2011 Honda Odyssey Review and Prices
- Does the styling suggest to you that Odyssey's tail has fractured loose from the rest of the body?
- Removing the second-row seats is a heavy, cumbersome chore; and why is there no power-folding third-row seat or remote keyless ignition?
- If you can't afford the most expensive models, you don't get the best gas mileage or the safety of hands-free Bluetooth mobile-phone linking
The 2011 Honda Odyssey is the best minivan for you if you want the all-new, distinctively styled version of America’s most popular people mover.
The 2011 Honda Odyssey is fully redesigned with a fresh look inside and out. This fourth-generation Odyssey is wider and lower than the 2005-2010 generation and has a zigzag body-side line that sets it apart from other minivans. Improved fuel economy and attachment points for five child safety seats – the most in any vehicle -- also are part of the 2011 Odyssey redesign.
Should you buy a 2011 Honda Odyssey or wait for the 2012 Honda Odyssey? Buy a 2011 Odyssey. Fresh off its model-year 2011 redesign, the 2012 Odyssey won’t get any changes worth waiting for. And modern computer-aided design and automated manufacturing techniques have undercut the rule of thumb about waiting for the automaker to work out bugs in a first-year model. That rule hardly applied to Honda, anyway. Some popular trim levels and colors might be difficult to find during the 2011 Odyssey’s first weeks on sale. But this minivan is manufactured at Honda’s plant in Alabama, so there quickly should be a generous supply of 2011 Odysseys and that ought to keep dealers from jacking prices because demand exceeds supply.
2011 Honda Odyssey Changes back to top
Styling: The 2011 Honda Odyssey gets an all-new body that tries mightily to inject some spice into the minivan formula. Like every good minivan ought to be, the 2011 Odyssey is still essentially a big box on wheels. But Honda has created a new shell designed to appeal to people who recognize the utility advantages of a minivan but reject the minivan image. Honda calls these people “hesitaters” and hopes the 2011 Odyssey’s sleek new look makes minivan ownership palatable to them.
The windshield pillars are raked rearward to form an aero nose, the wheel arches flair to create a wide stance, and the rear roofline tapers in violation of minivan convention. Honda designers say minivans look most generic when viewed from the side. To set the 2011 Odyssey apart, they kink the line that separates its lower body from the glass “greenhouse.” Occurring just behind the sliding side doors, the kink creates what its designers call a “lightning bolt beltline.” More than just a visual flourish, they say the kink also enlarges the rear side glass and improves outward visibility for passengers in Odyssey’s third-row seat. Honda also boasts more room inside for third-row passengers, despite the tapered roofline.
Compared to the outgoing model, the 2011 Odyssey’s overall exterior dimensions change little: it gains about an inch in overall length and 1.4 inches in overall width, and loses 1.6 inches of height. Wheelbase remains at 118.1 inches. Wheelbase is the distance between the front and rear axles and key to how much room a vehicle can devote to passenger space. Odyssey’s wheelbase is actually a bit shorter than that of its key competitors, the redesigned 2011 Toyota Sienna, and the Dodge Grand Caravan and its corporate cousin, the Chrysler Town & Country.
The 2011 Honda Odyssey lineup expands from six models to seven with the addition of a new top-of-the-line Touring Elite trim level (see the “2011 Honda Odyssey Prices” section below for a detailed description of model content).
The 2011 Odyssey LX returns as the base trim level. Targeted at value-minded buyers who can live with manual sliding side doors, for example, the LX is expected to account for just 9 percent of 2011 Odyssey sales. Next up the line is the 2011 Odyssey EX. It’s pegged at 20 percent of sales and aimed at buyers who want a few additional features, such as alloy wheels and power sliding side doors, but don’t need the kid-resistant durability of leather upholstery.
The 2011 Odyssey EX-L models will again take the lion’s share of sales, with nearly 50 percent of Odyssey buyers choosing from this upscale trim line. The EX-L family is actually divided into three tiers, though they all come with leather upholstery (that’s what the “L” denotes). To the basic EX-L, the EX-L with Rear Entertainment System model adds a DVD player with a 9 inch ceiling screen; this is expected to be the single most popular 2011 Odyssey, accounting for 23 percent of volume. Next up the line is the EX-L with Navigation model, which substitutes a satellite-linked navigation system for the DVD entertainment setup.
