2022 Honda Odyssey outperforms Toyota Sienna and Kia Carnival

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2022 Kia Carnival SX Prestige vs 2022 Toyota Sienna PLT AWD vs 2022 Honda Odyssey Elite: The best way to transport a large family?

This week: Honda Odyssey

Price: $49,335. Forest Mist metallic paint, $395.

Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver likes the “flexible cabin, standard driver-assist tech, effortless convenience,” but not that “removing the second-row seats requires muscle, a firm ride on bigger 19-inch wheels , rivals offer similar functionality and technology.”

Marketer pitch: “So versatile, it’s practically magic.”

Reality: The van that entertains the driver.

Catch up: So far we’ve looked at the blocky newcomer Kia Carnival and the comfortable Toyota Sienna Hybrid and AWD.

READ MORE: Newcomer Kia Carnival takes on favorite minivans Sienna and Odyssey

What’s new: Honda added a few upgrades for 2021, including easier-to-remove middle-row seats and a refreshed exterior, and those upgrades will continue into 2022.

Up to speed: The Odyssey is a driven machine, with 280 horsepower coming from the 3.5-liter V6. Especially in Sport mode, the minivan is the winner in acceleration, going from 0 to 60 in just 6.6 seconds, reports Motor Trend. It has a snappy feel in Drive and Sport modes.

Sly: That power is attached to Honda’s push-button transmission. The 10 speeds work great, but the buttons aren’t my thing. Complain though I can, the folks at Honda seem stuck on it. (I’m trying to help, but they’re stubborn.) Paddle shifters make it easy to change all 10 gears, but no shifting options are there to make the parent’s trip more fun.

Friends and Stuff: Function before form or feeling here, folks. The Odyssey’s seats and materials are very durable and no-frills, even though the seats were leather. In fact, I find the cloth seats in the 10-year-old Sturgis Family Sienna to be softer.

Unfortunately, taller guests won’t find the Odyssey a comfortable place to be. The middle row seats are more comfortable than the others for leg or foot room, and the seat size is rather small and low to the ground.

Like the others, the Odyssey’s third row folds up neatly with a pull of the strap. Cargo space beats the others with 38.6 cubic feet behind the third row, 91 behind the second and 155.7 behind the first row in the Elite model.

» READ MORE: Swiss Army Minivan: The Toyota Sienna is practiced in practicality, but with a catch

Keeping warm and cool: Toggles control temperature and buttons manage fan location and speed.

Rear-seat passengers can also feel a little stuffy, although we didn’t really have the time or the number of Sturgis kids available to put that theory to the test. The rear air vents emerge in front of the sliding doors and next to the third row armrests. The cool air from above would probably make this compartment much more summer friendly.

Play some tunes: Honda obviously has an agreement with music companies to keep parts of songs hidden unless played through the Odyssey’s premium audio system with 11 speakers. It’s the only way I can explain the discovery of previously unknown instruments in songs I’ve been listening to for 20, 30 and even 40 years. I was stopped at an unfamiliar intersection in Wilmington and thought, “Does anyone play the accordion there?” Huh… no, that’s the song I’ve heard three million times.

System operation is standard Honda, with a dial for volume and everything else on the touchscreen.

On the road: I slipped this in here because you’re not worried about how a minivan behaves, are you? But if you are, if you want the driver to be even a minimal consideration, the Odyssey is the only way to go. It’s actually a very easy unit to drive, without much sway or body roll on twisty roads. You might even call it…fun. Plus, it’s really nice on the highway, and not harsh at all.

Night shift: The Odyssey’s headlights were gloomy. I found night driving extremely difficult. Map lights complicate things because they are quite bright and make driving and especially cornering scary.

Fuel economy: The Odyssey was averaging 22 mpg before I even got it. I managed to keep it pretty much the same.

Where it is built: Lincoln, Ala.

How it’s built: Consumer Reports predicts the Odyssey will be a 3 out of 5, down one tick from 2021’s 4.

At the end: If you want a minivan with a stereo, great acceleration and good handling, the Odyssey is your choice. And it also offers the largest cargo carrying capacity.

I was everywhere in the Sienna until the middle row seats got in the way of loading. It offers great fuel economy and all-wheel drive for bad weather, and the greatest comfort for humans. I’d probably still go for that, because the Chrysler Pacifica hybrid also loses Stow-and-Go seats to accommodate the battery.

The new Carnival just doesn’t measure up – the Odyssey beats it, while the Sienna beats it in practice. It’s all three, though.

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