2016 Honda Odyssey Review

Consumer Reviews
2 Reviews
2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
May 2, 2016

The 2016 Honda Odyssey stands at the top of the minivan heap, with more design flair and more driving enjoyment than most other three-row rivals.

Family vehicles don't get any more purpose-built than minivans. The 2016 Honda Odyssey isn't only an example of a minivan done well, but it's also an example of a family vehicle done well. It handles multiple combinations of passengers and cargo, kids and diaper bags—all while managing to be slightly fun to drive, and earning some of the highest ratings for safety around.

The current generation of the Odyssey definitely stands out a bit more, with its "lightning bolt" beltline design; a refresh a couple of years ago fine-tuned the visual appeal, with a more deeply sculpted hood, a bolder grille, darker-finish headlamp housings, and some front appearance tweaks that included chrome-trimmed fog lamps. In back, the LED taillight bars sharpen up the look, while inside a new center-stack design and fresh finishes keep the Odyssey up to speed in an automotive market that's constantly upping cabin appointments.

With 248 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque from a 3.5-liter V-6, and a 6-speed automatic transmission, this front-wheel-drive minivan has enough on reserve for strong passing, even with a full load. Although you'll never mistake the Odyssey for a sport sedan, the Odyssey definitely handles more like an Accord than a Pilot. The ride is a bit firm, but the Odyssey manages to combine ride comfort and handling prowess better than most family-haulers.

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Inside—what matters most for a minivan, right?—the Odyssey is a surprisingly quiet and refined space. Active noise cancellation and active engine mounts both quell any vibrations from fuel-saving cylinder deactivation, as well as excess road noise. Cubbies and bins abound, with the center compartment between the front seats designed to swallow large items like a purse or tablet.

The seating layout is highly configurable, of course. An available split second row allows for the two outboard seats to be moved toward the doors (Honda calls this wide mode) to make more space for adults sitting side-by-side. The second and third row can also move relative to each other to provide better access to the rear seats or more comfort for the second-row passengers. There are five official LATCH connections, and in all, compared to most other three-row vehicles, even, you get a lot more flexibility in where child safety seats can be placed.

The current generation of the Honda Odyssey has been a standout when it comes to safety. It's been one of the few large vehicles to achieve top ratings from both U.S. safety agencies. The IIHS 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 and lane-departure warning.

Features, and value for money, are areas where the Odyssey doesn't quite add up to a grand slam. The base Odyssey LX includes Bluetooth hands-free calling, Honda's intelligent Multi-Information Display, and an 8.0-inch screen, in addition to a USB audio port and 2 GB of audio storage and a USB audio port; but many of the most desirable features remain the exclusive domain of the Touring and Touring Elite models.

The top Odyssey Touring Elite model gets many of the best features in the lineup, including the HondaLink infotainment suite, which allows owners to use a smartphone app to access Aha Internet-based entertainment, or hear Facebook and Twitter updates via text-to-speech. There's also a 650-watt sound system with hard-disk storage, the ultra-wide-screen system, theater surround sound, and HID headlamps, and a standout 16.2-inch wide-screen entertainment system, which can even split the screen in half to display two separate inputs (including HDMI).

Perhaps the Odyssey Touring Elite's most enticing feature is the HondaVAC system—a powerful integrated vacuum cleaner located on the left side of the cargo compartment.

The Odyssey achieves fuel economy ratings of 19 mpg city, 28 highway, 22 combined, which is among the best in its class and only slightly lower than the Nissan Quest's 23 mpg combined rating.

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2016 Honda Odyssey

Styling

The Odyssey remains one of the most visually interesting minivans, with its lightning-bolt beltline.

As far as the design goes, Honda managed to add a little visual interest to this box on wheels with the last redesign of the Odyssey, including the “lightning bolt” detail along the side.

That latter feature can be a bit controversial to onlookers, but affords great outward vision for rear passengers. And it speaks of how the entire design balances one-box practicality with a good sense of style. Honda at least tried in this latest generation, using careful applications of chrome, expensive-looking lighting elements, and a unique profile to differentiate it from the rest of the minivan crowd.

