If you're buying a minivan, the rationale is likely more pragmatic than passionate. Few drivers lust after a box on wheels, but you can't fit a growing family in a Corvette. The good news is, today's minivans brim with goodies and perform better than you'd suspect. Among the gold standard for such people movers is the 2014 Honda Odyssey. Like the Nissan Quest, the Odyssey's exterior styling strays from the more traditional rounded shapes of the Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Town & Country, but inside, the Honda shines with features and functionality (yes, there's even a built-in vacuum cleaner). Add a strong yet efficient engine and outstanding safety and reliability records, and the Odyssey can win over many a minivan critic.
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If an SUV is too big and fuel-thirsty, the Odyssey will provide all the room you need and then some, not to mention easy-access sliding side doors. When it comes to fuel economy, the Odyssey's highway rating of 28 mpg handily trumps that of its rivals.
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Starting at nearly $30,000 and ballooning to over $45,000 if you must have the vacuum, the Odyssey isn't the least-expensive minivan on the market. Dodge's Grand Caravan and Kia's Sedona are more value-oriented. Need all-wheel drive? Sienna's the only one to offer it. For something small, nimble and inexpensive, see the Mazda5.
The 2014 Honda Odyssey has slight revisions to its front and rear exterior, and prominent interior updates that include a standard power front-passenger seat and available safety features like lane-departure warning. Top trims receive a built-in vacuum cleaner dubbed "HondaVAC." All Odysseys now use a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Driving the Odyssey
The Honda Odyssey is an easy vehicle to live with. Its 248-horsepower V6 isn't the strongest in this segment, but it offers good acceleration and even more impressive fuel economy...
... that garners a class-leading 28 mpg highway rating. The 6-speed automatic transmission that's now standard on all models is a smooth operator. The Odyssey's suspension soaks up road imperfections to provide a comfortable ride even when the van is loaded with passengers and gear. In our battery of tests, we took the Odyssey to the last place you're likely to find one: a track. In that setting, where we pushed Honda's minivan far beyond ordinary limits, the Odyssey surprised us by handling everything we threw at it, including emergency handling maneuvers, multiple rapid stops and exceptionally quick turns.
INTERIOR FUNCTIONALITY Offering a bounty of conveniences, the 2014 Honda Odyssey is a blessing for busy parents. Among the standouts are the easy-folding 3rd-row seat, an in-dash beverage cooler, and a flip-up ring that turns any plastic bag into a dedicated trash bag.
THEATER-LIKE REAR-SEAT ENTERTAINMENT WITH 5.1 SURROUND SOUND AND HDMI PORT As if a widescreen monitor with dual-screen capabilities and an HDMI port for gaming consoles weren't entertaining enough, add in surround sound audio and the back of the Odyssey becomes a cinema on wheels.
2014 Honda Odyssey Details
The 2014 Honda Odyssey minivan makes the most of its generous interior space. Along with its 60/40 split 3rd-row "Magic Seat" that folds into the floor with one pull, the 2nd-row seats can slide outward 1.5 inches, permitting three child safety seats to be placed side by side. In base LX trim, the Odyssey seats seven people, with all other trims holding up to eight. Another helpful feature is the center seat in the second row that moves forward, allowing a child to be closer to parents in the front seats. Storage bins abound, as do cup holders for all rows.
The 2014 Odyssey has a low, wide appearance that makes it look more hunkered-down, at least for a minivan. Angular lines and sheet metal prevail, and it's hard to miss the "lightning bolt" side beltline. We'll leave it to your eyes to decide if the package holds personal appeal. On a less-subjective note, slight revisions to the 2014 Odyssey's rear taillight housing and front grille and lower fascia keep it contemporary. The Odyssey rides on 17-inch wheels or larger, 18-inch versions in top-line Touring trims. EX-L and higher trims add the arm-saving benefit of a power tailgate.
Even a base-trim 2014 Odyssey includes a long list of standard features. Among them are power front seats, a 7-speaker AM/FM/CD audio with an 8-inch color interface screen, Bluetooth connectivity and a rearview camera. Step up trim levels and you get features like 3-zone automatic climate control, power sliding doors, push-button start, Honda's LaneWatch camera system, a moonroof, leather, and navigation. The top-line Touring Elite trim brings a 16.2-inch wide-view rear-seat monitor to captivate the kids, blind-spot monitoring and the HondaVAC, a vacuum made in conjunction with Shop-Vac that can operate continuously with the engine running or up to 8 minutes with it off to clean up snacks that inevitably spill.
Like other Honda products, major additional features such as leather interior and navigation are tied to trim levels. Traditional option packages are nonexistent for the Odyssey, and individual options are few. Among them are backup sensors, remote engine-start, a trailer hitch, and a variety of roof attachments for cargo boxes and sports gear. One particularly interesting add-on is a tent that attaches to the rear that will literally enable car camping. Top-line Touring trims can make an even bigger statement by rolling on 18-inch black alloy wheels.
Under the Hood
The 2014 Odyssey is powered by a 248-horsepower V6. That power rating trails its rivals, but is still more than enough to move Honda's minivan with ease. More important than potency for Odyssey buyers, this engine is the most efficient of its rivals with a highway fuel-economy rating of 28 mpg. Helping the Odyssey attain that figure is its Variable Cylinder Management, which shuts off cylinders depending upon driving conditions for maximum fuel efficiency. All Honda Odysseys now use the 6-speed automatic transmission that was formerly limited to top-line versions. At the pump, the 2014 Odyssey drinks regular unleaded.
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the 2014 Honda Odyssey LX minivan starts at $29,655 for an LX model and spans to over $45,000 for the Touring Elite version. The Odyssey's base price is higher than that of the Toyota Sienna and Nissan Quest, and slightly lower than that of the Chrysler Town & Country. It is far beyond the value leader in this segment – the Dodge Grand Caravan with its roughly $21,000 starting price. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their Honda Odyssey. Down the road, we expect the Odyssey's resale value to remain strong, but not quite match that of the Toyota Sienna.
"Purchased last Oct, haven't put many miles on yet but planning many road trips this summer. Pros; Fit/finish, quiet/smooth highway ride, nicely finished and appointed interior for a mid trim level. Drives more like a luxury sedan than a mini van, smooth and quiet Honda engine and overall a very well built vehicle. The gear shift on the 07 vibrated a little at low to mid speeds (50-60mph) The 2014, none of that, smooth and quiet like you would expect from a Honda product. Resale value on the Odyssey tends to be very good. Cons; Not thrilled with the exterior styling, liked the exterior styling on my 07 better."
"Seats comfortable but have short seat backs. Drives great in straight line. Tires designed for fuel economy, not real driving. Handling is GM 60's led sled. Thick corner pillars front and back reduce visibility. Outside mirror position corresponds to my eyes (and my neighbor’s) blind spot. I find the on board entertainment awkward at best. Radio scan is not easily available when traveling without taking eyes off the road. No HD radio option (dozens of advertising free stations in my city). The change drawer wipes out the drivers knee if open when entering /exiting the van. OK for short driver that wants to bring canned entertainment. Alignment off when purchased (repaired under warranty). Zero other issues in 14 months."