Still the Champions of Practicality
2nd Place – 2014 Honda Odyssey LX
Honda showed up for the comparison test with the most basic Odyssey it offers: the LX model. With a price normally undercutting $30,000 after destination charges, our test vehicle was equipped with a set of EX 17-inch alloy wheels that put the as tested price to $30,755. That is a lot less than the Toyota Sienna and even less than the value-positioned Grand Caravan.
To keep the price this low, the Odyssey is missing a lot of features. Power sliding doors, a power liftgate, three-zone climate control and fog lights are all skipped in the name of a low price. As well, the Odyssey lacked any optional exterior flair unlike the other two vans. In a segment focused on usability and value, the Odyssey arrived looking the most serious about the task at hand.
SEE ALSO: 2014 Honda Odyssey Review
The Honda splits the difference between the cargo specialist Grand Caravan and the passenger focused Sienna. The Odyssey’s seat cushions proved to be quite comfortable, though not at the same level as the Sienna’s, while the third row is easier to stow than the Grand Caravan’s, it lacks the Dodge’s disappearing second row.
Third row access is relatively easy thanks to a forward tipping second row seat and generous sliding door openings. The Odyssey’s third row seats were judged to be best in the test and offer more legroom than any row of any vans in this test. The second row seats, though better than Dodge’s, did not offer as much fore and aft adjustments and lack inboard arm rests.
We agreed that the Honda is the most car-like of the group to drive. It scored top marks for driving position and was the best at isolating noise, vibration and harshness from passenger. We found the Odyssey easy to drive and offered good ride comfort. The steering can feel a little bit too light while driving, but it’s the ease to spin can also make parking seem easier.
Efficient and Safe
With official fuel ratings of 19 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway, the Odyssey is the most efficient van in the test. Like the Grand Caravan, we were able to match the EPA’s city rating and returned an even 19 MPG during our city-based test loop. Aside from taking the efficiency crown, it’s also tops in safety, scoring the highest on both the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests.
Part of the reason the Odyssey is so efficient is because it makes a lot less power than the other two. With the only 248 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque, it’s down 35 hp to the Dodge and it feels like it. At highway speeds a lot more effort is required from the Odyssey to pass other cars, especially when loaded up with passengers.
If there’s one way to summarize the Odyssey it’s that it’s the best choice if the third row is going to be utilized on a regular basis. Not as good for the front four passengers as the Sienna and not as cargo flexible as the Grand Caravan, the Odyssey is the middle ground minivan in this comparison and winds up in the middle on the score cards as well.
- PRICE AS TESTED: $30,755
- ENGINE: 3.5-liter V6, 248 hp, 250 lb-ft
- TRANSMISSION: Six-Speed Automatic
- OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY: 19.0 MPG
- CARGO CAPACITY (behind second row): 93.1 cu. Ft.