With the 2016 Honda Odyssey, this minivan lineup continues to look like it has more in common with the brand's sedan lineup than it does with Honda's crossovers. Small bits of brightwork and a more arched roofline found their way to the Odyssey, and in addition to that distinctive beltline crease, there are small windows ahead of the side mirrors, which make the Odyssey look a little futuristic while adding a smidge of visibility for front occupants looking out.

In back, the look is more flared and sculpted than typical for a minivan, giving this model an aerodynamic edge and a bit more visual excitement. It's slightly wider than typical, too, which translates to a more planted look (and more interior space).

Inside, the Odyssey is more utilitarian, with the last redesign bringing 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, with large knobs and controls and a refreshingly simple layout.

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2016 Honda Odyssey

Performance

Well-tuned ride and handling make the Odyssey a delight to drive compared to most ofther big-family vehicles.

The 2016 Odyssey isn't flat-out quick, but it feels plenty fast for this kind of vehicle. It takes about 8.8 seconds to get to 60 mph; that's in the same league as other minivans, while in handling and general responsiveness we think the Odyssey is one of the better picks in its class.

The Odyssey, overall, has a set of car-like attributes extending to its driving dynamics; altogether, it inspires confidence when it's time to brake, turn, accelerate, change lanes, or stop.

Honda's 248-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 is included in all models, and it generates 250 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission that delivers decisive, quick, smooth shifts when you're accelerating rapidly. But we've noticed that shifts can occasionally 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 only an lower-gear 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.

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

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 and Civic models.

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2016 Honda Odyssey

Comfort & Quality

The Odyssey's middle-row seats don't fold into the floor, yet you make up for that with excellent seat comfort in all positions.

Versatility, comfort, and interior space are pretty much the top priorities—or among them—for minivan shoppers. And among these, the 2016 Honda Odyssey seriously delivers.

Whether you're a parent to many, a regular carpool driver, or a grandparent with occasional family-hauling duties, the Odyssey likely has what you need. It's loaded with smart features, and both the second and third rows of seats can fit full-size adults or slide fore and aft to accommodate up to eight.

We can't say the Odyssey's front seats are among the best in this class; but they aren't completely neglected. They're relatively wide, and comfortable enough for everyday driving, although we'd have liked a bit more back and lateral support for long trips.

Moving back to the second row, it can actually slide outward, changing the width depending on whether there are two adults, three passengers, or a combination of child seats there. And there are now five sets of LATCH connectors for child seats.

The third row is comfortable enough for those up to about average adult height, for short stints. The seat feels rather low and the cushioning is definitely a step below what you get in the other rows, but in some trims it gets an armrest, and the folding mechanism is very well-designed, with a spring mechanism making it easy to do for either half with a single arm, in one fluid motion with only the firm pull of a strap.

With both the second and third rows folded, there's enough space and a continuous cargo floor good for two 10-foot-long, 2-by-4 studs, or 4-by-8 sheets of 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.

Overall, the Odyssey's cabin is a surprisingly quiet, refined space. Some high-tech wizardry helps serve that impression; active noise cancellation and active engine mounts both work to quell vibrations from the engine's fuel-saving cylinder deactivation, while the former also temps to quash excess road noise.

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2016 Honda Odyssey

Safety

The 2016 Odyssey remains an excellent pick for the safety-conscious, with nearly all the safety gear you might want on offer.

The 2016 Honda Odyssey keeps with its safety-minded family mission and offers up some impressive occupant safety, only missing a perfect score because its set of active-safety features hasn't been updated in this rapidly evolving market.

The NHTSA gives it five stars overall, with a sole four-star rating for rollover resistance.

The IIHS gives the Odyssey its Top Safety Pick award, which includes top "Good" ratings in each of five crashworthiness tests. It misses distinguished honors, however, due to its available forward-collision warning system that only complies with IIHS "Basic" front crash prevention standards—alerting the driver, but not automatically braking.

EX-L trims and above include lane-departure and forward-collision warning systems. To get blind-spot monitors as well, you'll have to buy the most expensive model, the Odyssey Touring Elite.

