While some automakers have abandoned the minivan segment, Honda is out to prove its leadership in this arena yet again with the release of the 2014 Odyssey Touring Elite. The new model has already begun an interesting marketing campaign in the quest to prove the Honda minivan doesn’t suck with the launch of an all-new feature that, well, truly sucks.
Why it took an automaker four decades to introduce a built-in vacuum in a minivan is a mystery as kids have been dropping stuff on the carpeted floors since they were first strapped in the second or third rows. And in all that time both full and self service car washes have been “cleaning up” by cleaning the interiors up, sucking up animal crackers, goldfish, gummy bears, crayons and a host of other things falling from those little hands.
Introducing the new HondaVAC that arrived this summer. After a week in a 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite minivan one finds everything expected in a minivan including the less-than-stellar automotive experience common to vehicles in the segment. The HondaVAC, however, proved to work surprisingly well, even picking up rocks and grass deposited on the front floormats. The base unit is secured in a sidewall in the rear of the van and a flexible hose with assorted attachment nozzles stretches into duty to clean things up inside. One could even use this system to clean other's vehicles as well, just pull them up behind the Honda and knock your lights out.
Odyssey was redesigned several years back but still arrives with the standard fare in the way of comfort and convenience features along with a host of safety and driving technologies including lane departure warning, forward collision warning and blind spot monitoring. The Honda is also a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS.
For 2014, Odyssey did get some minor trim updates outside including new hood and front fenders, new front fascia and grille and finishes with new LED taillight bars.
Inside, an all-new center stack hosts new features including HD Radio, SMS text message function, HondaLink driver connectivity with Aha Mobile interface and the HondaLink smartphone app. For rear occupants, Odyssey sports the widest second-row video monitor in the industry allowing for split-screen viewing and there is even an HDMI plug in the third row allowing for high-resolution accessories.
The Honda minivan is powered by the 248hp 3.5-liter V-6 i-VTEC engine with variable cylinder management backed by six-speed automatic transmission with Grade Logic Control that offers fuel economy of 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.
Minivans are some of the easiest vehicles on the road today to operate while offering vast flexibility of function ranging from three row people movers to wide open cargo boxes. Power sliding side doors and power rear hatch, all accessible via keyfob, make things even easier.
The minivan may not get much respect and it certainly does not turn heads on the road or in parking lots and this is a shame as it still offers so much to families and small business owners. While many are priced reasonably, the Touring Elite package on the new 2014 Honda Odyssey does bring the pricetag up a bit with this tester arriving at just over 45 grand, an amount we might all agree is a lot of cash for a minivan that “sucks.”