While its name may bring to mind tales of epic sailing adventures penned by an ancient Greek poet, the 2015 Honda Odyssey isn't really designed to go exploring uncharted waters. It will, however, take you and your valiant crew members pretty much anywhere else you'd care to go in comfort and style.
Fresh off last year's makeover, this best-selling minivan offers seating for up to eight passengers in three rows. The cabin is full of innovative features, including second-row seats with sections that can be spread apart to keep sparring siblings at arm's length or rearranged to create a middle or side aisle. On upper trim levels, the center portion of the seat can even be scooted forward to keep high-maintenance young'uns close at hand. Dark-tinted rear privacy glass and side-window sunshades do their part to help backseat passengers keep their cool.
There are a number of nifty technology items here as well, like an 8-inch color touchscreen audio interface, smartphone app integration, active noise cancellation, a standard rearview camera and even a built-in vacuum designed to take care of the messes kids inevitably leave in their wake. Top scores in government and insurance industry crash tests, combined with advanced safety features like optional forward collision alert and lane-departure warning, are available to help drivers avoid potential collisions altogether.
Perhaps the Odyssey's most notable attribute, however, is a driving experience that feels a good bit more engaging than what you get from other competing minivans. Though the Odyssey -- like virtually all modern minivans -- long ago outgrew its "mini" dimensions, it rides and handles like a smaller vehicle. The 3.5-liter V6 engine complements this with quick acceleration and respectable EPA fuel economy ratings.
Though there's a lot to like about the 2015 Honda Odyssey, buyers who feel the need to explore all their options should have a look at the substantially revised 2015 Toyota Sienna, which boasts a more powerful V6 and available all-wheel drive, plus newly added technology and safety features. The Nissan Quest is also worth considering by virtue of its handsome, high-quality interior. If price is a top consideration, models like the Dodge Grand Caravan or the all-new Ford Transit Connect wagon are solid lower-cost options. Yet, even measured against all these worthy rivals, the 2015 Honda Odyssey is a very likable traveling companion, no matter where your adventures may take you.
The 2015 Honda Odyssey is offered in five trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L, Touring and Touring Elite.
The entry-level seven-passenger LX is well-equipped with 17-inch steel wheels, variable intermittent wipers, rear privacy glass, a rear spoiler, keyless entry, manual two-zone air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat, a four-way power front passenger seat, a 60/40 split-folding third-row seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, full power accessories, cruise control, an 8-inch multi-information display, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera, text-to-speech functionality and a seven-speaker audio system with a CD player, Pandora compatibility, an auxiliary audio input jack and a USB/iPod interface.
Moving up to the eight-passenger EX model gets you 17-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, power-sliding side doors, keyless ignition and entry, tri-zone automatic climate control, a power lumbar adjustment for the driver, a multi-adjustable second-row seat, a removable front center console, retractable second-row sunshades and a conversation mirror. The EX also features Honda's "LaneWatch" blind-spot camera system (built into the passenger-side mirror) and an additional 7-inch touchscreen with HondaLink smartphone app integration.
EX-L versions add a sunroof, a power liftgate, forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems, leather seating (front and outboard second row), heated front seats, a chilled storage box, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and satellite radio. Options include a choice of a voice-operated navigation system with a rearview camera or a rear-seat entertainment system. These two systems can't be ordered together on the EX-L.
Move up to the Touring model and you gain 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, front and rear parking sensors, driver memory settings, a 115-volt household-style power outlet, retractable third-row sunshades and a fold-down armrest for third-row passengers. Additionally, both the navigation and rear-seat entertainment systems are standard. The Touring Elite model adds xenon headlights, a regular blind-spot warning system, an integrated vacuum cleaner, an upgraded rear-seat entertainment system (with a widescreen video monitor and HDMI input) and a premium 12-speaker surround-sound audio system with HD radio.
As befitting a purpose-built people mover, the engineers who created the 2015 Odyssey's interior put a lot of thought into its seating arrangements. Particularly noteworthy is the multifunction second-row seat that can be adjusted to create a middle aisle or side aisle for easier third-row access. On EX and higher trim levels, the center portion of the second-row bench can slide forward more than 5 inches to put the youngest passenger's car seat within easy reach of mom or dad.
Further proof that the Odyssey's design team sweated the details can be found in the passenger cabin's many clever features, like the handy flip-up trash bag holder built into the removable center console, and the cooling compartment that means a refreshing beverage is always close at hand. The large touchscreen included on all but the base LX model serves as a rearview camera display and provides access to audio system controls, including popular apps like Pandora. The remaining controls are sensibly arranged and clearly labeled in a way that makes everything very user-friendly.
Buyers who simply must have all the toys will gravitate to the Touring Elite model, which includes a rear-seat entertainment system built around a widescreen monitor that can play two different sources -- a DVD and a video game, for example -- at the same time. This top-of-the-line model also comes equipped with Honda's unique built-in vacuum with a 10-foot hose capable of reaching crumbs in every corner of the cabin.
When it comes to hauling things, the Odyssey's cavernous interior is remarkably flexible. Even with a full load of passengers, there's still a generous 38.4 cubic feet of space behind the third row. Folding the 60/40-split third-row seat into the floor is simple and creates a 93.1-cubic-foot cargo hold behind the second row. The downside to the design of those second-row seats (55 pounds each) quickly becomes apparent when you discover they must be removed and stored to make full use of the Odyssey's 148.5 cubic feet of total cargo capacity.
The 2015 Honda Odyssey is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 248 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. EPA estimates are very good for a minivan at 22 mpg combined (19 city/28 highway), and we achieved close to 21 mpg in real-world mixed driving.
At the Edmunds test track, a Touring Elite accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8 seconds. That's fairly quick for such a big vehicle, and just ahead of the average for minivans. Properly equipped, the Honda Odyssey can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
While the 2015 Honda Odyssey's V6 may be out-muscled by rivals like the Toyota Sienna, there's still more than enough power to handle situations like passing slower cars on a two-lane country road or merging onto a busy urban freeway. The suspension delivers a nice balance of ride comfort and secure handling, which is further enhanced by the most precise and responsive steering feel in the minivan segment. These were only some of the reasons we favored the Odyssey in a head-to-head comparison test against the Sienna.
After you've been on the road for a while, however, you may begin to notice what's missing: wind and road noise. The Odyssey is pretty quiet for a big box on wheels, which is no doubt helped out by the standard active noise-canceling technology that senses and electronically nullifies whatever unwelcome sounds manage to enter the cabin.
The 2015 Honda Odyssey comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front seat side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags that cover all three rows and front-seat active head restraints.
A rearview camera is standard on all models, with an upgraded multi-angle rearview camera available as an option on the EX-L and standard on the Touring and Touring Elite. The Odyssey EX, EX-L and Touring models come standard with Honda's "LaneWatch" blind-spot camera system, and Touring Elite models come with an additional conventional blind-spot warning system. Forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems are standard on EX-L, Touring and Touring Elite models, though it should be noted that this collision warning setup lacks the auto-braking feature found in many similar systems.
In Edmunds simulated panic-stop testing, the most recent Honda Odyssey Touring Elite stopped from 60 mph in 131 feet, which is a few feet longer than average for vehicles in this segment.
The Odyssey earned a five-star rating (out of five) for overall crash protection in government tests, with five stars for overall frontal impact safety and five stars for side-impact safety. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, it received a top rating of "Good" for its performance in the frontal-offset tests (both small and moderate overlaps) and the side-impact and roof-strength tests. It also earned a top rating for its seats and head restraint design for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
The 2015 Honda Odyssey is unchanged.