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2016 Honda Odyssey: Perfect long haul ride for 2015 SEMA Show Las Vegas

Schedule: 5 days, 2300 miles, 2015 SEMA Show and Honda’s Epic Tao Club Celebration. 2016 Honda Odyssey made it doable.


Honda’s best long-haul vehicle just happens to be a minivan. You couldn’t have told me that last week without receiving a shrug of disbelieve, or at the least that Parks McCants look of “qualify your statement with a fact or two.”

After all, as of this writing I’ve test driven and reviewed every car and light truck offering in the Honda, Acura lineup, with one exception, the 2017 Acura NSX, that will come soon enough. And frankly, after getting close up and personal with NSX while attending the 2015 SEMA Show Las Vegas, NSX would not be my long-haul-driver of choice, it’s tinny. Was Oddyssey the logical Honda long haul choice?

Prior to this trip I’d been informed by several Honda officianadoes of Odysseys superior drive and ride characteristics, and set out towards Las Vegas, Nevada on a very personal journey quest of sorts. I hadn’t attended SEMA Show Las Vegas since the 1980s, and was looking for a long-term drive review, with Nancy’s blessing it was time to do both.

So, back to the 2016 Honda Odyssey S.E..

Generally, there’s a bit of butt to seat break-in time required for any new vehicle. Our Odyssey test mule was delivered to Eugene,Oregon with 2200 miles showing on the odometer, new by any measure. And yet the cloth covered seat of our silver metallic on gray Odyssey S.E. was surprisingly form fitting and comfortable on first sitting, as was the seemingly infinitely adjustable driver ergonomics.

Although rather ‘bare bones’ when compared to the Odyssey Touring or Touring Elite package, Odyssey Special Edition does present a very comfortable drive and ride environment. Featuring exceptional cabin comfort, passive and standard active safety features, Odyssey S.E. is the logical purchase or lease option for the entry-level budget buyer that wants a bit more Honda minivan for their dollar.

Standard features include a split dash i-MID and 8 inch touch screen dash monitor, Honda Lanewatch ™ blind side camera with distance measurement lines, a wonderful color multi-view backup camera, a drop down 2nd row theater screen for the kids, removable 60/40 split 2nd row seating, and a very usable adult-size store able folding 3rd row seating.

Topping of the standard value afforded through the S.E. package is an exceptional Sirius XM ™ radio sound-quality 7 speaker stereo system, hands-free cell phone connectivity, and satellite radio; all for msrp $32,425.00 plus applicable sales tax and fees,

A lot of minivan for the dollar, and yes, there is a built in vacuum cleaner

O.K., our soccer mom friends would love the rear built in vacuum cleaner. Torque News covered that reveal last year, with Good Housekeeping magazine awarding Honda for innovation back in 2014. But a built in vacuum cleaner while handy, doesn’t make 2016 Honda Odyssey the best long-haul drive and ride vehicle, we’ve driven in the better part of a decade.

It’s what’s under the hood, the drive components and chassis that make Oddyssey perhaps the best long distance road trip travel companion in Honda’s ever-changing lineup.

Keeping it simple: V6, 6 speed, front wheel drive

The #1 vehicle comparison aspect that I personally like about 2016 Odyssey S.E., is the no nonsense simplicity of the vehicle, ease of ingress and egress, as well as the near flat deck transformer-like utility of Odyssey's interior. After driving Odyssey for 2300 miles over 3 very long days, I can state without reservation that I’m surprisingly refreshed.

You will not find a 9 speed transmission, all wheel drive, electric parking brake or adjustable traction control in Odyssey S.E., it doesn’t need it.

Looking to the wind cheating, low roofline exterior of Odyssey gives one a clue as to the superior all-weather ride and drive experience that is Oddyssey. I drove Odyssey across 3 states, through the first major storm of the 2015 fall season without so much as a hiccup.Odyssey is surprisingly stable while driving through inclimate weather.

Honda’s only minivan offering for North America takes a no nonsense approach to personal transportation, while presenting a quality manufactured in the U.S.A. vehicle of measurable good looks and light truck toughness longevity.

In this application Honda’s iconic 3.5 liter i-VTEC V6 engine produces 248 horsepower and 250 lb-ft torque @ 4800 rpms, right where one needs the power for passing. I found the 6 speed automatic transmission to work seamlessly with the engine. Never lacking for power when called for, 2016 Honda Odyssey S.E. traveled effortlessly over the highways and byways of Oregon, Nevada and California (in that order) while averaging a combined 24.5 mpg, under all weather and road conditions.

Toasty warm, agile, quiet and sure footed

38 hours out on the road will give one a true sense of the outstanding compilation of creature comfort, travel-utility, (yes, I camped in it!) and drive capability that is the highest safety and performance rated minivan in North America. Hey, I’m not taking anything away from the competition, there are several very good minivans available to the market, but I’m a Honda fan, especially after this run.

40 mph wind, snow, rain downpour and sandstorms

I left Eugene, Oregon Sunday morning around 10 a.m.. Rain was promised for the day, but hey, Vegas was no less than 900 miles down the road, 2015 SEMA Show Las Vegas was under way, and Honda’s Ridgeline reveal was on the docket for Tuesday morning, so I thought.

Topping off the fuel tank with regular unleaded, I pointed Odyssey southeast, heading off toward Crater Lake and Klamath Falls Oregon. Hey, I was tired when I walked out the front door. 26 hours later I would be staring at the skyline of Sin City.

This is part 1 of a 3 part series