3/4 Front Glamour 2012 Honda Odyssey

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Expert's Rating

5.0Excellent

MPG 18 City / 27 Highway
Pros
  • Spacious interior
  • Eight-passenger seating
  • Easy to drive
  • Lots of cargo space
Cons
  • Large blind spots
  • Wind noise at highway speed
, Automotive Editor -
The Odyssey has been one of Honda's biggest successes of the last decade, as it's turned into one of the top models in the minivan class. It's become one of the biggest threats to Chrysler, the company that popularized the modern minivan in the 1980s, as well as fended off a strong challenge from Toyota with its Sienna. The Odyssey has long been in the running for best-selling minivan in the country, coming in third place last year. But buyers who love the Odyssey and come back to Honda over and over do so because of its overall competence at meeting the needs of people who transport a lot of passengers.

Introduction

Honda last redesigned the Odyssey for 2011, bringing with it a 3.5-liter V6 with 248 horsepower and cylinder deactivation on all trim levels. That means the Odyssey's V6 runs on three cylinders during highway cruising for better fuel economy. Most versions are mated to a five-speed automatic transmission and are rated at 27 MPG highway by the EPA. The top-level Touring and Touring Elite trims get a six-speed automatic that boosts the MPG rating by 1. All Odysseys get full-length curtain airbags with a rollover sensor and LATCH points in both the second and third rows. LX models seat 7 passengers and have an 8-way power driver's seat, front and rear air conditioning and a five-speaker audio system. EX adds 8-passenger seating, alloy wheels and power sliding doors. EX-L is the best value. It adds leather seats, power tailgate and is available with DVD entertainment and a navigation system – both of which are standard on the Touring. Touring Elite adds a widescreen DVD system and blind-spot monitoring. For 2013, a backup camera is standard on all Odysseys, a rarity even in the minivan class.

Compare the best minivan models of the last year with our 2012 Minivan Buying Guide

The Toyota Sienna is the biggest rival to the Odyssey. It has Toyota's popular six-speed automatic transmission and 3.5-liter V6 that provides smooth power and good fuel efficiency. The Sienna is also available with all-wheel-drive, a class-exclusive. The Sienna loses the fuel economy race to the Odyssey, though, and many of its options are bundled into expensive packages. The Chrysler Town & Country and the similar Dodge Grand Caravan are the only minivans to offer Stow 'n Go, the feature that allows both the second and third-row seats to fold into the floor. The Chrysler Group minivans therefore win the versatility race. They also have available DVD screens for the second and third row and are available with technology like cross-path detection. Where both fall down is in build quality, which isn't as good as the rest of the class. And they both restrict maximum seating capacity to 7, instead of 8 like in the Odyssey and Sienna. Some luxury features are not available on the Grand Caravan and Town & Country gets expensive when loaded up with options.

While the minivan bench might not be that deep, as major automakers GM and Ford have been out of the game for several years, the Odyssey is one of the strongest forces of the segment. All versions come well-equipped with safety and comfort features, and there are child seat connection points in both second and third rows, something many crossovers do not have. EX and higher get 8-passenger seating and power sliding doors to make packing passengers in easier. And high-end Touring and Touring Elite models have luxury car-grade features to keep drivers happy. This is all of what puts the Odyssey in contention for best-in-class honors year after year.

Which Style To Buy?

2012 Honda Odyssey
Starting price
$18,995

2012 Honda Odyssey EX

Recommended for: Buyers who want all of the more popular minivan features

The EX is loaded with more of the features today's minivan buyers expect, beginning with 8-passenger seating and dual power sliding doors. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels upgrade the exterior, as do heated exterior mirrors. Inside, Bluetooth and USB input are standard, with a tri-zone automatic climate control and steering wheel audio controls and exterior temperature gauge. The audio system is upgraded with 7 speakers, a 2 GB CD storage system and Honda's i-MID multimedia display that incorporates an 8-inch screen. There are also sunshades for second-row passengers, a conversation mirror for the driver, removable front console, trash bag ring and a 10-way power driver's seat.

2012 Honda Odyssey
Starting price
$18,995

2012 Honda Odyssey EX-L

Recommended for: The best value and a must for shoppers looking for DVD Entertainment and Navigation

Minivan shoppers who declare a DVD Entertainment System and/or satellite navigation as a must to keep the family calm on a long trip should take a long look at the EX-L. Leather-trimmed seats are standard, as are heated front seats, a 4-way power front passenger's seat, leather steering wheel, power moonroof, satellite radio, power tailgate, auto-dimming rearview mirror and Cool Box refrigerated compartment in the center stack. EX-L with DVD Rear Entertainment adds the DVD screen in the second-row and a 115-volt power closeoutlet. EX-L with Navigation System goes further with Honda's satellite navigation system, a high-resolution 8-inch screen for i-MID, 276-watt sound system and a 15 GB hard drive.

2012 Honda Odyssey
Starting price
$18,995

2012 Honda Odyssey LX

Recommended for: For drivers who value space over features

The LX lacks the flash of more expensive Odyssey trims, but it still comes well-equipped. It has the same 3.5-liter V6 as all Odysseys, as well as a full set of safety gear like full-length curtain airbags with rollover protection, front and side airbags for front passengers, backup camera and Vehicle Stability Assist with traction control. LX has seating for seven with the fold-into-floor split third-row seat. Also standard is a 229-watt five-speaker audio system with MP3/AUX input.

2012 Honda Odyssey
Starting price
$18,995

2012 Honda Odyssey Touring

Recommended for: People who want a minivan with luxury car features and the best fuel economy rating

The Touring incorporates a flood of technology and comfort features to the Odyssey. A six-speed automatic transmission raises highway fuel economy to an estimated 28 MPG, best in the class. Fog lights, 18-inch alloy wheels and side mirrors with turn indicators that are memory linked and tilt when you select reverse gear are standard, as are front and rear parking sensors and a thicker windshield to reduce noise in the cabin. Touring trim adds standard satellite navigation and DVD entertainment for rear passengers. Second and third-row passengers get side window shades, and the third row incorporates a folding center armrest.

2012 Honda Odyssey
Starting price
$18,995

2012 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite

Recommended for: People who want the latest technology in their minivan.

The Touring Elite is the top of the Odyssey line and comes with some advanced equipment for the class. Touring Elites get high-intensity headlights with auto on/off and blind-spot monitoring. Inside, there is an upgraded DVD Entertainment System with a widescreen and HDMI connector. The audio system is boosted to 650 watts with 12 speakers and 5.1 surround sound theatre mode.

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