Odyssey

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2022 Honda Odyssey Test Drive Review

Long the standard-bearer in the minivan segment, the 2022 Honda Odyssey faces increasingly appealing rivals.

7 /10
Overall Score

If you are a minivan aficionado like we are, then you know that the 2022 Honda Odyssey is the most enjoyable one to drive. It has that light, effortless, responsive driving character that Honda bakes into every one of its cars, trucks, SUVs, and minivans. But you also know that the Odyssey’s rivals are successfully outflanking it in terms of stylish design, all-weather capability, electrified efficiency, infotainment technology, and outright luxury.

In response to these new threats, Honda makes no changes to the 2022 Odyssey. Good thing its “original recipe” approach remains pretty tasty.

Look and Feel

7/ 10

On numerous occasions over the years, we have recommended minivans to people who are starting families or adding new family members who won’t easily fit into a crossover SUV. There are three primary reasons for this.

First, those sliding side doors are serious back savers when your vehicle is crammed into a parking space and you need to load a toddler into a rear-facing child safety seat. Babies are light. Toddlers have some heft to them. With an SUV, you’re going to be twisting and leaning through a narrow portal to perform this necessary task. With a minivan’s sliding side doors, it is easy-peasy.

Second, a minivan has a legitimately comfortable third-row seat. When Grandma and Grandpa visit, everyone fits without much hassle. When it’s your turn to drive carpool to the school or the soccer field, there is plenty of room aboard plus a deep well behind the third-row seat for gear. Oh, and when you open the rear liftgate, that gear doesn’t tumble out onto the pavement, either. Furthermore, the third-row seat in a minivan isn’t wedged against the liftgate, an important consideration when driving roads full of gigantic lifted pickup trucks.

Third, nothing beats a minivan for maximum cargo space. Fold the third-row seat down, remove the second-row seats, and something like a Honda Odyssey provides the same amount of cargo space as a Chevrolet Suburban.

So, why are there only four minivans available in the North American market? After all, you can’t count the number of crossover SUVs on your fingers and toes. Mostly, it’s about image. People are willing to give up all of the convenience a minivan provides because they don’t like how driving one makes them feel.

Though not quite to the same degree as the handsome 2022 Kia Carnival, at least the 2022 Honda Odyssey has a sense of style.

Though its overall proportions adhere to the classic Dustbuster-influenced minivan design ethos, the kinked sliding doors (necessitated by Honda’s desire to hide the sliding door tracks under the rear windows) also result in dramatic hockey-stick character lines in the Odyssey’s otherwise clean flanks. The Touring trim level we tested even had spiffy dark gray 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

The Touring trim level tops a lineup that also includes Honda Odyssey EX-L Navi and EX-L Res trims in Canada. Prices range from MSRPs of $48,305 to $54,805, not including the destination charge of $1,870. Our Odyssey Touring had a final price, fees in, of $56,806 (Canadian, estimated).

In Canada, leather upholstery is standard and exudes quality in terms of materials, fit, and finish.

The interior reflects a classic open-concept minivan design with a low console between the driver’s seat and front passenger seat and plenty of storage space. The centre stack is littered with switchgear that seems haphazardly placed, but it doesn’t take long to realize that all of the commonly used stereo and climate functions are located up high near the infotainment system’s display where they are easy to find and use.

Take a seat, and there is no doubting that you’re in a minivan. You can’t see the hood, and the view out through the massive windshield is expansive. Small front quarter windows heighten the fishbowl sensation. If you want to see and be seen, driving a Honda Odyssey is a good way to do that.

Performance

7/ 10

Every 2022 Honda Odyssey has a 3.5-litre V6 engine making power specs of 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. The front-wheel-drive (FWD) minivan employs a 10-speed automatic transmission with pushbutton controls mounted on the dashboard.

Unlike the 2022 Chrysler Pacifica and 2022 Toyota Sienna, neither all-wheel drive (AWD) nor an electrified powertrain are available. The Sienna comes standard as a hybrid, while Chrysler offers an optional plug-in hybrid Pacifica alongside the standard gasoline version. That leaves the Honda with a Natural Resources Canada fuel consumption estimate of 10.6 litres per 100 kilometres in combined driving, while the hybrid Toyota dips as low as 6.6 L/100 km and the plug-in hybrid Chrysler averages 8.0 L/100 km after traveling about 51 kilometres solely on electricity.

