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Prudent Yet Fun: 2012 Honda Odyssey Touring

If you think driving a minivan is a nonstarter and if you’re going to make one of those life passages where you need a vehicle that can fit in six people and cargo on a daily basis, make it easy on yourself and test out the 2012 Honda Odyssey, writes our automotive editor Sally Miller Wyatt.

(Above): Exterior view of the 2012 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite.

I know there are young parents out there who staunchly refuse to admit they’ll ever drive a minivan. It’s represents something they may not be ready to admit, because certain life passages are marked by certain vehicles. When you first get your license, any car is great. When you get your first real paying job, you want to run out and buy that long-awaited two-door sporty coupe. And then, that sporty coupe has to be traded in for more seatbelts, because your tribe is growing in numbers and there’s no room for the infant seats.

If you’ve reached that stage in life, you might want to ease the transition by checking out the 2012 Honda Odyssey minivan.

(Above): Exterior view of the 2012 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite.

First of all, it has captured tons of accolades. It has been named one of Kelley Blue Book’s ‘10 Best Family Cars;’ Motorweek has named it their ‘Driver’s Choice,’ Parenting magazine has awarded it the ‘Smartest Family Car of 2012’ and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has given it a Top Safety Pick. You can tell your pals you’re making a very wise decision when it comes to safety features.

Secondly, it is loaded with space and seatbelts and lots of family-friendly features. Face it, cup holders do matter. So do big, wide windows with built-in sun shades and entertainment centers and rear climate zones and fold-down arm rests and – especially for families with adolescents growing inches by the hour – lots and lots of leg room.

(Above): Exterior view of the 2012 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite.

Find yourself being swayed? How about class-leading fuel economy, a peppy 3.5-liter, 24-valve V-6 engine and 12-speaker, 650-watt sound system? Now, check out the large rear cargo area, and imagine all the fun you and the kids and their friends can have at picnics, tailgates, camping trips and all the other adventurous trappings of family life.

Then there’s the flexibility to be found in all the different trim levels. There are five models in the line up and they start with the base LX, EX, EX-L, Touring and Touring Elite, each offering a combination of features, luxury and in-vehicle entertainment options.

Standard features on all models include air conditioning with front and rear controls, power driver’s seat, power windows with auto up/down feature, tilt and telescoping steering wheel. Move up to the EX and now you get center storage console, a conversation mirror and standard power sliding doors, which are a real convenience when your arms are loaded with babies and packages. The EX-L adds leather seating and heated front seats, rear view mirror, a cool box, XM Radio, and a power tail gate which is also nice to have when your hands are full.

(Above): Interior view of the 2012 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite.

The Touring version adds Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System, driver’s seat with two-position memory, fog lights, parking sensors, and a rear entertainment system with nine-inch screen display. Now, those entertainment systems are great for long trips, but I’m not a fan for around-town driving. This is when you may get the most quality time with your children during our busy days, and having a DVD turned on then just represents a lost opportunity to communicate with your kids, in my opinion.

If you’re going to go all-out, the Touring Elite version adds an extra wide screen on the entertainment system, blind spot information for the driver and High Intensity Discharge headlights and much more.

(Above): The Honda Odyssey has a huge cargo area and can seat six to eight people. The cargo area can be increased by folding the rear seats down to the floor.

I marveled at the amount of legroom the Odyssey offered, not only for second row passengers, but also for the third row. With that third row of seats in the “up” position, you still have a very generously sized rear cargo area, and if those seats are folded flat, the cargo area is huge.

If you’re going to make one of those life passages, make it easy on yourself and test out the 2012 Honda Odyssey.

Sally Miller Wyatt is a freelance writer who writes family-oriented auto reviews for newspapers, magazines and the Web.


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