To get both the DVD and navigation systems you’ll have to move up to the 2011 Odyssey Touring model; Honda expects 17 percent of Odyssey buyers to do so. About 5 percent of Odyssey customers are projected to go for the 2011 Touring Elite, a new flagship model that takes Odyssey opulence to a new level. The Touring Elite basically includes every available Odyssey feature and adds a collection of exclusives, including Honda’s new Ultrawide rear entertainment system boasting a 16.2-inch video display that can project a single widescreen image or 8.1-inch split images from two different on-board sources.
Mechanical: The 2011 Honda Odyssey continues with one engine and front-wheel drive. It employs the same basic 3.5-liter V-6 that served well in the outgoing Odyssey and continues in other Hondas, such as the 2011 Pilot SUV. Horsepower increases to 248 from 244 and torque improves to 250 pound-feet from 245. (Think of torque as the force that you feel when you accelerate and horsepower as the energy that sustains your momentum). However, all versions of the 2011 Odyssey have Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) technology. This saves gas by automatically switching to three or four cylinders in low-demand situations. Previously, only the EX-L and Touring models got VCM, leaving the entry-level LX and midline EX versions without the fuel-saving feature.
Honda, however, reserves the 2011 Odyssey’s most advanced transmission for the Touring and Touring Elite models. They get a six-speed automatic that’s new to this minivan, while the LX, EX, and EX-L lines continue with a less-efficient five-speed automatic.
Front-wheel drive is the minivan standard, with only the Toyota Sienna offering an all-wheel drive alternative. Front-wheel drive groups the mass of the drivetrain in the nose of the vehicle for efficient packaging. And by concentrating the weight of the engine over the tires that also propel the vehicle, it aids snowy-surface traction. Further, without having to provide for hardware to drive the back wheels, front-wheel drive also allows for a lower rear floorpan, which benefits cargo and passenger room. Honda points buyers looking for all-wheel drive and three-row seating to the 2012 Pilot SUV.
A full suite of safety items is standard on every 2011 Honda Odyssey. These include antilock four-wheel disc brakes for more controlled stops, plus traction and antiskid systems for surer grip off the line and in turns. The 2011 Odyssey also includes Honda’s Brake Priority Logic, a brake-override system designed to prevent unintended acceleration by prioritizing stopping power if the brake and accelerator are pressed simultaneously.
Features: The 2011 Honda Odyssey offers a host of features new to this minivan, including the 16.2-inch-wide rear video screen, a storage drawer for iPods and cell phones, and a refrigerated dashboard bin. And Honda says the presence of anchor positions for five full-size child-safety seats gives the new Odyssey the greatest child-seat capacity of any vehicle on the market for 2011. Other standard safety features include torso-protecting front-seat side airbags and head-protecting curtain side airbags for all seating rows. The curtain bags deploy both in side collisions and when sensors detect an impending rollover. Blind-spot detection and a rearview camera adjustable for a wide-angle image also are available.
The 2011 Odyssey LX comes with two second-row bucket seats for seven-passenger capacity. All other 2011 Odyssey models again seat up to eight, a capacity matched among minivans only by the Sienna. On eight-passenger 2011 Odyssey models, the middle section of the second row is a separate, narrowed segment that doubles as a fold-down armrest. The second row’s outboard sections can slide laterally in what Honda calls a Wide-Mode setup. On the eight-passenger Odysseys, Wide Mode allows the second-row to accommodate three full-size child safety seats, giving the 2011 Odyssey federally approved LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) positions for five regulation-size child safety seats: three in the second row and two in the third. (The outgoing Odyssey had three LATCH positions.) The middle section of the 2011 Odyssey’s second-row seat can also slide forward for better access to a child from the front row.
The 2011 Odyssey does not adopt an in-the-floor stowage system for its second-row seats. In-floor second-row stowage remains a high point of the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan (though these minivan no longer offer second-row seats that swivel to face the third-row with a table between.) And neither does the 2011 Odyssey offer the extravagant Lay-Z-Boy-type lounge seats available in the second-row of top-trim 2011 Siennas.