Those minivans are not as much fun to drive, though. And to some moms and dads, that still matters. Granted, you’re not going to sneak out of the house early on a Saturday morning to run the Odyssey through the local winding roads for the sheer pleasure of it, but during the daily grind, the Odyssey’s driving character doesn’t make you want to grab that nap you so desperately need.

We drove the 2022 Odyssey Touring on a warm, sunny, temperate day, using a standard driving route that includes highway, rural roads, coastal routes, twisty mountain two-lanes, and city streets. The Odyssey averaged 10.4 L/100 km during this drive.

However, as we’ve noted in the past, repeated use of the Odyssey’s brakes when driving down hills heats them up to the point where they produce pedal vibration and an audible grumble. And this happens when only a driver is aboard. Pack the van full of people, and this phenomenon happens sooner and is more pronounced.

For example, with the adaptive cruise control set to 110 km/h and the Odyssey’s Honda Sensing technologies operating in full force, we descended a downhill-grade road in moderate late afternoon traffic. Letting the tech handle all of the speed maintenance, by the bottom of this descent the Odyssey’s brakes were exhibiting their typical overworked behaviour. They didn’t fade, but they certainly displayed the traits that usually lead to loss of braking ability.

Otherwise, the Odyssey was its usual, delightful self. Quick when merging onto fast-flowing highways, responsive when flung around corners, and demonstrating remarkable composure when hustling on mountain roads, the Odyssey is enjoyable to drive. However, given this vehicle’s mission to safely carry lots of people, it needs brakes that are more resistant to heating up on mountain grades.

Form and Function

8/ 10

Stepping into a Honda Odyssey is easy. The doors open wide, and the minivan sits lower to the ground than most SUVs, creating an ideal hip point.

Once you’re settled inside the Odyssey Touring, you’ll find quality leather, supportive front seats with power adjustment, heating, and ventilation, and a tri-zone automatic climate control system. Most 2022 Odysseys also have tri-colour floor mats that do a brilliant job of hiding dirt, pet hair, french-fry crumbs, and other items commonly found on the floors of family cars. Touring trim also has an onboard vacuum cleaner to make clean-up easier.

Storage space is impressive. From the shelving carved into the front door panels to the handy floor tray between the dashboard and centre console, there are numerous places to stash your stuff. The centre console also serves as a tray where you can place the aforementioned french fries.

Second-row seat comfort levels are also commendable. There is plenty of legroom, and the centre section folds down to provide cupholders. Alternatively, you can remove the centre section, store it in your garage, and forget your Odyssey ever had one in the first place. Second-row side-window sunshades are helpful for keeping the sun out of little ones’ eyes, but they do leave large gaps.

One of the big selling points of the Odyssey is its Magic Slide second-row seats. Install your child’s rear-facing car seat in the middle section, and it can slide closer to the front seats for easier parental tending. If you remove that section, you can slide the remaining captain’s chairs closer to the middle of the Odyssey where two kids are better protected in a side-impact collision. Or, you can slide one of those chairs nearly to the middle to create a large pass-through to the third-row seat.

Speaking of the third-row seat, it’s quite comfortable. Unlike with many three-row crossover SUVs, adults won’t plot revenge on you if you assign them to one of the way-back locations. The leg support is good, the foot room is decent, and if the people sitting in the second row are willing to slide forward a bit, grown-ups can ride in the rearmost seats for longer periods of time.

Behind the third-row seat, the Odyssey offers 929 litres of cargo space. That’s double what you’ll typically find in a midsize three-row crossover. Plus, there is a well in the floor, so when you pack this Honda full of plastic grocery bags at the store and then open the tailgate at home to unload, your jars of spaghetti sauce and bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon won’t roll out and shatter on the driveway. Also, you can carry four full-size suitcases back there, stored upright.

When it's time to take a cross-Canada summer road trip, you can fold the third-row seat into that well to create 2,452 litres of cargo space. That’s as much volume as you’d have in a crossover SUV if you also folded the second-row seat down, but then you’d need to leave the kids at home. And what fun would that be?

When you need maximum volume, you can remove the Odyssey’s second-row seats and enjoy a Suburban-sized cargo volume of 3,984 litres (3,973 litres in Touring). But those seats are dang heavy, so take care of your back. And re-installing them isn’t much of a treat, either.

Tech Level

5/ 10

As you might expect, the Odyssey Touring is packed with all of the technology Honda offers for this minivan. However, the Odyssey’s infotainment features are increasingly outclassed by rivals in the segment, and that is especially true with regard to rear-seat entertainment options.

