The disability auto world thought it would be looking at a completely retooled Honda Odyssey wheelchair van for 2010. Honda thought otherwise. The anticipated redesign didn’t occur and the new Odyssey is a virtual clone of the 2009 edition, which was quite similar to the 2008 version.
It’s a good news and bad news situation. The Odyssey wheelchair vans have been a great minivan for years and that hasn’t changed. It’s still a strong family driver and a great wheelchair van option. At the same time, certain elements of the vehicle’s design are showing their age and lingering issues haven’t been addressed.
The Odyssey remains the best-handling and most responsive wheelchair minivan on the market. The car-like handling is matched by a very car-like design. While the 2010 Odyssey isn’t breaking new ground, it continues to be a stylish vehicle.
The Odyssey wheelchair van remains an expensive choice and the slight problems that have plagued it for years remain. Meanwhile, aspects of its interior styling are beginning to appear outdated.
2010 Honda Odyssey Wheelchair Van Overview
It handles extremely well. It looks good. It has more than enough power under the hood and more than enough space within the cabin. Overall, the Honda Odyssey remains a top minivan choice.
However, this year’s model may suffer a bit from a failure on Honda’s part to meet expectations. Last year, all indicators pointed to a complete retooling of the now-venerable model and many were braced for a next generation improvement in 2010. Instead, they got more of the same.
That could be a death sentence for some vehicles, but the Odyssey will continue to post brisk sales on the strength of its overall economy. It isn’t without weaknesses, but it’s still a superior vehicle.
Trim Levels and Options
Honda continues to offer the Odyssey in LX, EX, EX-L and Touring editions. These trim packages take the minivan from “bare bones” to luxury. Most drivers will probably go with the middle choices--the EX or EX-L--but there is undoubtedly a customer base for both the low and high ends, as well.
The LX occupies the low end of the spectrum, serving as the Odyssey’s base model. It seats either seven or eight passengers and is a near-twin in terms of mechanics with the higher trim packages. However, it lacks a number of features that most minivan buyers would expect, including power sliding doors.
The LX isn’t completely devoid of options, though. It does have power windows, power doors and power locks. It also features a solid stereo system and cruise control. If you are interested purely in driving and consider your cabin experience an irrelevancy, you may be satisfied with the LX.
The EX adds a number of attractive options. They include the aforementioned power sliding doors. EX drivers will also enjoy roof racks, a 6-disc CD changer with steering wheel-mounted controls and a host of other small improvements. Like the LX, the EX can handle seven or eight riders. The higher-level trim packages are only suitable for seven.
You may lose room for one person with the EX-L, but you make up for it with improved interior appearance and luxury. The most notable aspect of the upgrade is a leather interior. Attractive alloy wheels, a trip computer, a power liftgate and a leather-wrapped steering wheel are a few of the other extras that grace the EX-L, which is also eligible for options including a rear-seat DVD entertainment center.
If the EX-L approaches luxury, the Touring edition offers it and more. The Touring model sits on 17-inch alloy wheels instead of the 16-inch wheels on the other trim packages. It also has run-flat tires, a more athletic suspension and a host of other improvements. The sound system is better. The cruise control is better. It offers a moon roof, a navigation system with a back-up camera, parking sensors and everything else you’d expect from a high-end vehicle.
2010 Odyssey wheelchair vans remain virtually unchanged from the last few editions in terms of exterior opinion. Fortunately, Honda was so far ahead of the game in terms of design that the 2010’s looks still surpass those of most of its competitors.
Honda has designed the Odyssey to replicate an automobile experience--not just to improve on a minivan experience. That shows up in lines that are evocative of European sports sedans and a sleek silhouette that other minivans can’t rival.
The interior is well-appointed and generally attractive. However, the plastic controls and knobs are beginning to appear slightly outdated and appear crowded. There’s nothing fatally flawed about the Odyssey’s interior, but it isn’t the most driver- or passenger-friendly minivan on the road in that regard.
On the bright side, the Odyssey handicap van continues to offer a surprising amount of space for a minivan that appears so sleek. The storage capacity remains high and overall cargo space after second seat removal remains at approximately 147 cubic feet. That makes the Odyssey and attractive option for families and for those who are considering converting it for use as a wheelchair van.
A spry 3.5-liter V6 has been powering the Odyssey for several years. Honda’s engine produces 244 horsepower, which is more than enough to convincingly put the handicap vehicle through its paces. It teams with a five-speed automatic transmission that’s gear to balance strength with fuel efficiency.
The higher trim levels have a slightly different version of the engine. It automatically deactivates three of the six cylinders during cruising situations in order to improve fuel efficiency. As a result, even a heavyweight Touring edition posts 25 mpg on the highway.
Overall, it’s a strong combination. That’s undoubtedly one reason why Honda didn’t opt to make a change. It still stacks up well against the competition.
Driving 2010 Odyssey Handicap Vans
The Odyssey only has one rival in terms of handling and responsiveness, the Mazda 5, which is a much smaller vehicle. The Odyssey continues its tradition of being “the minivan that drives like a car,” featuring a taut suspension, a tight turning radius and surprisingly responsive steering.
Other wheelchair minivans tend to be somewhat sluggish and to offer a less communicative driving experience than the Odyssey. If you’re concerned about driving performance, it remains the best possible choice in its class.
That responsiveness comes with a loss in cruising comfort, however. On the highway, the Odyssey fails to provide the soft, quiet ride of alternatives like Toyota’s Sienna. Additionally, the vehicle’s lingering problem with road noise continues in 2010. It may be the most car-like drive in the minivan class, but it isn’t always the most serene.
The 2010 Honda Odyssey Wheelchair Van
The Odyssey is currently converted into a great wheelchair van. Conversion leader VMI has been proving that since the late 1990s. The Odyssey offers a good combination of power, space and overall quality. It’s also amenable to a number of popular wheelchair van modifications.
VMI isn’t the only mobility conversion manufacturer option for Odyssey owners, but its Northstar package does provide a good example of how the spacious Odyssey can become a top-notch side-entry wheelchair van. The Northstar conversion includes a power kneel system, power sliding doors, quick release seats, keychain remote, a powered in-floor ramp, wheelchair security straps, a and a full-floor eleven inch drop.
Antilock brakes, stability control and traction control come standard with all Odysseys. The full compliment of airbags work well and earned the vehicle high scores in IIHS and NHTSA safety. The Odyssey is rollover resistant and hasn’t been involved in any recalls of note. It’s a safe and secure minivan.