2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite HD Video Review

Love them or loathe them, minivans are unmatched when it comes to making life with children easier.  Like all family vans, the 2014 Honda Odyssey has as much interior room as my first apartment, and probably more storage cubbies.  One near the floor in the center stack is cooled.

2014 Honda OdysseySome would compare these vehicles to Swiss Army Knives. I would say the knives pale in comparison.  There is one feature on this Honda Odyssey Touring Elite model that really sucks, but it’s supposed to. It’s a real Shop Vac brand vacuum cleaner.

I brought two reasons why you’d want it to the photo shoot.  They are my friend’s kids, mine stopped wanting to participate in these review years ago.

Zachary and Jacob are very good at being five-year-old twins. Watch the video if you want to see pure joy after I told them to throw as many Cheerios throughout the cabin as possible. Of course that’s the fun part. Taking a cue from Tom Sawyer, I told them that they weren’t allowed to use the vacuum… but just this once I’d look the other way.  And darned if they didn’t get nearly every oat up (though Honda says they’re still finding Cheerios a few months later).

2014 Honda Odyssey Touring EliteA few notes about the vac- Made for dry stuff only, it’s small, but pretty strong.  Yes, the hose reaches the mess up in the front floor area.  The whole unit slides out to be emptied too.  It’s all nicely done and something that belongs in every van.  The problem is you have to buy the whole enchilada to get it. It’s only available on the Touring Elite model.  My suggestion? Buy a used vacuum cleaner at Goodwill for five bucks and keep it in the garage next to the seats you’ve removed (Odyssey’s middle row doesn’t fold into the floor like Chrysler’s). The split third row is remarkable easy to stow away into the floor.

Okay, there’s more than a vacuum cleaner to discuss here. Power comes from Honda’s proven 3.5-liter, 248 horse V6, the transmission is a six-speed. Odyssey has good power off the line and a reputation for being the sports car of family haulers.  But don’t kid yourself, this does not drive like a Miata. It’s a van and it feels like you’re driving a fairly substantial vehicle.

2014 Honda Odyssey Touring EliteFuel economy is best in class- 19 city, 28 highway. It also aces the most rigorous new crash tests. Always good for a family hauler.

The interior materials look good.  Phones and electronics integrate nicely. The i-MID touch screen interface isn’t always intuitive or easy to read though. The enormous center console is removable, good for parents who often make trips to the rear.  Odyssey seats eight and as expected the mid row adjusts every which way from Sunday.  All three of the chairs can be removed, again, row two does not fold into the floor like Chrysler vans.  And they are heavy.

Two average sized adults will manage just fine back in the third row.  Three?  That would be a little bit of a pinch.

Gripes? This Touring Elite model starts at a lofty 45 grand, but someone needs to check the definition of the word “elite” at Honda.  Radar assisted cruise control?  Nope.  The passenger seat doesn’t adjust for height so my petite wife’s feet don’t touch the floor.  The second row doesn’t get bun warmers. The wide screen entertainment system locates the input jacks in the third row and curiously the HDMI connection is on the other side of the van from all the others.

2014 Honda Odyssey Touring EliteThen there’s the “unique” design that to my eye puts the odd in Odyssey. Simply put, it looks like they welded two different vehicles together and called it good. The gaping door track doesn’t help either. Honda claims it’s there because raising and hiding it along the beltline reduces shoulder space.  This segment is the only example I know where I give the styling nod to a Toyota, the Sienna.

To be honest I’ve never completely filled the back of a van with T.P. because frankly, it’s a pain in the backside to bring 30 packs of toilet paper out of Costco.  Today, I go the extra mile.

The sport-ute champ in the TP trunk test is Buick’s Enclave at 20 packs. Impressive but Odyssey swallows 26, and that’s with the mid row set for maximum legroom.

2014 Honda OdysseyWhen you’re shopping for a vehicle, it’s important to test drive at least three of them (you’d be surprised at how many folks just buy a new version of what they have). So bring the kids along and let them check out the myriad of features these rigs have to offer. Just don’t let them see the vacuum cleaner because they will want it. And once the novelty wears off, you’ll be the one using it while making the payments on a van that costs 45K.

2 Comments

  1. Facepalm says:

    Great review, Tom.

    Not sure what people’s issue with the lightning bolt design is… It is instantly recognizable from the side, which can be useful for parents trying to divide their attention between looking for their parked car and keeping their children close as they walk through a crowded parking lot. I actually think the Odyssey is one of the better-looking minivans, alongside the sporty trims of the Dodge Grand Caravan and Toyota Sienna. Then again, looks are subjective.

    And the stigma behind minivans is unfortunate… When my family flew to New York state to visit family last year, we rented a minivan because the rental company we used was all out of large SUVs like the Chevy Tahoe (my dad doesn’t pack light, lol). The Toyota Sienna we received may have been a bottom trim model, and its I4 wasn’t overly powerful, but it was exactly what we needed. So roomy, practical, and comfortable, as well as fuel-efficient. My parents had no real complaints about it, even though they’re both accustomed to V8 power. Sadly, I don’t think many people will change their views of minivans unless they drive one or see all of the reviews online about how they’re more useful for families than just about anything else out there.

    Also, Tom , I remember in your video review for the 2011 Honda Odyssey you declared it the new TP Test Champ for its ability to store an estimated 26 bundles. Do you remember what the previous titleholder was? Was it another minivan?

    • TV says:

      Agreed. Minivans are the perfect vehicles for families and if vanity weren’t a human trait, most would have them. Somehow, they developed a stigma. Personally, I really like them.

      Yes, design is subjective. In the case of Odyssey, I’ll tease you by suggesting you’re confusing “distinctive” with “attractive”. I think Sienna is the best of the bunch right now. I’m really curious to see the next gen of Chrysler vans. Apparently Kia has something coming too.