Not only is the Odyssey safe in an accident, but also both its handling and visibility are excellent, which can both aid in accident avoidance.

All Odyssey models offer standard Bluetooth as well as a rearview camera, while the LaneWatch sideview camera—which shows a camera view along the right side of the car when the right turn signal is activated—comes on all but the base LX model. The entire lineup now includes 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.

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2016 Honda Odyssey

Features

The most expensive Odyssey Touring Elite trim is where you'll have to go for the most desirable entertainment, convenience, and safety features.

The 2016 Honda Odyssey is offered in LX, EX, EX-L, Touring, and Touring Elite trims. Features, and value for money, are areas where the Odyssey doesn't quite add up to grand slam. Many of the most desirable features remain the exclusive domain of the Touring and Touring Elite models. And that can be frustrating, as there are no a la carte options. 

At the base level, the Odyssey is a reasonably good value, however. Bluetooth is standard on all Odysseys, as are 2 GB of audio storage, USB audio connectivity, a rearview camera, and an 8.0-inch information display. The LX also includes air conditioning; power windows, locks, and mirrors; and a stereo system with a subwoofer.

At the very top of the lineup, Touring Elite models add to a blind-spot monitor, a 650-watt sound system with hard-disk storage, theater surround sound, and HID headlights. Those in the back for long car rides will appreciate the 16.2-inch wide-screen entertainment system, which can show one source or split the screen in half to display two separate inputs (including HDMI). 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.

The HondaVAC system, that's available only on the Touring Elite, was co-developed with Shop-Vac. This powerful integrated vacuum cleaner is located on the left side of the cargo compartment, with accessories and nozzles included. It's hard-wired to the vehicle's electrical system, so it never needs to be charged or plugged in.

In between, the Odyssey splits the difference, but not everyone will agree that mid-trim EX and EX-L add enough for their significant step up in price. Tri-zone climate control, heated mirrors, Homelink, second-row sunshades, and Honda's LaneWatch camera system are included in EX models and higher. The EX also adds a mirror to help aid conversations between front- and rear-seat occupants.

EX-L trims and above include advanced safety features, including active lane-departure and forward-collision warning systems. A power tailgate is also included at this level and beyond. Heated leather seats, a cooling box, power moonroof, and a utility tray are among the additions, and the EX-L models equipped with navigation include 15 GB of hard-drive space. 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 point-of-interest database, a high-contrast VGA display, and free FM-based traffic information.

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2016 Honda Odyssey

Fuel Economy

The 2016 Honda Odyssey is among tops in fuel economy for its class.

The 2016 Honda Odyssey has what it takes, both under the hood and aerodynamically, to get some pretty respectable fuel economy ratings out of what's a big, quite heavy family vehicle.

The Odyssey achieves ratings of 19 mpg city, 28 highway, 22 combined—which rank high among its competitors including the Toyota Sienna and Kia Sedona, but slightly lower than the Nissan Quest's 23 combined rating.

The Honda Odyssey will likely lose more ground to the all-new hybrid Chrysler Pacifica, which goes on sale later this year. The EPA rates the Pacifica at 22 mpg—same as the Odyssey—however, the plug-in hybrid version will travel up to 30 miles on electricity and could easily top the Honda in terms of fuel efficiency.

In short, if you need three rows of seating and want a regular, non-hybrid powertrain, the Odyssey is the way to go, and be mindful of your fuel budget.

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June 3, 2016
2016 Honda Odyssey 5-Door Touring Elite

If you start the car remotely, it will shutoff when you open the door.

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I had a Honda Remote Engine Start II installed on my new Honda Odyssey 2016 because in my 2013 Odyssey the battery quit after about 2.5 years. My thinking was the sliding doors use a lot of battery, but if the... + More »
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March 2, 2016
2016 Honda Odyssey 5-Door EX-L

Great car but should have rear seat removal option

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The EX-L should have a 2 seat option with rear seat removed to be used for cargo space and wheelchair lift - ideal for two people.
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