The 2011 Odyssey’s third-row seat is wider than the outgoing model’s and has more shoulder and leg room. Top models also gain a fold-down center armrest. Honda’s second-generation Odyssey (1999-2004) pioneered the space-efficient setup in which a minivan’s third-row seat folds fully into the rear floor. All rivals now have it, and the 2011 Odyssey simplifies the folding process via a single-strap pull system, though it does not match the Dodge, Chrysler, and Toyota minivans by offering the convenience of a power-folding third-row mechanism.
The 2011 Odyssey’s revamped dashboard gains a pull-out “media shelf” for iPods, cell phones, and the like; power outlets are located nearby. In-cabin storage includes the addition of rear-cargo-bay sidewall storage bins. Depending on trim level, the 2011 Odyssey has many as 15 cupholders, some newly adjustable to accommodate everything from skinny Red Bull cans to fat Big Gulp cups. Also newly available is “cool box” that folds from the base of dashboard and is powered by Odyssey’s electrical system; it can hold four 20-ounce beverages. To contain your empties, the 2011 Odyssey introduces a “trash ring.” This plastic hoop flips up from the rear of the front center console and forms a frame for a standard plastic shopping bag.
Every 2011 Odyssey audio system comes with an auxiliary input for MP3 players and other digital devices. And all CD players are now single-disc dash units, Honda recognizing that iPods, thumb drives, and on-board hard drives have become the multi-track medium of choice. Note also that all Odysseys have a subwoofer that doubles as a noise-cancellation device to counteract unwanted exhaust resonances triggered by the engine’s transition to three or four cylinders.
The audio system in the 2011 Odyssey LX model has five speakers; EX/EX-L models have seven, plus 2 gigabytes of music storage capacity. EX-L models and above add satellite radio and Odyssey’s first USB interface for iPods. The EX-L with Navigation model and the Touring and Touring Elite have a 15-gig hard drive and gain Honda’s Song by Voice system that uses spoken commands to accesses artist, song, playlist, or genre from the hard drive or a linked iPod.
The 2011 Odyssey again offers rear-seat DVD entertainment highlighted by the Touring Elite model’s ceiling-mounted 16.2-inch Ultrawide screen. Billed as a mobile theater experience, it includes a 12-speaker, 650-watt setup with a 5.1-channel mode. The 16.2-inch screen widescreen can display side-by-side images from two separate video sources, one being the onboard DVD player, the other any mobile device that can mate with HDMI, auxiliary, or RCA jacks.
Bluetooth cell-phone connectivity is again available and uses steering-wheel-mounted controls, but it’s limited to EX-L, Touring, and Touring Elite models. The 2011 Odyssey does not offer factory-installed on-board Internet Wi-Fi, though the third row in Touring Elite versions has an array of MP3 interfaces and power outlets intended, Honda says, to create an isolated connectivity zone for adolescents.
Odyssey’s navigation system responds to touch-screen, steering-wheel-button, or voice commands. It includes FM traffic monitoring and Honda’s Multi-View rear camera that can be adjusted to project on the navigation screen a standard-width view, a nearly fish-eye field to capture a wider angle, and a tight view for parallel parking.
2011 Honda Odyssey Test Drive back to top
From behind the wheel: Thumbs-up, Honda: you’ve created a roomier Odyssey with features its predecessor lacked yet you didn’t add more than 105 pounds to the curb weight of any model. The 2011 Odyssey’s bumps in horsepower and torque easily compensate for the extra burden, leaving this once again among the liveliest minivans on the road.
The V-6’s transition from six to four or three cylinders is virtually transparent. And back-to-back test drives in a 2011 Odyssey EX-L with the five-speed automatic transmission and a Touring Elite with the six-speed revealed little difference in seat-of-the-pants acceleration or throttle response. The six-speed did a better job keeping the engine in the heart of its rpm range, so climbs to peak power were a sliver quicker. And nit pickers might argue the six-speed contributed to a slightly more refined overall experience. But both transmissions are smooth operators and produce surprisingly similar results. Neither invites manual gear changes, though: there’s no separate gate or paddle shifters and the dashboard-mounted lever has only Drive and Low detents. Shifting to low simply surrenders control to the transmission’s electronics, which decide when engine rpm is compatible with vehicle speed and then chooses the appropriate ratio.
