It’s only taken me about four years, but I’ve now fully accepted the fact that, yes, I am indeed a parent. I have a tiny human being who calls me “mum” and looks to me to guide him, feed him, and keep him happy and healthy and learning every day. I am no longer a singular entity and am very much a duo with my backseat driver.
I’ve also realized that there are lots and lots of people in the world very much like me, only they have multiple tiny human beings looking to them for the same things.
While the concept of multiple children makes my anxieties rise and my palms sweaty, I know many folks who absolutely relish the idea of a large family. I tip my hat to them.
Here’s a suggestion if they require a 3-row vehicle: turn to the mighty minivan.
No, it doesn’t have to crush your soul or steal your manhood. In fact, it can be pretty damn cool, and the 2016 Honda Odyssey proves that to perfection.
The cool kid
I know it can be difficult to grasp, but minivans can actually be cool. Take for example the incredible amount of interior space they provide. Behind the Honda Odyssey’s third row alone, you’ll find 846 litres of cargo room. Fold all the rear seats down (an absolute breeze with the seats storing neatly into the floor to create a flat surface) and you’re looking at 4,205 litres of cavernous space to put anything and everything your heart desires.
Then there’s the seating capacity; up to eight people can fit in your Odyssey. And comfortably, too. Trust me, I know. I played designated driver for a girl’s night out, and all eight of us fit wonderfully in the Honda Odyssey. Also, getting in and out with skirts and heels was super easy thanks to the sliding second-row seats.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Generous interior space isn’t cool enough. I mean, interior space can be found in SUVs, too, right? Well, SUVs tend to run much higher in price and usually aren’t as fuel-efficient. Plus, they’re lacking another van-specific feature: power-sliding side doors.
This might be my absolutely favourite thing on a minivan. From crowded parking lots to cargo loading, everything is just so much easier with power-sliding side doors. Add to that the fact that they can be opened and closed either from the driver’s seat (much to my son’s delight as I opened and closed the doors in front of his daycare friends who were all watching with amazement from the classroom window) or a button in the rear for each side. My son loved the fact that he could play with the door just by pressing said button.
Interior full of goodies
Another selling factor of minivans is that their interiors are usually loaded with bits and bobs designed to keep everyone on board happy and comfortable no matter what journey they embark on. This is very much true in the case of my particular 2016 Honda Odyssey Touring model, which was packed to the gills with every extra you could possibly imagine.
From tri-zone climate control (which can be adjusted via roof-mounted panels in the rear or the HVAC controls up front) to a total of 15 cup holders along with a removable cooler located between the front captain’s chairs, not to mention a gigantic 16.2” display that drops down from the ceiling in the second row (accompanied by two wireless headphones and two more headphone jacks), this Odyssey really has all the bells and whistles.
Unique to the Touring trim of the Honda Odyssey is an uber-cool and practical feature known as the HondaVAC, and it’s exactly what you think it is: an in-car vacuum! Simply turn on the vehicle, and you’ve got your own personal shop vac in the rear that’s long enough to reach up to the second row so any and all messes can be easily dealt with. The shop vac unit can be removed for emptying, and it comes with two different nozzle attachments depending on what kind of mess you’re trying to rid your Odyssey of.
It seems like a bit of a kitchy feature, but to be honest, as a mother I see the merit in it. Truthfully, living in a different car each week means they don’t have time to get that dirty, but the ones that do are usually full of crumbs, mud, pebbles, salt, etc. in the rear seat where my son’s been sitting for the duration of the week. Having my own portable vacuum would make all the difference.
And then some more…
Of course, the integrated rear vacuum is super cool and a great feature, but it’s not the number one selling point on the 2016 Honda Odyssey. Rather, I believe it’s the engine and drivability. After all, we’re talking about a Honda.
Equipped with the same 3.5L V6 found in the Accord, the Odyssey provides 248 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque in any trim. A 6-speed automatic transmission with Grade Logic Control keeps track of that power, which is sent to the front wheels. What’s more, Honda’s Drive-by-Wire throttle system is an absolute joy.
Driving the 2016 Honda Odyssey Touring is essentially identical to driving the Accord, in my opinion. Sure, the former is heavier with a 2,090kg curb weight (and you have to factor that in when braking), but otherwise it feels nimble and light, corners as well as the sedan, and its throttle response is on point and not at all lag-y or stunted.
Visibility is also fantastic in the Odyssey thanks to the large windows and a high seating position in the driver’s captain chair.
The best minivan out there?
While there aren’t many choices when it comes to minivans these days, a few of them definitely stand out above the rest. Is the Honda Odyssey the best? In terms of drivability and design, I think so. However, when you look at the near $50,000 MSRP of my Touring tester and place it alongside a Dodge Grand Caravan that can be had for almost half that price with more than enough creature comforts (no vacuum, though), it’s hard to justify the Odyssey’s final price tag.
Thankfully, there is a well-equipped Odyssey available at just over $30,000 that gets you that fabulous Honda drive and all the interior space and practicality you’d want from a minivan.