First Drive: 2011 Honda Odyssey Page 3

September 9, 2010

2011 Honda Odyssey Touring

2011 Honda Odyssey Touring

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2011 Honda Odyssey Touring

2011 Honda Odyssey Touring

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One of the most frequent requests from Honda Odyssey owners was for a better front center console arrangement. Honda designed one this time that's completely removable. With that front-row console removed, you can now fit two 10-foot-long 2x4 studs into the Odyssey., and of course with the second row out of the way you can fit 4x8 plywood. Also among the new features are a media drawer with damped opening, and a cooler compartment below good for several beverage containers. There's also a nifty a trash-bag ring that allows plastic shopping bags to be locked down and used as a trash bag.

The new Odyssey includes Honda's Vehicle Stability Assist (stability control) system and anti-lock brakes, plus driver and front passenger side airbags and three-row side-curtain bags. In front, there are active headrests. Honda expects another Top Safety Pick showing, as well as top results in both major crash tests.

Prices for the 2011 Odyssey are up modestly across the board for 2011, with the base LX starting at $28,580 (destination included) and the top-of-the-line Touring Elite totaling $44,030.

The outdated DVD-based nav system has thankfully been replaced with one that's hard-drive based; it includes a built-in Zagat guide, a huge points-of-interest database, high-contrast VGA display, and free FM-based traffic information. Plus you can load a personal picture to use as wallpaper with the system. The new navigation system now include fuzzy-logic voice recognition, which Honda says is much improved (we'll let you know when we have one for a longer test), while a new song-by-voice feature with the high-end system allows you to call out a system verbally. It still doesn't appear to be as flexible as some rival systems, but the demonstration was impressive. Also, that top sound system will import album artwork from your iPod for display on the screen.

Where's the Bluetooth?

But a major letdown? The lack of Bluetooth in all but the top trim models, in a vehicle that will be frequented by frenzied soccer moms.

Other top tech features are represented, but in typical Honda fashion you have to go all the way up the model line to get the good stuff; Touring Elite models now come with a blind-spot system, as well as auto-leveling HID headlamps.

Honda has also opted to do away with the ubiquitous 6-CD changer entirely, replacing it with 2 GB of flash storage in EX and EX-L models and 15 GB of hard-drive space in navigation-equipped models. Honda says that this holds the contents of 18 or 175 CDs, respectively. Another standout is the new 16.2-inch wide-screen system provides entertainment and can even split the screen in half for two separate inputs. According to Honda, it's the first OEM system—from any brand, luxury included—to offer an HDMI input.

Will Honda attract those young, Gen Y families? Just getting inside is all it takes.

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