The 2014 Honda Odyssey is a top pick for minivans thanks to its versatile interior, long list of features and engaging driving dynamics.
Market dominance often brings with it a certain measure of complacency. Thankfully, this isn't the case with the 2014 Honda Odyssey. Though the minivan has long been a top seller in its class, it comes to market this year armed with upgrades that make it clear that Honda is taking nothing for granted. Outfitted with the very latest in family-friendly techno-gadgetry, this Odyssey seems ready and determined to maintain its position at the front of the pack.
On the outside, the Odyssey looks pretty much the same, with minor styling differences at the front and rear. But there are plenty of changes inside. There are more standard features this year, as even the base 2014 Odyssey LX comes with a four-way power passenger seat, an 8-inch color display and an upgraded audio system with Bluetooth streaming audio and a Pandora interface. Newly available features include keyless ignition\/entry, forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems, and even an in-vehicle vacuum cleaner.
On the road, the 2014 Odyssey continues to impress. Though it's a roomy minivan that seats up to eight, it drives like a much smaller vehicle. It's also among the most fuel-efficient choices in its segment, as now all Honda Odysseys come with the fuel-saving six-speed automatic transmission, which was previously offered only on the top trim levels. When it comes time to haul your brood, you'll appreciate the multi-configurable second-row seat: You can leave the seat as is and fit up to three child seats side by side, or remove sections to create an aisle down the center or the side. Right behind is a third-row seat that you can fold down flat with little fuss.
The exhaustively equipped 2014 Honda Odyssey has the goods to please most buyers, but it won't be a perfect fit for all. The Odyssey's main competitor, the Toyota Sienna has a slightly stronger V6 engine, plus available all-wheel drive. More price-sensitive shoppers will want to check out the 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan; relative to the Honda, it's not as refined but does come at a more affordable price. Another strong choice is the Nissan Quest, which boasts some of the most premium cabin furnishings in the segment.
But the Honda Odyssey didn't become a best-seller by accident. We imagine that the 2014 upgrades on this well-rounded, universally competent minivan should keep its existing fans smiling and probably win it more than a few new supporters.
The 2014 Honda Odyssey is offered in five trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L, Touring and Touring Elite.
The entry-level seven-passenger LX is well-equipped with 17-inch steel wheels, an expanded-view driver-side mirror, rear privacy glass, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an eight-way power driver seat, a four-way power front passenger seat, a 60\/40 split-folding third-row seat, one-touch turn signals, manual two-zone air-conditioning, an 8-inch multi-information display, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera, text-to-speech functionality and a seven-speaker sound system with a CD player, Pandora interface, auxiliary audio jack and a USB\/iPod interface.
Step up to the eight-passenger midrange EX and you'll get 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition and entry, power-sliding side doors, heated outside mirrors, tri-zone automatic climate control, power lumbar support for the driver, Honda's LaneWatch blind spot camera system (passenger side), a removable front center console, a multi-adjustable second-row seat, retractable second-row sunshades and a conversation mirror. The EX also features an additional 7-inch touchscreen with HondaLink smartphone app integration.
EX-L versions add a sunroof, a power liftgate, leather seating (front and outboard second row), heated front seats, forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems, a chilled storage box, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and satellite radio. The EX-L's options include a choice of a voice-operated navigation system with a multi-angle rearview camera or a rear-seat entertainment system. These two systems can't be ordered together on the EX-L.
Move up to the Touring model and you gain 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, front and rear parking sensors, memory settings for the driver, retractable third-row sunshades and a fold-down armrest for third-row passengers. Additionally, both the navigation and rear-seat entertainment systems are standard. The Touring Elite model adds automatic xenon headlights, a regular blind-spot warning system, an integrated vacuum cleaner, an upgraded rear-seat entertainment system (with a widescreen video monitor and HDMI input) and a premium 12-speaker surround-sound audio system with HD radio.
Even though the 2014 Honda Odyssey is out-powered by the Toyota Sienna, its acceleration is still brisk enough to deliver confident highway passing and merging. The six-speed automatic transmission executes quick, smooth shifts. Other appealing attributes include a suspension that delivers both a comfortable ride and relatively crisp handling, as well as steering that is the quickest and most responsive in this segment.
Whether bopping around town or cruising on the interstate, the 2014 Honda Odyssey is remarkably quiet, with minimal wind noise or road noise (from the tires). Honda's use of active noise-cancelling technology contributes to the peaceful cabin by electronically counteracting and thus eliminating much of the drone that passengers would otherwise hear.
The Honda Odyssey comes with a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 248 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission on all trim levels. EPA estimates are very good for a minivan at 22 mpg combined (19 mpg city\/28 mpg highway).
At the Edmunds test track, a Touring Elite accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds. That's fairly quick for such a big vehicle but still a bit slower than the Toyota Sienna.
Properly equipped, the Honda Odyssey can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
The 2014 Honda Odyssey comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front seat side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags.
A rearview camera is standard across the board, while an upgraded multi-angle rearview camera is optional on the EX-L and standard on the Touring and Touring Elite. The Odyssey EX, EX-L and Touring models come standard with Honda's "LaneWatch" blind spot camera system, and Touring Elite models come with an additional conventional blind spot warning system. Forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems are standard on EX-L, Touring and Touring Elite models.
In Edmunds brake testing, various Honda Odyssey minivans have stopped from 60 mph in just under 130 feet, which is an average distance among minivans.
In government crash tests the 2014 Honda Odyssey earned an overall rating of five stars, with five stars in front and side crash tests and four stars in rollover safety tests. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Odyssey earned a top rating of "Good" for its performance in the frontal-offset tests (both small and moderate overlaps) and the side-impact and roof-strength tests. It also earned a top rating for its seats\/head restraint design for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
The Odyssey provides a wide second-row seat that's roomy enough to fit three car seats side by side. The seat's center section also slides forward 5.5 inches (except on the LX trim) to put little ones within easy reach of mom and dad. In comparison, the twin captain's chairs found in some other minivans can seat only two in the middle row. Still, you must physically remove the Odyssey's second-row seats should you require its total interior cargo capacity of 148 cubic feet; this isn't necessary in the Dodge Grand Caravan or Nissan Quest. As in other minivans, the Honda's third-row seat folds neatly into the floor in a 60\/40 split.
Clever details abound, including a removable center console with a handy flip-up trash bag holder and a "cool box" beverage cooler built into the bottom of the dash's center section. This year, all but the LX trim level have new touch panel audio controls that make the dash less button-heavy and bring about smartphone app integration via HondaLink. The changes to the dash layout are dramatic; last year, we counted more than 80 buttons on top-of-the-line Touring Elite models, but this year that number has dropped to just over 20, which is far less daunting. Additionally, the buttons are clearly labeled with easily legible words and graphics that make their functions immediately obvious.
Touring Elite models come with a rear-seat video entertainment system that includes a super-wide HD screen that can display two different program sources -- say, a DVD movie and a video game, for example -- at the same time. These models also get an integrated vacuum cleaner that can be useful for ridding the cabin of crumbs and debris. Located in the driver-side rear cargo area bulkhead, the vacuum cleaner eats up zero cargo space, since it's stored neatly in a recessed compartment. It comes with two nozzle attachments, and its 10-foot hose is long enough to clean the first row. Its only weakness is its suction power, which in our experience, could stand to be a bit more aggressive.
Agile handling; fuel-efficient V6; quiet cabin; configurable second-row seat; easy-to-fold third-row seat.
Pricier than some competitors.