When our family was expanding to three we resignedly agreed it was time for a mini-van. Off to the dealership we went, with our notes in hand and dutifully we poured over the features of said ‘people-movers’ but our hearts were not in it. Not yet. Instead, our eyes slid over to the used section of the dealership and our eyes fell on a lovely 2005 Chrysler Pacifica. This was not a car I was familiar with – a crossover – we loved the space AND style. We are still driving it today.
However, the Pacifica is not perfect and if we were in the market, we would no doubt be shopping for a mini van and the mini van that gets rated one of the best over and over is the Honda Odyssey. I had the pleasure of testing the 2012 Touring edition this summer and the family loved it. This is a mini van that drives like a car but gives you space and luxury as well as great fuel economy. This car is made to move people in style. I think the only negatives I heard during our test drive was from the dogs who were confused by the sunken cargo space in the back.
There are honestly too many cool features to mention in one short review. Honda has loaded this van with everything it could think of when it comes to safety, practicality and comfort. For those with kids still in car seats and boosters, the Odyssey has FIVE Latch placements, with 3 available in the middle and 2 in the rear. I had Tara way in the back for a bit and had no problem getting her in there. The middle row of seats is so versatile that you can remove the centre seat/console entirely and move the remaining seats to either side to make rear entrance even easier.
With children still in mind, the touch sensitive auto slide doors as well as the rear hatch made me breath easier. Trying to wrangle multiple kids, animals and groceries has me tending to miss their impulsive leaps towards moving doors. Thank you, Honda for allowing me to breathe a bit easier with features like this. The Odyssey does give you the option of manual or auto for the sliding doors. Why you would want this option, I cannot fathom, as Honda has done everything it can to think of easing you and your passenger’s minds while traveling. The kids were in love with the wide screen DVD player and wireless headsets. The Odyssey is also wired for other platforms that can be viewed at the same time as the screen can split into two. I had to be firm when telling them to NOT hook up the Xbox in the van for a trip to Aldergrove. They also loved the air conditioning and their ability to control it themselves easily. Another feature that overjoyed them was the built in sun screens on the rear windows. They had NOTHING to complain about.
Honda has not forgotten the driver when it comes to the Odyssey. I never felt like I was driving anything longer than a car or bulkier than a sedan. It moves very easily and has plenty of power courtesy of the 3.5 litre, 24 valve, i-VTEC V6 Engine, making this mini van remarkably easy on the gas. With its noise cancellation technology and acoustic windshield, this is a quiet ride for all. The rear view cameras are great as is the blind spot information system (BSI). The Odyssey is as hands free as it can get, but also comes with access to almost everything on the wheel. It also remembers the drivers seating preferences and mirror settings too, great for two drivers. The navigation set up is okay, though I prefer Fords’ version of this. My husband loved Honda’s music system and had a lot of fun navigating through his large iPod collection on board the Odyssey.
I could go on and on. This is an effortless and luxurious vehicle to travel in. The Touring version has everything you could want in a high-end mini van. The one we were driving is about $48000. The base model, the LX starts at $32000. I haven’t tried many other mini-vans, as in all honesty I really wanted to AVOID them, but I did try the Dodge Caravan years ago and would like to do so again to compare and also the next top contender, the Toyota Sienna. The Dodge Grand Caravan, base model I tried wasn’t that bad at all, in fact I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to drive and park with NO rear sensors or cameras. However, I can’t imagine choosing a Dodge over the Odyssey. This is the KING of mini-vans.