Fourth Generation Honda Odyssey Facelift
The 4th-gen Honda Odyssey facelift happened in 2014. It's hardly a game-changer in terms of styling, but plenty of changes were made under the skin. Since this will likely be used as a family car, it's worth noting that the post-facelift fourth-generation Honda Odyssey top-spec models come as standard with a few basic driver assistance features.
2014-2017 Odyssey 4th Gen Facelift Front Changes
You'd be hard-pressed to notice the difference between the pre and post-facelift models. Honda only made minor tweaks to the front. The number of chrome horizontal slats in the grille is reduced from three to two1 and the headlights have a black outline instead of the previous chrome, making them look quite different with three distinct lens 'pockets' each, even though their basic design hasn't changed2. The lower air intake retains its shape; however, it's no longer a black, gaping hole but gets chrome slats as well3, with oval fog lights framed in chrome at either end on models so equipped4.
2014-2017 Odyssey 4th Gen Facelift Rear Changes
At the rear, the 2014 model has new rear lights within the same outline as the old ones1. Whereas the previous car had the clear-lensed backup lights and turn signals in the top half of the light clusters, connected by a chrome number-plate brow, the new lights turn everything around. The backup lights and turn signals are now in the bottom halves of the clusters and the red top halves are connected by a matching red plastic strip across the width of the liftgate lid.
2014-2017 Odyssey 4th Gen Facelift Side Changes
In profile, the changes to the front1 and rear lights can just be seen2, along with new, larger wheel designs3. The side mirrors are also restyled to be more rounded and less angular than before4.
2014-2017 Odyssey 4th Gen Facelift Interior Changes
Honda added more features to the various trim levels. The post-facelift LX entry-level model finally gained a useful infotainment system with a color display and Bluetooth audio streaming1. The basic design of the interior remains the same, but the center is refreshed with all the adjusting knobs for the climate control and audio system made the same size and the controls rearranged slightly for ease of use and separated into different 'islands' grouping some control together2.
Engine, Transmission, and Drivetrain
The Honda Odyssey RL5 is only available with one engine but it's a good one. Honda's naturally-aspirated 3.5-liter V6 (engine code J35Z8) dates back to 1996 and still powers various new models. It's a trustworthy engine, tweaked for fuel economy rather than performance. You can have some fun with it, however. This old-school naturally aspirated engine can easily tow up to 3,500 lbs.
Pre-facelift LX, EX, and EX-L models use a five-speed automatic to send the power to the front wheels, while Touring and Touring Elite models come as standard with a six-speed. For the 2014 facelift, the six-speed 'box was made standard across the range. The six-speed can get more out of the 248 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque the engine provides. It makes a big difference on the highway, as the big lump of an engine idles along at low rpm at the national speed limit. To make it even more efficient, Honda's Variable Cylinder Management is standard across the range. It basically shuts down some cylinders when the engine isn't working hard, improving fuel economy.
2011-2017 Honda Odyssey Real MPG
2011-2017 Honda Odyssey models all use the same engine, but pre-facelift entry-level models use a five-speed automatic transmission. Normally real-world consumption figures are better since the EPA procedure is so strict. You can see this below with the six-speed automatic model. The five-speed delivers worse results than the EPA-estimated figures, however.
Still, the real-world combined MPG figures are quite impressive for a large car with a naturally aspirated engine.
* Real-world mpg and MPGe figures are provided by the EPA. Once a car has been on sale for a significant period of time, the EPA gets real-world figures directly from the customer base. These figures are then provided on the EPA website. Real-world figures are not available for certain models due to a lack of sales, or not enough people partaking in this after-sales survey.
The Honda relies on old-school active and passive safety features, which are, let's be honest, reasonable considering the price you're going to be paying for the car. For the 2011 models, these include ABS brakes, stability control, automatic headlights, active front headrests, a rollover sensor, and a full suite of six airbags. EX-L adds an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and Touring trims get front and rear parking sensors. The Touring Elite has xenon headlights and a blind-spot warning system. For 2013, the entire lineup has a backup camera. For the 2014 facelift, EX, EX-L, and Touring trims gain a passenger-side blind-spot camera and from EX-L and up, forward-collision warning (without automatic braking) and lane-departure warning become standard equipment.
