2010 Honda Odyssey Review and Prices
The 2010 Honda Odyssey is the best car for you if you believe “upscale,” “handling,” and “minivan” belong in the same sentence.
The 2010 Honda Odyssey carries over virtually unchanged from 2009, but almost certainly represents the end of a design that dates to 2005. Odyssey has displaced the Dodge Grand Caravan as America’s best-selling minivan, evidence that buyers will pay a bit more for style, dependability, and road manners. Two 2010 Honda Odyssey trim levels stand out as particular values: priced around $30,200, the EX model has power side doors and other family essentials; the EX-L adds such amenities as leather upholstery, plus a more-fuel-efficient engine, for around $34,000.
Should you buy a 2009 Honda Odyssey or wait for the 2010 Odyssey? Buy a 2009 Odyssey and you’ll benefit from a buyer’s market in a slow economy. You’ll also enjoy maximum time before your Odyssey looks dated -- though many minivan buyers rightly put utility and value ahead of having the latest in automotive fashion. The longer you delay your purchase, however, the more it makes sense to wait for the redesigned 2011 Honda Odyssey. Yes, deals on outgoing 2010 models may sweeten as Honda stores make way for the redesigned 2011 Odyssey, but your choice of color and features will narrow as supplies dwindle.
2010 Honda Odyssey Changes back to top
Styling: No change to the look of the 2010 Honda Odyssey. A mild facelift for model-year 2008 gave it a grille akin to that of Honda’s Accord sedan, but the basic lines were unaltered and still look modern after six years. Indeed, Odyssey is the only minivan that might be described as visually stimulating. Credit a body creased and proportioned to hunker down like it’s the most stable thing to ever hold eight passengers. Beneath the skin, Odyssey shares engineering traits with Honda’s Pilot crossover SUV. Unlike the Pilot, though, Odyssey it isn’t available with all-wheel drive. The 2010 Odyssey is not the longest minivan on the market. In fact, every major competitor has a longer wheelbase. That distance between the front and rear axles determines available interior room. But efficient packaging means Odyssey has as much usable space as any rival; it and the Toyota Sienna are the only minivans with seating for eight instead of seven. The best way to identify Odyssey’s four trim levels from the outside is by wheels and tires: base LS models have 16-inch tires and wheel covers, EX and EX-L have 16s on alloy wheels, top-line Touring models have 17-inch tires and alloys.
Mechanical: No powertrain changes for the 2010 Honda Odyssey. It continues with a 244-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 driving the front wheels through a five-speed automatic transmission. Odyssey EX-L and Touring models benefit from Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) technology. VCM helps save fuel by automatically deactivating either two or three of the engine’s six cylinders during deceleration and light-throttle cruising. An "ECO" icon illuminates on the instrument panel when the V-6 is in VCM economy mode. While just the costlier Odysseys get VCM, Honda equips even the least-expensive versions with a full suite of safety features. Among these are four-wheel disc brakes with antilock control that automatically “pumps” the brakes to prevent skids and maintain steering control in emergency stops. Brake assist is included to automatically apply full stopping power in emergencies even if the driver fails to fully depress the brake pedal. Traction and antiskid systems automatically modulate engine power and apply selected brakes to help Odyssey sustain traction away from stops and curtail sideways slides.
Features: Honda doesn’t offer factory-installed options in the traditional sense, choosing instead to layer on features as you ascend the model line. That simplifies ordering but may compel buyers to climb the price rung just to get a desired feature or two. Fortunately, even the base Odyssey LX model comes with an array of helpful minivan items. These include separate front and rear air conditioning systems with individual controls for the rear compartment. A tilt and telescoping steering wheel, power mirrors, locks, and windows, remote keyless entry, and smoked rear “privacy” glass also are standard. Odyssey LX versions seat seven. The other models achieve eight-passenger capacity with an upholstered pad that fits between what otherwise is a pair of second-row captain’s chairs. Removing the lower portion of the pad allows the backrest to fold down and serve as a center console with cupholders. Every Odyssey’s second-row seats flip forward or remove for extra cargo space. The third-row seat is split 60/40 and folds into a well in the rear floor to create a flat load surface. DVD entertainment, voice-activated navigation, and Bluetooth communications are available. Odyssey doesn’t offer USB connectivity for iPods and other digital media, relying instead on auxiliary jacks. Torso-protecting front side airbags are standard, as are head-protecting curtain side airbags that cover all three seating rows and deploy in side collisions as well as in impending rollovers.
2010 Honda Odyssey Test Drive back to top
From behind the wheel: Set a course through traffic or get it out on the road and Odyssey’s blend of steering precision and chassis control might convince you this big box has magically shrunk to sedan size. It hasn’t, of course, but Odyssey displays surprising poise and satisfying confidence in changes direction. In fact, there’s little need to qualify praise for its road manners by saying it handles well “for a minivan.”
