2010 Honda Odyssey Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
August 13, 2009

If you don't mind the anonymous styling of the 2010 Honda Odyssey, you're bound to be delighted with the well-designed interior and engaging driving experience.

In order to bring you a conclusive, well-rounded review of the 2010 Honda Odyssey, TheCarConnection.com's team of experienced editors have driven several variations of this best-selling minivan and bring you their take here, along with a Full Review that includes opposing viewpoints to help you make the best family vehicle choice.

The current version of Honda's minivan, the Odyssey, was introduced back in 2005 and aside from a mid-cycle freshening for 2008 hasn't seen many changes along the way. That's just fine, as when it was introduced the Odyssey was well ahead of most of its rivals, in terms of the driving experience. It still is, although several other models now have even better seating arrangements.

In terms of styling, the 2010 Odyssey sure doesn't strike any new ground, inside or out. But minivan buyers purchase these vehicles purely for practicality, so they probably won't mind the anonymity. At the front and rear, the Odyssey has a toned-down, more subdued version of the beveled, excessively chunky, chromed look that Honda has been phasing in for the rest of its larger vehicles in recent years.

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Depending on whether you choose the budget-minded LX or EX models or spring for one of the top EX-L or Limited trims, you'll get a slightly different engine. A 244-horsepower, 3.5-liter VTEC V-6 comes with the LX and EX; it feels strong in this van, works well with the five-speed automatic, and brings fuel economy ratings of 23 mpg highway. A different version of the 3.5-liter, with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM), shuts down half of its cylinders when coasting or low-speed cruising to raise highway fuel economy to 25 mpg. The VCM engine achieves 3 hp less, but you won't notice the difference. In either case, city fuel economy is just 16 or 17 mpg, which isn't particularly impressive from a company known for efficient powertrains.

The 2010 Honda Odyssey remains one of the best-steering, best-handling minivans, and it's arguably more engaging from the driver's seat than many crossovers that might look more exciting from the outside. A well-tuned four-wheel independent suspension underpins the Odyssey and manages to soak up bumps without turning too soft when the road curves.

The interior design of the 2010 Odyssey is simple and clean, with the exception of the center stack, where instrument-panel controls are a bit scattered compared to other vehicles. Seats are one area of weakness for the Odyssey; the heavy second-row perches are tough to remove, and compared to Chrysler's Stow 'n Go system, they're a generation behind. But as with nearly all minivans today, there's a third-row seat that folds into a deep recess at the back, allowing a flat cargo floor. In any trim, the Odyssey has a high-quality interior with good fit and finish.

The Odyssey does exceptionally well in safety tests; it's an IIHS Top Safety pick. Electronic stability control, side airbags, and side-curtain bags are all on the standard features list.

As in prior years, the 2010 Honda Odyssey is offered in a seven-passenger LX model and eight-passenger EX, EX-L, and Touring trims. The LX comes reasonably well-equipped, but the top trims include a lot more standard equipment—particularly if you have luxury or tech features in mind. The 2009 Honda Odyssey Touring has a plush interior, trimmed in leather and fitted with a navigation system and rear-seat DVD entertainment system. Stepping up to the EX-L or Touring allows a power tailgate and Bluetooth hands-free link.

Although the Odyssey doesn't offer many over-the-top luxury features like heated rear seats or adaptive cruise control, there are plenty of entertainment options that should make the cabin a little more peaceful. For those who need to keep those in the backseat engaged, there's a DVD entertainment system with wireless surround-sound headphones; also available is a voice-activated navigation system that incorporates both a rearview video camera and XM Satellite Radio.

7

2010 Honda Odyssey

Styling

Anonymous minivan styling is the name of the game on the outside, though inside the 2010 Honda Odyssey impresses with the details.

The 2010 Honda Odyssey sure doesn't strike any new ground with its styling; it's as anonymous as any minivan, but buyers look to these vehicles for practicality above all else, right? While other Honda vehicles have gained the beveled, excessively chunky look at the front and back in recent model years, the Odyssey has kept more conservative.

