Honda Odyssey, 2011 car review

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Has it really been nearly two decades since the Honda Odyssey debuted? In fact, it was 1994 and the 2011 version is newly designed as the fourth generation of the increasingly popular family van.

Unlike some minor changes throughout its tenure, Odyssey’s redesign is drastic. Unveiled as a concept at the 2010 Chicago Auto Show, the public debut was later in the year. It showcased a larger, wider body, lower roofline, and a more sleek and modern appearance.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

The five-door Touring Elite, one of five available trim levels, has the most “bells and whistles” and, of course, is the most expensive. It’s the model I had for a week. With the Touring model it offers 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, front and rear parking sensors, memory settings for the driver, retractable third-row sunshades and a fold-down armrest for third-row passengers and both the navigation and rear-seat entertainment systems as standard.

The Touring Elite model adds xenon headlights, a blind spot warning system, an upgraded rear-seat entertainment system with a 16-inch HD widescreen video monitor (with HDMI input) and a premium 650-watt, 12-speaker surround-sound audio system.

Not even half of the features were tested, but during one outing with six adults, a good selection of the “laundry list” of extras were noted, while some were even tinkered with.

Mostly, the front and rear seat passengers immediately noticed the Odyssey’s all-around spaciousness. There’s head room and leg room aplenty and comfort without compromise. It’s an ideal cruising car for a weekend getaway for three couples, let’s say, without having to worry about a gas-guzzler’s limitations.

Despite is “van” status, the Odyssey is a powerful and performance oriented for its class. It features a 24-valve, 248-horsepower engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. Its 0-60 mph acceleration in 7.9 seconds is impressive.

Likes:

Large, clear navigation system and back-up camera screen.

Deep trunk, ideal for grocery bags that won’t tip over or big enough to hold eight large bags of bark (which is what I hauled home from the local Home Depot).

Comfortable seats . . . all three rows.

Easy entrance, exit.

Clean, large-numbered and lettered dials and gauges.

Dislikes:

It’s pretty ugly with darkened rear windows and odd body angles. Several friends independently commented that it looks like a hearse.

Large driver’s blind spot from via thick side pillars.

Base price too high for category.

Facts & Figures: 2011 Honda Odyssey

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 7.9 seconds.
Airbags (6): Standard front, front side and side curtain.
First aid kit: Not available.
Fuel economy: 19 mpg (city), 28 mpg (highway)
Government Safety Ratings: frontal crash (driver/passenger), five stars; Side crash (front/rear seat), five stars; Rollover, four stars.
Horsepower: 248
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $43,250.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.honda.com.
Price As tested: $44,030.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,0000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, miles; Roadside Assistance, 5 years/unlimited mileage.

What Others Say:

“The new Odyssey seems the premier example of how good a van can be — but is so ugly it’d be embarrassing to park one in the driveway.” —- USA Today.

“If you have more kids than you can fit in a sedan, it’s likely you’re considering a minivan or a three-row crossover. If you’re not turned off by the minivan stigma, the Odyssey should be your first stop when shopping. I recommend leaving the kids at home, though, because once they hear that surround-sound system in the Touring Elite, they will not let you buy a lesser trim.” —- Cars.com.

“Honda and Toyota have unquestionably raised the bar significantly with their latest round of completely redesigned minivans, leaving their primary competition all but wallowing in a trail of spilled Cheerios. Both vehicles offer comfortable accommodations for eight, with a slew of amenities and entertainment to keep occupants occupied through the road trip doldrums.” —- Autoblog.

What The Wife Says:

“I like the deep well for carrying groceries. And speaking of groceries, I like the push-button closing rear door. You don’t have to put your groceries on the ground to close the door.”

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“How the designers could make such an contradictory vehicle is hard to understand. It’s ultimately practical, efficient, comfortable and has room for a whole soccer team or a rock band. Yet, its exterior is reminiscent of funeral home vehicle.”

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