THE 2012 HONDA ODYSSEY REVIEW
Full Review by Andy: Cynicism Laid Waste
I am, by nature, a cynic. My intrinsic eye for the subpar may make me a poor motivational speaker, but in a bad mood I can muckrake like Ida Tarbell. So when I perused the praise haloing the 2012 Honda Odyssey, blood roiled in my veins. I rolled up my sleeves and aimed my magnifying glass at the minivan from Honda and searched for what I thought were the inevitable flaws. Let Kelley Blue Book extol the Odyssey, I figured. The world could use less schmoozing.
The following is the narrative of a sanguinary rout by the latest and greatest minivan from Honda.
My initial scrutiny of the Odyssey was like stealing candy from a baby. To rival the avant-garde Nissan Quest or the rugged Dodge Manivan, Honda borrowed a tactic from Zeus and modeled the fourth-generation Odyssey after a lightning bolt. Unfortunately, the design of the end product looks less than pleasing. Somewhere, the Quest is snorting in laughter.
I had fired first, and grapeshot raked the ungainly countenance of the Odyssey. Yet it returned from the bloody trenches and fired back with a vengeance.
In the grand scheme of all automotive things, minivan eye-sores are small potatoes. Honda’s sales charts attest this fact. Over 107,000 Odysseys were sold last year, making it one of the corporation’s best-sellers. A reason for the Odyssey’s success is its versatile, economical powertrain. With horsepower up four since 2010, the 3.5-liter SOHC V6 puts out 248 horsepower and a beefy 250 lb-ft of torque, plenty of oomph to motivate the seven/eight-passenger maxivan. The three cheapest trims are equipped with a five-speed automatic transmission, while Touring and Touring Elite trims are outfitted with a slightly more peppy and efficient six-speed automatic gearbox. Fuel economy for the Odyssey is exceptional. The competing Toyota Sienna can only muster up to 25 mpg with either an overstrained four-cylinder engine or a comparable V6, less than the Odyssey’s class-leading 28 mpg.
I and my cynicism lay wounded, metaphorical blood metaphorically gushing from a metaphorical gash. The Honda’s excellent powertrain had speared me deep, and my pessimism screamed for a medic. Honda threw a grenade at me.
The Odyssey has long been a family favorite for its innovative solutions to problems plaguing families everywhere. Even the penultimate EX trim comes with power-sliding side doors, tri-zone automatic climate control, rear sunshades, and steering-wheel mounted controls. The EX-L trim adds a power liftgate, heated front seats, and a rearview camera amongst other amenities. The Touring model has a family-friendly third-row fold-down armrest and third-row sunshades. As all parents know, the position and quality of an armrest is infinitely more important than the wattage of a subwoofer, which is good considering that all the van’s stereo systems, short of that of the Touring Elite, are mediocre.
The 2012 Odyssey is four inches wider than its third-generation predecessor. Three car seats can squeeze into the second row, and the center second-row seat slides more than five inches to allow parents up front to access children in back. Nooks and crannies abound, and the minivan can be equipped with a chilled glovebox or a removable center console. Also, the interior, though bland, is exceptionally quiet. While many of its features and innovations are not unique to its marque, the Odyssey remains an undisputed pioneer in family-friendly automotive design.
There I lay, barely breathing, hazy hues swimming before my dilated pupils, a dust storm suffocating my consciousness. Death loomed before my doubt and disparagement. Was there nothing wrong to be found with the Honda Odyssey?
And from thence did resurrection come. The Odyssey is not available with all-wheel drive like the Toyota Sienna. The Dodge Grand Caravan is more budget-conscious than the Honda Odyssey, and the often ignored Mazda5 is more fun to drive than any other minivan. Also, the DGC and its re-branded cousins, the Chrysler Town & Country and Volkswagen Routan, offer second-row seats that fold into the floor. Although the Honda’s third-row seats are foldable, second-row accommodations must be manually removed.
Temporarily revived from my unwelcome float trip across the Styx, I peered once more at the Honda Odyssey. Yet I was unprepared, and the minivan finally struck the killing blow.
The IIHS ranked the 2012 Odyssey as a Top Safety Pick for its award-winning crash test performance and hearty helping of safety features. Honda’s prodigy also won a perfect safety ballot from the NHTSA, and J.D. Power gives the Odyssey respectable reliability ratings.
My cynicism has been laid waste.
-3.5-liter V6 engine: 248 horsepower @5,700 rpm/250 lb-ft of torque @4,800 rpm
-five-speed automatic (18/27 mpg)
-six-speed automatic (19/28 mpg)
Base MSRP: $28,375
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