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First Drive: 2011 Honda Odyssey Page 3

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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The outdated DVD-based nav system has thankfully been replaced with one that's hard-drive based; it includes a built-in Zagat guide, a huge points-of-interest database,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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Comments (4)
  1. "...with the six-speed, the Odyssey can get to 60 mph in 8.8 seconds, according to Honda. That's technically a slight bit faster than the Sienna V-6."
    How is it faster if Sienna takes 7.9 seconds 0-60???
    And what happened to 1/3 of this van? That part just looks awful and there's no way to sugar coat it...
     
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  2. JKD, I've taken out Sienna acceleration references, for lack of an official number -- or test numbers for each from the same source. Driven back to back, the Sienna did feel slightly quicker.
    I have to admit that I wasn't sure at all about the lightning-bolt cue until I saw the whole vehicle in person. The lowered beltline at the back gives it a hunkered-back look that grew on us -- and it increases visibility.
     
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  3. The black one you've pictured looks like a hearse. The morticians are no doubt lined-up at Honda stores already.
    This thing looks like the minivan stylists were doing just fine until they got to the C pillar - and then they went insane. There are hints of the Benz R-Class there, elements of the Nissan Quest, and even a passing resemblance to the late and unlamented Chrysler Pacifica. What were they thinking? If this thing is a sales success it's proof that Honda could put their name on a pile of steaming dog poo... and people would buy it.
     
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  4. Here's a question for the 6'6" editor. OK, the second row was fine, but how was the front passenger seat for you? In the previous models, the front passenger seat was impossible for any man about average height. The gigantic glove compartment ate up all of the knee room, so it was impossible to sit there without repeatedly banging my shins on the glove compartment. Even on a short trip, I could expect bruised shins if I wasn't careful. In addition, the leg room on the passenger side was so shallow that it was impossible to extend my legs fully. Bad enough on short trips, but on long ones torture, like riding in an airplane seat. And the problem has been getting worse, not better - each year's model seems to have a little less legroom than the previous year.
    For what it's worth, the Sienna is even worse, because the center console also intrudes into the passenger's leg compartment, resulting in bruises not only on the shins but also on the side of the left knee. The 2011 Sienna does nothing to fix the situation. Does the Odyssey?
    Why on earth do they do this anyway? Every other Honda and Toyota car, SUV and truck that I have ever sat in has better configured leg space on the passenger side than their minivans do.
     
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