EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Hard as it is to get excited about a minivan, I've always liked Honda Odysseys. The 2014 updates are subtle and include a new grille, fenders and hood. I'd have to park one side by side with a 2013 model to check out the differences. Inside, the center stack is less button-heavy than older Hondas and now features a touchscreen that's a bit fiddly. A plain old knob for tuning the radio would help a lot, as would a material upgrade on the hard-plastic dash. There's oodles of room, though, and tons of storage cubbies.
The driving is good. The V6 is powerful enough and Honda-smooth (as is the gearbox), including cylinder cutoff: I couldn't tell when it was in three-cylinder mode other than when the light on the dash came on.
Also it handles well considering it weighs only about 200 pounds less than the GMC Acadia I just got out of and the Honda costs roughly $7K less. The Odyssey offers good steering, nice body control for its weight and a pothole-soaking ride.
Shame minivans have whatever the stigma is they have. An Odysseyor Chrysler Town & Country would be absolutely perfect for a friend of mine -- a single mom with two teenagers. She just won't consider one. When I ask her why, she can't give me a clear answer. “I just don't like them,” she says.
It's amazing the negative impact a couple of sliding doors will have
ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: The 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite was the perfect car for picking up a new LED flat-screen TV. The darn boxes on those things are so big now, a crossover won't even hold it. I know, because I tried. With the Odyssey, though, I just flipped down the back seats, flipped up the fronts, and slid that bad boy in there. The front seats actually helped keep it secure.
Other than that, these Odysseys are great minivans. They're comfortable, offer plenty of space and plenty fast to get the family from karate class to oboe lessons.
This car has the cylinder deactivation, which makes sense for fuel mileage, but is annoying on the highway because you can feel it losing power. And when you press the pedal to make a pass, it takes a second for the rest of the cylinder to kick in. With overdrive off, though, this van flies.
I didn't get chance to use the Honda Vac, but I wish I would have found a reason to. That's a fine idea, and I can't believe no one has thought of it before.
This van's a little pricey at $45k, but this is the top of the line version of the Odyssey. If you want one of the highest-equipped and most expensive vans in the class, the Odyssey is all you.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: It's tough to hate a cushy minivan, especially if it's only yours for the weekend and you're using its mammoth interior to haul stuff, not screaming kids. This 2014 Honda OdysseyTouring Elite is indeed cushy -- about as cushy as a noncustomized minivan can get.
Fold-flat rear seats are great, though I wish the second row disappeared into the floor as well -- the magic of Mopar's Stow 'n Go is tough to replicate without infringing on patents. Cargo space remains adequate even without that slick feature. And the Odyssey packs a few surprises of its own, like the built-in vacuum cleaner. I wanted to buy some Cheerios, grind 'em into the carpets and then put the vac through its paces, but alas, I ran out of time.
As much as I don't want to turn this into a van-on-van comparison, there was one other area that this van excelled over the Dodge/Chrysler offerings as well as the Nissan Quest we recently had as a long-termer: the powertrain. The other two vans seemed a tad too quick, too eager off the line (bet you never thought I'd say that) but the Honda's motor seemed like a pretty good match for the car.
My money would still be on the Town & Country/Caravan option here, but again, despite the onslaught of three-row faux-SUVs, it's good to know you can still get a real, utilitarian minivan. Somehow, the $45,450 price tag doesn't seem all that ridiculous given the type of use a vehicle like this gets -- and as Jake notes, you could get into a lower trim level for significantly less.
Too bad I never got to try that built-in vacuum…
2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite
Base Price: $45,450
As-Tested Price: $45,450
Drivetrain: 3.5-liter V6; FWD, six-speed automatic
Output: 248 hp @ 5,700 rpm, 250 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
Curb Weight: 4,613 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 19/28/22 mpg
AW Observed Fuel Economy: 22.1 mpg
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