This week I was cruising around in the 2020 Honda Odessey for my latest “regular girl car review”. Last year this was one of the most memorable vehicles that I drove and wrote about. I was able to tie all of its family focused features into my single household lifestyle by recommending it as the ideal party bus, versus a people transporter able to hold up to 7 at a time. But this year I was determined to evaluate it better, to review it as what it was designed for.
But first, first blush impressions. As I am not the intended demographic, this one didn’t catch my attention like other SUVs might. A long van with all the round edges, it didn’t read speedy or fun, but instead: sturdy and stable with plenty of cargo room. In terms of size, it is a fairly substantial vehicle, I felt very small in the driver’s seat. Although on the same token, I liked all the room that I had within the cabin, unencumbered. With the pull down armrest, all the binning on the centre console and at the side of each door panel. Here was even a place to tuck your handbag right up front; doing so without needing to impede the leg room of yourself or your passenger.
As the “touring” model, this came with all the top of line bells and whistles. And you definitely get that impression right away, just by looking down from the driver’s seat. There were just so many more options than what most vehicles consider “standard”. Like a front climate and a rear climate function, which makes sense considering how long the vehicle is, and how far the air flow must travel. Individual head phone jacks, cup holders, and USB ports for each individual seat. And a built-in DVD player, that I never got to experience as the sole commuter. Of note is the speedometer display. Where others pay extra for such an after market feature, this comes standard in the Odessey, giving it the look of an aftermarket dash display; like that of a race car. And it only happened once, but to my surprise the infotainment system started speaking in a very soothing female voice, letting me know that there was a hazardous driving condition reported in at a specific road. It was not near my route, but I thought that was still a very kind gesture of the car.
The 2020 Odessey also had all the standard features you come to expect from a modern vehicle: Econ and sport mode, lane and parking assist, and adjustable lumbar support that you can customize. Of note, I made the mistake of not setting my preferred seat, wheel, and mirror position as a favourite when I exited the car for the first time; so make sure that you. Because be warned, the time you take to set it perfect is all for nought when the driver seat pulls out when you exit, and readjusts itself naturally to the second driver’s specifications when you come back in. A bit of a hassle, but in contrast features like the heated and cooling seats stay hot or cool, so that when you return to the vehicle you need not toggle those preferences again.
As for the way it drove: There was plenty of body rolling on turns, but on the straightaways it was smooth and stable, like you were driving a tank. It was good on rainy days, the weight had it sticking to the ground, and with its size you barely felt the speed bumps you glided over. Although, the car does jerk a bit after you stop and lift your foot from the brake, here using the E brake is recommend. I definitely didn’t get the speed and acceleration from this, that I am used to with other vehicles on the highway. It was very difficult for me to overtake cars and change lanes like I normally do. Even with a double tap on the drive button to put it in sport mode, it still left sluggish. I found myself mashing down on the gas pedal, trying to get additional more power and it just wasn’t there. I could feel the vehicle struggle under me.
Every time you stop you have the option of pushing down hard to turn off the engine to save fuel. A gauge tells you the distance you’ve driven, your average fuel consumption, and the range you have left. For safety it had all the precautionary assists: lanes, braking, and parking; including the words “brake” flashing across the dash when the vehicle thinks you are going to fast and might collide with something in front of you. And when it came to parking, reverse stall is my specialty, however in the Odyssey it did take some getting use to. All the visual sensors and sounding beeps do help, although they also do a good job scaring you away from hitting anything. There was also a weird sputtering noise I heard from under the hood, it didn’t effect my drive, just something unmistakable.
Once again, I am definitely not the intended demographic for this vehicle, therefore I reached out to someone who is. A mother and daughter duo who would appreciate the comfort and space of the 2020 Honda Odyssey, therefore the second half of this post is written in their perspective. All the points I found troublesome above, made it the ideal vehicle for a family of 4 or more. We planned a trip to a farmer’s market to be able to test out the utilities of the mini van, including the tailgate.
Our journey began with me picking them up, and the install of our littlest passenger’s car seat. The seatbelt buckle dangling from the roof that once beguiled me, now made sense. I saw mom pulling the strap down and using it to secure the seat securely in to place.
I now also had reason to open the side doors that self slide open with a pull of the latch or a push of a button. Its ease helps busy moms with full arms, load and unload kids and goods into the van. Similarly, the foot release tailgate helped in loading handfuls of grocery and assorted gear when you could use another set of hands.
Once situated and comfortable in the Honda Odessey, Mom asked how many soccer kids could fit in the backseat and how much hockey equipment we could haul around with our minivan. She was satisfied with the conclusion, and I definitely found the right buyer for such a vehicle.
And with my new passengers’ consideration, all the power outlets, USB ports, and headphone jacks in the backseat were ideal in keeping little hands and little minds busy on longer trips. There was even a pull down sunshade to keep things cool.
Up front, Mom becomes command centre with all the buttons and features at her finger tips. She can open the doors to allow kids to rush in or out, without leaving her seat. Or give them the perfect cool down climate at the back, while she is toasty up front. And with the Odyssey’s larger gas tank, it helped to avoid the necessity of frequent fill ups. perfect for the daily commute and driving around the team to all their after school curriculars.
As for our planned tailgate, there was plenty of sprawling space at the back, enough to lay down a mattress, or in our case a picnic for three. And when we were done eating our particularly messy meal, clean up was a breeze with a built-in shop vac to help vacuum up all the crumbs.
In short, it isn’t the sexiest car to look at, or the one you want to arrive at a scene with. But it is very functional and very practical, and it definitely hits the demographic it was created for: moms and growing families. Thank you Honda Canada for the experience and to my friend for letting me play mom briefly for the day.