It's been another busy month for our Honda Odyssey. First it went to South Dakota with Tim Jennings, husband of editor-in-chief Jean Jennings, who brought along Chesapeake Bay retriever Bob and hound dog Ray (the Stray) to go pheasant hunting. With the rear seat flipped into the floor, Jennings was surprised at how much he could fit into the Honda. "It handily swallowed three dog crates, a 48-quart cooler, and hunting gear galore. As hard as it is to believe, I feel like I can fit more in the Odyssey than in our Chevy Suburban."
Not long after the Jennings boys returned from South Dakota, the Odyssey keys were nabbed again, this time by art director Matt Tierney for a family trip to Disney World. As the original owners of a 2003 Odyssey, the Tierneys are uniquely qualified to evaluate the redesigned 2011 model and compare it to their nearly nine-year-old minivan. Before the family was ready to hit the road, however, road test editor Chris Nelson decided to play it safe and swap out the Odyssey's all-season rubber for snow tires. A set of Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1s were mounted and balanced, and the Honda was ready for anything Mother Nature might throw its way.
It didn't take long for the Tierneys to notice the vast number of additional pockets and storage bins that Honda has managed to squeeze into the new Odyssey. "Each front door has the standard bin along the bottom with a spot for a water bottle, plus a smaller bin under the armrest that is perfect to securely stash my sunglass case and wallet to make room for whatever fast food buffet is laid out on the center console. That console now has a fully enclosed compartment under the shelf that can swallow a purse, or in this case, a big Canon DSLR with a 24-70 lens mounted. Having this much contained storage really helps keep the floor and other surfaces uncluttered."
While the Tierney kids appreciated the DVD player for its entertainment capabilities, the adults were more impressed with how easy the system was to use. "The DVD system is totally intuitive and fully controllable from the front passenger seat, which is key. Many cars require repeated owner's manual research or depend on inputs from the rear seat occupants. This can be problematic when you have young kids strapped in car seats. It couldn't be simpler than it is in this Odyssey: slide a DVD in the dash, and the movie simply plays."
While the family spent their days taking in EPCOT Center and It's a Small World, the Odyssey spent its time soaking up the rays in a Disney World parking lot. Needless to say, after 8 to 10 hours in the hot Florida sun, the Odyssey felt more like an oven than a car, so Matt was happy to take advantage of one of the Honda's rarely used features. "The ability to fully open the sunroof and all the windows with the key fob as we approached the steaming hot minivan was a boon."
The Odyssey accumulated more than 2500 miles on its trip to the Sunshine State, and even though the majority of them were highway miles, the Odyssey fell far short of its 29 mpg highway rating. "On the final leg home, despite my best attempts at hypermiling, the Odyssey was struggling to achieve 23 mpg. I became convinced that the trip computer was selling the car short somehow. But alas, my math and the logbook confirmed that somewhat disappointing result." Considering how well the Odyssey has done on other long-distance road trips, it's likely that the unusually low fuel economy was partly due to its new footwear. It's definitely something we will make note of in the months to come.
With 5800 miles added to the odometer in the month of November, we decided it was a good time to take the Odyssey in for scheduled maintenance at the Honda dealer. It got fresh oil and transmission fluid and a new oil filter. It also underwent a routine inspection that turned up no issues, so it's now ready for its next adventure. Be sure to check back next month to read the latest update.