Thursday, May 12, 2011

2009 Odyssey EX-L: First week of ownership

After one week of ownership of our 2009 Honda Odyssey EX-L, I have to give it two thumbs up.

I took the minivan to work the other day as it was my responsibility to pick up my son after work.  While the vehicle is bigger than we need at present, even with just one more kid, I can see it being very useful for things like trips to the beach where it'll be easier to clean sand, etc. off the car's floor, and it'll be easier to take all the "stuff" with us that we want to take.  My wife is fair skinned as is my son, so for my son we take a little tent to the beach and we need the umbrella, blankets, chairs, etc.  Fitting this all in the trunk of a Mercury Sable was not pleasant last year.

In terms of performance, the 244 horsepower i-VTEC engine with Variable Cylinder Management is smooth and powerful.  During acceleration and at highway speeds, it doesn't lag a bit or leave you wanting for more.  It is a minivan after all, so it deserves a lot of power to move its heft around.

The braking performance isn't blowing me away, but it's good enough for our driving styles.  When in a minivan, as nice as the engine may be, it's still not something you want to drive in an aggressive manner.  I've heard complaints about the braking performance but in normal city driving and when not tailgating, it's fine.  Even if you do have to punch the brakes at a low speed, the brakes are very responsive.  The problem comes when you're heading off a highway ramp at, say, 60mph, and see traffic up ahead where the driver needs to suddenly slow down.  It's taking some getting used to, to figure out how much pressure to apply, so the braking in these cases isn't always smooth.  Once I get used to it, I'm sure it'll be fine.

We have only driven it a couple hundred miles, and have yet to make use of all the nice rear cargo space.  I plan on folding the third row of seats entirely flat for the summer, as there are only three of us, and it's easy enough to fold one of them back up for an additional passenger should we have one.

Typical of Honda, the EX-L trim is highly refined.  I do miss the extra creature comforts of the Mercedes E-classes I've owned, and even the driving dynamics and smoother transmission of the VW Passat wagon.  But as this is a minivan, the auto climate control for the rear, the extra vents and lights, the leather seating & refined interior are all nicer than one would normally expect in a commonly seen family hauler.

While Honda has a solid reputation for reliability, my only concern going forward are transmission issues that Honda has managed to keep a lid on in recent years.  Join up on a couple of Honda forums focusing on Accord or Odyssey, and you'll know what I mean.  This is reason enough, in my opinion, to purchase an aftermarket extended warranty from a reputable company next year, before the factory warranty runs out.

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