HEELS ON WHEELS: 2014 HONDA ODYSSEY REVIEW


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2014 Honda Odyssey


HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE ODYSSEY VEHICLE
The Odyssey continue to improve itself with a refreshed take on power, styling, safety and interesting features – like an in-car vacuum system – for 2014. A now-standard six-speed automatic transmission helps the V6 engine achieve a fuel economy of 22 miles-per-gallon combined. All models get lots of new extras, too, like Bluetooth and Pandora Internet radio.

I drove a 2014 Honda Odyssey with the standard 248-horsepower 3.5-liter i-VTEC V6 engine with Variable Cylinder Management. Available in EX, EX-L, LX, Touring and Touring Elite trims, my fully loaded Touring Elite test drive came with a long list of standard features: leather-trimmed interior; leather steering wheel with mounted controls; heated front seats; ten-way driver’s power seat; eight-inch display screen with navigation and backup camera; upgraded audio system; Bluetooth; XM and HD radio; moonroof; power tailgate; cool box; second and third-row sunshades; tri-zone climate control; power sliding doors; rear DVD entertainment system; third-row Magic Seat; eighteen-inch wheels; fog lights; HID headlights; and the Blind Spot Information System. Total vehicle price as described came to $44,450.

For 2014 models, competitors only include the Chrysler Town and Country, Dodge Grand Caravan, Nissan Quest, Toyota Sienna, Kia Sedona and Ford Transit Connect Wagon. The interior inside these family rides are growing increasingly functional and refined thanks to loads of technology and comforts, and should remove any stigma from the Moms of America for driving a yucky minivan.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: The Odyssey features spacious dimensions for up to eight with the third-row Magic Seat folding down quickly and easily using a pull-strap system. Honda claims the center stack design has simplified, but there’s a lot going on. Flagging the top is an eight-inch full-color display with an awkwardly placed climate control system and its dials and digital readout directly below. Underneath this is a second multi-information digital screen, with audio controls below that – and finally, nearing the bottom is the master navigation control dial to work the top display screen. This isn’t counting a sprinkling of more buttons, dials and glowing screens. Other quirks are shoddily made headsets and a DVD system difficult to integrate while enjoying other media features.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2014 Honda Odyssey is currently the only minivan rated as a Top Safety Pick with “Good” results in all crash test areas with The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not yet rated the model year, but gave the 2013 an overall 5-Star rating.

Cost Issues: A base Odyssey LX starts at $28,825 – that’s an increase of $150 for last year’s model. The Touring Elite tops out at a total price of $44,450.

Activity & Performance Ability: The V6 engine has a nice combination of performance and fuel efficiency with its longer wheelbase and fully independent suspension delivering a composed ride at tight turns. Far from sluggish, the high-strength steel keeps the road noise out and the minivan light on its wheels. The Blind Spot Information System is essential on a ride of this size; the Odyssey could have benefited from more safety technology like Cross Traffic Alert.

The Green Concern: Fuel economy is 19 miles-per-gallon city and 28 highway for a combined 22 miles-per-gallon with the V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2014 Honda Odyssey still proves to have a couple kinks to work out – like further simplifying the center stack and adding more safety technology – but it did put into practice one of my recommendations from last year by now featuring the six-speed transmission as standard. It’s a pricier buy than competitors but does offer loads of refinement and features.

2013 Katrina Ramser

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