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.