2014 Honda Odyssey
2014 Honda Odyssey
2014 Honda Odyssey. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Tom Sedens

The minivan market has continued to march forward, losing some of its decorated heroes to the crossovers. But some of the old, grizzled stalwarts haven’t given up, and they continue to be the perfect solution for what many families need – whether they want to admit it or not. The Honda Odyssey is one of the big players in the premium van segment – its biggest (and only significant) competitor being the Toyota Sienna.

What about the Town & Country, you say? It is sold as a premium unit, though everyone knows it’s a Grand Caravan with lipstick, so let’s not bring it into this conversation. I firmly believe that 90 percent of shoppers looking at the Sienna or Odyssey would only cross-shop those two Japanese brands’ minivans against each other.

The 2014 Odyssey sees a refresh on the outside, and the Touring trim I reviewed absolutely bristles with gadgets, technology and luxury. As a matter of fact, there are no factory options available on it – only some dealer-installed accessories for the interior and exterior. So when I say it’s loaded, I’m not kidding.

Of note, the 2014 Odyssey is the first minivan to earn the highest possible rating of Top Safety Pickfrom the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Honda’s familiar 3.5L V6 lurks under the hood, making 248 hp at 5,700 rpm and 250 lb-ft of torque at 4,800. The Odyssey line gets a six-speed automatic as standard equipment in all models now. Fuel economy isn’t this (or any) minivan’s strong suit – the Odyssey is rated at 10.9 L/100 km in the city and 7.1 L/100 km on the highway. I averaged a surprisingly good 11.5 L/100 km during my week with it, which leaned heavily toward commuting and city driving and included two quick freeway sprints.

The Odyssey isn’t a lightweight at 2,090 kg (4,608 lb) but that’s no surprise considering its size and all that is packed into it.

The new Odyssey “lightning-bolt” design, as Honda calls it, still looks good after a couple of years. It’s sleek (for a minivan) and modern and has a more low-slung style than the previous generation. Honda says it’s athletic, which is hilarious for a minivan. The front end got a nice refresh and now has a bolder twin-bar grille that accents a newly sculpted hood. The headlights are great HID units and I thought the integrated fog lights with their chrome trim look great. The rear end sports LED tail light bars and the roofline spoiler completes the look.

2014 Honda Odyssey2014 Honda Odyssey
2014 Honda Odyssey. Click image to enlarge

Honda redesigned the Touring’s 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels – they’re shod with meaty 235/60-sized boots.

Once you get inside, you’ll find nicely textured materials but nothing that’s soft to the touch. There are nice touches here and there, attempting to dress up what is a pretty busy interior.

You get plenty of headroom once you’re in the heated, power-adjustable leather seats. They are very comfortable and the driver’s side has two memory settings. The Odyssey’s big steering wheel has buttons for phone, hands-free, cruise control, media and the driver information screen. Behind it is a typical gauge bin including a driver information screen that shows fuel range, average and instant fuel economy, driving time and the trip meters.

The top of the center stack holds a 6.2-inch screen that shows you the information you need, mostly the results of anything you’ve just done on the larger 8.2-inch screen below. The bigger one is controlled by touch, or a joystick button with a rotary dial. The two screens work in concert to manage the navigation, phone, front and rear audio zones and vehicle settings. It takes a while to get used to but it works pretty well after an adjustment period. I don’t think the user interface is as straightforward as I’d like it to be, and I think technophobes will strongly dislike it.

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