So many bells and whistles you almost would want to run through a checklist before driving…

The 2014 Honda Odyssey is ready to take you on your next big, messy adventure with the kids… and it can help you clean up, too.

The van features the world’s first in-car vacuum system called the HondaVac. It comes complete with a replaceable filter, canister bag, nozzle accessories, and a hose capable of reaching the front seats.

I feel a family email coming on. My sister-in-law Cristina has an Odyssey van and has been transporting a full size shop vac and leaf blower around for years. My two nieces make quite a mess, unlike my tidy offspring. Just kidding.

But before we get into an interior clean-up, let’s cast an eye over the vehicle’s exterior looks.

It has a stylish hood that sweeps down towards the grille. The headlights are angled up and back giving the profile a sculpted look. Honda refers to the overall design as a lightning bolt. Not only does it provide an exclusive appearance, but also adds increased visibility for third row passengers.

Very nice interior, everything laid out nicely. So many bells and whistles you almost would want to run through a checklist before driving. Eight-passenger seating with a total passenger volume of 4,887 litres, whatever, that means. And all those passengers get thirsty so Honda put in 15 cup holders. The third row is a one-motion 60/40 split ‘Magic’ seat that can accommodate three passengers and still leave 1,087 litres of cargo volume – that’s room for a lot of slushies for later in the journey. The second row is a 3 mode seating with fold down center console. Driver and front passenger seats are captain’s chairs that are very comfortable. My tester included a leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, channel selector, cruise control, and hands-free telephone button.

The instrument panel is easier to read, thanks to a little tweaks by the engineers. Satellite-linked Navigation screen with trilingual voice recognition, 3D map and FM traffic is also available that uses GPS technology and a 60GB hard drive based operating system that provides the driver with turn-by-turn voice guidance to their chosen destination. The screen also is used for the back-up camera that offers three different views, normal view, wide angle, and top down.

Both side sliding doors open automatically via the key fob or a switch on the dash. A 270-watt AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3/Windows Media audio playback and seven speakers including a subwoofer is standard, with a 650-watt and 12-speaker version also available.

The i-MID or intelligent Multi information Display has the ability to display your incoming text messages while in park and read them out too you while driving. I had one driving home late one night and it said “your dinner is in the garbage, have a nice day” must have been a glitch. The available rear entertainment system features a huge 16.2-inch screen that includes two wireless headsets with personal surround sound.

Safety is paramount with mini-van owners; the Odyssey earned a 2013 IIHS top safety pick and is the only minivan with a 5-star safety rating from the NHTSA. It comes standard with vehicle stability assist, side curtain airbags, and active front seat head restraints that are designed to help reduce neck injury in the event of a rear collision. There are also five lower anchors and tethers for children. 4-wheel anti-lock brakes and tire pressure monitoring system is standard. There’s also an available land departure warning system. It utilizes onboard cameras to determine if you’re drifting too far out of your lane without using your turn signal.

The engine is a 3.5 litre, 24 valve, SOHC, i-VTEC V6 that produces 248 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. The engines variable cylinder management system allows the engine to run on three, four or six cylinders depending on the requirements. All models receive a 6-speed automatic transmission. The combination makes the drive that much more comfortable and enjoyable.

Contact: ian [dot] harwood [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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

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