2014 Honda Odyssey Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
August 11, 2014

With the 2014 Odyssey, Honda continues to innovate and offer up the most space-efficient interior for families, while driving better than most crossovers and SUVs.

Minivans like the Honda Odyssey are some of the most useful vehicles on the road. They're versatile go-to wheels, medium-duty haulers, multi-passenger carriers, and rolling diaper bags. When they earn top crash scores and blend in a little driving fun--like the Odyssey does--they're among the highest-rated vehicles at The Car Connection.

For 2014, the Odyssey gets refined “more sophisticated” styling that includes a more deeply sculpted hood, a bolder grille, darker-finish headlamp housings, and a new lower front fascia with chrome-trimmed fog lamps. At the back there are LED taillight bars. Inside, the '14 Odyssey gets a new center-stack design as well as new finishes throughout.

The Odyssey stands as one of the best minivans ever—a not-so-mini vehicle that open-minded families won't be able to resist. With all the latest infotainment features, lots of tech savvy, and even a little design savvy, the latest Odyssey is fully with the times—even with respect to design. Honda managed to add a little pizazz to this box on wheels with a “lightning bolt” hump along the rear window. The cue also aids visibility a bit.

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The 3.5-liter V-6 that's under the hood hasn't changed; it makes 248 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque throughout the model line; Honda's six-speed automatic transmission is now standard across the lineup. In short, the Odyssey performs like a car, with confident acceleration and passing, and even enough power to take on mountain roads with a full load. And even though it's a taller vehicle, it handles more like the Accord sedan than the Pilot crossover.

Inside, the Odyssey is surprisingly quiet and refined space, with a smooth ride. Active noise cancellation and active engine mounts both quell any vibrations from fuel-saving cylinder deactivation, as well as excess road noise.

The current generation of the Odyssey is loaded with thoughtful touches, and the second and third rows have a layout that serves a dual purpose—either helping to maximize the number of positions (up to eight) for smaller kids, or allowing a comfortable place for adults (up to six). And there's definitely space (and anchors) for multiple child seats. It's a standout in that it offers a a class-leading six child-seat tether locations and five LATCH locations (the official clips).

For safety, you won't be able to do much better than the Odyssey. In previous model years, it's been one of the few large vehicles to achieve top ratings from both U.S. safety agencies; although we can't yet say with certainty that will extend to 2014 from the NHTSA, as Honda has introduced a new aluminum hood and fenders to the model. But the IIHS now calls it a Top Safety Pick+, and the Odyssey has all the safety-feature bases covered, with a standard rearview camera system on all models, and the top Touring Elite getting an Expanded View Driver's Mirror, a blind-spot warning system, Forward Collision Warning, and Lane Departure Warning.

Base LX models include Bluetooth hands-free calling, the intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID), and an 8-inch TFT screen, in addition to 2 gigabytes of audio storage, and a USB audio port; but many of the most desirable features remains the exclusive domain of top 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring and Touring Elite models.

For 2014, the rather pricey Touring Elite gets some of the infotainment features that just made their debut in the 2013 Accord—including HondaLink, allowing owners to use a smartphone app to access Aha Internet-based entertainment, or hear Facebook and Twitter updates via text-to-speech. Touring Elite models also get a 650-watt sound system with hard-disk storage, the ultra-wide-screen system, theater surround sound, and HID headlamps. A standout option is the new 16.2-inch wide-screen system, which provides entertainment and can even split the screen in half for two separate inputs (including HDMI), while the navigation system includes Zagat listings and live traffic info.

Finally, the Odyssey Touring Elite adds a new HondaVAC system—a powerful integrated vacuum cleaner, with nozzle accessories and a dedicated space on the driver's side of the rear cargo area. The system was developed with Sho-Vac, and it never needs to be charged or plugged in, as it runs as a normal vehicle accessory, capable of running for up to eight minutes with the vehicle turned off.

7

2014 Honda Odyssey

Styling

The lightning bolt does it: somehow the Odyssey stands out from the minivan crowd.

Infusing a minivan with style and curb appeal is a difficult craft to master, but the Odyssey gets it right at least in some respects. While the front where the current Honda family mug and the rear is relatively anonymous, the sculpted profile makes this one easy to pick out of a crowd.

The 2014 Odyssey tends to borrow more of its styling cues from the sedans in the Honda lineup than it does the brand's crossovers. A few years back, small bits of brightwork and a more arched roofline found their way to the Odyssey, but the most interesting addition was the "lightning bolt" hump along the rear window–intended to improve visibility through the car's blind spots.