Most reviewers take the Odyssey at face value, making it clear that they don't have high expectations for this van, though they remain quite complimentary. Reporting on the slight refresh that the Odyssey saw for 2008, Autoblog says, "Honda has dressed up the Odyssey with some styling tweaks, including ... front bumper fascia." Cars.com notes that the Honda Odyssey "continues its trend of exterior and interior changes" a little bit every year. Car and Driver takes kindly to the styling, commenting, "Now there's a minivan we don't mind driving." MotherProof agrees, describing the Honda Odyssey as "elegant, poised, smooth ... [with] sleek lines and subtle accents."

It's hard to find fault with the clean and functional interior design, though TheCarConnection.com's editors point out that the center-stack controls feel a bit disordered. Most reviewers aren't bothered by this, although a few focus on the gearshift placement. Cars.com notes that the Odyssey's “gearshift lever sits on the instrument panel." ConsumerGuide finds "it's easy to reach but obstructs some controls when in park." The appearance of the instruments themselves draws positive remarks in several instances; ConsumerGuide likes the "large, clearly marked main gauges," while MotherProof says "subtle backlighting creates an elegant view of the instrument panel."

8

2010 Honda Odyssey

Performance

Once you're inside the 2010 Honda Odyssey, you'll probably forget you're in a minivan—and that's a good thing, right?

Shoppers might become a little confused about powertrains; there are two different engines listed for the Odyssey, but rest assured they're virtually the same. Top EX-L and Touring models of the 2010 Honda Odyssey come with a 241-horsepower, 3.5-liter VTEC V-6 with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM), while LX and EX models get a 244-hp version without the fuel-saving technology. With VCM, you'll save a little bit of fuel on the highway; the engine gets 25 mpg on the highway, instead of 23 mpg, but fuel economy remains relatively unimpressive with either powertrain, at just 16 or 17 mpg.

The 3.5-liter V-6, no matter which one you have, moves the 2010 Honda Odyssey very respectably, especially in a class that isn't known for performance. ConsumerGuide is impressed by the Odyssey's acceleration, describing it as "ample around town and when merging onto highways, even with a full complement of passengers." Edmunds also beams that the "V-6 complements the van's likable road manners, providing satisfying acceleration in virtually all situations."

Reviewers report few faults with the way the five-speed transmission responds, although ConsumerGuide notes that the gearbox "doesn't always downshift promptly in passing situations." Autoblog states that "VCM improves fuel economy of the 3.5L from 16/23 to 17/25, which isn't a huge jump, but may be appreciated by parent-run chauffeur services."

The 2010 Honda Odyssey remains one of the best-steering, best-handling minivans, in the opinion of TheCarConnection.com's editors, who believe it's more engaging from the driver's seat than many crossovers that might look more exciting from the outside. Edmunds calls the Honda Odyssey "the most car-like minivan on the market today, thanks to its tight turning radius, responsive steering and athletic tuning." ConsumerGuide praises the Odyssey's "sharp, accurate steering," but cautions potential buyers about the Honda's ride over rough roads, "where sharp bumps and highway expansion joints sometimes jab through—especially to rear-seat riders." With regard to braking, ConsumerGuide notes that "stopping control is good even with a full passenger load."

9

2010 Honda Odyssey

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Honda Odyssey is comfortable and spacious—and possibly the most refined minivan—but seating and utility aren't class-leading.

The 2010 Honda Odyssey has an interior that's simple in design, yet well put together with good materials, fit, and finish. As with nearly all minivans today, there's a third-row seat that folds into a deep recess at the back, allowing a flat cargo floor and enough space for up to eight.

The front seats are well bolstered and suitable for long trips. ConsumerGuide calls the front seats "comfortable and supportive" and proclaims the Honda Odyssey's room "ample for large adults" overall. ConsumerGuide also enjoys "a fine driving position," which is "enhanced on Tourings by power-adjustable pedals."

EX, EX, and EX-L models can accommodate eight "thanks to a removable center seat in the second row that can stow into a recessed compartment, which can be used for storage when the seat isn't stowed." Otherwise, kind words are said about the third row; Cars.com claims it has "adult-size room" but suffers from "a short backrest and thin padding." Kelley Blue Book notes "Honda engineers have made the third-row seat more accessible, thanks to sliding second-row seats."

