2012 Honda Odyssey Review and Prices

Last Updated: Sep 29, 2011

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2012 Honda Odyssey Buying Advice

The 2012 Honda Odyssey is the best minivan for you if you believe fashion and function can happily co-exist.      

The 2012 Honda Odyssey expands availability of Bluetooth hands-free mobile-phone connectivity and a USB iPod interface but is otherwise a duplicate of the 2011 Honda Odyssey. The 2011 Odyssey represented the first all-new version of this popular minivan since 2005. The 2012 Odyssey returns as an exceedingly roomy eight-seater with top-tier fuel economy. It’s satisfying to drive, can accommodate five regulation child safety seats, and shakes up the minivan styling mold with a “lightning-bolt” kink in its rear window line.

Should you buy a 2012 Honda Odyssey or wait for the 2013 Honda Odyssey? If you need a minivan now there’s little reason to wait for the 2013 Odyssey. It’s nice to see Honda move Bluetooth and USB connectivity from the highest priced 2012 Odyssey models to the more affordable EX version. But overall, the pace of minivan change is glacial and automaker isn’t apt to alter the 2013 Odyssey enough for you to put off one of these life-stage purchases. It will, however, likely raise prices. The 2012 Odyssey’s styling, powertrain, and features will be current for several years. And no new rivals are on the horizon.

2012 Honda Odyssey Changes back to top

Styling: The 2012 Honda Odyssey styling repeats the completely new sheet metal given the 2011 Odyssey as part of its redesign. Honda intends the look to appeal to image-conscious shoppers who concede the utility of a minivan but reject its soccer-mom stigma.

Odyssey stylists gave this fourth-generation Odyssey a windswept shape inspired by an aircraft fuselage. And to distinguish it from other minivans, they interrupted the long horizontal window-sill line with a zig-zag chicane. It occurs just aft of the sliding side doors. A few critics think it gives Odyssey’s rear third a displaced appearance. But the dip in the body line does pay off functionally for third-row passengers by expanding their outward view and letting in more light. Indeed, the sensation of expansiveness is a theme of this inviting interior.

On the boulevard or in your garage, a 2012 Odyssey won’t consume more space than any other minivan. But no rival will beat it for the leg room available in each of the three seating rows. The 2012 Odyssey’s least expensive base model again has two second-row bucket seats for seven-passenger capacity. All other 2012 Odysseys return with a 10-inch-wide center section in their second row that increases passenger capacity to eight. The outboard sections of the second row can slide laterally a few inches in what Honda dubs Wide Mode. This creates enough width to fit three regulation child safety seats; two more can be latched into the third-row seat.

The 2012 Odyssey accommodates six big adults in true comfort; younger folks are the best candidates for the center-seat positions. Still, the 2012 Odyssey is saddled with rather conventional second-row seats that flip forward for extra cargo room but are heavy and cumbersome to remove if you need maximum cargo volume. They don’t fold neatly into floor cavities as does the Stow ’n Go system in the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan. Neither do they kick-back into La-Z-Boy loungers like second-row seats available in the Toyota Sienna.

Every 2012 Odyssey has a 60/40 spilt/folding third-row that drops into a rear floor well to create a flat load surface. Honda does not offer a third-row power-folding mechanism, a convenience available in the Chrysler, Dodge, and Toyota minivans. Odyssey owners who want to submerge the third-row seat must employ a one-strap-pull release that folds the sections quickly but with a jarring thump absent in the motorized alternatives.

The 2012 Honda Odyssey returns with a seven-model lineup. It opens with the 2012 Odyssey LX seven-seat base model. Next up is the better-equipped 2012 Honda Odyssey EX with cloth upholstery. It’s followed by the 2012 Odyssey EX-L with leather upholstery. The 2012 Odyssey EX-L with Rear Entertainment adds a DVD system with a 9 inch ceiling screen. The 2012 Odyssey EX-L with Navigation substitutes a voice-activated navigation system.

The 2012 Odyssey Touring model has leather upholstery and comes with both the DVD and navigation systems. In the only appearance alteration to the 2012 Odyssey, the Touring model gets an exclusive new exterior color choice, White Diamond Pearl, in place of Taffeta White.

Again topping the line is the 2012 Odyssey Touring Elite. It combines every Odyssey amenity as well as a premium DVD entertainment system boasting Honda’s Ultrawide 16.2-inch-diameter ceiling monitor with a split-screen mode that can display inputs from two separate video sources.

Mechanical: The 2012 Honda Odyssey is mechanically unchanged. It remains a minivan that draws on a sophisticated all-independent suspension and impressive powertrain engineering to produce capable, confident road manners.

All Odyssey models again use a 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 248 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. (Think of torque as acceleration’s secret ingredient, horsepower as the energy that sustains momentum.) This engine maximizes fuel efficiency during low-demand driving by employing Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management system to idle two or three cylinders. It instantaneously restores all six cylinders when power is again needed.

In an unusual strategy designed to control costs, Honda equips the Odyssey with a five- or a six-speed automatic transmission, depending on the model. LX, EX, and EX-L versions get the five-speed automatic. In keeping with their station in the lineup, Touring and Touring Elite models get the six-speed automatic. The extra gear is intended to provide a smoother driving experience, though our testing indicates only the subtlest difference in real-world performance.

