With 6,402 miles under its belt, it’s safe to say our 2015 Honda Odyssey is in its prime; fresh enough to feel new, broken in enough to make the most of its 3.5-liter V6, yet not beaten into submission by too many toddler snacks or dog hairs. We now have our Odyssey right where we want it.
Alas, this too shall pass. The floor trays aren’t quickly removed, so the winter’s salt and grime, mixed in with some of Prince Edward Island’s red dirt, is accumulating swiftly. Hairs from the dog, who’s always kept behind the second row, are somehow attracting one another along the sills of the two front doors. We’re rapidly approaching the Odyssey’s first service, a free one at Centennial Honda during our next visit to the in-laws in PEI.
With a dirty, hairy interior and the first service complete, it’s official: our long-term Odyssey is no longer new.
We drove home from Summerside in our Odyssey EX at the end of last June, and continue to accumulate mileage slowly. As often as not, we drive a manufacturer-supplied press car if the dog doesn’t need to join us and the timing is convenient for a child seat swap. There’s a palpable sense of superior horsepower now, but we’ve yet to see the fuel economy figures improve. Not only was our summer driving more highway-centric, the temperatures were obviously milder and we were on all-season rather than winter tires.
Perhaps then, it’s notable that fuel mileage hasn’t noticeably worsened. We’re consistently seeing around 24 miles per gallon on the U.S. scale, just under 10L/100km for Canadians. (MarkPorthouse.net’s calculator is great if you don’t want to do the math yourself.) The Odyssey’s combined EPA rating is 22 mpg. The bulk of our driving is in a suburban setting.
Chasing and overtaking my brother in his 1.4T Cruze away from the MacKay Bridge tolls late one Sunday night in January was a real joy, not just because the Odyssey is quicker than my older brother’s car – especially when accelerating from moderate speeds to a highway pace – but because I’m secure in the knowledge that he doesn’t find any joy in prodding his own minivan. He drives a Dodge Grand Caravan, a van with a best-in-class 3.6-liter 283-horsepower V6. Best-in-class refers, of course, to the horsepower rating, not the engine itself. Lacking refinement, burdened by an uncooperative six-speed automatic, a Grand Caravan commanded to accelerate with all its gusto is not the happiest Grand Caravan, and is owned therefore by an unhappy driver.
That’s not to say the Odyssey’s six-speed automatic has all the charm of an S2000’s manual. Somewhat recalcitrant when cold, the Odyssey’s automatic is periodically befuddled by uphill acceleration at highway speeds. Mileage continues to eradicate many of the transmission’s bad habits, but one wonders why minivan makers can’t install properly smooth and cooperative transmissions; the Sienna and Sedona units aren’t exactly paragons of performance, either.
Through nearly eight months, other complaints merit little attention. With frequent fresh blankets of snow, we’re prompted to reach for sunglasses more often these days than during the fall. This restores the belief that the Odyssey’s sunglasses holder, part of the conversation mirror that provides a great view of the driver but a very distant look at the rear, is among the worst in the automotive industry. Many are built with cheaper materials, but I don’t recall experiencing a sunglass holder so incapable of accepting a pair of sunglasses. Oh, the space inside is acceptable, but the aperture is slim.
All other complaints revolve not around the van but the means by which Honda packages Odysseys. In traditional Honda fashion, there are no options, just trim lines. In hindsight, there are a couple of items that would be very nice to add to an Odyssey EX, but both require a leap to the Odyssey EX-L RES. That’s a CAD $7,010 jump for a power tailgate and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The filth of winter is most apparent on the tailgate, and the tailgate’s grimy state is most obvious under the lip, beside the rearview camera, right where your clean hands must go to open the tailgate.
It’s not a big deal. I’m going to survive without a power tailgate. (I personally despise how slow so many vehicles complete this power-operated task, including the Mercedes-Benz GLC300 we’re driving this week. Take a knee while you wait.) But given the degree to which this has become an expected feature, it’s odd that Honda Canada won’t let you have a power tailgate in an LX, SE, EX, or EX RES. For a power tailgate, American Honda expects you to pay for a $36,950 Odyssey EX-L. It’s unavailable on the $30,300 LX, $33,450 EX, and $34,400 SE.
As for the leather-wrapped wheel, it’s again a feature without which I can cope. But virtually every press vehicle that comes our way is a top-spec model, so every time I get back into my own car, I’m missing out on the key touch point. After extensive time in something fairly miserable like the Honda HR-V, there’s a sense of relief knowing there’s a wildly superior option in our own driveway.
Except that the HR-V’s steering wheel is nice. And our Odyssey’s isn’t.