The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2011 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite Review

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2011 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite

See Also: Honda Buyers Guide
See Also: E-Carmony Knows: Is The 2011 Honda Odyssey Your Perfect Match?

By John Heilig

Model: 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite
Engine: 3.5-liter V6
Horsepower/Torque: 248 h @ 5,700 rpm/250 lb.-ft.@ 4,800 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 118.1 in.
Length X Width X Height: 202.9 x 68.4 x 79.2 in.
Tires: P235/60R18
Cargo volume: 38.4/93.1/148.5 cu. ft. (behind 3rd row/2nd row/1st row)
Fuel economy: 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway
Fuel capacity: 21.0 gal.
Curb weight: 4,560 lbs. (56/44 wt. distribution)
Sticker: $43,250 (base) plus $750 destination charge Five reasons to buy this vehicle; 1. Very good people mover 2. Very good performance for a minivan 3. Styling 4. Cup holders 5. Practicality

The Bottom Line: Honda’s fourth generation Odyssey minivan has obviously been designed to compete with Chrysler, whom it says it shares the rank as the top-selling minivan in the United States. While I have always believed that Chrysler and Dodge) are the benchmark to which all ohers should aspire, perhaps there’s a new benchmark.

There are those of us who consider ourselves to be van and/or minivan experts who believe that Chrysler Corporation has consistently maintained an advantage over all the other manufacturers in overall desirability. They were first to the market and have always been leaders.

Until now. Honda, which claims that its Odyssey is usually the number one or two best-seller, sharing the title with Chrysler, has just introduced its fourth generation odyssey minivan. All the other manufacturers will have to scramble now to catch up.

For one, it looks different. I remember attending an introduction for a minivan by a major manufacturer who shall remain nameless. At the breakfast there were placemats showing profiles of all the competing minis and it was nearly impossible to tell the difference.

You won’t have trouble recognizing the Odyssey, thanks to what Honda calls lightning bolt styling. The horizontal character line from the front fenders back through the sliding doors and under the rear side windows has a significant break, or lightning bolt. Once you see it, you won’t forget it.

Besides styling, Honda has loaded the Odyssey with innovative features that make it safer and more versatile than many of its competitors. For example, like many manufacturers (not necessarily mini manufacturers) the Odyssey is equipped with a radar-based blind spot monitoring system that warns the driver if there is a vehicle in the right or left blind spot. This is an incredible safety feature that is the ABS of the 21st century.

The Odyssey also has a brake pedal override. If you accidentally hit he brake and accelerator pedals at the same time, the brake pedal overrides, so there is no “unintended acceleration.”

With a V6 engine developing 248 horsepower, there’s really no need for more, unless you habitually overload the van. In normal situations the engine is peppy.

Handling is also very good. We tried a few slalom-type maneuvers that mght force other minis to start leaning one way or the other, yet we had no such problems with the Odyssey. It has very nice road manners.

No van or mini worth its salt can succeed unless it has practicality. The Odyssey has three rows of seats with a capacity for as many as eight passengers. Well, three rows in some vehicles isn’t the same as three rows in others. We discovered that a 6-4 man can sit comfortably in the third row. The second row seats tilt and slide out of the way to provide access to the rear. Needless to say, second row legroom is also excellent.

Additionally, the third row seats fold easily into the well behind them with one pull of a strap. They rise back up into seating position, also with the pull of one strap.

Entertainment consists of the “usual suspects,” AM/FM/CD/AUX/ USB/CD. There’s a media drawer” in the center stack that has room for about four CDs. It will also hold an MP3 player or the iPod that’s lugged in at the back. If you don’t have anything electronic I the drawer, you can use it as a cup holder, one of nine in the vehicle.

Minis are usually family vehicles, so at the back of the removable center console is a bracket that can be folded out. It’s just the right size to hold a grocery store-size plastic bag that can be used for trash.

Family vehicles MUST have infotainment for the 2nd ad 3rd row passengers, usually children. The Odyssey has a wide screen that can be split to show two different inputs.

We tested the top-of-the-line Touring Elite, which has everything, including navigation and the infotainment system. Odyssey prices start at $27,800 or the base LX. Honda expects 71 percent of Odyssey sales to come from the EXL 9$34,450) and above.

The Odyssey is a good size with lots of amenities. How many you get depends on how much you’re willing to spend. In all, though, you get the engine and handling and base goodies.

The Auto Page