After shuttling to and from an always-scorching Mojave desert in our long-term Nissan 370Z Roadster, and then spending a few more days with her, I wanted a change of pace. That desire brought me to the Honda Odyssey.
Pictured throughout this post is a 2011 Odyssey EX-L, the trim directly beneath the top-of-the-line Touring model. Boy, the Dark Cherry Pearl exterior is dividing, which can be a blessing or a curse. You aren't likely to forget the side, where the bent beltline before the C-pillar surely attracts glances on an otherwise conservative design.
Looks aside, the Odyssey offers a sedate drive. Under immediate braking, the Odyssey feels as if it barely pitches forward for cool, composed stops. Passengers (you can fit up to seven legally) are sure to appreciate the solid chassis that carries its 4500-pound heft well as I discovered in the urban mazes of Southern California. The majority of minivan customers are less concerned with the driving dynamics, however, and more in tune with the cavernous interior's features.
One of the best minivan attributes is the extensive list of options, features, and creature comforts, and the Odyssey is more than up to par. It doesn't feel that long ago when minivans were solely notable for a single, non-automated sliding door but there is more to be explored today (such as dual power-sliding doors). There are six cup holders at the driver's immediate disposal and three layers of storage on the front door panels. The second- and third-row seats are clearly labeled and simple to fold, stow, or remove. The 3.5-liter V-6's cylinder deactivation technology helps afford the five-speed model 18 city and 27 highway mpg; we managed to travel 257 miles on the current tank of gas with an average fuel economy of 22.6 mpg, heavy stop-and-go traffic included.
The few niggles I found were also in the interior. The climate control unit perched above the audio system controls is clean and attractive to the eye but possesses a hard-to-read display from the drivers seat. After only 2000 miles, the leather is already starting to show a bit of wear as dirt and other foreign material continues to impregnate the seating surfaces, which doesn't particularly bode well for the future. The deployable armrest could use a bit more bolstering but, aside from these complaints, the Odyssey does a phenomenal job satisfying its function: Moving people with ease.