Cars.com points out that the "Lazy Susan under-floor tray holds miscellaneous items in Touring models." Edmunds provides the facts on the Honda Odyssey: "With the third row stowed, the Odyssey offers 91 cubic feet of cargo volume behind its second-row seats." But ConsumerGuide complains that the under-floor compartment "adds extra storage but is not readily accessible." MotherProof has some quibbles about the cup holders as well: "The two front upholders don't fit cans easily....The other two cup holders held the can steady but were difficult to reach."

The 2010 Honda Odyssey promises an especially quiet ride compared to other minivans or family crossover vehicles. ConsumerGuide notes that third-row passengers hear some wind whistle around the tailgate, but the Honda Odyssey "is among the quieter minivans. Engine noise is particularly well subdued."

9

2010 Honda Odyssey

Safety

With top crash-test results and all the desired safety features standard, the 2010 Honda Odyssey almost achieves safety perfection.

For minivan shoppers, safety typically enjoys a higher priority in the shopping process. The 2010 Honda Odyssey doesn't miss a single mark here; whether in terms of top features or great crash-test results, the Odyssey has it.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the Odyssey top scores for crash safety, granting it five out of five stars in front impact and side impact protection, and four stars for rollover resistance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awards top "good" ratings to the Odyssey in each of its categories.

Cars.com confirms the abundance of safety equipment on the 2010 Odyssey: "Side-impact and three-row side curtain airbags, all-disc antilock brakes, and traction control are standard, as is an electronic stability system." Additionally, Motor Trend notices the "2009 model adds active front seat head restraints and daytime running lights as standard equipment."

For 2010, it appears that Honda has discontinued the formerly offered PAX run-flat tires—possibly because of issues with road noise.

To help avoid low-speed accidents in parking lots and driveways, the 2010 Honda Odyssey Touring model includes a front- and rear-obstacle-detection system. That might be necessary, as visibility isn't so great. ConsumerGuide says "rear visibility is hindered by large headrests and thick roof pillars," though the optional "rearview camera and front and rear park assist help in close-quarters maneuvering."

8

2010 Honda Odyssey

Features

The overall list of features is respectable, but the way Honda bundles convenience features and popular options means that a comparably equipped 2010 Honda Odyssey might be a lot more expensive than rival models.

The Honda Odyssey is offered in four trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring. Honda tends to make options available by trim level, so you won't be able to order many of the most desirable extras on an LX or EX without stepping up to a lot more and driving the bottom-line price way up.

The 2010 Honda Odyssey Touring is plush, with leather upholstery, a navigation system, and rear-seat DVD entertainment system. "The more expensive Odyssey EX-L provides a leather-trimmed interior, heated front seats, a power front passenger seat, a rearview-mirror-mounted backup camera, satellite radio and a sunroof," says Edmunds.

According to Kelley Blue Book, options exclusive to the "premium Touring model are a power tailgate, memory driver's seat, power-adjustable pedals, front and rear parking sensors and a run-flat tire system." Motor Trend reports that "four new premium options have also been made available, including a Bluetooth HandsFreeLink, four-way power passenger seat, rearview camera display, and memory-linked side mirrors with reverse gear tilt-down. DVD entertainment and voice-activated navigation units also are available."

ConsumerGuide clarifies that the base LX gets a simpler control layout; they're not necessarily fans of the supposed upgrade in high-end Honda Odyssey models: "EX, EX-L, and Touring have an abundance of buttons, switches, and more complicated control design that takes time to understand."

Standard on all 2010 Odyssey models are "the disappearing third-row seat, in-floor storage, CD player, dual-zone air conditioning (tri-zone in EX-L and Touring), power windows, keyless entry and cruise control,” reports Kelley Blue Book.

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8.2
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Expert Rating
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Styling 7.0
Performance 8.0
Comfort & Quality 9.0
Safety 9.0
Features 8.0
Fuel Economy N/A
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