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FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2011 THE VANCOUVER COURIER

A51

dashboard

Honda minivan raises the bar on sophistication and style

2012 Odyssey makes the box more interesting When it’s time to pack your gear up, rectangular boxes make the most sense. Certainly, cartons that are circular or triangular might be more interesting to look at and may have their uses in specific cases, but they lack the versatility, practicality, and overwhelming usefulness of the tried and true, rectangular box. The same goes for vehicles. If you need maximum passenger space and cargo flexibility, then you need a rectangular box. You need a minivan. Most major automakers sell a seven-passenger SUV, and with Ford and GM having dropped out of the minivan game a few years ago, it would seem that crossovers (which are often, ironically, tall wagons) are winning the war. But not if the people at Honda have anything to say about it. While some automakers continue to build the same old, rectangular boxes, and others have abandoned them completely, Honda has gone another route. They’re building a box that, quite simply, doesn’t look like a boring, rectangular box. And they’re doing a good job of it. That box is, of course, the new Honda Odyssey, and it’s easily one of the most stylish minivans ever produced. It has a lot to live up to, as the past two generations of Odysseys have been some of the most sensible and well-built vehicles on the road. In each successive model, Honda en-

er than competing V6 engines, choosing instead to bump up the torque—a smart move for a vehicle intended to carry lots of people and cargo. Honda has equipped the Odyssey with a six-speed automatic, but only in the topend Touring trim—all other models get a five-speed automatic. Since the Touring costs almost $47,000, most consumers won’t benefit from the more advanced and fuelefficient transmission. Without a doubt, the new Odyssey is smoother, softer, and more luxurious than before, feeling almost on par with an Acura luxury sedan. Unfortunately, the improved, softer ride quality comes with a price, as the Odyssey has lost the sporty handling that made it more fun to drive than other minivans. Environment Up front, the Odyssey is a comfortable cruiser with large buttons and logically placed controls. Some consumers will find the stereo to be mounted a little too low on the centre console, but the steering-mounted controls make up for it. Honda has one of the best seating systems you can get in a minivan, carrying over the last model’s excellent second-row centre seat, which converts the two captain’s chairs into a bench. You can fold the centre backrest to create an arm rest, or remove it entirely for easier access to the third row. The third-row bench has been significantly improved, with an exceptional design that requires a single pull to fold the seat flat into the floor, and large headrests to compensate for the short seatbacks. On models equipped with the power tailgate, owners will appreciate the ability to

cludes ABS, traction control, air conditioning, cruise control, tilt/telescope steering, power windows, remote keyless entry, five-speaker CD stereo, tire-pressure monitoring system, and front/side/ side-curtain airbags. Perhaps the biggest is-

override the auto-opening mechanism by pulling on the handle, which enables the hatch to be quickly and easily paused and reversed. Features The Odyssey starts at $29,990. Standard equipment on all Odysseys in-

sue with the Odyssey is that many of the most desirable features—from the six-speed automatic to the power sliding doors and tailgate—aren’t available on the base LX model, forcing consumers to step up to the $35, 490 EX. editor@automotive.com

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gineers have raised the bar on sophistication in the minivan segment, delivering luxurylevel performance, handling, and ride quality. With the 2012 Odyssey, the sophistication continues to rise, and the styling comes along for the ride. It’s still a rectangular box—and comes with all the advantages of one—but the SUV-like design cues draw your attention that you almost don’t notice. You might even describe it as a crossover minivan, though that’s pushing things a bit. Design The Odyssey’s designers have blessed it with the sharp edges and odd shapes you’d expect to find on the funky CR-Z hatchback, set against a superb front grille that manages to look both tough and refined. It’s still clearly a minivan, but the unique touches give it an uncommon flair. The most striking detail can be found right behind the sliding doors, where the windows dip down in a hard bend. The unusual beltline draws attention to the Odyssey’s forwardleaning stance, giving a sense of power and athleticism you don’t expect in a minivan. On the inside, the Odyssey comes across as functional and business-like, updating the tall dashboard layout found in previous models and maintaining a professional look and feel. Build quality is also a strong point, with excellent materials giving the Odyssey an upscale feel. Perhaps the only real issue with the overall design is Honda’s decision to limit the Odyssey to a boring choice of six mostly monochrome exterior colours. Performance The Odyssey is powered by a 3.5L V6 producing 248-hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. Honda has tuned it for less horsepow-

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Vancouver Courier November 4 2011  
Vancouver Courier November 4 2011  

Vancouver Courier November 4 2011

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