Starting with the EX-L Navi trim level, you get an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display, satellite radio, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. EX-L Navi and Touring trim come with on-board navigation, and Touring offers HondaLink connected services including WiFi hotspot access.

The Odyssey Touring trim also installs CabinWatch and CabinTalk technology. CabinWatch is a rear-seat camera system allowing the driver to check on passengers or mediate squabbles. CabinTalk is an in-vehicle public address system that broadcasts the driver’s voice through the stereo speakers or wireless headphones.

Those headphones are included with the rear entertainment system that’s standard starting with Touring trim. It has a single 10.2-inch display screen that folds down out of the ceiling and shows media stored on CDs, DVDs, or Blu-Ray discs. It has a “How Much Farther?” app to eliminate that common question from your kids, as well as HDMI inputs and a USB port. It is simple to use, but, generally speaking, it is behind the times.

The Touring trim further adds an 11-speaker premium audio system with multi-zone audio settings and a wireless charging pad located on the centre console.

Increasingly, an 8-inch touchscreen is small in a modern vehicle. Honda uses large menu tiles to make operating the infotainment system easier, and virtual Home and Back buttons are located to the upper left of the display panel, but a bigger screen would be nice. So would a tuning knob for the stereo.

Don’t bother treating the Odyssey’s embedded navigation system like the digital assistant available through your smartphone. Beyond the basics, it requires specific voice commands to find and provide directions to where you’d like to go. And even then, you may wind up frustrated. It’s better to connect via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and use those platforms for navigation.

Overall, the Odyssey’s infotainment and technology package is underwhelming. When Honda redesigns this vehicle, a major upgrade is necessary.

Safety

8/ 10

Honda does a better job of equipping the Odyssey to avoid collisions and, when that’s not possible, protecting occupants in a crash.

Honda Sensing is standard equipment on all Odysseys, encompassing a long list of features and functions. Adaptive cruise control is a part of Honda Sensing, along with forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and lane-centring assist.

Additionally, every Odyssey has automatic high-beam headlights and a rear-seat reminder system designed to prevent you from leaving someone or something important in the second- or third-row seat. If you want a blind-spot monitoring system or rear cross-traffic alert, you’ll need to get the Odyssey Touring.

In use, Honda Sensing lacks refinement. Like rivals' tech, it can mistake road construction pavement scars for lane markings and issue invalid warnings or even take preventative actions that are ill-advised. Also, in general, the Odyssey’s safety features can respond to changing driving situations too sharply or abruptly, and that leads to an unnatural experience for the driver.

Additionally, we’ll note that the blind-spot monitoring system’s warning light is located on the windshield pillar, nowhere near the side-view mirror where the driver is looking when checking traffic in the next lane. Furthermore, the warning appears to illuminate too late, as though the radar isn’t looking far back enough to provide safe lane-change information.

As is always our advice, you need to remember that these safety systems are designed to assist, not replace, a driver. The best technologies operate with maximum transparency to encourage drivers to continue using them. That is not always the case with Honda Sensing.

As far as crash-test ratings go, the 2022 Odyssey earns an overall five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and a Top Safety Pick+ rating from Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Cost-Effectiveness

7/ 10

Generally speaking, minivans are the most cost-effective way to transport a family and their belongings. You simply cannot beat the interior comfort and cargo space for the price, and they’re more fuel-efficient than the full-size SUVs that come closest to matching them on these fronts.

Within the minivan segment, the model year 2022 Honda Odyssey faces few competitors. The only other minivans currently available are the Chrysler Pacifica (and its lower-priced Chrysler Grand Caravan variant), Kia Carnival, and Toyota Sienna.

While the Odyssey has long set standards in the class, those days have come to a close. Both the Chrysler and Toyota offer AWD for snowy climates and electrified powertrains for maximum efficiency. The Kia brings a genuine sense of style to a minivan, and in its top trim offers second-row seating accommodations that can rival a Rolls-Royce. All three of the Odyssey’s rivals also offer greater technological sophistication in one way or another.

Still, the inherent goodness in the Honda Odyssey is undeniable. In addition to its genuinely useful Magic Slide seats, the Odyssey is the most enjoyable to drive. Plus, its simpler, classic take on a minivan is refreshing in a way. And when your family life is packed full of activities, simplicity is a luxury.

Note: Images show a US model.

Updated by Christian Wardlaw

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