Test Drive: 2012 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite

?2012 Honda Odyssey serves up enhanced technology?

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Honda?s award-winning and class-leading Odyssey minivan benefited from a complete redesign for the 2011 model year, displaying a more distinctive style; an interior that delivered more versatility and functionality, and a powertrain that yielded improved fuel economy ratings.

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Long recognized for its innovation in packaging, responsive handling attributes, comfortable occupant accommodation, state-of-the-art safety features, long lasting residual value, high build quality and refinement, the Odyssey represents what Honda is referring to as its vision of the ?ultimate in family transportation?. I guess that really depends on one?s family values along with taste in design, and vehicle needs and requirements. Admittedly, the mere mention of the term minivan tends to ?turn off? many individuals, but there are also devout fans of the multi-purpose craft, and I happen to be one of them. Once a seemingly fading vehicular segment, the minivan is without a doubt making a resurgence in popularity. Forget the Soccer Mom label, the minivan is perhaps the most versatile vehicle on the planet for anyone who has no intention of venturing off-road and who has a concern for the environment, and disdains SUVs.

Competition in the minivan market segment continues to grow at a progressively rapid pace, evidenced by several newly designed entries from several manufacturers. All are improved and have become more appealing in terms of design and content.

The 2012 Honda Odyssey rolls onto the playing field with an aerodynamic form, displaying a low roofline, while sacrificing little, if any vertical interior space. The vehicle?s profile is distinguishable by its unique ?lightning-bolt? beltline that serves to deliver a sportier look, but also happens to benefit outward visibility for third row occupants. The overall form tapers rearward in an all-encompassing mono-volume shape, and body-to-wheel proportions tend to reduce the perception of vertical height, with pronounced fender flares accenting the Odyssey?s purposeful, low, planted and aggressive stance. Projector-beam headlamps and form-fit fog-lamps are available for an even more upscale flavor and appearance on specific models.

The new Odyssey comes in five levels of trim: the base model LX; the EX; an EX-L; the Touring; and the top-of-the-line Touring Elite. All levels of trim provide eight-passenger seating except for the LX which is only a seven-seater.

 

The motive force for all Odysseys is courtesy of a 3.5-liter SOHC 24-valve i-VTEC V6 engine with Variable Cylinder Management and electronic multi-pointfuel injection. The engine is positioned transversely up front and makes 248horsepower at 5,700 rpm while producing 250 pound feet of torque at 4,800 rpm.

Power is delivered to the front wheels via a five-speed automatic transmission on?all models except the Touring and Touring Elite, which employ a six-speed?automatic.

 

 

Major highlights of the 2012 Honda Odyssey include the distinctive exterior?Styling; functional seating that offers a second-row wide mode and?easier operation of the 60/40 split 3rd Row Magic Seat; the class-leading five?LATCH positions for child restraint seats (LX only offers four); the six-speed?transmission as standard for Odyssey on Touring models; and the admirable fuel?economy.

Standard safety features include: front, front-side and side-curtain airbags with roll-over sensor; Vehicle Stability Assist?; ABS; EBD; BA; Tire Pressure Monitoring System; Daytime running lights; Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure; active front head restraints; Blind Spot Information System; front and rear parking sensors; and more.

?My 2012 Honda Odyssey came in Touring Elite trim finished outside in Alabaster Silver metallic and done inside in Grey and Charcoal tones. The base sticker read $43,675, (up $425. Over last year?s model) which, with the Destination and Handling charge, came to a total of $44,485. The inventory list of standard equipment seemed endless ? basically, if it wasn?t on the list you probably don?t need it, or can at least do without it.

SUMMARY: The Honda Odyssey serves up a plethora of desirable qualities, not the least of which is the ideal height for ease of ingress and egress. Gear storage is optimum, with cubbies and bins galore. Cupholders are both plentiful and sensibly placed. Seating is easily reconfigurable, stowing and repositioning without a hassle, and providing maximum versatility to deal with a variety of passenger/cargo needs.

In terms of performance, the Odyssey delivers satisfying acceleration, smooth shifting, a comfortable ride quality and sedan-like handling characteristics with Variable Assist rack-and-pinion steering, and the Touring Elite delivered virtually all the amenities necessary for a rewarding cross-country sojourn. Features such as: the Navigation system with voice recognition and multi-view rear camera and FM traffic; an ultra-wide 16.2-inch DVD rear entertainment system with HDMI and wireless headsets, USB interface, Bluetooth connectivity; XM satellite radio; power moonroof with tilt feature; dual power sliding side doors; power tailgate; heated power door mirrors with turn indicators; and remote entry with security system, truly do make for the ?Ultimate in Family Transportation.

 

For 2012, the Odyssey includes Bluetooth? HandsFreeLink?, the intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID) with an 8-inch TFT screen, a 2-GB CD Library and a USB Audio Interface. Bottom-line, if you can?t enjoy a long trip in the 2012 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite, then you probably ought to stay home, because it?s a pretty good bet that, you?re the impossible to please type who doesn?t like to travel.