2013 Honda Odyssey Touring
2013 Honda Odyssey Touring
2013 Honda Odyssey Touring. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Brendan McAleer

The nice young couple down the street is about at the same point in their life as I am. They’ve got a young son, decent jobs, doting grandparents who fly in from the UK from time to time, and a mortgage the size of Liechtenstein’s GDP.

With Dad a dedicated cycle-commuter and transit-taker, this urban Vancouver family needs one vehicle to do it all. From picking up grandparents and their luggage from the airport, to ferrying around the playgroup, to accommodating strollers, toys, and all the other accessories that kids require on camping trips to the Okanagan or a weekend in Seattle. So, a crossover, right?

Well, no, actually. After some careful research, space requirements determined that neither all-wheel drive nor towing capacity was really needed; instead, the demand was for cargo-hauling. That means minivan.

As previously noted in our minivan round-up, I was flattered to be asked for an opinion and as I’m an automotive writer, I immediately replied: “Diesel manual wagon!” which is kind of our response to everything. Sorry.

When pressed though, I suggested that a visit to the Honda dealer might be in order. I like a basic Dodge Grand Caravan quite a lot as an excellent value offering, but something a little more refined was desired. From there it was inevitable that a shiny new black Odyssey would end up in the driveway, and so it did.

While this year’s base Odyssey LX is considerably enhanced, with standard back-up camera, USB connectivity and Bluetooth-streaming audio, on-board hard-drive and a whole laundry-list of other features, most people opt for Honda’s mid-range vans. These get expensive quickly and none more so than this, the top-of-the-range Touring. At $48,995, it’s five grand more than a top-spec, seven-passenger Santa Fe XL Limited, and practically spitting distance from a Porsche Cayenne V6.

What you get for your money, mechanically speaking, is a 248-hp V6 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission mated to a five-metre-long, two-metre-wide box. Everything except the Touring gets a five-speed, so there’s a minor advantage right off the bat: slightly better in-city fuel-economy.

2013 Honda Odyssey Touring2013 Honda Odyssey Touring
2013 Honda Odyssey Touring. Click image to enlarge

There’s not much you can do styling-wise when the mission statement is maximizing interior space, but the Odyssey’s designers have done well. This van has been on the road for several years and the bold grille and square lines still look fresh – the Toyota Sienna seems fussy by comparison. Eighteen-inch alloys are a +1 improvement over the standard wheels, but still are dwarfed by the sheer amount of sheet metal; as there’s no increase in brake diameter, 17-inch rims can be swapped in for winter tire duty. The single kink along the rear window once looked odd, but surrounded by increasingly swoopy crossovers, it’s actually a handsome accent line and slightly improves visibility for rear passengers.

Seven seats are arrayed with two comfortable captain’s chairs for mid-row rear-seat passengers and three more tightly packed seats in the rear. Headroom and legroom is excellent for the four front seats, suitable for long-distance touring. Rear seat room is fine for kids over long distances and quite reasonable for adults as well, though taller passengers will lack back support.

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