Every 2012 Odyssey delivers sufficient acceleration to tackle most any situation without stress. Odyssey is notably stable at highway speeds and balanced in turns. The 2012 Touring and Touring Elite remain the only Odysseys with 18-inch wheels and tires. That helps them sustain their slight but pleasing advantage in steering precision over the other Odyssey models, which use 17-inch wheels and tires and provide a less defined feel as you change direction.

The 2012 Odyssey remains front-wheel drive, meaning the Toyota Sienna is again the only minivan to offer both front- and all-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive places the mass of the drivetrain over the tires that also propel the vehicle. This presents advantages in packaging and poor-weather traction. All-wheel drive improves sloppy-surface grip but adds weight that compromises fuel economy. And the components that supply power to the rear wheels take up some space otherwise devoted to third-row foot room. Honda directs its buyers who want three-row seating and AWD to the Honda Pilot crossover SUV.

Features: The 2012 Honda Odyssey continues with a tempting array of convenience and infotainment features, though true to Honda custom, you must ascend the model line to get at some of them.

That’s because Honda doesn’t offer independent options, instead defining each model by an unalterable set of features. This promotes quality assembly and reduces ordering complexity. And to Honda’s credit, the suite of features assigned each model seems to reflect the desires of most buyers at each price point.

But Honda from time to time demonstrates some flexibility on this practice. For model-year 2012, it extends to the Odyssey EX model select features previously exclusive to the more expensive models in the lineup. These include Bluetooth and the USB iPod interface, two-gigabytes of CD music storage, and Honda’s “intelligent Multi-Information Display,” or i-MID. This last item installs in the upper-center dashboard an 8-inch screen that displays audio, phone, and climate information.  

All 2012 Honda Odysseys return with standard equipment that includes tinted rear privacy glass, cruise control, keyless remote entry, air conditioning, power driver’s seat, manual tilt/telescope steering wheel, and power mirrors, locks, and windows.

Odyssey’s dashboard includes a pull-out “media shelf” for iPods, cell phones, and the like; power outlets are nearby. The transmission shift lever is located just right of the steering wheel, essentially jutting from the base of the dashboard. Main controls are organized into three distinct strata stacked in the center of the instrument panel. Driver-information/navigation screens occupy the top tier, climate controls the middle, audio systems the lowest. It’s a logical solution to managing a modern minivan’s myriad features and is deftly integrated into an interior that’s airy, thoroughly contemporary, and solidly assembled from quality materials.      

Standard on 2012 Odyssey EX models and above are such features as power sliding side doors, alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, tri-zone automatic air conditioning, outside temperature indicator, and second-row sunshades. Starting with the EX models, 2012 Odysseys also come with Honda’s clutter-collecting “trash ring,” a plastic hoop that flips out from the rear of the front center console as a frame for a standard plastic shopping bag.

Eight-seat Odysseys will again have 15 beverage holders; the seven-seat LX comes with 12, but all include some holders that adjust to accommodate slender Red Bull cans or chubby Big Gulp cups.

To get such features as leather upholstery, heated front seats, power tailgate, power moonroof, and navigation and rear-DVD entertainment systems you’ll again have to move up to EX-L and the Touring models.

All 2012 Odyssey audio systems have an auxiliary plug for digital music devices, plus a single-disc in-dash CD player. EX and EX-L models upgrade with seven instead of five speakers, plus the two gigs of music storage. The 2012 Odysseys starting with the EX-L level and above add satellite radio. The 2012 EX-L with Navigation model and the Touring and Touring Elite include a 15-gig hard drive and Honda’s Song by Voice system that uses spoken instructions to access artist, song, playlist, or genre from the hard drive or a linked iPod.

2012 Honda Odyssey Prices back to top

Price range for the 2012 Honda Odyssey is $29,035-$44,485. That’s a modest increase over the $28,885-$44,335 price range with which Odyssey ended model-year 2011. All base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandatory destination fee; Honda’s fee for the 2012 Odyssey is $810.)

Honda says the EX-L family of models accounts for about half of all Odyssey sales, with the single most popular model being the EX-L with Rear Entertainment System, at some 23 percent of volume. The Touring/Touring Elite represents about 22 percent of Odyssey sales, the EX about 20 percent, and the LX around 9 percent.   

The 2012 Odyssey LX is priced at $29,035 and includes the basic standard equipment listed in the Features section above.

The 2012 Odyssey EX is priced at $32,285 and adds to the LX additional equipment as outlined in the Features section.

The 2012 Honda Odyssey EX-L is priced at $35,685 and gets leather instead of cloth upholstery (the third-row is vinyl instead of cloth), heated front seats, a power tailgate, power moonroof, and a rearview camera whose image displays in the i-MID. Models starting at this level also will come with a “cool box” that folds from the base of dashboard and is powered by Odyssey’s electrically system; it can hold four 20-ounce beverages.

