Like a cozy cottage on wheels, the 2013 Honda Odyssey minivan will make you want to drive across country. You may even decide to take the kids.
By Jeanne McDowell
THE BIG PICTURE
Once you’ve accepted the fact that you’re a parent and your life is pretty much about chauffeuring children and hemorrhaging money, you can relax and figure out how to go with the flow. If a carful of kids (your own and their friends) seems to be your destiny, the Honda Odyssey minivan (which comes in several models from the basic LX to the very fancy Touring Elite) will make the journey, er, Odyssey, more comfortable. With three cushy rows large enough to hold seven people in addition to the driver (and a kid car seat in the second row middle), the overall vibe in this gizmo-loaded vehicle is cozy and fun. Think Jack Kerouac’s On The Road – minus the jazz, poetry and psychedelic experiences.
It’s a Honda, after all, so it’s no surprise that the 2013 Honda Odyssey is loaded with high-technology safety features. The ratings that give me a sense of security: A 5-star overall vehicle score from the government and 5-stars in each seating position of all three crash safety tests.
Besides some standard features — anti-lock braking system with electronic brake distribution that helps you maintain steer control when braking hard, and Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) to detect and correct oversteering and understeering — there are front head restraints that tilt forward in a fraction of a second to minimize the chance of whiplash. The Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) illuminates a warning icon and notifies you if your tire pressure is low in one or all tires, and there are up to five Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) seating positions, so you can easily move the baby seat around.
In fact, the 2013 Honda Odyssey design structure is geared toward absorbing the impact of vehicles of various sizes should you have a front-end collision. And the front 3-point seat belts with automatic tensioning system and front side airbags with passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS) all help to protect everyone, just in case . . .
Are you kidding? Why else would anyone buy a minivan? Family friendly is Odyssey’s mantra, although, the level of ‘friendliness’ advances with the cost. (Oh grow up! Did you really think you would get the large screen TV in the basic LX model?)
The good news is that ALL the Honda Odyssey models have:
• A third-row “Magic Seat” that folds flat into a well in the trunk for more room and can be folded and stored with one hand (which means you can ask a child to do it).
• A wide second-row seat that slides forward by up to 5.5 inches. This allows you to easily swing around and comfort a toddler or baby in the back seat.
• An abundance of cup holders (up to 15), a “cool” box storage for drinks, places to hang trash bags and plenty of other little storage areas (e.g., for your kids’ toys and games).
GIZMOS AND TECH
The Touring Elite even has a 16.2-inch split-view screen in back so kids can watch two different movies or video games at the same time. Any more family friendly and your children will want to move in for good. A smaller screen is available on EX-L and Touring models. And up front, there’s an 8-inch multifunction display, Bluetooth, CD library and USB audio plugs, so the grownups and teens are more than happy.
One of my favorite things about the 2013 Honda Odyssey is that it drives pretty much like a car, which made this sedan-centric woman very happy. The driver’s seat has 10-way power adjustment, including power lumbar support (EX and above), great for anyone with a bad back (which means most of us over 40) and steering wheel controls so you don’t have to lean over and push buttons for music or to use the navigation system which, by the way, is overloaded with directions, maps, musical choices and a Zagat’s guide to restaurants.
Best thing about the Odyssey, in my opinion, is that it operates effortlessly. It’s so well designed that even the typically cumbersome tasks – like opening heavy minivan doors – are easy with one touch on the remote, and then they close again automatically. Even better: The power sliding doors (EX and above) can be operated with the remote from up to 50 feet away.
Looks like a minivan but drives like a regular sedan.
The seats easily fold down and can be reconfigured without fear of injuring yourself.
The rear window offers a slightly diminished view due to the overall shape, which is Honda’s biggest design flaw.