US NHTSA Crash Test Result (2011)
The good news is that you can feel safe in the car, no matter what model year you go for. While the addition of the driver assistance features in 2014 is a nice touch, the Odyssey was a robust car right from the start. It received five stars overall, five for the front impact, five for the side-impact, and four for a rollover.
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating:
Side Crash Rating:
4th Generation Honda Odyssey Trims
The Odyssey's trim structure remained the same throughout most of its lifecycle, save for the EX-based SE that joined the lineup for the 2016 and 2017 model years. At the bottom end, you can choose between the LX and EX. The most popular model is the mid-range EX-L, while the Touring and Touring Elite sit at the top. We mention extra features fitted to higher trims but keep in mind that they already contain all the features of the trims below them.
Honda Odyssey 4th Gen Interior Overview
A car like the Odyssey is all about the interior. The base LX has seven seats, while the rest of the models in the range have eight. All of the seating positions have adequate legroom and headroom, so you won't hear many complaints from passengers. In addition to giving all passengers adequate room, Honda also ensures that most passengers have at least one cupholder and an armrest. Unless you're seated in the middle, any trip should be a joy. There's also plenty of storage solutions scattered throughout the cabin, and on high-end models, you get a ventilated storage space to keep drinks cool.
Somehow Honda managed to build a car with three rows and nearly 40 cubic feet of cargo capacity. That's seriously impressive. It means you can do a monthly grocery shop without having to move seats around. With all the seats folded flat, you get up to 148.5 cubes to work with. That's going to be mighty useful on those odd occasions when you need to move something large. Getting in and out of the Odyssey is also easy, thanks to the sliding doors. Having powered doors and a power liftgate is even better, as it takes all of the effort out of it.
Interior quality is standard Honda. Not the best, but certainly not the worst. The main focus has always been longevity over striking design. Getting in one these days, you'll notice that it still feels solid and rattle-free.
Unfortunately, Honda missed the mark in the layout and ease-of-use department. Pre-facelift models missed out on touchscreen technology, while the touchscreen interface added to the facelifted models is slow and dimwitted. As a result, the center console in pre-facelift models looks like it was shot with a blunderbuss loaded with random buttons. Once you get used to it, things should get easier. The placement of the shifter is perfect, however.
2011-2017 Odyssey Maintenance and Cost
There are just over 1,000 Honda dealers across the country, so you'll never struggle to find a place to look after your van. The Odyssey is also built in Alabama, so parts are always readily available. This humble family van is remarkably affordable to service, even though it's the most expensive minivan to maintain. In this case, we highly recommend it, as Honda's services are extremely thorough. Most manufacturers would leave a thorough bumper-to-bumper inspection until 60,000 miles, but at Honda, the first one takes place at 15,000 miles. This might just be one of the reasons why Hondas are so reliable.
A basic 7,500-mile oil and oil filter service costs around $150, while a full service and proper inspection costs around $430. You should be prepared for a big service bill at around 100,000 miles. The J35Z8 uses a cambelt instead of a chain, and it needs to be replaced at 100,000-mile intervals according to Honda's Maintenance Minder. If the car has been or will be used in cold-weather states, the distance needs to be reduced to 60,000 miles. Owners have reported that this item can fail before 100,000 miles, so we would stick to the 60,000-mile interval. A cambelt replacement costs between $680 to $1,100. To save some money on the upcoming 120,000-mile service, have the water pump replaced at the same time because it requires much of the same labor. The main reason why this particular service is so costly is the labor involved. While the service center is taking a large chunk of the engine apart, they might as well do everything they can. At 120,000 miles, the Odyssey requires a major service with belt replacements. Ideally, you'd want to buy one where the previous owner paid for it. If not, budget around $1,500 for this major service.
Check Before You Buy
Technical Service Bulletins according to the NHTSA. Check the service book for the following.
There are a few notable 2011-2017 Honda Odyssey recalls. To begin with, we have the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 airbag recalls. The Odyssey was initially recalled for missing rivets on the airbag module, while the 2014 recall was for a passenger-side curtain airbag with a possibly damaged electrical connector. Another serious recall you want to keep an eye on is the second-row outboard seat latches. In short, the seat release lever found in 2011 to 2016 models may remain in the unlocked position, which means if the driver were to brake hard, the seats would shoot forward.
