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2014 Honda Odyssey arrives with big improvements and one accessory that really sucks

The world's most popular maxi-van is refreshed with some very attractive improvements in fuel economy, safety, cell-phone ease of use, and hygiene.

The 2014 Honda Odyssey arrives in dealerships in 2 weeks. The new model year brings changes to many of the most important parts of this vehicle, but this is a refresh not a major redesign. Honda claims class leading fuel economy as a result of the changes, which families will surely welcome.

The Honda Odyssey and arch rival the Toyota Sienna both sell in numbers over 100,000 units per year. This year Honda leads the sales contest by about 4% over the Sienna. Honda plans to keep it that way, and the new changes are intended to put a little space between the Toyota family hauler and Honda’s fourth leading selling automobile.

Honda Odyssey Fuel Economy Improvement for 2014
The most important change in terms of fuel economy will be the Odyssey moving to a 6 speed automatic transmission on all trims. This will bump up the fuel economy ratings for all Odysseys to 19 mpg city, 28 highway. That is up from 18/27 on most trims last year. Although it may not seem like much, that is a 3% gain in fuel efficiency which will help to offset the cost of gas for owners. In a vehicle this size and weight it is pretty hard to beat that number without spending almost double the price of an Odyssey and ending up with a hybrid sport ute which won’t do any better on the highway.

Honda Odyssey Safety Upgrades for 2014
The second most important change is that Honda has modified the front structure of the Odyssey so that it can now pass the Institute For Highway Safety’s small frontal overlap test and achieve the highest possible rating of Top Safety Pick+ - but note that it has not yet been tested. We are confident that the Honda Advanced Compatibility Structure (ACE) will do the job. The automakers have the new test figured out, it is just a matter of them applying the required front structure bolsters. This new test is no joke, and families should be shopping that “+” after the rating carefully. Optional will be a forward collision system, blind spot alert, and lane departure warning.

Honda Odyssey Cell Phone Interface Improvements for 2014
Moms with phones glued to the side of their face will no longer have a good excuse for that ridiculously unsafe behavior since BlueTooth is now standard on all trims. There is also a new SMS texting function so mom can make her tennis reservations without actually speaking to the club. Pandora is standard now too. Frankly, it is about time. These features have been available on vehicles costing half this price for about 5 years.

The HondaVAC
Finally, the smartest and coolest feature we have seen in a long time finally arrives July 6th when the Odyssey hits dealers. That is the HondaVAC, which is an on-board, built in vacuum cleaner that has been tested by NASA and approved for Pizza Goldfish duty. It is also able to snarf up turf clusters left by cleats, pet hair, and 1/3 of a chocolate chip cookie. In order to get this cool feature one must step up to the Honda Odyssey Touring Elite model, which sounds to us a lot like the model Chevy Chase ended up with in the movie Vacation. Given the amount of time families spend in these rolling rec-rooms it seems like a good investment.

Photo courtesy of and AOL Autos