You may think a sport utility vehicle is what your family needs, but as far as available cargo space, practicality, and family-hauling common sense goes, nothing comes close to a minivan. Carmakers understand this as all who still sell them have injected newfound vigour into their models to make them more competitive.
The Honda Odyssey, on the other hand, hasn’t changed much this year as it nears the end of its lifecycle. But the current recipe is so darn good there’s little reason for Honda to fiddle with it.
End of the road
Going by the Odyssey’s typical 6 to 7-year production run, 2023 should be the final year for this fifth-generation model. Expect Honda to present a fully revamped minivan based on the recently updated Honda Pilot, before the end of the year.
Until we get there, the bones on the current one are still as solid as a rock. The Odyssey has the essentials to make it a reliable family conveyance. Underneath its hood sits Honda’s tried and proven naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6. It’s good for a class-competitive 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque.
Power is sent only to the front wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission. Sadly, all-wheel drive isn’t available like it is in a Chrysler Pacifica
. Neither is a hybrid drivetrain.
The Enthusiast-friendly Minivan
So yes, this Honda could cost you quite a bit at the pump. During my week with the Odyssey, the best fuel consumption average I could muster was 11.5L/100 km. I’ll even add that at 248g of CO2
per kilometer, this minivan isn’t exactly kind to the environment.
But if none of that stuff matters to you and you’d rather prioritize reliability and power delivery, then you might really like this van. None of the Odyssey’s competitors perform like this. Stomp the accelerator pedal in Sport mode, and the Odyssey quickly drops a few gears and starts inhaling gobs of air through its massive air intake.
The entire experience is felt through one of the most entertaining automotive soundtracks this side of a late-nineties Acura Integra Type R. That’s because VTEC just kicked in yo! Yes, this minivan has it. Hearing that switchover noise when its most aggressive cam profile activates at around 5,800 rpm is always music to this driver’s ears.
Then there’s the way the Odyssey tackles a corner. No minivan should handle this well and no minivan should feel so sedan-like from behind the wheel, yet this Honda delivers, making you enjoy each drive. The Odyssey is old-school Honda in all the wonderful ways. It delivers on the kind of driving experience that Gen Ys have grown up loving behind the wheel of their Civics, Preludes, and Integras.
The Intelligent Van
Of course, none of what you just read makes any sense for a minivan, but that’s just part of the several bonuses of owning an Odyssey. That nature is felt in every nook and cranny inside its cabin as well.
For instance, while that dashboard design won’t win any beauty contests, it’s built to take all the family hits, from applesauce to angry dad punches or even your dog’s untrimmed paws. The Odyssey is built like a tank, rock solid, impeccably well put together, and as silent as a library when driven over heavily broken roads.
Honda proves it masters ergonomics thanks to the Odyssey’s clever storage solutions and nifty in-cabin technology that helps ease the duties of being a parent. The super rad Cabin Talk technology allows you to talk to your children mimicking the tone of Darth Vader’s voice, while Cabin Watch lets you see who really threw that first booger. A handy Blu-ray DVD player integrated directly into the centre console makes sure your little brats are nice and quiet during that long road trip back from grandma’s.
Everywhere you look in an Odyssey, there’s clever engineering. That said, I still don’t understand why Honda hasn’t looked at Chrysler’s Stow-N-Go feature and attempted to engineer something similar. Removing the second row of seats in an Odyssey is time-consuming and, well, very heavy. They’re also cumbersome and not that easy to reinstall.
At least, the entire third row can be conveniently stowed inside the floor within seconds, and once this van is transformed into a tiny cargo van, it’ll give way to almost 4,000 liters of total cargo space. This makes it one of the most spacious minivans currently on sale; the second most practical in the segment. Sorry Honda, Kia
has you beat on this one.
Perhaps where Honda has the entire segment beat though is in its near-perfect reliability record and incredible resale value. Along with its arch nemesis, the Toyota Sienna, the Honda Odyssey is a van that just keeps on running. Even old beaten-up ones with more than 200,000 km on the odometer still sell for hefty sums.
Of course, such great qualities come at a price. We all know that Honda is doing everything but deals on its cars these days and the Odyssey is no exception. It kicks off at a rather steep $47,705 and tops out at $60,705 for the range-topping Black Edition. My tester, a Touring, stickered at a whopping $58,905. Add taxes and high interest rates and you’re knocking on the door of $70,000 for a Honda minivan. Ouch!
One must wonder if the next Odyssey will be as good as this one and, perhaps more importantly, if it’s worth waiting for. If the new Pilot can serve as a hint, then the next Odyssey will probably be much larger, and it will probably lose its VTEC system.
So, if you’re in the market for a van with glorious intake snarls as it climbs through the revs, one that rewards spirited driving – as ironic as that may sound – then I say get your hands on one of these bad boys now before they’re gone.
2023 Honda Odyssey Touring
Front engine, front-wheel drive
3.5L V6 (280 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm / 262 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm).
: 10-speed automatic
: 12.2 L/100 km (city) / 8.5 L/100 km (highway) / 10.6 L/100 km (combined).
OBSERVED FUEL CONSUMPTION
: 11.5 L/100 km
929 liters (3,984 liters total)
$58,905 (as tested)