I’m an idiot.
Thursday night, I filled up a car with gas. That was clearly in the background of my mind when on Friday, we loaded up our 2015 Honda Odyssey for a long-weekend trip to Prince Edward Island. Luggage, children, dog, stroller, front door locked, back door locked, side entrance locked, patio door locked, heat turned down, and finally, departure.
I hadn’t driven our Odyssey in a couple of weeks, having focused my attention on the Toyota Corolla iM and Hyundai Ioniq discussed on these pages already. Distracted by a thousand tasks, and presumably still conscious of a trip to the fuel pumps the night before (in the Ioniq, it turns out), I ignored the signs at the approach to the Cobequid Pass that warn of a lack of services for the next 27 miles.
We drove up the Cobequid Pass toward the tolls when I finally noticed we had no fuel. Estimated range? 0 km. Fuel gauge? Well below the Empty line.
Fortunately, from that point of realization until the Ultramar in Thomson Station 16 miles later, our 2015 Honda Odyssey travelled at a rate of 35 miles per gallon.
Thankfully, we made it to the Ultramar with around a half gallon to spare. We did not need to sit on the side of the Trans-Canada Highway in a freezing-too-cold van with little ones spooked by the tractor trailers speeding by as we waited for Honda Canada’s roadside assistance.
The gradual descent from the Cobequid Pass toll plaza to the gas station in Thomson Station deserves much of the credit. With a few steady declines, the Odyssey was able to coast along in Eco mode, a handful of cylinders shut down, counteracting the somewhat hefty load and sub-freezing temperatures.
But it’s the fact that a 35-mpg result offered so little surprise that’s most pleasing. We average 23 mpg in urban/suburban/rural driving, significantly better than the Odyssey’s 19-mpg EPA city rating. Yet the 27-mpg EPA highway rating is easily and frequently crushed. In fact, the highway drive preceding our minor thrill just last Friday produced a 27-mpg result despite the bitterly cold weather, winter tires, a full load, and the ascent toward the Cobequid Pass toll plaza.
The next-generation 2018 Honda Odyssey, Honda says, will be even more efficient. My desire for that van — a more attractive, more powerful, more flexible, more feature-laden Odyssey — is palpable.
Not that our experience with the current Odyssey has been completely trouble-free. We had long-running issues with sliding door noises. Then at 11,000 miles, the front struts failed. I got pulled over for speeding.
Perhaps that last one was not Honda’s fault.
Complaints regarding the sometimes rough six-speed automatic transmission have decreased with time, both as we become accustomed to its quirks and its quirks are worked out with mileage. We also grew accustomed to the odd infotainment system, and we did so quickly, but time has revealed the utter lack of speed with which it operates. The sunglasses holder is too small. There’s a recall we’re waiting to have cleared up for second-row seat mechanisms. Ride quality is certainly not up to Chrysler Pacifica standards. The sliding door track and the beltline mess with what could have been considered a clean exterior design.
But our Odyssey’s faults and foibles are entirely counteracted by three factors: the way it drives, the way it does its primary job, and the way it’s held its value.
With 248 horses, the Odyssey’s 3.5-liter V6 is down on power compared to competitors. But it’s such a happy revver that acceleration is encouraged, not frowned upon. Besides typically slow minivan steering, the Odyssey can cope in the corners at a rate of speed the V6 generates, shrugging off swift changes of direction with great composure.
Most minivan drivers won’t place nearly as much emphasis on the Odyssey’s dynamic repertoire as on its interior layout. Lacking Chrysler/Dodge’s Stow’N’Go, the Odyssey’s second row seats are more comfortable and provide greater legroom. It’s the third row that really impresses, however, as banishment to the way back is no punishment at all. We’ve frequently had adults undertake long journeys in the third row without complaint, and I’ve spent time in the rear of our Honda dealer’s shuttle, criss-crossing the city with no problem. This is a class-leading third row, and it truly separates minivans from crossovers.
Perhaps of greater consequence, in light of the 2018 Honda Odyssey’s forthcoming arrival, is our current Odyssey’s worth. We’re not yet halfway through our lease and my Honda sales manager of choice is already touting the fact that our van, with such extraordinarily low mileage, is worth more than our buy-out. That truly separates our Odyssey from the Grand Caravan.
Do we swap sooner than expected, taking a risk on the first model year of an all-new vehicle? Or we do we continue to fill our van with dog hair, dried cranberries, salt, and sand for the foreseeable future?