It took Odysseus ten years to get home. Which is a long time. But then again, he did not have GPS, and a 280 hp V6 would have been useful in outrunning the Cyclops. Also, and this is not to cast further aspersions on his captaincy, but perhaps the ability to keep an eye on his crew via an onboard camera might have prevented all those sailors from being eaten or drowned.

Happily, this particular Odyssey is a much shorter affair, because it is a Honda. Faced with a week’s worth of kid-related summertime activities, we set off in pursuit of safe harbour, fairly certain that if any horrible mythical Greek monsters showed up, we’d simply roll up the windows.

Launched in 2018 and facelifted for 2021, the 2022 Honda Odyssey remains the slightly more upscale choice in the minivan segment. Despite its age, it feels just that little bit more polished inside than the Toyota Sienna or the Chrysler Pacifica, even though both of those offerings are much more sophisticated in powertrain offerings, and have better available on-board tech. In Touring trim, however, the Odyssey is kitted out like an Acura product, as you might expect with the nearly-$57,000 pricetag.

android, minivan review: 2022 honda odyssey

2022 Honda Odyssey Photo by Brendan McAleer

android, minivan review: 2022 honda odyssey

2022 Honda Odyssey Photo by Brendan McAleer

android, minivan review: 2022 honda odyssey

2022 Honda Odyssey Photo by Brendan McAleer

android, minivan review: 2022 honda odyssey

2022 Honda Odyssey Photo by Brendan McAleer

android, minivan review: 2022 honda odyssey

2022 Honda Odyssey Photo by Brendan McAleer

android, minivan review: 2022 honda odyssey

2022 Honda Odyssey Photo by Brendan McAleer

android, minivan review: 2022 honda odyssey

2022 Honda Odyssey Photo by Brendan McAleer

android, minivan review: 2022 honda odyssey

2022 Honda Odyssey Photo by Brendan McAleer

android, minivan review: 2022 honda odyssey

2022 Honda Odyssey Photo by Brendan McAleer

android, minivan review: 2022 honda odyssey

2022 Honda Odyssey Photo by Brendan McAleer

android, minivan review: 2022 honda odyssey

2022 Honda Odyssey Photo by Brendan McAleer

Minivans are, of course, an endangered species because they are deeply uncool. Why would you buy a van like the wood-paneled dorkmobile that your mom drove, when you could have a crossover with a huge grille and offroad capability that you will never, ever, I really mean never, use? Thus, everyone at the pickup and dropoff for day camp is in a Highlander or Pilot or Palisade.

Compare the specs of all the premium minivans

All three of those vehicles are arguably more handsome than this wheeled dustbuster, but they all are worse at actually being practical. The Odyssey has far more interior storage and it has windows your kids can actually see out of. Those kids can also easily operate the sliding doors, and when (not if) they start squabbling, you can easily separate them with the reconfigurable seats.

You can slide those seats forward and back as well as side to side, depending on your needs, and the third row of course folds away into the floor. Over the course of the week, we mostly kept the third row tucked away, and used the surfeit of space for just chucking bicycles in then heading to the pump track. It was a luxury not having to fiddle around with bike racks.

android, minivan review: 2022 honda odyssey

2022 Honda Odyssey Photo by Brendan McAleer

android, minivan review: 2022 honda odyssey

2022 Honda Odyssey Photo by Brendan McAleer

android, minivan review: 2022 honda odyssey

2022 Honda Odyssey Photo by Brendan McAleer

android, minivan review: 2022 honda odyssey

2022 Honda Odyssey Photo by Brendan McAleer

android, minivan review: 2022 honda odyssey

2022 Honda Odyssey Photo by Brendan McAleer

android, minivan review: 2022 honda odyssey

2022 Honda Odyssey Photo by Brendan McAleer

android, minivan review: 2022 honda odyssey

2022 Honda Odyssey Photo by Brendan McAleer

android, minivan review: 2022 honda odyssey

2022 Honda Odyssey Photo by Brendan McAleer

android, minivan review: 2022 honda odyssey

The digital clock in a 2011 Honda Odyssey Photo by Honda

The infotainment, as mentioned, is not quite as slick as with the Pacifica, but as a family who listens to a lot of podcasts on road trips, all you really need is Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Also, have you noticed how much better kid-friendly podcasts are than grownup ones? You get to learn things about tardigrades or historical figures, and the grown-up ones are all just somebody getting murdered.

Onboard listening and day-to-day flexibility aside, where the Odyssey really shines is in grand touring. Having packed one of two kids off to sleepaway camp, the excess space in this thing was an embarrassment of riches. An Accord would have sufficed. Maybe a Civic. Funny thing though: the Odyssey kind of drives better than either sedan.

Now, obviously if you show up to your next track day in a minivan, you’ll be raising a few eyebrows. Let me not exaggerate the handling aplomb of this big box Honda. It’s probably the best driving minivan out there, but it’s still a minivan.

However, perhaps because expectations are low, the Odysseys’s unflappable poise on highways sweepers is nearly shocking. It doesn’t wander even when the road has been warped by heavy trucks, the steering is light on feedback but also not disconnected: low effort, high satisfaction. The 10-speed automatic transmission keeps the smooth V6 simmering on low when at speed, but if you need to blitz an onramp or pass a truck, that ‘6 spins up to redline like it wishes it had been born in an Accord coupe. Mixed-use mileage is a reasonable 10.6 L/100 km, though if your usage case is mostly shorter trips, it’s probably worth taking a look at a competitor’s hybrid offering.

From behind the wheel on the highway, the Odyssey offers a comfortable, secure, and soothing driving experience. As a passenger, my little co-pilot could hardly be more delighted. While there is an onboard screen to distract younger passengers on long rides, we never used it. Unlike some crossovers, which bury kids behind high beltlines and swoopy styling, the Odyssey provides stadium seating to the passing scenery.

android, minivan review: 2022 honda odyssey

2022 Honda Odyssey Photo by Brendan McAleer

And so, on we went, over the hills and through the woods to grandmother’s house — her grandmother. After overnighting there, it was out into the cornfields, along the banks of the swollen Fraser river, stopping off at the old house where I lived when I was her age.

The place was the same, just shabbier. Kind of sad really, the speed with which time moves on. This little cul-de-sac, ordinary enough to look at, held a bit of magic when I was younger.

But the reason people keep reading the story of Odysseus is because it is about the voyage. Every parent knows the feeling. Summers come and summers end. New independence, new challenges.

android, minivan review: 2022 honda odyssey

2022 Honda Odyssey Photo by Brendan McAleer

The average age of vehicles on the road in Canada is above a decade now, so any Odyssey pressed into family service when a second kid comes along may end up ferrying them off to college. It will, undoubtedly, be a bit shabbier by then too, but will have been part of countless family roadtrips, end-of-school ice cream trips, and just the day-to-day of family life. It will, perhaps, be more than just a minivan by then.

On the last day before dropping it off, we load two bulging backpacks and two daypacks into the Odyssey’s trunk, and head to Horseshoe Bay. One last week of away-camp for both kids, and a lot of standing around in lines to drop them off. The kids are beside themselves with excitement, literally jumping up and down.

It’s quiet in the Honda on the drive home. A quiet week ahead. Another summer nearly over. Ten years passing in a blink. There are long days sometimes, but the journey together is all too short. Whatever time your own Odyssey takes, make sure to enjoy every second of it.

Keyword: Minivan Review: 2022 Honda Odyssey

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