2012 Honda Odyssey Performance

On Performance

What you'll find under the hood of the 2012 Honda Odyssey—if you even look, as we're not sure many minivan owners ever do—is a version of Honda's 3.5-liter i-VTEC V-6, here making 247 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque. While all Odysseys come with the same engine, top-of-the-line Touring and Touring Elite models get a six-speed automatic and the rest of the line gets a five-speed auto.

With either transmission, acceleration isn't quick, but it feels fast enough; 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.

The Odyssey is the best-handling and best-steering of the (large) minivans—and a lot more fun to drive than it looks.
The downside that we've noticed with either transmission is that there's some balkiness when getting back on the gas out of a corner, or accelerating lightly. And those who live in hilly terrain might find it frustrating that there's also no way to command individual gears, just the confusing combination of an 'L' mode as well as an O/D-off button on the selector. Of course, drive with your right foot mashed to the floor and the shifts are decisive, quick, and smooth.

Although the Odyssey is much more closely related to the Pilot SUV, it really handles a lot like a V-6 Accord. Engineers have managed to give this minivan remarkable cornering poise, and the suspension, which is isolated on separate front and rear subframes, somehow manages excellent body control (for such a large vehicle) while keeping out those queasy secondary motions that plague most of the SUV field, along with some minivans. What might have a big part in this is that Honda managed to cut a hundred pounds from the Odyssey with its redesign last year. 

The Odyssey also steers remarkably well for such a large vehicle—or one that's not necessarily geared for performance. A variable-displacement power-steering pump is far better than the electric power steering systems in Honda's smaller CR-V or Civic, providing great weighting and even a little road feedback in the corners.

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