Driving the Odyssey confirms that it is indeed worthy of being a member of our All-Stars team. This Honda has most anything you could want in a minivan — a cleverly designed dash and a center console with lots of storage cubbies, a versatile layout with a third row that folds into a storage well in the floor (if only the second row folded the same way), an entertainment system with a 16.2″ split screen, navigation, etc. Plus, the materials in the interior are all first-rate, and it’s also very nice to drive. Despite its minivan proportions, it drives like a smaller vehicle, with no shakes or rattles and a well-tuned suspension that effectively minimizes the effects of the winter’s increasingly pothole-marred roads. The Odyssey also gets 28 mpg on the highway (27 mpg if you opt for a lower trim level with the five-speed transmission), which could be a big selling point with gas prices edging their way up to $3.50 per gallon. The only thing I don’t like about this vehicle is its styling. The odd kickdown on the side glass is jarring – the mismatched lines almost make it look as if a separate vehicle were welded onto the rear third of the minivan.
– Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
Having just driven four minivans back-to-back, I am at peace with our decision to award the Honda Odyssey a 2011 All-Star. It’s the most rewarding to drive and has the best entertainment system of the group. So the kids are happy, and so are Mom and Dad. Perhaps the only downside this loaded Elite Touring model has going against it is the price: $44,030 is a whole lot to fork over for a minivan. Especially when Dodge makes a pretty good Grand Caravan for $10,000 less. But for many people, what you get with the Honda is worth the extra dough: a powerful V-6 engine, a smooth 6-speed automatic transmission, and a very attractive 28-mpg highway fuel economy.
– Mike Ofiara, Road Test Coordinator
Feels great from behind the wheel. The steering is reasonably direct, if a little dead on-center. Not a ton of feel, but, really, not bad. Rides comfortably. Plenty of power from the V-6. I have no quibbles with the powertrain. The Odyssey has the traditional Honda strength of a relatively low cowl and good sightlines through the front and side windows. It helps to have the triangle windows in the A-pillars. However, it is impossible to see the front corners of the vehicle from the driver’s seat. The rearview camera works well and has a good image. The instrument panel is well laid out and easy to decipher. I like the center stack controls; there are three different readouts: 1) the big nav screen, on top in its own binnacle; 2) a small readout with climate control info; and 3) another readout with radio information. I think actually this is better than trying to combine all these functions in one place.
I’m still not sure about the exterior styling. As for the sliding door track at the rear of the vehicle: minivan designers have gone to great lengths for years to try and disguise this, as it’s unattractive yet of course essential for the door function; but here it seems to have been made extra prominent. I saw a last-generation Odyssey in the grocery store parking lot last night, and the side profile is arguably better looking, with a simpler greenhouse, without the big kick-up in the rear window, and less emphasis on the door track.
– Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
I agree with Joe that the 2011 Odyssey is a step backwards in terms of exterior design. The previous generation was certainly not sexy, but it was simple and straightforward. Honda has gone in the opposite direction with the new Odyssey, by giving it somewhat rounded sheetmetal and several overwrought design elements that make it look both busy and slightly bloated.
Looks aside, it doesn’t take long to see why we awarded the Odyssey a 2011 All-Star. It rides great, has an excellent engine/transmission, and is as comfortable as a living room while offering nearly as many amenities. Turn off the DVD and the radio though, and you’ll notice something else that sets the Odyssey apart from the T&C and the Sienna; silence. Even at highway speeds, the cabin is remarkably isolated from road, tire, and engine noise. I’m still not sure about the busy dash though. The individual screens for radio, HVAC, and nav are nice but the number of buttons for each can be overwhelming at first. The dash-mounted shifter is also a bit if a nuisance. It’s mounted just to the left of the central dash which means that it interferes physically and visually with the radio display and controls.
– Jennifer Misaros, Production Editor
2011 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite
Base price (with destination): $44,030
Price as tested: $44,030
3.5-liter V-6 engine
6-speed automatic transmission
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Vehicle stability assist
Tire pressure monitoring system
Honda Navigation system with voice recognition
Multi-view rearview camera
Ultrawide 16.2-inch DVD rear entertainment system
Wireless headsets and HDMI inputs
650-watt AM/FM/CD audio system with 12 speakers and subwoofer
XM satellite radio
Auxiliary audio input
Tilt/telescoping steering column
Tri-zone automatic climate control
Heated front seats
18-inch alloy wheels
Blind spot information system
Front and rear parking sensors
Dual power sliding doors
HID headlights with auto leveling
Remote keyless entry
Options on this vehicle:
Key options not on vehicle:
Towing package — $936
Remote engine start — $481
Fuel economy: 19/28/22 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Size: 3.5L SOHC i-VTEC V-6
Horsepower: 248 hp @ 5700 rpm
Torque: 250 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Curb weight: 4560 lb
Wheels/tires: 18 x 7.0-inch alloy wheels; 235/60R18 Michelin Primacy MXV4 all-season tires