So we got a 2011 Honda Odyssey
If you didn’t know, Honda has had a minivan in their GCC line-up for years now. It is called the American-built Odyssey, and up until this point, it simply existed rather than do anything fruitful. Honda quietly managed to sell a handful every year to families who wanted something more upscale than the hotel-shuttle Toyota Previa, but it remained rarer than a Ferrari on UAE roads. But now, there is a new model for 2011, and Honda is actually going heavy on the promotion for this one. We took a look at what exactly it is they are so proud of, by taking a trip to Al Ain Zoo over the weekend.
Vehicles like the Honda Odyssey were built with only one primary purpose, and that is to efficiently haul upto eight people in reasonable comfort. Luggage space, entertainment systems and the like are just bonuses. Ours was the top-spec Touring model.
The Odyssey is undoubtedly a large vehicle, shaped for space efficiency.
Honda is taking some flak for that “lightning bolt” along the side windows, but we think it is a very unique touch that uplifts an otherwise bland design.
Once on the road, we noticed right away that the Odyssey is nothing like the passing Previas. The Odyssey actually rides much lower than the tall Toyota, almost like a car, so it feels a lot like an Accord station-wagon from behind the wheel.
The dashboard is cluttered with buttons, but the dial-controlled navigation system proved to be excellent, leading us straight to the zoo with timely voice guidance. The cabin is largely hard plastic, with padded armrests as well as partial soft-touch areas on the upper doors and part of the passenger-facing dash. It’s not premium, but it is more than what Honda Pilot buyers get.
The front has power-adjustable seats with individual armrests and even a walkthrough floor area, if you want to switch sides.
The rear has a bench with individual armrests as well. The individual seats can slide front and back. They can also slide a little outwards to fit three baby seats in a row as well as flip forward fully for better access to the third row, none of which we’ve figured out how to do those properly yet. A look at the instruction manual is in order as we’ve already pushed, pulled and bit on every conveniently-labelled lever we could find. The windows get pull-up sun blinds and the windows even go down.
The third row, when you can get to it, has decent space for two average-sized adults, even on long journeys, but squeezing three grown-ups there would be torture. However, last-row passengers still enjoy padded armrests and pull-up window blinds!
Rear passengers get a roof-mounted ultra-widescreen DVD screen to play two sources at once, such as one DVD movie and one PS3 game. It comes with wireless headsets and a remote.
There is a ton of space in the boot, as the hole into which the third-row seat folds in can still be used for luggage when the third row is up. Fold down the third row, and the flat-floored cargo room is enormous.
There is no shortage of storage spaces, with large tubs and pockets to fit just about everything.
There is no shortage of bottle and cup-holders either. There are apparently 15 in there.
The 2011 Honda Odyssey is the ideal road-trip vehicle for a large family if you can get over the stigma of driving a minivan. That tailgate and those sliding doors are all power-operated and can be controlled with the remote key fob. We also got some surprising results in fuel economy, acceleration and even handling. Such available features are a sign that this is much more than just a people-carrier for fleets. More in the full review.