Odyssey comes back to the minivan pack in acceleration. You’ll occasionally make full use of the throttle to really hustle, especially with a load of people and stuff aboard. But there’s certainly muscle enough for stress-free on-ramp merging. And long ascents don’t relegate Odyssey to the truck lane. VCM transitions are quick enough that you’ll never curse it for denying you sufficient power for the condition at hand. Those transitions can be signaled by a slight drivetrain shudder, but Honda cleverly integrates an audio system-based noise-cancellation system and active engine mounts to counteract noise and vibration during cylinder deactivation.
(No change to the 2010 Honda Odyssey will significantly alter its performance or passenger accommodations from those of the 2009 model. Statements in this review about performance and accommodations are based on detailed test drives of 2009 Honda Odysseys provided by the manufacturer.)
Dashboard and controls: Putting an exclamation point on Odyssey’s near-sedan road manners is a steering wheel and instrument panel that would be at home in the Accord. The exception might be the decidedly uncarlike positioning of the transmission lever: it juts from the dashboard just above the driver’s right knee, a location that frees up space but takes some getting used to.
Acclimating to Odyssey’s myriad buttons and controls will take longer. Everything’s well-marked, but an EX-L with DVD and navigation, for example, has 44 buttons, rockers, knobs, and dials on its central dashboard alone. And the main audio and seat-heater controls are mounted at seat level or below. Include another dozen (!) on the steering wheel and a half-dozen more elsewhere on the dash, and trying to adjust cabin temperature or reset a radio station can make squabbling siblings the least of a driver’s distractions. To be fair, Odyssey’s navigation system is among the easiest to program, key audio, climate, phone, and map operations respond to voice commands – most of the time – and LX and EX models do have fewer buttons.
Rear visibility isn’t severely compromised by the second- or third-row headrests, though folding the DVD screen from the ceiling can obscure traffic behind. Displayed in either the mirror or navigation screen, the review camera provides welcome peace-of-mind when backing out of your driveway. There may be a lot of them, but every control has slop-free, short-travel movement. And Odyssey’s interior materials have a heft and surface finish that implies a long life in a rugged environment.
Room, comfort, and utility: Front seaters and second-row occupants in the “captain’s chair” section get fine room for head, feet, and shoulders. The second row’s center section is only friendly to kid-width hips. And converting to the center console requires you to find a place to stow the padded lower cushion. The young and limber are best suited to accessing and sitting in the third row but medium-sized adults won’t complain if the trip is short. Odyssey has LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) points for three child seats: two on the outboard second-row positions and one in the middle of the third row.
This minivan’s firm seat cushions may seem off-putting on a short test drive. Trust us, their unflagging support on an all-day trip shows Honda knows from foam density. The taut suspension presents a similar trade-off, though a driver enjoying the handling fruits of stiff springs and dampers is more likely to forgive the occasionally thumpy ride quality than a passenger might. Actually, the driver may not always be able to hear complaints from the second or third rows. Given its overall refinement, Odyssey does a surprisingly poor job of muffling tire roar. And wind rush can grow tiresome after a few hours of highway travel.
No reason to grouse about storage space. Bins and cubbies abound. The floor well behind the third row proves almost 39-cubic-feet of luggage volume even with seven or eight people aboard. That third row drops to open a 91-cubic-foot space. It folds without undue hassle but the rival Chrysler Town & Country/Dodge Grand Caravan can power-fold their third rows. Achieving Odyssey’s ultimate 147-cubic-foot cargo volume requires removing the second-row seats. That’s a cumbersome chore and tackling it even once will sell you of the logic of the Chrysler/Dodge Stow ’n Go system that neatly folds the second-row seats into their own floor well.
2010 Honda Odyssey Prices back to top
Honda had not released 2010 Odyssey prices in time for this report, but it’s unlikely to institute significant increases over 2009 prices. Those began at $27,065 for the Honda Odyssey LX. (All prices quoted in this report include the manufacturer’s mandatory destination fee; Honda’s was $710 for 2009.)
Next up is the Odyssey EX model, which was priced at $30,165 for 2009. Like the LX, the EX has cloth upholstery, but adds comfort features such as tri-zone automatic climate control and second-row sunshades, and convenience items such as an eight-way power driver seat, power sliding side doors, and an outside temperature readout. It upgrades the audio with steering-wheel controls and a six-disc in-dash CD changer.
The Honda Odyssey EX-L was priced $33,865 for 2009 and is among the most-popular Odyssey models. The “L” denotes standard leather upholstery, which comes with heated front seats and a power front passenger seat. A power liftgate and power sunroof also are included in EX-L equipment. So is a rearview camera that operates when the transmission is shifted to reverse. It projects the view behind on a 2.5-inch monitor embedded in the rearview mirror.