Honda splits availability of the rear DVD entertainment system and its voice-activated navigation system to create mutually exclusive models. These are the called, appropriately enough the 2012 Odyssey EX-L with Rear Entertainment System and it’s priced at $37,285, and the 2012 Odyssey EX-L with Navigation System, priced at $37,685.

To acquire both those features in the same Odyssey you’ll need to move up to the 2012 Touring model. It’s priced at $41,990 and also gets the six-speed automatic transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, and a memory power driver’s seat.

The flagship 2012 Odyssey Touring Elite includes everything on the regular Touring, plus the 16.2-inch Ultrawide DVD screen, xenon headlamps, and blind-spot detection that visually alerts of vehicles in adjacent lanes. The 2012 Odyssey Touring Elite is priced at $44,485.

2012 Honda Odyssey Fuel Economy back to top

EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2012 Honda Odyssey are unaltered from the 2011 models’. That maintains the 2012 Odyssey among the pacesetters for minivan fuel efficiency, though you again need to shell out for an Odyssey Touring or Touring Elite to enjoy the top ratings.

The 2012 Odyssey LX, EX, and EX-L models with their five-speed automatic transmission rate 18/27 mpg city/highway and 21 mpg combined city/highway.

The 2012 Odyssey Touring and Touring Elite models with their six-speed automatic rate 19/28 mpg city/highway, 22 mpg combined.

Though five-speed automatics are generally less fuel efficient than six-speed automatics, Honda doesn’t attribute the higher mileage ratings of the Touring and Touring Elite to their extra gear. Rather, it points to the specially shaped mirrors and other subtle wind-cheating tweaks that give the Touring and Touring Elite slightly slipperier aerodynamics. Honda also credits the lower rolling resistance of the tires fitted to the Touring and Touring Elite versus the tires used on the other Odyssey models.

2012 Honda Odyssey Release Date back to top

The 2012 Honda Odyssey went on sale in September 2011.

What's next for the 2012 Honda Odyssey back to top

The third-generation Odyssey had a six-model-year lifespan, receiving a midcycle facelift for model-year 2008. Plans can change quickly in today’s roiled auto industry, but if Honda follows a similar timetable for this fourth-generation Odyssey expect a midcycle freshening for model-year 2014 and all-new engineering and styling for model-year 2017.

Any midcycle freshening would not fundamentally alter Odyssey’s size or basic engineering. Minor revisions to nose and tail styling are the norm. Honda might use the midcycle freshening to standardize the six-speed automatic across the Odyssey line, though it could just as well conclude that any potential benefits in marketing, driveability and fuel economy are not sufficient to offset the higher price it might need to charge for the extra gear ratio.

2012 Honda Odyssey Competition back to top

Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan: Restyled and treated to parent-company Chrysler’s Pentastar V-6 for model-year 2011, these corporate cousins are twins beneath the skin. However, Town & Country aims for a wealthier audience similar to Odyssey’s upscale demographic. The 2012 Grand Caravan is America’s best-selling minivan and its lineup doesn’t reach quite as high into the luxury realm as the T&C’s but does dig deeper into the mainstream with lower-cost versions. In fact, Dodge adds to the 2012 lineup the American Value Package version; starting at $21,830, it’s the lowest priced minivan available in the U.S. The 2012 Grand Caravan line tops out at $30,830. All 2012 Town & Country models now come standard with leather upholstery and rear DVD entertainment; their base-price range is $30,830-$39,830. All versions have 283 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, a six-speed automatic transmission, and ratings of 17/25 mpg city/highway, 20 mpg combined. The appeal of these minivans remains a broad range of price points, as well as features that include the hide-away second-row Stow ’n Go seating, on-board Wi-Fi, and satellite TV.  

Toyota Sienna: Also redesigned for model-year 2011, this is Odyssey’s key rival for upmarket import buyers. From behind the wheel, Sienna isn’t quite as athletic as the Honda but it’s a good match for roominess and features, including those La-Z-Boy-style second-row buckets and an available 16.4-inch diameter rear entertainment screen. Sienna also offers two engine choices, a four-cylinder (187 horsepower, 186 pound-feet of torque) and a V-6 (266/245) Both use six-speed automatic transmissions, and the 2012 Sienna remains the only minivan available with all-wheel drive. Four-cylinder models rate 19/24/21 mpg and have a base-price range of $25,870-$26,995. Six-cylinder Siennas rate 18/24/20, or 16/22/18 with AWD, and have a base-price range of $27,110-$41,380.    

Nissan Quest: Reintroduced after a one-year hiatus as an all-new minivan for model-year 2011, the 2012 Quest returns as a roomy seven-seater with styling quite unlike any other minivan’s. Strong horizontal lines create a fresh and futuristic take on the form. Quest uses a V-6 with 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque and a continuously variable automatic transmission to furnish plenty of acceleration. Its smartly tuned suspension and steering systems deliver a pleasing sense of confidence and driver involvement. Passenger accommodations are roomy and comfortable, though Quest creates its flat cargo surface by folding the second and third row seats into an elevated plain, not into the floor. Fuel-economy ratings are 19/24/21. Nicely equipped and with a model-year 2012 base-price range of roughly $29,000-$43,000, Quest is worth a look.