Handling is again an Odyssey high point. This is the only minivan with a fully independent suspension (rivals use less sophisticated torsion-beam rear axles) and it’s evident in a relatively agile feel at low speeds and confident tracking through faster turns. Cornering lean is well-controlled. And locked-in straight-line stability gives this rig cross-country legs. Steering feel in turns is meaty and linear in Touring and Touring Elite models thanks in large measure to the particular compound and larger footprint of their 18-inch tires. By contrast, Odysseys with the 17-inch tires can suffer a light, vague steering feel as you transition from the straight-ahead.
Dashboard and controls: A proliferation of dashboard controls was a flaw of the outgoing Odyssey, but Honda’s reorganized and simplified the 2011 model’s instrument panel. That’s not to say there still isn’t a lot of stuff in here: available to the Touring Elite driver are 68 individual buttons, switches, and dials distributed among the dashboard, steering wheel, and door panels. The EX-L pilot gets a more manageable 55. But Odyssey’s controls are clearly marked, nicely sized, and logically grouped into three “information zones.” Stacked on the dashboard in distinct strata, these zones contain, from top to bottom, information screens, climate controls, and the audio head unit. Nonetheless, models with the navigation system relegate readouts for the climate and audio systems to small displays with insufficient contrast between the data and the blue backlighting. Much easier to read are the large-type readouts in the dash-top displays that take the place of the navigation screens in the LX and EX models.
Honda says the 2011 Odyssey’s navigation system responds better than ever to voice commands, but unless you’ve memorized its preferred terms for the myriad functions it controls, programming it via the touch screen will prove far less frustrating than attempting to communicate by spoken word. We don’t condone Honda’s decision to reserve Bluetooth connectivity for EX-L models and above; LX and EX buyers are just as deserving of this safety-enhancing feature. And given Odyssey’s upscale airs, conspicuous by its absence is the convenience of keyless ignition that allows the driver to start the van without removing the key fob from pocket, briefcase, backpack, or purse.
Room, comfort, and utility: That lightning-bolt kink Honda’s so proud of lines up precisely with the diagonal cut in the body created by the trailing edge of the sliding side doors. Lots of observers are going to get the impression that the rear clip of the 2011 Odyssey has somehow been displaced along a fault line: it looks as if the tail end’s fractured loose. Thankfully, form is following function here: the dipped-beltline and the rather expansive rear side window it makes possible result in an exceptionally airy feel for occupants of the 2011 Odyssey’s third-row seat.
Indeed, every seat in the 2011 Odyssey is an appealing place to be. All outboard passengers get a generously sized cushion and backrest soft enough to coddle yet firm enough to support over the long haul. The second row trundles fore and aft over a range of 5.5 inches to fine-tune leg room. Honda’s Wide-Mode arrangement is a revelation; sliding the outboard portions laterally opens a 2 inch channel on either side of the seat’s center portion, itself a reasonable 10 inches wide. The result is downright commodious three-across seating. There’s honest-to-goodness adult-grade head and leg room in the third row, even with the second-row shoved fully rearward, though putting three grownups back there has them rubbing shoulders. Access to the third row isn’t great, but the presence of five LATCH points is.
Odyssey takes bumpy roads in stride, with little disruption from tar strips or expansion joints. Sharp-edged pavement breaks register with a thump, but don’t jar. And high-speed dips and swells trigger little wallow or float. Noise levels are admirably low; front seaters can communicate with third-rowers without strain. Oddly, the Touring and Touring Elite models we tested seemed to suffer more wind rush than LX and EX/EX-L versions. It could be that the enhanced noise-muffling qualities of their acoustic windshield glass quieted things down enough to allow the sound of wind coursing around the side mirrors to become more prominent.
