Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Honda Odyssey Remains a Great Family Hauler

The Honda Odyssey has been among the most popular models in a minivan segment that has dwindled over the years but remains a steady presence in the market. The Odyssey was redesigned last year, getting a sportier, sleeker look.

The Odyssey comes with one engine, a 3.5-liter V-6, and is front-wheel drive only. There are five trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L, Touring and Touring Elite.

The EX model added Bluetooth connectivity, Honda's intelligent Multi-Information Display with an 8-inch screen and a USB port as standard for the 2012 model year.

Engineers at Honda have designed the Odyssey to have better sightlines than its predecessors and competitors. The sliding door rails sit far below the windows. The Odyssey also includes standard 17-inch wheels, with 18-inchers being optional. Other options include the power liftgate, power moonroof, xenon high-intensity headlights and power-sliding side doors.

On the inside, the Odyssey, which seats up to eight, has a long list of family friendly features that make this a wonderful vehicle for those seeking convenience. For instance, there’s a ring in the middle row of seats that can be pulled up and upon which can be mounted a trash bag. There’s also a center console that is cooled and can store beverages.

In the front row, Honda has updated the center console with easier-to-read controls, and the cabin area is roomier, as well. A power driver’s seat is standard, and Honda has added a feature to the second row of seats that allows it to move closer to the front row, which would come in handy if you’re a parent having to attend to a young child passenger.

The third row of seats can fold flat, a standard feature that enables easier use of cargo space.

The Odyssey is a little on the pricey side, starting at around $28,500 and ranging to around $44,000.

But for a nicely equipped, well-designed and dare we say somewhat sporty minivan, the Honda Odyssey presents a pretty good value.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Nissan Shows Off New Pathfinder

Nissan provided a sneak peek at the 2013 Pathfinder to some local auto scribes this week, and what we saw is very different from the Pathfinder that we’ve come to know over the past 25 years or so. It has become a car-like, unibody crossover that seats seven. It’s much more focused on being a family vehicle than a rugged, off-roading truck. It has a 3.5-liter V-6 engine. In fact, it’s now very similar to sister luxury brand Infiniti’s JX35.

It has a 114.2-inch wheelbase, just like the JX35, and an overall body length of 197.2 inches. The engine makes 260 horsepower and is mated to a continuously variable transmission.

Front- or four-wheel drive is available, and if you choose the latter, you can pick front-drive for maximum economy; automatic operation, which monitors conditions and gives torque to all four wheels when necessary; or four-wheel-drive lock for when the vehicle is facing some serious traction challenges.

Trim levels range from the S and SV to the higher end SL and the highest level Platinum. Inside, there are eight cup holders and six bottle pockets throughout, so families won’t go thirsty.

On lower trim models, 18-inch wheels are standard; the Platinum has 20-inchers.

The Pathfinder starts at around $29,000 and ranges to about $41,000.

We’ll have more to report on it after we get behind the wheel for a few days.