We recently tried out the 2013 Honda Odyssey. To give it a thorough workout, we handed it off to one of our married staffers with two young children. He also had relatives visiting from out of town during his time with the Odyssey, offering the perfect occasion to use Honda's minivan exactly as intended.
Not surprisingly, he was impressed with nearly all the van's family-friendly attributes. Among the high points was being able to anchor a child seat in the middle portion of the second row -- an important feature, which the Odyssey makes possible. By doing so, you can seat three people in the second row and use the third for storage -- important when you have to contend with luggage and all the accessories that accompany small children.
Another strong point was the van's seating position. With front-row bucket seats positioned high off the ground, our staffer felt like he was driving an SUV rather than a minivan. That feature was only aided by the van's engine and transmission, which offer performance that would've been unheard of in a minivan just a few years ago. The transmission, especially, boasts smooth shifts and rarely hunts for the right gear.
The van also impressed us with its wide range of capabilities. Not only is it a family vehicle, but with the seats folded down it can carry a wide array of large items, such as furniture. In fact, with the seats down, the Odyssey's interior reminds us of a pickup truck with a camper shell. The van's stereo was a strong point, as well, though largely unnecessary (yet highly welcome) in a vehicle whose main purpose is shuttling children and passengers.
Of course, there were a few weak spots. One was the automatic rear tailgate, which failed to open when its exterior button was pressed. And once it was open, the tailgate had a little height problem: It stopped just short of hitting our staffer's garage door. That could be an issue in a tight parking garage with low ceilings.
The Odyssey's bigger issue, however, is that -- with seating for seven, nearly 250 horsepower and a long list of features, such as navigation, rear DVD players, leather and dual-zone automatic climate control -- it seemed like overkill for a family of four. Still, the 2013 Honda Odyssey remains a great choice for drivers who never want to worry about how everyone and everything will fit.