Add roughly $1,600 and the EX-L gets a DVD rear-seat entertainment system with a single central screen that folds out from the ceiling. An additional $2,200 or so equips your EX-L with a navigation system that includes Bluetooth cell phone connectivity and a rearview camera that displays its view on the navigation system’s 8-inch dashboard monitor.
The top-line Odyssey Touring had a 2009 price of $41,815. It adds such features as a memory system for the driver’s seat and outside mirrors, front- and rear-obstacle detection, and power-adjustable pedals. Touring models come with the DVD/navigation combination, and for an additional $600 are available with run-flat tires on special alloy wheels. Deflated, these tires allow you to drive far enough to get to a service station, but replacement tires tend to be quite expensive.
2010 Honda Odyssey Fuel Economy back to top
The Honda Odyssey LX and ES models are rated at 16/23 mpg (city/highway). With their fuel-saving VCM cylinder-deactivation system, the Honda Odyssey EX and Touring models rate17/25 mpg. That figure is equaled among minivans only by Chrysler and Dodge with their 4.0-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic transmission.
2010 Honda Odyssey Safety and Reliability back to top
The 2010 Honda Odyssey performs extremely well in government crash tests that award a maximum five stars for occupant protection in frontal and side collisions (safecar.gov). The 2010 Odyssey scores the maximum five stars for protection of the driver, front passenger, and rear passengers in both frontal and side impacts. The 2010 Odyssey rates four stars on the five-star scale in government assessments of rollover resistance. Every minivan tested for rollover resistance scored four stars.
For quality and reliability, the Honda brand earns high marks from J.D. Power and Associates, the leading automotive consumer survey firm (jdpower.com). Honda dealers rate only average for sales and service, however.
Honda owners surveyed rated Odyssey above average in initial quality, handing out top grades for how features and accessories function but only average grades for how they’re designed. In J.D. Power surveys that measure problems experienced by original owners of three-year-old vehicles, the 2006 Honda Odyssey rated average overall. It got top marks only for dependability of features and accessories.
2010 Honda Odyssey Release Date back to top
Look for the 2010 Honda Odyssey in showrooms by autumn 2009.
What's next for the 2010 Honda Odyssey back to top
Honda has been operating on a six-year life-cycle cadence for its minivan, SUV, and pickup lines. If it sticks to plan for the Odyssey, a redesigned fourth-generation version will bow for model-year 2011. Look for a slightly longer wheelbase to provide some additional third-row leg room. New styling will aim to please an owner body with some of the highest demographics in the minivan market.
Front-wheel drive will return, and the engine should update to the 250-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 introduced in Honda’s redesigned 2009 Pilot. VCM will likely be extended to all models in the Odyssey lineup, not just the most-expensive ones. And a six-speed automatic ought to replace the five-speed. There’s an outside chance later models in the fourth generation would be available with a turbodiesel V-6. Honda was reportedly considering such an option until the economy turned and diesel costs escalated. A turbodiesel V-6 could push highway fuel economy past 30 mpg and give Odyssey a range of 600 miles per fill-up.
New fourth-generation Odyssey features should include USB connectivity for iPods and other digital devices, and perhaps a mobile Wi-Fi setup. It would be grand, too, if Honda found a second-row design that allows for underfloor seat stowage while retaining enough seat mass to meet its comfort standards.
2010 Honda Odyssey Competition back to top
2010 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan: These minivan cousins were redesigned for the 2008 model year, innovating with an available Swivel ’n Go table-and-chairs seating arrangement and adding Wi-Fi capability for 2009. They’re not much on styling continue to set the pace for minivan affordability, features, and ease of use. Reliability ratings have been climbing, too. Base price range is roughly $25,000-$32,000, horsepower peaks at 251, and fuel-economy tops out at 17/25. These Chrysler and Dodge minivans won’t change drastically before model-year 2013 or so.
2010 Toyota Sienna: Sienna is Odyssey’s chief rival for upscale import buyers and is its near-equal for high customer-satisfaction scores. The Sienna is also set to be fully redesigned for model-year 2011 and could return as the only minivan to offer all-wheel drive. The 2010 Sienna seats up to eight and has 245 horsepower. Front-drive models start around $25,400 and are rated 17/23. AWD versions are priced from about $30,100 and rate 16/21.
2010 Ford Flex: Granted, it’s not a minivan. But this crossover wagon seats seven, offers front- and all-wheel drive, and can be had with Ford’s new 355-horsepower EcoBoost turbocharged V-6. Its cubist styling isn’t for everyone, but Flex escapes the stigma that keeps some buyers out of minivans. And while a relatively low roofline limits cargo volume, Flex avoids the top-heavy handling of a high-riding SUV. The 262-horsepower model starts around $29,000. It rates 17/24 with front-drive, 16/22 with AWD. Estimated starting price for the EcoBoost is around $35,000. It comes only with AWD and rates an estimated 16/22.