Cargo room even with all seats in place is impressive thanks to a deep rear-floor well big enough to swallow the third-row seat. Getting that third row into the well is accomplished from the rear of the cargo area by a quick pull on a release strap that sets the 60/40 sections to counter-balanced folding and tumbling. The sections drop with unseemly force, however, and are heavy to redeploy; the more elegant power operation available in some rivals is slower but ultimately preferable. Odyssey’s second-row seats flip forward to create a long load floor, but removing their outboard sections is a chore you’ll take pains to avoid; they weigh 48 pounds each and are hard to grip and difficult to re-slot. On the upside, the 2011 Odyssey provides a plethora of in-cabin cubbies and bins. You’ll love the cool box and find the multi-tier front door map pockets handier than expected.
2011 Honda Odyssey Prices back to top
Odyssey owners tend to be among the most affluent minivan buyers and they like their rides loaded with leather and plenty of electronic gear. That explains the popularity of leather-outfitted EX-L models and their navigation and DVD-equipped variants. It also justifies the addition of the aristocratic Touring Elite model to the 2011 Honda Odyssey lineup.
Base price range for the 2011 Honda Odyssey is $28,580-$44,030. (All base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandatory destination fee; Honda’s fee for the 2011 Odyssey is $780.) This price range represents a modest step up from the 2010 Odyssey’s span of $27,515-$41,465, though the 2010 models carried a $710 destination fee and didn’t include a top-line Touring Elite model.
Honda’s practice is to eschew individual options or packages. It instead equips each model in the lineup with a set assortment of features that escalates in variety and sophistication as you ascend the price ladder.
The 2011 Odyssey LX model is priced at $28,580 and includes all the aforementioned standard convenience, safety, and audio features, the five-speed automatic transmission, and seats for seven. The LX comes with 17-inch steel wheels with wheel covers, tinted rear privacy glass, cruise control, keyless remote entry, air conditioning, power driver’s seat with manual lumbar adjustment, manual tilt steering wheel, manual sliding side doors, 10 beverage holders, and power mirrors, locks, and windows with auto up/down front windows.
The 2011 Honda Odyssey EX is priced at $31,730 and adds to the LX 17-inch alloy wheels, power sliding side doors, heated side mirrors, tri-zone automatic climate control, steering-wheel audio controls, exterior temperature indicator, and second-row side sunshades. The Odyssey EX seats eight and has 15 cupholders and three 12-volt outlets instead of two.
The 2011 Honda Odyssey EX-L model is priced at $35,230 and adds to the EX leather upholstery (on the front seats and outboard second-row seats), a leather-wrapped steering wheel with Bluetooth controls, a power tailgate, and an 8-inch dashboard screen that displays audio and climate settings and the image from a standard-view rear camera. Also among EX-L standard features are heated front seats, a power moonroof, and the beverage cool box.
The 2011 Honda Odyssey EX-L with Rear Entertainment System costs $36,830 and adds to the EX-L the in-dash DVD player, the 9 inch rear screen, two wireless headphones and two headphone jacks, an RCA video input, and a 115-volt power outlet.
The 2011 Honda Odyssey EX-L with Navigation model is priced at $37,230 and instead of the rear entertainment setup features the navigation system with the Multi-View rear camera and an audio system with 246 watts instead of 229.
The 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring is priced at $41,535 and builds on the EX-L-Navigation model by adding the six-speed automatic transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels, windshield glass with acoustic-deadening properties, a memory power driver’s seat, and memory-linked power side mirrors that tilt down when reversing. The 2011 Touring also adds third-row sunshades, fog lamps, ambient footwell lighting, and front- and rear parking sensors.
The 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite is priced at $44,030 and expands on the Touring model to include the 650-watt, 12-speaker audio system, the Ultrawide DVD setup, automatic-leveling xenon headlamps, and a blind-spot detection system that illuminates an instrument panel icon to warn of unseen vehicles in adjacent lanes.
2011 Honda Odyssey Fuel Economy back to top
The 2011 Honda Odyssey’s fuel-economy ratings were the highest of any minivan at the time of its launch. The 2011 Odyssey LX, EX, and EX-L models with the five-speed automatic transmission are rated 18/27 mpg city/highway. The 2011 Odyssey Touring and Touring Elite models with the six-speed automatic are rated at 19/28 mpg.
For comparison, the 2011 Toyota Sienna rates 19/26 mpg with its 187-horsepower four-cylinder engine and 18/24 with its 266-horsepower V-6. (The 2010 Odyssey models equipped with Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management were rated at 17/25 mpg, and the LX model, which lacked VCM, was rated at 16/23.)
