By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 10/16/2011
Nobody dreams of growing up one day and driving a minivan, well nobody that we know, anyway. But, like so many things in adult life sometimes circumstances simply dictate need. If you've transitioned from swinging single to swinging a baby basinet, it's time to put away the sports car and climb into a 2012 Honda Odyssey minivan. Why? Because in the world of minivan cool, the Odyssey minivan ranks near the top of its class, and with an excellent reputation for safety, resale and reliability, choosing an Odyssey over a Dodge Caravan or Toyota Sienna won't have you second-guessing your decision. Of course, there are plenty of alternatives to Odyssey, from the value-packed Kia Sedona to the funky and possibly more hip Nissan Quest, but few are as well regarded by the public or long lived as the Odyssey. From its non-traditional design language (we dig the "lightning-bolt" beltline design) to its impressive rear-seat entertainment system (12 speakers connected to a 650-watt 5.1-surround sound system), the 2012 Honda Odyssey minivan has something for everyone, which always makes long family outings a bit more enjoyable.
If you need a comfortable, roomy and reliable family wagon that is also slightly cool and holds it value like gold in a bear market, the 2012 Honda Odyssey is the minivan for you.
If the family budget is tight, the Kia Sedona offers much of the same equipment found on the 2012 Odyssey minivan for a lot less money. Those searching for an all-wheel-drive (AWD) minivan have only one choice: the 2012 Toyota Sienna.
Once exclusive to the EX-L trim, the 2012 Odyssey EX minivan now includes Bluetooth hands-free phone technology, an 8-inch Multi-Information Display (MID), a USB audio interface, and a 2-GB CD library.
Feeling somewhat like a slightly overweight Accord Sedan, the 2012 Honda Odyssey minivan is a well-rounded vehicle that is easy to live with on both urban and rural roads. The Odyssey's 3.5-liter V6 provides impressive power and even more impressive fuel economy, especially on the Touring trims which gain an extra sixth gear in their transmission. The Odyssey's suspension is designed to return maximum comfort even with a full complement of passengers and cargo. To prove the worthiness of their design, Honda engineers invited us to take the 2012 Odyssey minivan to a small enclosed track where we were able to push it in a way not possible on public streets. To our surprise (and delight) the Honda's Odyssey minivan handled everything we threw at it, although not always with the poise of a Porsche. Our Odyssey minivan did well in emergency maneuvering, performing multiple rapid stops and remaining on course through some crazy fast turns. If your doubts about owning a minivan center around thoughts of poor handling and acceleration, the 2012 Odyssey will put your mind at ease.
60/40 Split Third-row Magic Seat
The "Magic Seat" system in the Odyssey allows you to effortlessly and quickly fold the third-row seats into the floor with the simple pull of a strap. While other minivans offer a power-folding third row, Honda's manual system is faster and more satisfying in a do-it-yourself kind of way.
Ultrawide Rear Entertainment System with 5.1 Surround-sound and HDMI port
As if a widescreen with dual-screen capabilities and an HDMI port for gaming consoles wasn't cool enough, when paired with the surround-sound system, the back of the Odyssey becomes a home theater system on wheels.
The 2012 Honda Odyssey minivan knows how to make the most of its interior space, and puts every inch to good use. Take the second-row seat design, for example, that can slide outward by 1.5 inches permitting three child safety seats to be placed side-by-side. How does 42.4 inches of legroom in the third row sound? If you're a lanky teenage boy who constantly gets relegated to the last seat, it probably sounds like heaven. In total, the Odyssey minivan can accommodate up to 8 passengers, with a center-row seat that can be moved forward allowing a child to be closer to the parents in the front seats. Once everyone is packed in for the journey, the 2012 Honda Odyssey 's 16-inch widescreen entertainment system and 5.1 surround sound speakers should have no trouble keeping even the most rambunctious child transfixed. The 650-watt system sounds amazing and includes an HDMI port for external hookup of video games or other devices. The wide screen also features a split-screen feature that allows two sources to be viewed simultaneously. Storage bins are peppered throughout the Honda Odyssey's interior, including an available "cool box" front storage area to keep beverage cold.
In an attempt to make the 2012 Odyssey minivan appear more than just a rolling breadbox, Honda designers gave their minivan a low, wide appearance, with more angular lines in the sheet metal and a cool "lightning bolt" side beltline that should have special appeal for San Diego Chargers fans. The sleek design does more than enhance the Odyssey's visual appeal; it actually serves to improve aerodynamics while reducing wind noise inside the cabin. And, despite the presence of stylish but big 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels and tires, better fuel economy and quieter ride can also attributed to the Odyssey minivan's uncharacteristic exterior. Easy to operate sliding side doors can be power operated from the remote fob, making it easy to load the Odyssey when both arms are loaded with kids or groceries or both. EX-L and Touring trims also include a power liftgate.
Choose the base Honda Odyssey LX minivan and you'll get a 5-speed automatic transmission, seating for seven passengers, 17-inch wheels, cloth seats, "wide-mode" adjustable second-row seats, one-motion 60/40 split third-row folding seat and a 12-volt power outlet. To keep you and your loved ones safe, every 2012 Honda Odyssey minivan comes equipped with 3-row side-curtain and multiple-threshold front airbags, active front-seat head restraints, electronic brake distribution with brake assist, five Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) positions and electronic stability and traction controls.
As with all Honda products, most additional features are tied to trim level. Moving up from the base LX to the Odyssey EX minivan trim nets you seating for eight passengers, power sliding rear doors, rear sunshades, tri-zone automatic climate control, a USB port, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a removable front center console (large enough to store a purse) and an additional 12-volt power outlet. The EX-L gets leather seating, rearview camera, automatic rear-dimming mirror, front-seat drink coolbox and satellite radio. The Touring trim includes a 6-speed automatic transmission, integrated side-mirror turn signals, parking sensors, navigation and a rear-seat entertainment system, while the range-topping Touring Elite adds a blind spot warning system, a rearview camera and a widescreen rear-seat entertainment system with an HDMI port and 650-watt, 12-speaker 5.1 surround sound system. If a navigation or rear-seat entertainment system is on your list of must-haves, keep in mind that you'll have step up to the EX-L trim or beyond.
The 2012 Honda Odyssey offers only one engine: a 248-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 with Variable Cylinder Management, which shuts off cylinders depending on driving conditions for maximum fuel efficiency. LX, EX and EX-L trims pair the engine with a 5-speed automatic transmission, while Touring trims get a 6-speed automatic. Both transmissions can be shifted into a lower gear (third on the 5-speed and fourth on the 6-speed) on the fly, but they cannot be shifted sequentially into any other gear, unlike the Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Town & Country. The 6-speed-equipped Touring trim also offers slightly better fuel economy, although Honda says this bump has more to do with improved vehicle aerodynamics than it does with the extra gear.
248 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
250 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA City/Highway Fuel Economy: 18/27 (LX, EX and EX-L), 19/28 (Touring and Touring Elite)
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the 2012 Honda Odyssey LX minivan starts around $29,000, which is about $500 more than the 2011 Odyssey. Move up to the EX, and pricing is closer to $32,000, while the top-of-the-line Touring Elite trim stickers in near $44,500. That's a few hundred more than a similarly equipped 2012 Toyota Sienna Limited FWD, a few thousand more than the Chrysler Town & Country Limited, and nearly $10,000 more than a Kia Sedona EX (which includes fewer goodies, though). As for residuals, the Honda Odyssey has been a strong performer in the past, and we expect this newest generation to follow suit, remaining a leader in the minivan segment.