There are also small windows in front the side mirrors, which make the Odyssey look a little more rakish, while adding visibility to the front corners of the vehicle. The rear sheetmetal under the "lightning bolt" is also a little more flared and sculpted, giving this minivan an aerodynamic edge and a little bit of outward excitement.

Inside, the Odyssey is more ordinary, and that last redesign brought only evolutionary changes. The instrument panel design is familiar and upright, remaining somewhat swoopy and space-maximizing. In stark contrast to the sea-of-buttons look that's offered up in the dashes of some Honda and Acura passenger-car and crossover interiors, what's here is a refreshingly simple control layout containing large knobs and controls.
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2014 Honda Odyssey

Performance

Honda's baked in some of the best minivan steering and ride quality with the Odyssey.

Minivan shoppers may not care much about performance, but even so, the Odyssey has all the power necessary to accelerate strongly, change lanes with confidence, pass quickly, and even climb mountain roads with a full load of passengers. Put shortly, the Odyssey performs almost like a sporty car, rather than a lumbering SUV.

It's powered by Honda's 248-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6, capable of producing 250 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic is now standard.

The Odyssey isn't flat-out quick, but it feels fast for this kind of vehicle; it takes about 8.8 second to get to 60 mph. 

The Odyssey handles much more like a V-6 Accord, even though its looks align more closely with a Pilot. Thanks to some expert chassis engineering, this minivan corners with poise and control but not much harshness as a tradeoff; that's because of well-tuned, isolated front and rear subframes that help avoid the queasy secondary motions that plague many big, family-friendly vehicles.

While either of the transmissions deliver decisive, quick, smooth shifts when you're accelerating rapidly, we've noticed in both cases that shifts can be balky when things aren't as urgent--when you're getting gently back on the gas out of a corner, or accelerating lightly, for instance. And with an 'L' mode and an O/D-off button on the gearshift selector, there's no straightforward way to simply control shifts when you're on a mountain road. 

Although the Odyssey isn't tuned for performance driving, its variable-displacement power-steering system has great weighting and even a little road feedback, and it's far better than the electric power steering systems that Honda has installed in its smaller CR-V or Civic.

9

2014 Honda Odyssey

Comfort & Quality

With some of the most useful, comfortable seats in minivans, the Odyssey's only a second-best bet to the Chrysler boxes.

Minivan shoppers are a discerning crowd most interested in versatility, comfort and interior space–keeping the kids occupied and quiet tends to be a plus, too. Whether you're a soccer mom, tee ball dad, or a grandparent with the occasional family-hauling duties, the 2014 Odyssey delivers all the convenience you need. It's loaded with smart features, and both the second and thirds rows of seats can seat full-size adults, or slide fore and aft to accommodate up to eight passengers.

With both the second and third rows folded, there's enough space and a continuous cargo floor good for two ten-foot-long 2x4 studs, or 4x8 plywood. For smaller items, there's a media drawer with damped motion, a cooler compartment that can hold several cans or bottles, and a trash-bag ring—one of those simple things you'll wonder how you've managed without. Interior materials and trims aren't in the luxury realm, but they're not bad for also being Wet Wipe friendly.

Front seats aren't completely neglected; they're comfortable and somewhat wide, and there's a good view outward with a good view outward. But we can't say they're among the best; we would have liked more lateral support and back support.

There's comfortable space for six adults in the Odyssey's three rows of seats, and the second row can actually slide outward–changing the width of the second row depending on whether there are two adults, three, or a combination of child seats there (there are now five sets of LATCH connectors, for child seats).

As for the third row, it gets an armrest in some trims, while the folding mechanism is excellent--you can fold either section of the seat into the floor in a single motion, with only the firm pull of a strap (it takes one arm, and there's no need for a complex power-folding mechanism). This 6'-6" editor would have been happy all day in the second row, while the third row was more confining and only good for short trips.

Overall, the Odyssey's cabin is a surprisingly quiet, refined space, with a smooth ride, and some high-tech wizardry helps serve that impression. Active noise cancellation and active engine mounts both quell any vibrations from fuel-saving cylinder deactivation, as well as excess road noise.

9

2014 Honda Odyssey

Safety

The Odyssey is one of the safest vehicles you can buy--and Bluetooth and a rearview/sideview camera are now standard.

The 2014 Odyssey is one of the safest vehicles on the road, just barely missing a perfect score. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives it five stars overall, with a sole four-star rating for rollover resistance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Odyssey its Top Safety Pick+ award.

Both handling and outward visibility are at the front of its class, we think, and they're both attributes that might help avoid an accident. The Odyssey includes the expected safety features, such as stability control, anti-lock brakes, driver and passenger front side airbags, and full-length side curtains, but what makes it a standout is that it offers a a class-leading six child-seat tether locations and five LATCH locations (the official clips). What that means is that you can fit up to five child seats in some cases--or up to four seats of any kind.

All Odysseys offer standard Bluetooth and a LaneWatch sideview camera, as well as a rearview camera. To get blind-spot monitors, forward-collision and lane-departure warnings, you'll have to buy the most expensive Touring Elite model.

8

2014 Honda Odyssey

Features

Honda's doing better with features in less expensive versions of the Odyssey, but the latest safety and infotainment gear is reserved for the Touring Elite.

The 2014 Honda Odyssey offers some standout optional technology like auto-leveling HID headlamps, a hard-drive-based music system and blind-spot detection. Those features are only available on the Touring and Touring Elite models, though, and Honda's knack for reserving the most desirable features for the most expensive models can be frustrating for budget-focused shoppers.

Bluetooth is standard on all Odysseys, as are 2 GB of audio storage, USB audio connectivity, and an 8-inch TFT information display. Air conditioning, power windows, locks and mirrors and an upgraded audio system with a subwoofer all come standard on the base LX model, too.

The mid-trim EX models add tri-zone climate control, heated mirrors, Homelink and second-row sunshades. Heated leather seats are standard for EX-L models, as are features like the rearview camera, cooling box, power moonroof, and utility tray.

EX and EX-L models include 15 GB of hard-drive space in navigation-equipped models. Honda says that this holds the contents of 175 CDs. Another standout is the new 16.2-inch wide-screen system, which provides entertainment and can even split the screen in half for two separate inputs (including HDMI). 

The navigation system has an especially clear, intuitive display, and we like the controls better than the systems in some of Honda's other models; it has a built-in Zagat guide, a huge points-of-interest database, high-contrast VGA display, and free FM-based traffic information. You can also customize the system with a personal picture for wallpaper.

At the very top of the lineup, Touring Elite models step up to a blind-spot system, a 650-watt sound system with hard-disk storage, the ultra-wide-screen system, theater surround sound, and HID headlamps. The top model also gets HondaLink, which allows owners to use a smartphone app to access Aha Internet-based entertainment, or hear Facebook and Twitter updates via text-to-speech.

Also new for 2014 on the Touring Elite is a new HondaVAC system. It's a powerful integrated vacuum cleaner, with nozzle accessories and a dedicated space on the driver's side of the rear cargo area. The system was developed with Sho-Vac, and it never needs to be charged or plugged in, as it runs as a normal vehicle accessory, capable of running for up to eight minutes with the vehicle turned off.

7

2014 Honda Odyssey

Fuel Economy

The Odyssey has the best fuel economy of any minivan, period.

Thanks to its Variable Cylinder Management–assuming you're not too hot-footed with the accelerator–the 2014 Honda Odyssey has best-in-class fuel economy ratings.

The six-speed automatic transmission in the Odyssey helps the minivan earn 19 miles per gallon city, 28 miles per gallon highway. These numbers are considerably better than the comparable Toyota Sienna and Dodge Grand Caravan, though.

In short, if you need three rows of seating and want a regular, non-hybrid powertrain, the Odyssey is your most fuel-efficient pick.

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August 22, 2016
2014 Honda Odyssey 5-Door EX-L

A well done vehicle

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43000 mi and no problems. Easy to work on. A pleasure to drive on all variety of trips. Handles very well. Like my 2003 Odyssey, it's "Bullet proof"
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April 28, 2015
2014 Honda Odyssey 5-Door EX

Really like this van

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So far so good. I like the look exterior and interior. Ride is great MPG isn't bad. (25 MPG on road trip with 5 adults luggage and roof carrier.) I am a big guy so seats are a little narrow and could have a... + More »
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April 14, 2015
For 2014 Honda Odyssey

Excellent with grandkids. Flexible.

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We have three grandkids and we use this van for so many very purposes. It is excellent in all respects.
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April 13, 2015
For 2014 Honda Odyssey

It's what I wanted and it's the best I think I can buy!

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It performs without any problems wich urges me to buy another one! This 2014 is my forth one in 8 years and never had to call for help except for regular maintenance.
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Styling 7.0
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