By Greg Zyla
This week’s we’re driving Honda’s new 2014 Odyssey minivan, with up to eight passenger accommodations and an entry price of just $28,825 for the base LX. However, don’t confuse “base” with what used to be stripped down vehicles, where no amenities or power enhancements greeted buyers.
“Base” nowadays demands the inclusion of all the top notch safety equipment, power everywhere, high-tech features, excellent suspensions and driving aids that control stopping, traction and even suspension stiffness. Odyssey is a good example of what a base model delivers in 2014, as those who desire a quality family transporter, which doubles as a pretty nice home center delivery vehicle when all seats are folded, need to take notice.
Built in Lincoln, Alabama, the new Odyssey is available in seven trims, ranging from aforementioned LX to top line Touring Elite, the latter which happens to be our tester. With no options listed on our vehicle, everything Honda charges extra for on the lower level models comes standard on the Elite, including a top line driver safety system that not only lets you know when to brake when necessary, if you have the forward collision system activated it will actually stop the Odyssey for you.
These modern driving features are not new by any means, as they’ve been around for several years and offered by most all manufacturers. Test Drive highly recommends spending extra money for these features if necessary, as the backup cameras, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings et al are indeed worth every dollar you spend.
In Honda’s case, even the base Odyssey LX features the rear view camera and electronic parking aid with ultrasonic sensors. I applaud Honda for this inclusion, and to continue include adding more and more standard safety itesm that make a difference. Personally, I’ve come to love the backup safety camera more and more as the years go by.
Odyssey minivan, by the way, isn’t new by any means. It’s been around since 1995 in 4-cylinder only form and reshaped and renewed every year since. In 2011, Odyssey celebrated its current fourth generation as an “all-new” manufacturing experience, and it’s been tweaked since then to its current style. As for safety, 2014 is expected to receive 5-Star safety ratings similar to 2013 as Honda adds an Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure feature, which will better absorb in driver side front end impacts.
Noted for excellent interiors, Odyssey shines in delivering quiet, comfortable surroundings and cabin ingenuity. Case in point: Odyssey’s third row seat has been folding under and into the floor for years, something other minivan manufacturers are just beginning to tout or still don’t offer.
Perhaps Odyssey’s top feature is driving manners, be it on the freeway or country road. It may be a little more difficult for some to parallel park because of its long wheelbase and length, but we feel most Odyssey buyers don’t live in the heart of New York City or San Francisco, where being a great parallel parker is a necessity.
All Odysseys come with a powerful 3.5-liter V6 producing 248-horsepower, and 250 lb. ft. of torque. Expect 19-mpg city and 28-mpg highway as a 6-speed automatic overdrive transmission is now standard across the line, replacing the 5-speed automatic that came in LX and EX lines last year. This powertrain combo is both durable and quite peppy when merging on the turnpike or passing on a two lane road and thanks to a fully independent suspension, it road worthy regardless of pavement.
Overall, Honda Odyssey offers everything that is good in a modern minivan, including the roomy interior, room for eight passengers, “magic” disappearing third-row seat, powerful engine, great fuel economy, and looks good, too.