Minivans are utilitarian but it’s also true to say that today’s iterations are no longer glorified vans with seats. (more…)

Odyssey has become an industry benchmark for minivan interior versatility features, fuel economy and its agile driving dynamics…

When Honda launched its fourth generation Odyssey in 2011, it described the minivan as ‘the ultimate in family transportation’.

Odyssey has become an industry benchmark for minivan interior versatility features, fuel economy and its agile driving dynamics.

While the market for new minivans has been shrinking in recent years, it’s still a sizeable in Canada. A used Odyssey is a sought-after premium product that will probably cost a little more, but historically it also retains its value exceptionally well.

Compared to its predecessor, the 2011 Odyssey offered improved fuel economy due in part to a more aerodynamic shape that’s wider and includes a lower roofline. Offering seating for up to seven (or eight) occupants, this Odyssey also came with a new “3-mode” second-row seat design and an easier to use fold-away 60/40 split 3rd-row seat. Even its third row seat provides ample head and legroom for adults and a surprisingly high degree of comfort. Its stylish “lightning-bolt” body belt line, that zig-zag just aft of the sliding door, also cleverly provides third row passengers a larger window.

A bigger part of the fuel economy improvement story was the new 3.5-litre i-VTEC V6 engine that came with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM). The VCM technology allows the engine to operate on just three or four of its six cylinders when power requirements are low, such as highway cruising.

When linked with a six-speed automatic transmission in the Touring edition of Odyssey it can achieve best-in-class city/highway fuel economy, rated at 10.9/7.1 L/100km (city/highway). The same engine comes standard with a five-speed automatic transmission in all other trim levels of Odyssey, which are LX, EX, EX-RES and EX-L.

The Touring edition, which is considered the most luxurious Honda minivan ever, came with a 16.2-inch ultra-wide screen rear entertainment system, a cool box for beverages, a multi-view rear-view camera with parking aid lines, a Blind Spot information system and auto-leveling HID headlights.

Odyssey also comes with an audio-based Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) system and a chassis-based Active Control Engine Mount (ACM) system to cancel out noise and vibrations that can occur during the engines cylinder deactivation. Illumination of a green ‘ECO” light on the instrument panel is an indicator, although not necessarily, that Odyssey’s covert cylinder-deactivation is taking place.

Other than minor exterior colour changes there were no changes to Odyssey for the 2012 model year. It got a back-up camera as standard equipment for 2013, but was otherwise unchanged.

Designed, engineered and made in North America, the fourth-generation Honda Odyssey has a very good reliability record and achieved a “Top Safety Pick” rating based on its Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s crash testing results.

King of the open road and a giant among minivans, the Honda Odyssey may be the pricy option, but it can also be a good vehicle investment.


Price Check: 2011 – 2013 Honda Odyssey (May 2014)

Year                    Edition                                                 Expect to Pay Today

2011                      EX                                                         $25,000 to $29,000

2012                      EX                                                         $27,000 to $32,000

2013                      EX                                                         $29,000 to $34,000

Prices vary depending on a used vehicle’s condition, mileage, usage and history. A complete mechanical check should always be performed by a reliable auto technician prior to purchase.


Safety Recalls: 2011 to 2013 Honda Odyssey:

2012/2013: The brake-shift interlock may not function properly at low temperatures and could allow the transmission gear shift lever to be moved out of the PARK position without depressing the brake pedal. Depending which gear the driver selects, the vehicle could begin to move forward or backward immediately. Dealers will replace the gear shift assembly stopper.

2011/2012/2013: The airbag cover may not have been adequately secured to the driver’s airbag module. As a result, the airbag may deploy with an irregular shape, or the cover may detach during deployment. Dealers will inspect and, if necessary, replace the driver’s airbag module.

2011: If the wiper blades become frozen to the windshield, and the wiper motor is switched ON, one of the wiper rods could bend or separate from the motor (due to insufficient stiffness of the rod). Dealers will replace the windshield wiper rod.

Contact: bob [dot] mchugh [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

Amy Lawson, 35, leads an active life.

She likes to be outdoors, to play sports, surf, bake and has a thriving social life.

Professionally, she was recently promoted to be the Territory Manager for Drydock Footwear Group. Her territory covers British Columbia and Alberta.
Being on the road is a sizeable component of her work.

When it came time to trade in her Nissan Xtrail – which she loved to pieces – she was torn when deciding what vehicle to purchase.

“The Xtrail has been a fabulous car, but I’ve outgrown it and need something that can better accommodate all my equipment,” she says.

In the process, she considered SUVs, hatchbacks and crossovers. The Ford Flex, Ford Escape, Honda Pilot, Mitsubishi Outlander were on her list to look at.
Amy states, “When I started to research vehicles, the No. 1 thing on my priority list was interior space. I needed lots of it.”

She continues, “I didn’t mind if the vehicle wasn’t sexy! I need functional. Good looks were secondary to me.”

Because of her current role, it requires travelling around the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, BC and Alberta with various promotional gear, display units, sample products and more.

Not to mention, if she can pack in her sports equipment like her bicycle, snowboard or surfboard in, too, that would be even better.

Price was also a factor for her.

“I had a budget to work with, and I needed my payments to be around $500 a month,” Amy mentions.

“And since I’d be spending a fair amount of time behind the wheel, I’d need something that was comfortable, too.”

When chatting about potential matches, the idea of a minivan came up.

I saw the excitement in her eyes.

In her personal life, she is not the typical minivan candidate. With no children to drive to hockey or soccer practice, some people might question her enthusiasm.

But to her, it seemed like the perfect fit.

“I was just so excited about it. Minivans make life so much easier and you can just do so much with them,” she explains.

“It made a lot more sense than a pickup and much more sense than an SUV.”

A few minivans/minivan-esque vehicles she looked into were the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Mazda5.

Amy Lawson-01

Though the Honda and Toyota appealed to her, it was the Dodge Grand Caravan that had exactly what she was looking for. It was in her price range and had some handy features that would allow easy loading and unloading of her gear.

She even really likes its look.

Amy tells me, “I can fit two mountain bikes inside with people and still have room for more.”

The Dodge Grand Caravan that she selected is the Crewe trim, which also came with some extras. She has a towing package, a rear DVD entertainment system (perfect for passing time on ferry rides!), Stow ‘n Go seats, remote keyless entry to the doors and liftgate and more.

While she can’t be happier with her purchase, the signing on the dotted line did make her heart beat quite a bit faster.

“There’s a lot of anxiety to buying a car. It’s a big purchase and you want to make sure you make the best choice you can.”

And speaking of choices, the biggest question when selecting her chariot of choice?

“Should I get the white one or the black one?!” she jokingly asked.

She went with black.

When looking back on the experience and looking at her Grand Caravan, she happily says, “What I didn’t think would be very sexy vehicle ended up being the sexiest to me. And there’s so much space!”

Amy Lawson-02

Ladies, if you’re looking at buying a new vehicle and would like some suggestions/assistance, email the Car Girl’s Garage and you could potentially be featured in Driveway.

Include your name, email address where best to be reached, a little bit about yourself, what you’re looking for and what price range you need to work with.


thecargirlsgarage [at] gmail [dot] com

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