So Can A Toyota Driver Love The New (2011) Honda Odyssey?

REVIEWS | | December 29, 2010 at 11:37 pm

To be clear not just a Toyota driver, but a Toyota lover! Yeah – that would be a tough audience. So during late summer I attended a media event in San Diego to celebrate the launch of the 2011 Honda Odyssey. Before you get all “Mommy Niri, was that not several months away – what took you so long?” – I think it is a fair question and one that deserves an answer. The regular mixture of life, kids (with special needs), traveling and campaigns are just part of the reason it took so long. The bigger reason though was I needed to wrap my head around this. So, I have a big head that it took so long.

I could just put a news item and go gaga over all the features with all the pricing etc and maybe made the PR companies thrilled. But then I would feel like I had cheated on you. You guys read my blog (oh man, I hope you do) so you know how I gushed about Toyota (even after the recalls) and my friends trust me and see me driving both our Toyota cars and seriously I do not want any post of mine to sound like an advert – that would feel like me selling out – really it would. Plus I would hate to offend you by just copying over manufacturer’s details right here – there is a reason why you read blogs and I want to honor that. But I am writing this now but I promise it will be with the Mommy Niri style you love (or will grow to love).

When I originally thought to buy my minivan, I wanted a Toyota but there was only one other car I would explore and that was the Honda Odyssey. The fact that the Odyssey was so in demand meant some waiting and since I was buying the car and needed it soon (like in a weekend – long story) I opted for the Sienna. So here is what you won’t find in this post – no prices, no specs, no technical details (not that the engineer in me is scared about details) etc. If you want those – there are plenty of other places – including the wonderful Honda site to get them. As a mama who drives a minivan I am going to lay what means a lot to me. Firstly kudos to the team at Honda – for what they claim to be their first blogger outreach they went above and beyond treating us with respect. It is seldom that you see in-house PR so with-it and are pretty frank about learning this new field (rather than the flat-out pretentious attitude from many companies). I know it was not popular with all bloggers but I appreciated that they kept the traditional media pitch (which I assume to be mainly male) to be shown to us new media folks. But then again I love when someone does not assume I am not smart with technical details. Of course there were things I did not know but I was not afraid to ask.

My Toyota Sienna minivan is, like most minivans, a fuel guzzler so I was happy to learn that they had made the newer Honda Odyssey more fuel efficient – of course I wish for a greener minivan but they confessed it was as light on fuel they could get without compromising performance. I could not fault them for that since I think majority of the population has not embraced a greener way of living too – especially since I myself am crawling in that direction.

I loved that we got got to speak to the actual engineers (being a software engineer I am geeky that way) and learn about something they had been working on for years. The next day of test-driving was not your ole “drive around the block” but one that took a few hours, just with one fellow blogger driving buddy, broken midway. Most everything was perfect, the scenery and length to actually see how that baby moves. The only fly in the ointment was the fact that we were on a new route and without a GPS. Sure we were each given a pretty nice paper map┬ádirections to follow – it also meant we spent more time looking at it than we should.

When I took the wheel, I was already a Toyota lover, not expecting to enjoy the ride. It shocked me that I slipped right in. There was no “learning curve” or adjusting. I liked it.I could just get in and drive and be none the wiser. In fact I would have forgotten which car I was driving except for a few glaring differences. Those windy turns in San Diego took my breath away. Oh, the place was beautiful but it was the way the car hugged the road. Now, as I said I already drive a minivan so to impress me would not be easy. I did not feel the usual “I am floating in the air while my car takes that turn” – a feeling which some may like but to me it feels like I don’t have total control on the car. The Honda Odyssey handled the road amazingly that I felt totally confident.

In fact to further prove how well it did this we were taken to a little driving obstacle course. I am a wimp and drove more cautiously through it, but one of the guys over at Honda who is really good at handling the speed with ease offered me a ride with him. I took out my Flip camera and had I not had that to focus on, I would have thrown up – seriously rollercoaster ride there. The outstanding thing from it? This car was worth buying alone just for the way it handled everything from driving to stopping.

Now for the kids I love that the “between a sedan and minivan” height is something that I love. When I think of all the back pains with helping them climb into the car it definitely is not a feature to sneeze at. In fact we were at a Lego event in Boston and the Honda Odyssey was on display and the ease with which my kids slipped in convinced me that had I been looking for a newer car the Honda Odyssey would definitely be higher on my choice list.

Disclosure: Honda paid my travel expenses to the media event!

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