Auto123 reviews the 2022 Honda Odyssey.
Oh, the minivan. The venerable do-anything family hauler that took the world by storm in the mid-80s – and probably peaked in the mid-to-late-90s, when GM ran a version of its minivan for almost every brand under its umbrella, including Saturn and Oldsmobile – may not be as common these days due to the market takeover by three-row crossovers and SUVs, but the ones that do exist continue to be popular.
One of those is the Honda Odyssey, a big-body of a van that has been a segment leader ever since its inception and has managed to outlive competition from Nissan, GM, Ford and Mazda.
Not much changes for the 2022 model year as the Odyssey had a big facelift for 2021. The result of that facelift was a van that looked much more akin to something you might see for the Japanese market thanks to its aggressive grille and headlight treatment, not to mention the rather un-subtle creases across the massive sliding doors, kicked-up beltline and blacked-out wheels. Those look somewhat funny surrounded by the huge winter rubber and side slabs, but either way, wheels like that on a minivan? That takes some guts.
The rear end, meanwhile, bears some stylistic resemblance to the Accord sedan, which begs the question as to whether or not the style is just window dressing, or if maybe it hints at some other underlying strengths.
Inside, the futuristic theme continues with a digitized gauge cluster, red glowing start/stop button, 8-inch infotainment display and waterfall-style lower console where the push-button transmission controls sit, along with the Snow and Econ buttons and seat heating/cooling buttons. Yes, there are buttons, traditional, hard buttons as opposed to a touch panel. Which I like, as hard buttons are just easier to use when moving. Same goes for the climate controls above those buttons. All traditional buttons. Sure, it may look a little busy, but it works and doesn’t attract dust and fingerprints as much as it would if it were a full-touch interface.
Speaking of interfaces, Honda’s infotainment system is fresh-looking but a little on the clunky side. The main screen is fine, but the submenu above it features small buttons and it’s not always clear just what each button does, if it’s a button and all. There is support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, though, which is nice but it’s a wired set-up, even though there is wireless charging.
The infotainment system is also your gateway to one of my favourite features in here and other family-oriented vehicles. Here, it’s called CabinWatch and it’s a camera over the second- and third-rows. If little Jimmy is picking his nose, that booger will be shown in hi-def; if Sarah has finally fallen asleep, you’ll know. Doesn’t really work for rear-facing child seats, but it’s complimented by a convex mirror that provides a nice panoramic view rearwards. The various displays stop short of a digitized rear-view mirror, but I’d say that’s a less important feature in a minivan with its tall ceiling and big windows all-round, which means there’s less chance of a passenger’s head obstructing your view rearwards.
Speaking of the rear seats and cargo, the second row does slide and the seatback will tilt forward for access to the third row. You can also tilt the entire shebang if you want, but it’s awkward to do, it’s heavy and gets even heavier if you have a car seat on there. Which, really, is why you want to be able to tilt the entire seat; so you can leave a car seat on there and still have access to the third row.
Comfort-wise, the second-row bench is a cushy, spacious place to spend a road trip. The middle section folds flat, revealing a storage bin and three cupholders, one of which is slightly smaller for baby-sized cups. The third row, however, left me wanting a little. I like that there’s four cupholders back there, but it just didn’t feel quite as cavernous as some other minivans I’ve tried, especially the Toyota Sienna.
The third row can be easily stowed into the floor, however, which is nice although it doesn’t leave a full-flat load floor. The folded setbacks are canted slightly down towards the second row, which isn’t the end of the world because if stuff were to slide, it would at least slide forward and brace against the second-row setbacks. When the third row is deployed, a nicely-sized bin is left behind but the HondaVac on-board vacuum cleaner feature is no longer due to supply issues. Pity, as it was a handy feature.
Returning unchanged from 2021 is the powertrain, which is fine because what we have here is a humdinger of a V6 that comes complete with almost 300 hp – three hundred! – and 262 lb-ft of torque, all governed by Honda’s proprietary i-VTEC valve timing tech and fed to the front wheel via a proper 10-speed automatic. Yep, no CVT tomfoolery here, just a good ol’ cog-swapper that even gets a pair of shift paddles. Shift paddles! In a minivan! Two-tone wheels! What is Honda on? I want some!
Well, to put it plainly the Odyssey is a perfect fit in the minivan world of today, in which all the vans we still get – from Kia, Chrysler, Dodge and Toyota – kind of all have their own niches and Honda’s just happens to be the one for drivers who may want just that much more involvement.