My friends call me gadget girl. I troubleshoot their computers, I teach them how to use cool features on their cell phones, and I have more electronic "toys" than most of their husbands. Even more frightening, two of the top three things on my holiday list are electronics (I am not a complete tech-head, the third item is an all-day package at my favorite spa). I really find technology irresistible, so you can imagine my delight in the feature packed Honda Odyssey.
I grin from ear to ear as I get into the driver's seat. I put the car in reverse and the first of many features catches my eye. Wow! It has a reverse camera that displays on the navigation system's large screen. I can see everything behind the van, and it has an infrared light so the view is clear, even in the dark. This is such an important safety feature, being able to see an object, and more importantly a child, behind such a large vehicle, it really puts my mind at ease.
That is not the end of the safety features of the Odyssey. It has standard side curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, a stability system and three sets of Latch connectors, just to name a few.
Now, let's get to the gadgets. The navigation system is the most obvious. I decide to plan a route to my house. Quickly, I find that this is not as easy as it looks; I wait until I am parked in my driveway to familiarize myself with this robust feature. I arrive home and open one of the two glove compartments to get out the manual. In addition to the full manual I find a "quick start" flip chart, a DVD and an entire book dedicated to the navigation system. I pop the disk into the DVD player and climb into the back seat to watch the show. Although my kids are disappointed with the content, it is a good overview.
We take another spin, this time I'm prepared to use the voice-activation portion of the navigation system. What a difference some information makes! I successfully program an address into the system without taking my eyes off the road. The navigation system guides me to my destination. Success! I can think of a million ways I could use this system in my daily life. I can look up a phone number; locate the nearest Starbucks; get door-to-door directions to that birthday party on the opposite side of town.
The entertainment system is also high on my list of fun gadgets. Again I turn to the Odyssey DVD to give me some assistance. I discover that I can remove the control panel from the ceiling and use it as a remote control. I wonder exactly how long it will take for me or my children to misplace that puppy.
I determine the most imperative thing to learn about the entertainment system is how to let the kids listen to the XM kids radio station on a pair of wireless headphones while I listen to my favorite XM stations in the front. My 13-year-old also has a headphone jack in the "way back," so if he takes off his iPod at any point he can listen and watch the DVD using his own headphones, rather than steal a wireless pair from his younger brother or sister. My kids dig this car.
Some other family-friendly gadgets on the Odyssey are the rear passenger sun-shades which are convenient and oh, so much better than the suction-cup variety; the lazy-susan storage tray hidden in the floor of the second row; and the ability to configure the cargo and seating area in so many ways it makes my head spin.
Although I adore the all the gizmos in this minivan, there are a few things that leave me feeling a little annoyed. The first is the center seatbelts in the second and third rows. The shoulder portion of these belts pulls down from the ceiling and obstructs my rear view. The other feature that looks great on paper but is not very functional is the conversation mirror. It doesn't adjust like other ones I've used, and only allows me to view the passengers over my right shoulder, not the ones directly behind me, the ones that are the most difficult to view while driving.
I am obviously charmed by the Honda Odyssey. I think it is an impressive mom's car. The main thing I am taking away from my week with the Odyssey is that the features are robust, but not very intuitive and even geeky girls like me need to read the manual.
*For more information on the Honda Odyssey and its safety features visit Cars.com.
LET'S TALK NUMBERS LATCH Connectors: 3 Seating Capacity (includes driver): 8
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample-Galore
SENSE AND STYLE Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Excellent Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times