For 2012 to 2016 models there was a transmission recall. Not the transmission itself, but rather the shifter. In severely cold weather, the brake-shift interlock blocking mechanism may not operate, which allows the shifter to move from Park without the driver pressing down on the brake pedal.
The 2013 Honda Odyssey piston ring recall was due to an incorrectly applied heat-treatment process. As a result, the piston rings weren't up to standard and are prone to failure. Honda picked up on this problem quickly, which means the number of units affected was limited to 270 cars.
These are the model year error codes you'll most likely encounter when shopping for a 4th generation Honda Odyssey:
- 2011 Honda Odyssey code P2422 indicates that the vent valve on the EVAP system is stuck in the closed position.
- 2011 Honda Odyssey engine code P0420 means the catalytic converter system is working below the usual operating standards. Catalytic converter problems are well-documented, but not so severe to be common in 2011-2017 models.
- The 2011 Honda Odyssey P0430 code is another indication that there might be a problem with the catalytic converter.
- 2011 Honda Odyssey code P3497 is an indication that you might be having cylinder deactivation problems.
- 2012 Honda Odyssey codes P0302 and P301 indicate misfire problems.
- 2013 Honda Odyssey engine code P0764 indicates a problem with a specific shift solenoid. The engine's ECU uses these solenoids to control the shift points of the automatic gearbox. This minor flaw is the main reason behind 2011-2017 transmission problems.
- The 2015 Honda Odyssey P3400 code indicates low oil pressure related to a defective oil pressure switch.
Less Common Problems
People love to complain and there are always one or two people who experience a certain issue. It would be unwise to label them as a common flaw, but we feel they are at least worthy of a mention if only so you're 100% armed when buying a car. There do seem to be a few complaints of air conditioning, AC, heater core, and heating problems. Not all in the same car, which is why it's not up there in the common section. Owners complained about the AC gas running out early, and the heater not blowing hot air on both sides of the car.
Enough people complained about seat heater problems for Honda to send out a technical service bulletin to dealers. The system switches itself off after it has been turned on due to a short in the rear seat heater. It applies to 2013 and 2014 models, and the rear seat heater element needs to be replaced. This is not the only seat problem. There are recurring complaints about seat comfort, and we choose to put it here because the issue is subjective. The seats may seem comfortable at first, but take the car for an extended test drive to see how they feel an hour or so into a trip. There are reports of electric auto door problems. This is a typical wear and tear flaw. It's usually a faulty door cable or actuator, but it costs between $900 to $1,150 to fix. The doors should not creak or groan while closing, so if you happen to come across this issue, walk away.
Another noteworthy complaint is Bluetooth problems. This is simply because the car is old, and likely not compatible with certain modern phones. Not having a touchscreen interface also makes mating a laborious process. We also found a small number of owners complaining about the blind-spot monitor problems. Unfortunately, we couldn't find anything more on the topic, but we're guessing it also has to do with the battery sensor acting up. The failing battery sensor can also lead to electric window and sunroof problems. Honda's tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is not the most reliable. In most cases it just requires a software update, but if the sensors need replacing it can cost between $100 to $200.
Which One To Avoid
Apart from the early VCM and high oil consumption issues, the Odyssey appears to be a good buy. If you avoid pre-facelift models, you should be good. Just remember to keep that transmission problem in mind as well. The worst model years are essentially all pre-facelift models from 2011 to 2013. On trim, we'd avoid the entry-level models, simply because there are top-spec models available for more or less the same price. With crossovers and SUVs replacing minivans, they're less sought after and therefore depreciate much faster.
Which One To Buy
Buy the latest possible model in top-spec Touring Elite trim. As the Odyssey is all about transporting family, why not do it in the most comfortable way? A brand-new Odyssey costs roughly $50,000. A top-spec 2017 model can be found for less than half that
4th Gen Odyssey Verdict
The 2011-2017 Honda Odyssey is a fantastic used buy, even though prospective customers might need some additional persuasion. The popular thing to do is buy a crossover or SUV, but a minivan is so much better at ferrying people around. Honda's Odyssey also drives much better than the average SUV and is more practical as well. It's safe, well-built, and unlikely to go wrong if you stick to a regular servicing schedule.
Odyssey 4th Generation (RL5) Alternatives
If you're shopping for 2011-2017 Honda Odyssey you should consider these alternatives