The minivan has taken the brunt of many jokes over the years, but the jesting will cease from this journalist after our test drive in the 2016 Honda Odyssey 5 Door SE van. There is nothing “mini” about this vehicle as its cavernous interior can haul 8 people in comfort all day long.
If you’ve never owned a minivan, the Honda Odyssey makes you wonder how you managed to live without one. This vehicle outperforms many large SUVs in a number of areas.
For 2016, the Honda Odyssey gets a Special Edition (SE) trim that takes some of the best features from the range-topping Touring Elite and packages them in the more affordable SE. Otherwise, the Odyssey is unchanged for 2016.
Features & Options
SE gets 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, power-sliding side doors, keyless ignition and entry, tri-zone automatic climate control, two-way power lumbar adjustment for the driver, a multi-adjustable second-row seat, a removable front center console, and second-row sunshades. The SE also features Honda’s “LaneWatch” blind-spot camera system and an additional 7-inch touchscreen with HondaLink smartphone app integration. The SE includes a 115-volt household-style power outlet, an integrated vacuum cleaner, XM satellite radio, and a DVD rear entertainment system.
Total MSRP minus destination (TBD): $33,375.
We found the Honda Odyssey roomier and more comfortable than many large SUVs. The Honda Odyssey can seat 8 adults with its 3 rows and has excellent cargo-carrying ability. The third row is not just for kids – it will seat three adults with enough legroom for longer trips. It has many storage places, ideal for those long trips with the family too. It comes with some nifty convenience features like a built-in vacuum. It’s a high-quality unit, with a long hose and carpet and crevice attachments.
Pulling it out and re-stowing it was quick and easy.
The driver has a good view of the road from behind the wheel of the Odyssey and can even see the kids in the back with the convenient “conversation” mirror. If the kids need other stimulation besides fighting among themselves, they can be entertained in the SE with the standard DVD rear entertainment system that pops down from the ceiling.
Just slide the second-row window shades down, pop in the DVD, and the problem is solved.
If you are looking for cargo room, the Odyssey, with all three rows of seats up, features 38.4 cubic feet. With the third-row folded flat into the floor there’s 93 cubic feet. Although not easily removed, with the second row out (55 pounds each), there’s a cavernous 148.5 cubic feet of cargo space, outperforming most big SUVs.
Engine & Fuel Mileage
The 2016 Honda Odyssey is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 248 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. It comes mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that delivers power to the front wheels. The Honda Odyssey will also outperform most big SUVs in fuel efficiency.
EPA fuel mileage estimates are a very respectable 19/28 city/highway and 22 combined mpg.
The Honda Odyssey has the handling and dynamics of a front-drive sedan. It corners like a heavy, front-wheel-drive sedan, but it’s stable, predictable, and leaves the driver with a secure feeling. The Odyssey feels more stable than an SUV because of its low center of gravity. And when it’s fully loaded, it keeps its stability better than a large SUV because the weight is so evenly distributed, front to back.
We thought the Odyssey’s 6-speed automatic transmission was smooth and quick when we needed it. The 3.5-liter V6 had enough power when empty to move past slower traffic, heading up the mountain west of Denver. On the open road, Odyssey has predictable handling and smooth ride quality. Driver engagement is low and the van is not very high on the fun to drive meter but it outshines most SUVs, especially in turning radius.
We easily pulled a U-turn in the street because of its 36.7 foot turning circle.
Families considering a big SUV should look at the 2016 Honda Odyssey SE.
For carrying lots of people and cargo, it makes more sense than a full-size sport-utility or crossover. The Odyssey will cost less than a luxury SUV, it gets better fuel economy, and has more cargo room, with greater flexibility in how the space is configured. Unless you need all-wheel drive, the Odyssey should work nicely for many families.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy