Odyssey Touring takes the mini out of minivan
Engine: 3.5-litre gasoline V-6
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Drive: Front-wheel drive
Horsepower: 241 horsepower at 5,700 revolutions per minute
Torque: 242 foot-pounds at 4,900 revolutions per minute
BASE price: $48,890 (as tested, $50,430)
Fuel economy: 12.4 litres per 100 kilometres (city), 7.8 litres per 100 kilometres (highway)
Recommended Fuel: Regular
Alternatives: Toyota Sienna, Hyundai Entourage, Nissan Quest, Kia Sedona, Dodge Grand Caravan
Positives: Absolutely cavernous interior, refined drive train, excellent road manners
Negatives: Just too many electronic doodads, power side doors are pretty much useless, second-row seats should fold into the floor, getting up there in price
Honda’s top-of-the-line Odyssey Touring minivan is designed to provide an upscale driving experience for those who need room for the finer things in life—all of the goodies and mod cons, with an eye for practicality. For example, it has a full leather interior, a navigation system, power-activated doors, a rear DVD entertainment system, heated seats with memory, and other bits and pieces that put it above the garden-variety Odyssey.
And certainly, on the all-the-extras-that-will-fit score, it’s mission accomplished. But the Odyssey—in each of its forms—also makes a pretty decent moving van. I used my Touring model to clean out an apartment, and it swallowed everything. Everything. With the second-row seats taken out and the third row folded into the floor, it took a full-sized couch, a couple of armchairs, a fridge, a big-screen TV, a double bed, a couple of dressers, a dining-room suite, and assorted coffee tables, lamps, and end tables, besides boxes.
Not all in one fell swoop, obviously, but it accommodated the couch and both armchairs at the same time and handled the mattress and box spring, no problem. And that’s while still being able to close the back door and carry a passenger. With the decks cleared for action, the inside of the Odyssey is about the size of a handball court, with 4,173 litres in total at your disposal. By way of comparison, the Chrysler Town & Country and the Dodge Grand Caravan boast just 3,968 litres of cargo capacity.
That said, removing the second-row seats is a pain in the butt. Unlike some other models—Chrysler’s aforementioned Town & Country, for example—the seats do not fold conveniently into the floor, and must be wrestled out of the vehicle after fighting with several releases and handles. The seats are also kind of heavy and awkward, and I’m surprised Honda hasn’t made fold-into-the-floor second-row seats standard equipment on this $48,890 people carrier.
And I really must question the necessity of all the electronic bells and whistles that come with the Odyssey Touring. You’ve got your power side doors, power rear door, automatic central locking, power seat and mirrors with memory, multi-information display, and on and on. And you know what? They’re all pretty much redundant. I spent way too much time waiting for the doors to open and close, fiddling with the seat memory (which never did work right), readjusting the mirrors, and playing with the display system; after a couple of weeks with this rig, I’d had enough. I still consider the Odyssey to be near the head of the pack in the full-size minivan market and love its practical features, but the Touring model is over the top.
With that out of the way, the Odyssey is still hugely driveable. The 3.5-litre V-6 powering it is beyond reproach, with all kinds of takeoff and reserve power that’s smoothly and seamlessly delivered. The Touring and EX-L models also have Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management system, which will deactivate up to three cylinders for improved fuel economy. No doubt this accounts for the Touring edition having some three horsepower less than the regular versions, with just a bit more torque. Either way it’s enough, and the Odyssey is an outstanding highway cruiser.
The transmission is a five-speed automatic with Honda’s Grade Logic Control system, and that’s the only choice. This latter feature automatically adjusts the transmission’s gearing, depending on road conditions, speed, and how you drive. It works while decelerating and accelerating, and is an excellent feature. This drive train gives the Odyssey a 1,588-kilogram towing capacity and is used throughout Honda’s model lineup.
And let’s not forget handling. Minivans aren’t supposed to hug the corners, and the made-in-Alabama Odyssey won’t keep up with a sports car, obviously. But it tracks amazingly well through the turns, and remains flat and stable when some of its rivals would be displaying all manner of body lean. Brakes are four-wheel disc with antilock braking system, and the Odyssey carries a full roster of safety equipment, including front, side, and side-curtain airbags with rollover protection. It also has a tire-pressure monitor, and vehicle traction control and stability systems. In every respect, the Odyssey is an up-to-date, state-of-the-art minivan that, yes, is a pretty decent touring machine.
Some other extras that distinguish the Touring model include larger 17-inch wheels and tires, front fog lights, a 115-volt power outlet, auto on/off headlights, Bluetooth interface, and power-adjustable pedals. Aside from this last feature, most are unnecessary as far as I’m concerned and, with the exception of the Toyota Sienna all-wheel-drive Limited with navigation package, the Odyssey Touring is the most expensive minivan on the market.
I like extras and comfort features as much as the next guy. But, all things considered, if you’re contemplating buying this vehicle, save yourself some money and stick with the DX (which starts at $17,400 less) or the LX ($15,300 less). They come quite well equipped and do almost everything the Touring model does.