Car Report: 2014 Honda Odyssey is exciting, for a minivan

WASHINGTON — The minivan isn’t the most exciting class of vehicle, but the 2014 Honda Odyssey is trying to change that. With plenty of space, extensive features and option packages, the Odyssey is trying to move in on the crossover game.

After test-driving the Miata, I decided that I should drive one of the larger vehicles next. It’s an eight-seat 2014 Honda Odyssey minivan. It’s not just any Odyssey, but the top-of-the-line Touring Elite with the built in HondaVac vacuum that you see on the commercials. The vacuum actually works well, and if you back up your other car to the rear hatch you can vacuum it as well.

The 2014 Odyssey has been reworked inside, with an updated interior, and outside, with a refresh of the front- and rear-end styling. It doesn’t look much different than the last Odyssey; it’s more of an evolution of the design.

Some of the changes you can’t see, such as a new six-speed automatic transmission, which helps with fuel economy.

The new 2014 Honda Odyssey starts at less than $30,000 for the seven-seat base, LX trim model, and jumps all the way to the eight-seat Touring Elite, which stickers for $45,280.

The Touring Elite model comes loaded with leather, navigation, sunroof, power rear doors and a large 16-inch rear DVD entertainment system to keep those in the rear seats entertained during trips. There is plenty of room for passengers and things that you need to lug around.

Space is the advantage of the minivan, and this Honda can really haul people in comfort. You can even haul three car seats in the second row. The third row has plenty of room for adults and the seats easily fold away for more storage, but the second row must be removed if you need haul very large items.

Driving the big Honda isn’t a chore; it’s got some spunk for a minivan, with good power and a smooth-shifting transmission. The only engine available on the Odyssey is a V6; it’s very smooth and does well on fuel economy, with 28 mpg on the highway. I averaged 22.5 in a heavy dose of stop-and-go driving.

It can take a few times to get used to parking, but once you drive it a bit you can fit the Odyssey in normal spaces without a problem. All Honda Odysseys are equipped with rearview cameras, which help with backing and parallel parking. It’s comfortable cruising on the highway and is quiet with low noise from the outside, so it doesn’t get tiring after a while behind the wheel.

Editor’s Note: Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI ,FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.