Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Odyssey minivan is a family room on the roll

Sacramento, California – My first thought upon examining the 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite minivan: Where were you in ’92?

That’s 1992 -- a time when I had thick, black hair and a 7-year-old son who craved entertainment on road trips. He certainly did an admirable job of entertaining himself, but he would have absolutely flipped over this feature-loaded Odyssey, had it been available then.

The Odyssey, already a top-tier minivan, was reworked for 2011. My tester was a rolling family room.

Where to begin? The leather-trimmed interior, the multi-view rear-mounted cameras, the hard disk drive, the power/remote-operated sliding side doors and rear gate, the dozens of safety features (getting max federal five-star ratings for frontal and side-impact crashes), navigation system, 10-way power driver’s seat, second- and third-row sunshades, tri-zone climate control … the perks go on and on.

Then there was the DVD player to entertain the backseat passengers. You might remember the little hand-held video game-size screens that came with these early systems. Not so here: My tester had a super-wide 16.2-inch screen, with wireless headsets.

Incredible! May I have the check?

Whoa, there is a price to pay for all this -- $44,030 on the tester, admittedly the priciest of seven trim levels. But I’ve always kind of looked at a minivan as a long-term family investment, something you purchase when the kids are small, with plentiful driving vacations, soccer games and school field trips in the future.

On that level, this Odyssey excels. But wait, there’s more.

Gas mileage is actually pretty fair at 19 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. And with nearly 250 horsepower put out by the 3.5-liter V-6, this minivan will handle hill climbs and freeway merges better than one might expect from a van. Just be sure to hit the accelerator hard when you really need it; it takes awhile for the revs to get up there.

I continue to like the Odyssey’s deep cargo area at the back, a spacious storage cavern even when the third-row seats are in use (the van can be configured to hold up to eight), and there are multiple cargo-carrying configurations to take advantage of as needed. If you have too much stuff for this van, you’ve probably over-packed.

Handling, by the way, is very much midsize sedan-like.

Minivans have taken hits for being too old-school, but if you’re current lifestyle screams for this vehicle segment, the Odyssey should be on your test-drive list.

Ah, if they’d only had this baby when I was a young father.

1 comment:

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