I should say right up front that my husband and I are not minivan people. But we should be.
We have three kids, two of whom are in boosters and one is in a car seat. I’m a soccer mom. We’re constantly on the go. So a minivan makes a lot of sense.
We are, according to the Odyssey’s chief engineer, “hesitators.” We fall right in between those who are minivan loyalists and those who wouldn’t get in one if there were $100 bills stuffed in the seats.
After test driving the new 2011 Honda Odyssey at a recent event at the beautiful Estancia Hotel and Spa in La Jolla, CA, I finally understood why so many families love their minivans.
Honda invited a select group of bloggers to check out the new model. We got to drive it on backroads and the highway. And it was fun. It was.
It was kinda pretty, too – the redesign was made with a lightning bolt in mind.
Here is what I loved about this car:
The cool box: Right underneath the center of the instrument panel is a built-in cooler. It holds up to four 20-ounce bottles or six 12-ounce cans. It’s hooked up directly to the air conditioning system so cool air will circulate through it – even when you have the heat on in the car. I know there are other much more important things about the car. Like safety features. But I just thought this was pretty awesome.
Multi-view rearview camera: The camera gives you three different views when you’re in reverse: the normal view, the wide view and a top down view which shows you the trailer hitch or parking area. And? It shows yellow lines to indicate the width of the car, and a dotted line that shows when you’re 1.6 feet away from whatever you’re backing in toward. Basically, the camera not only shows every possible angle behind as a tremendous safety aid, it actually HELPS YOU PARK WITHIN THE LINES! Maybe you’re a great parker, but for someone like me, who always seems to have one side on the line, this would make my life much easier.
Seating possibilities: The biggest advantage, aside from gas mileage, that a minivan has over an SUV is the seating arrangements. This car can hold eight passengers. The second row has some very cool new features. A “3-mode” design lets you expand the row by almost an inch-and-a-half, which helps increase access to the third row when carseats are being used in the second row. The middle seat can move forward, so you get more access to a child in a carseat in that spot. Or you can make that middle seat into a center console with cup holders and a tray for electronics. The third row has a 60/40 split with easy fold-down.
The trunk is large and deep enough for an adult to lie down in it (just in case), as one of the bloggers demonstrates:
Safety first: There are five LATCH positions to hook up carseats. Every model comes standard with Vehicle Stability Assist, side-curtain airbags and dual-chamber, front-side airbags. It also has active front-seat head restraints designed to help reduce neck injury in a rear collision. The car’s hood is also designed to improve the chance of a survival of a pedestrian struck by the moving vehicle. And, of course, the cameras help you make sure no one is behind the car when you back up. And the handling is amazing. We were taken on a closed-course circuit with professional drivers. They reached speeds between 50-60 mph as they took sharp curve after curve. We’re talking burning rubber – just like how we drive the kids to school when we’re late, right? I had no idea a minivan could drive like that. It is lower and wider than previous models and there was no chance we were going to flip this thing. I got a chance to drive it on the course and I was truly amazed.
The audio/visual stuff: You can get a Honda Satellite-linked Navigation System with voice recognition. Which also lets you opt for the Song by Voice feature, where you can operate your music selections through voice command. The new top-of-the-line model, the Touring Elite, has a flip-down Rear Entertainment System (RES) screen that, at 16.2 inches wide, is the largest screen offered by Honda. And it can be used split-screen with two different sources – for instance, one person could watch a movie while the other plays a video game. It’s insane. The audio stuff is completely overwhelming. There’s so much you can do, and I think it will take some familiarity with it to figure it all out.
Overall, this is a fun, sporty, versatile and safe ride. You could easily fit a family and a few friends comfortably inside. One thing I thought was especially cool is that all the men (and one woman) who were the head of the different parts of engineering the car – interior, exterior, technology, etc. – were all parents, and all had owned at least one Odyssey. The car really felt like it was designed with family in mind – even your bloggy family.
Pricing on the 2011 Honda Odyssey starts at $27,800 for the LX model. The Touring Elite is priced at $43,250.
Honda sponsored the trip to preview the 2011 Honda Odyssey. They did not give one away to the writer (Cheryl, who can be found over at Mommypants) of this post. Unfortunately.