Interestingly, Honda says the fuel economy advantage of the 2011 Odyssey Touring and Touring Elite models over the LX, EX, and EX-L models is not due to the six-speed automatic. It credits the lower-rolling-resistance tires used on the Touring and Touring Elite, as well as some exclusive aerodynamic tweaks, including slipperier side mirrors and some wind-cheating underbody panels. All 2011 Odysseys use regular-octane gas.
2011 Honda Odyssey Safety and Reliability back to top
At the time of this review, the 2011 Honda Odyssey had not yet undergone government crash tests that award a maximum five stars for occupant protection in frontal and side collisions and rollovers (safercar.gov). However, Honda said its internal testing suggests the 2011 Odyssey will earn the maximum five stars in the tests.
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.
The 2011 Odyssey was too new to be included in J.D. Power surveys of problems experienced by owners, but the previous-generation Odyssey rated above average for initial quality and average for design details.
2011 Honda Odyssey Release Date back to top
On-sale date for the 2011 Honda Odyssey: Sept. 30, 2010.
What's next for the 2011 Honda Odyssey back to top
A gas-electric hybrid version of the fourth-generation Odyssey seems a remote possibility. Honda’s an industry leader in gas-engine fuel economy and is serious about stepping from Toyota’s shadow on the hybrid front. Toyota fields hybrid versions of small cars, midsize cars, SUVs, and through its premium Lexus division, even luxury cars. By contrast, Honda’s hybrid focus seems fixed on subcompact cars, such as the Honda Insight, and compact cars, such as the Honda Civic Hybrid.
Do not, however, count out the diesel as part of Honda’s green initiative. Compared to diesels of the recent past, today’s oil-burners have low emissions and run nearly as smoothly and quietly as gas engines. A diesel’s advantage is impressive torque – the motive power that translates directly into acceleration – and high mileage. The 3.5-liter turbodiesel V-6 rumored to be headed for the 2010 Odyssey (and Honda’s Pilot SUV and Ridgeline pickup) was projected at 30 percent more fuel-efficient than a comparable gasoline engine. The plan looked good with gasoline at $4 per gallon and the economy in good shape. But the recession killed the notion, given the higher cost of a diesel engine over a comparable gas engine, the marketing resources required to get Americans onboard the diesel bandwagon, and the unpredictability of diesel fuel prices. When the economy enjoys a sustained recovery, at least Honda should be diesel-ready.
2011 Honda Odyssey Competition back to top
2011 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan: Combined, these corporate cousins outsell the Odyssey, but the Odyssey is America’s best-selling single minivan nameplate. Town & Country and Grand Caravan get a major revamp for model-year 2011, gaining revised styling and Chrysler’s new Pentastar V-6, here rated at 283 horsepower. The strength of these minivans will remain a wide spread of price points and features such as the hide-away second-row buckets. The Chrysler and Dodge minivans haven’t been quite as rewarding to drive as the Odyssey, but have been class leaders in infotainment technology, including on-board Wi-Fi and satellite TV.
2011 Toyota Sienna: All-new for 2011 and again Odyssey’s main competition for upmarket import shoppers -- and for high customer-satisfaction scores, too. The 2011 Sienna features sculpted new styling and a more athletic stance, plus the addition of a fuel-saving four-cylinder engine to compliment the returning V-6. Both engines use a six-speed automatic transmission, and Sienna returns as the only minivan available with all-wheel drive. Luxury La-Z-Boy-style second-row buckets and rear entertainment screens that create a 16.4-inch-wide display are among other highlights. Prices start at $25,450 for four-cylinder models and at $26,510 for V-6 versions, ranging to $40,780 for the top V-6 AWD model.
2011 Ford Flex: If you like the utility of a minivan but find yourself among the “hesitaters,” consider this blend of station wagon, minivan, and SUV. The unusual-looking Flex crossover doesn’t have sliding side doors, but it seats seven on three rows, offers front- or all-wheel-drive, and has a relatively low center of gravity that benefits handling. Ford’s 355-horsepower EcoBoost V-6 option gives it real get-up-and go, too. Base price range is roughly $32,000-$47,000.