Everything You Want in a Family Van – Including a Vacuum Cleaner!
Do you have eight people to haul around and want to do so in comfort, convenience and safety? How about adding best-in-class fuel economy to that functionality? Look no further than the 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring
Elite, which will get you around town or across the country with far better results than the Griswold’s experienced.
The front-wheel drive 2014 Honda Odyssey is powered by a 3.5-liter, 24-valve single overhead cam (SOHC) V6 rated at 248 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. This extremely smooth operating engine runs on regular unleaded, uses a 6-speed automatic transmission, drive-by-wire throttle system, variable cylinder management and multi-port fuel injection to deliver 19 mpg city / 28 mpg highway with a combined of 22 mpg, while not needing scheduled tune-ups for 100,000 miles. I put on 365 miles, mostly SoCal freeways, and was consistently getting 29 mpg cruising at speeds around 70 mpg.
So why is Smarticd reviewing this gasoline-powered minivan as we primarily feature alternative fuel vehicles? We felt the 2014 Honda Odyssey was newsworthy for those of you looking for a large minivan that can seat up-to eight, tow 3,500 lbs. and deliver a respectable fuel economy number of almost 30 mpg on the highway. Smarticd will feature more of these vehicles when they merit the attention and recognition in the coming months.
[Ed. Note: There hasn’t been an electric minivan since Chrysler’s short-lived TEVan of the early 1990s. The only other alt fuel minivan was a Chrysler factory CNG conversion also offered in the mid-1990s.]
Honda has attempted to maximize fuel economy with its Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system that allows, based on the power requirements, the V6 engine to run on three or four cylinders. You know the VCM is working when “ECO” lights up on the center gauge. The VCM seamlessly goes in-and-out of operation, but there is no real way of knowing how effective it is in reducing fuel consumption as it cannot be switched off. So for now let’s assume it is helping you sip less gasoline as you fly down the highway and the Odyssey wouldn’t deliver its 19/28/22 without it.
Driving Experience: On the Road
The 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite weighs in at 4,613 lbs. which, considering all the extra options, is only 217 lbs. more than the base model Odyssey LX. I did a few 0 – 60 runs and, in a not-so-scientific test, ran between 9.7 and 10 seconds. Impressively, the weight is nearly evenly distributed, 55 front/45 rear, making cornering relatively flat with minimal nose dive when coming to an aggressive stop.
The Touring Elite package comes with 18-inch alloy wheels and all-season tires, four-wheel power-assisted disc brakes with ABS, variable power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering with front MacPherson struts and stabilizer bar, and a multi-link double wishbone rear suspension also with MacPherson struts and stabilizer bar. This delivers a confident, smooth and quiet highway ride with little wind or tire noise.
Some of that quiet comes because Honda engineers have also included Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) into the Odyssey. Without getting wonky, ANC works by having two microphones in the cabin that capture low-end drivetrain (engine and transmission) frequencies and then automatically sends a reverse frequency through the speakers that cancel-out the drivetrain noise. ANC operates with the audio system on or off and does its job well, as the inside of the Odyssey at freeway speeds was quiet and a pleasure on long trips.
Driving Experience: Interior
Smarticd was driving the fully optioned 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite. The extremely roomy interior included a power-adjustable ten-way (with two position memory) leather-trimmed heated driver and
four-way leather-trimmed heated passenger seats. Finding a comfortable seating position with the tilting and telescoping steering column was a breeze. The heated, power-adjustable outside mirrors and large windows made for excellent sight lines.
As mentioned earlier, the 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite seats eight. The 2nd and 3rd row seats are multi-functional; they can fold and stow in several configurations. The 3rd row seat splits 60/40 and both it and the 2nd row seats
have center folding arm rests with cup holders. To entertain those rear passengers there is a 16.2-inch DVD rear entertainment system with HDMI for compatible gaming and media players. Also included are two wireless headphones so the rear passengers can enjoy themselves without bugging the front seat occupants.
