Make us your home page
The Daily Drivers | By Peter Couture and Lyra Solochek, Times Staff Writers

The Daily Drivers: Redesigned Honda Odyssey packs a punch

These days, the minivan seems to be rising from our dread. Automakers are marketing the vehicle to reluctant parents who want the practicality of a van and the pizzazz of an SUV. To that end, we have quirky ad campaigns, new vans on the way (Ford, Nissan) and the redesign of the industry's standard-bearers such as Honda's Odyssey.

Appearance: The most striking feature of the updated exterior is the van's profile, where the window line ends with a dip that Honda says gives the Odyssey's side view a "lightning bolt" appearance. (Lyra thinks it looks "choppy and disjointed.") There's not a lot you can do to bring sexy back to a minivan, but Honda has tried with a lower, more aerodynamic profile, 18-inch aluminum wheels and a rear spoiler with integrated brake light.

Performance: To us, the Odyssey felt heavier — a little less nimble — than its main competition, Toyota's Sienna. Still, the steering is precise, and the 3.5-liter, 248-horsepower i-VTEC V-6 has Variable Cylinder Management, which shuts down cylinders depending on output needs and helps the Odyssey get a more-than-respectable 19 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway. The six-speed automatic shifts smoothly. We also liked the safety features in our optioned-out Touring Elite model, such as the blind-spot warning and multiview rear camera. It also has parking sensors, which we found to be useful in a large vehicle, especially when it's full of passengers or kids.

Interior: If the performance is less than swaggering, then the interior lets the Odyssey shine. Our tester was loaded with electronic gadgetry: Bluetooth, navigation with voice recognition, 16.2-inch DVD rear entertainment system screen which can show two separate programs (listen with wireless or plug-in headsets), USB and a "song by voice" system that lets you make requests. Moms and dads, there's a cool box at the bottom of the front console that holds six 12-ounce cans or four 20-ounce bottles. (There are 15 drink holders.) The seats, as we've come to expect in Hondas, are plush and comfortable, even the third row. The outside second-row seats have a wide mode where they can push out 1.5 inches for more space. The second-row center seat back folds down for drink holders, and the third-row seats fold down into the floor with the pull of a strap. With those seats folded, and with the second row removed, you can fit a 4- by 8-foot sheet of plywood into the rear. But taking advantage of this versatility brings up our major complaint with the interior: We both found that removing the heavy second-row seats can be a backbreaker.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Cool box: Other automakers have introduced it; Honda runs with it.

Gadgetry: Honda has responded ably to the competition, so much so that the dash can be a bit confusing. (Where is that child safety door-lock release?)

Design: The "lightning bolt" may be a lightning rod for critics, but I like it.

Lyra Solochek

MPG: The 19/28 is outstanding for a V-6 and a vehicle of this size.

Seats: The multiple configurations offer flexibility. Plus, they're comfortable.

Power doors: It's easy in, easy out. No more struggling with a lift gate.

The bottom line: With Nissan set to release its new minivan, the competition will only get more intense. We liked the redesigned Odyssey, with a few exceptions, for the reasons we buy minivans: comfort and family-friendly features.

2011 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite

Price: $44,030 as tested

Powertrain: 3.5-liter i-VTEC V-6, 6-speed automatic, FWD

Horsepower: 248 at 5,700 rpm

Torque: 250 pound-feet at 4,800 rpm

Curb weight: 4,560 pounds


in inches:

Wheelbase, 118.1

Length, 202.9

Width, 79.2

Seats: 8

Cup holders: 15

Fuel economy:

19 miles per gallon city, 28 mpg highway

Fuel type: Regular unleaded

Safety features: Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure, ABS, daylight running lights, active head restraints, electronic brake distribution, vehicle stability assist with traction control, air bags and curtains (including third-row curtains)


The Daily Drivers: Redesigned Honda Odyssey packs a punch 01/14/11 [Last modified: Friday, January 14, 2011 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Goodbye Tampa Bay Express, hello Tampa Bay Next; but toll lanes aren't going anywhere


    TAMPA — Tampa Bay Express is dead.

    But it's replacement — Tampa Bay Next — will likely include many of the same projects, including express toll lanes on the rebuilt Howard Frankland Bridge.

    The Florida Department of Transportation on Monday announced that it was renaming its Tampa Bay Express plan, also known as TBX. The plan will now be known as Tampa Bay Next, or TBN. DOT officials say there are still re-evaluating the most controversial aspect of the old TBX plan: spend $6 billion to add 90 miles of toll roads to bay area highways - Interstates 4,75 and 275 - that are currently free of tolls. But TBN will keep the plan to add express toll lanes to the rebuilt Howard Frankland Bridge. [Florida Department of Transportation]
  2. Trigaux: Tampa Bay lands on Forbes 2017 ranking of best places for young professionals

    Working Life

    Consider this one more notch in the belt of Tampa Bay starting to win serious attention from millennials as place to live and build a career.

    Mike Griffin is a senior managing director in Tampa for Savills Studley Occupier Services, which provides integrated real estate services. He is also chairman for 2017 of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the first of the next generation of leadership emerging in this metro market. [Courtesy of Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce]
  3. Leaders of Tampa Bay's top workplaces share insights, suggestions


    TAMPA — Nearly 300 people gathered at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts Tuesday morning to hear tips and insights from leaders of the highest-ranked workplaces in Tampa Bay.

    Bays Florida associates (From left) Robert Patterson, Amanda Boser, and Kellly Banchak talk during the reception before the start of the Tampa Bay Times Top Workplaces Live! program at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, Florida on Tuesday, May 16, 2017.
[OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Study: Florida most friendly state for retired veterans

    Working Life

    Florida is the nation's best state for military retirees looking for somewhere to settle. That's according to a study released Monday by WalletHub which rated Florida the most friendly when it comes to economic factors, quality of life and health care.

    Veterans watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during training camp in 2016. Florida is the most friendly state for retired veterans according to a new WalletHub study. | LOREN ELLIOTT, Times
  5. Department store chain from Puerto Rico coming to University Mall


    TAMPA — Grand's, a department store chain from Puerto Rico, will open inside the former Dillard's space at University Mall in September.

    Grand's, a department store chain from n Puerto Rico, will open inside the former Dillard's space at University Mall in Tampa in September. Coloring rendering of revamped University Mall.
[CBRE Group]