyota minivan.
Handling and ride quality
Use of lighter materials has been put to good effect on the Honda Odyssey 2011 model. The minivan comes equipped with independent front and rear suspension. This makes for a pliant ride quality. Moreover, the handling is also very good for a big minivan. It is confidence inspiring but then if you want to carve corners, you are better off in a Mazda or for that matter, go buy an Accord. The front wheel drive configuration of this car doesn’t let one to go in for tail spinning antics. Not that I tried because the sheer girth of this car would make one think twice before indulging in such antics. NVH is virtually absent in this car and more so because Honda uses the Active Noise Cancellation Technology in this car. In this technology, the car’s audio system gets raised once the NVH from the road or engine rises. There are rear parking sensors as well as a display which let me know where or what obstacle I am reversing into.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
There is only one engine option in the Honda Odyssey 2011 model. and it is the 3.5 liter V6 engine which gets 248 Hp of peak power and torque figures of 250 Nm. There are two transmission options and surprisingly both are automatic. For the lower end versions, the transmission option is a 5 speed automatic and for the higher ones, the transmission option is a 6 speed automatic. As of now, there is no option of all wheel drive for this car. I had the Touring Elite version which utilizes the 6 speed auto transmission. This version raced from 0-60 mph in 7.7 seconds and its maximum speed is 123 mph. The car is rock solid even at this speeds. For the 5 speed auto, I am been told that the 0-60 mph time is 7.9 seconds. Top speed however remains the same. The accelerator pedal feel is excellent as just a simple prod on the accelerator urges the 4400 pounds minivan to lunge forward with an urgency. Honda should have introduced a hybrid version of this car.
All 4 wheels boast of disc brakes to support them in the retardation figures. Initially though a bit spongy, the brakes delivered enough bite to stop this van well within safety limits. Brake fade isn’t an issue with this set of brakes either. ABS, EBD, stability and traction control are the electronic nannies present to coax this car to have safe stopping distances. As far as safety is concerned, there are 4 air bags in all in this car. Side curtain air bags are also present which actually helps in covering all the three rows. In the all important crash safety ratings, the Honda Odyssey 2011 model got 5 stars from NHTSA. It is one of the safest minivans in its category now and overall, Honda attributes this to the ACE structure.
Fuel efficiency that I achieved over the entire week was a steady 21 mpg. This isn’t far from the EPA estimated 19 mpg in city and 28 mpg on the highway. For the 5 speed automatic, the mileage figures drop by 1 mile each on the city as well as highway usage.
The Honda Odyssey 2011 model is a huge improvement over the earlier generation one. It promises to provide exactly what a minivan is designed for and that is space. It can also be called as good looking amongst the horde of minivans running around. It is also significantly fuel efficient than its competitors. It is also nice to drive and the interior packaging by Honda is as always very efficient. There are 5 trim levels of this minivan and those are the LX, EX, EX-L, Touring and Touring Elite. The Honda Odyssey 2011 price starts from $27,800 and goes all the way to $40,775. Cheap? not by a big margin.