As for stowing stuff, the Odyssey has cubbies and storage areas that could accommodate a family and their gear on a long trip, but that’s pretty standard in the minivan world.
So, anything else cool on the Odyssey Touring Elite? How about the Cool Box found at the bottom of the center stack that can keep six 12-ounce cans or four 20-ounce bottles chilled. Or, how about the unique built-in vacuum, HondaVac, with a hose long enough to vacuum the complete interior.
As noted, this minivan was fully equipped with a power tailgate, dual power sliding doors, push-button start, power sunroof/moonroof and integrated sunshades in the far rear side glass.
All gauges and controls are in easy sight and reach, with many controls on the steering wheel. The audio and navigation screens are found in the center stack. The navigation screen, top center in the dash, is nicely recessed to eliminate glare.
The Touring Elite model has an entertainment system designed to keep both front and rear seat passengers occupied on long journeys. The centerpiece is the 12-speaker, 650-watt with subwoofer, touchscreen entertainment system that includes AM/FM/CD, HD Radio and SiriusXM with a 3 month initial free service. My one gripe with this radio was it needed simple, no-nonsense knobs to change the channels and a much easier way to go between AM, FM and SiriusXM.
The entertainment system also had Pandora interface, HomeLink, SMS text messaging, a 16GB hard disc drive, 115-volt and 12-volt power outlets, MP3/WMA, USB and an AUX jack. Bluetooth is integrated for the telephone and audio functions. There was no learning curve for the voice recognition and hands-free phone functions. One of the first things I do when testing a car is to pair my phone, doing so without looking at the owner’s manual to see how intuitive and easy each manufacturer has made their technology. With Honda, as with many car brands, pairing was easy and quick, taking less than a minute.
All this comfort and convenience is nice, but what if the car isn’t safe? The 2014 Honda Odyssey is well-equipped with active and passive safety features, including 10 air bags, power door locks, TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System), auto-leveling, projector beam Halogen High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights, adaptive cruise control, integrated back-up camera, parking sensors, blind spot monitor, forward collision and lane departure warning, stability assist with traction control, electronic brake distribution and the previously mentioned four-wheel disc brakes with ABS. The Odyssey also has remote keyless entry with Honda’s immobilizer system that disables the vehicle unless a programmed ignition key is used.
The national Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has rated (out of a 5-star system) the 2014 Odyssey safety as:
Overall 5 star
Frontal Crash 5 star
Side Crash 5 star
Rollover 4 star
The 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite Smarticd was driving had a price of $45,280, including the $830 Destination and Handling charge. The 2014 Odyssey comes in five models, but can be ordered with Option Packages that will affect your final price. The base MSRP for the five models, including the $830 Destination and Handling charge:
Touring Elite $45,280
The 2014 Odyssey comes with these warranties:
• 3 year/36,000 mile Basic, New Vehicle
• 5 year/60,000 mile Powertrain
• 3 year/36,000 mile Honda Genuine Accessories
• 5 year/Unlimited miles Corrosion
Observations: 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite
Many moms have a thing about not wanting to be seen in a minivan. I am not clear on the stigma they would be suffering, but if I had 2+ children with all their stuff, sports gear and friends, a minivan would be top of my shopping list.
Let’s not talk minivans in general, but specifically the 2014 Honda Odyssey, regardless of the trim level. This car is massively roomy, convenient with five doors (three electrically powered), ample storage space and versatile
seating configurations, an entertainment system to satisfy front and rear occupants, a top safety rating and best-in-class fuel economy.
The options in the minivan category are dwindling (Volkswagen’s Routan has exited and Chrysler, which still dominates the category, is talking of dropping one of its models). Many former minivan owners seem to have moved on to SUVs or crossovers as a replacement for the much-maligned “soccer mom” vehicles. But the Honda Odyssey remains a strong choice. There are many reasons for this which are worth your time to really see if driving a minivan would be such a bad thing.
Whatever you end up buying, enjoy your new car and as always, Happy Driving!
Chrysler Town & Country/Dodge Grand Caravan
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Road Test: 2014
Road Test: 2014