MR. TOWNSEND’S MAGIC BUS
Parading Pasadena in a Honda Odyssey
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Fri, Mar 14, 2014
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Roy Nakano
In Pasadena, California, you’ll see representatives of the Tournament of Roses using Honda Odysseys to chauffeur guests around town. If it seems odd that a minivan is used as executive transportation, few vehicles can coddle passengers like an Odyssey and also do double duty as a commercial hauler for Rose Parade preparation. For 2014, you can get a Honda Odyssey with an industry-first built-in vacuum cleaner. For seven days, we lived with the Odyssey while we paraded through the streets in the Crown City of Pasadena.
Okay, let’s get the negatives out of the way. No one will mistaken the Honda Odyssey for a Rose Bowl beauty contestant. Now that the Pontiac Aztek is all but a distant memory, the current-generation Odyssey is, arguably, the most awkward-looking box on four wheels. In particular, the three-quarter rear angle, with its series of disjointed lines, is unusually beauty-challenged. If you look up the word “incongruity”, you may find “Odyssey” listed as a synonym. Dark-colored Odysseys fare better. Light-colored cars show up the cut lines too much.
That about exhausts the negatives on this vehicle. For the time spent using the Odyssey for all kinds of duty, it is arguably the most versatile vehicle we’ve encountered in recent memory. As a people mover, our Odyssey with its second-row captain’s chairs transported four in extreme comfort. With the third row in use, it dutifully carried seven in reasonable comfort.
In the driver’s seat, the Odyssey gives the illusion of being smaller than it really is. Visibility all around is quite good. That visibility, along with the sonar system and back-up camera, go a long way to make this vehicle easier to maneuver in parking as well as traffic situations. We can’t say the same for some other minivans we’ve driven. Driving the vehicle, you almost forget that you’re in a minivan, given the car-like ride, handling and acceleration.
For cargo carrying, the Odyssey is like the automotive Bermuda Triangle. All manner of items can be sucked into the cargo area. Take out the middle row, and a living room couch, queen bed box springs, mattress and frame can all fit—with room to spare. If you’re preparing a Rose Parade float, you’ll want an Odyssey to carry its trimmings.
The big feature for the 2014 Odyssey Touring Elite is the built-in vacuum cleaner. Not only does it do everything that vacuum cleaners do to keep the interior of the Odyssey clean, the hose is long enough to clean the vehicle parked in the garage next to the minivan. It may even be long enough to clean the garage itself, although we didn’t go that far.
One of the standout features of this latest-generation Odyssey is the Ultrawide 16.2-inch DVD Rear Entertainment System with HDMI and Wireless Headsets, which comes standard on the Touring Elite version. With this feature, you get the sense of a widescreen TV, rather than the netbook-ish screen that comes in most DVD-equipped cars. The screen even looks decent from the third-row seats, although no one will mistaken it for that new 55-inch set in your living room. And although the second-row captain chairs are off-axis from the screen, the Ultrawide’s off-axis performance is decent enough to justify a single unit for all the passengers.
If the Honda Odyssey existed back in 1965, it surely would have been the inspiration for Pete Townshend’s “Magic Bus”. This Swiss army knife-on-wheels performs more magic tricks than Cyril Takayama. Our colleagues over at US News & World Report just named the Odyssey the best minivan for families—for the fourth consecutive year. Having utilized the Odyssey for an unusually wide spectrum of duties, we are not in disagreement with that assessment. While no one will mistaken it for a beauty contestant, there are plenty of people that are in love with the Odyssey. We think we know why. SUMMARY JUDGMENT It’s the Swiss Army knife of four-wheeled transportation, and a worthy queen bee for the Tournament of Roses. For more information about Honda products, go to www.honda.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite Price: $28,825 (base model) $44,450 (Touring Elite model) EPA fuel economy estimates: 19 city/28 highway miles per gallon Engine type: 3.5 liter SOHC 24-valve i-VTEC V6 with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) Horsepower: 248 @ 5700 rpm Torque: 250 pound-feet at 4800 rpm Drive configuration: Front-wheel drive Transmission: 6-speed automatic with Grade Logic Control Suspension Four-wheel independent suspension with front MacPherson struts and stabilizer bar and rear double-wishbones with stabilizer bar Wheels and tires: 17 x 7.0 in. wheels and 235/65R17 103T tires Dimensions Overall length: 202.9 inches Overall width: 79.2 inches Overall height: 68.4 inches Curb weight: 4,396 pounds