Interior versatility, space, and comfort is of course one of the most important aspects for nearly any minivan shopper, and the 2011 Honda Odyssey remains at the leading edge of the segment in this respect; it's absolutely loaded with thoughtful touches, and the seating layout has been revised yet again to make the second and third rows even better for full-size adults while maximizing the number of positions (up to eight) for kids or child seats.
Although the basic footprint hasn't changed, the new Odyssey is a little bit wider and lower than the model it replaces, making it very slightly roomier inside.
The three rows of seating in the 2011 Odyssey are now even better for six adults, thanks to a new second-row configuration that allows the outboard seats to actually tilt and 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). The third row gains an inch of legroom and in some trims an armrest, while its folding mechanism gets even better.
Now, with a hand-held strap, you can fold either section of the seat into the floor with a single motion. Honda didn't bother with a power-folding third row arrangement, as all the ones that it tried took longer to deploy and were unnecessarily complicated. Honda's system is simple, elegant, and easy enough to do even with an arm of groceries. The spare tire has been relocated from beside the third row to under the floor in the middle space between the first and second rows. This not only helps keep a lower center of mass but also allows a wider third-row bench. The third row is still a little more confining, for headroom particularly. While this 6'-6" editor fit well enough to be good for quick trips in the third row, I would have been happy all day in the second row.
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.
Fussing kids and entertainment needs aside, the Odyssey is a surprisingly quiet, refined place—thanks to some high-tech wizardry. Active noise cancellation and active engine mounts, two of Honda's trump-card technologies that only made it to top trims of past Odysseys with cylinder deactivation, are standard equipment in all trims of this version. These systems help quell any of that powertrain roughness, as well as some road noise, electronically in conjunction with traditional noise abatement to keep the cabin hushed.