Hondas venerable Odyssey minivan is in its sixth year since a 1999
redesign, but Honda is apparently happy to not fix what aint broke.
The Odyssey consistently scores at the top of minivan ratings, for
things that matter to the families that buy them, such as safety. With a top-level
five-star rating for front and side crashes, you can feel good about those trips to little
league or the scouting trip.
I have a family of just three, so spending a week in an Odyssey is
like taking a room on the road. With 170 cubic feet of passenger volume, I feel a little
greedy having it all to myself on the way to work, but for its size, the Odyssey earns
respectable fuel economy. The powerful 240-horsepower engine, in conjunction with a
five-speed automatic transmission, gets an EPA rating of 18 city, 25 highway while
emitting minimal pollutants into the environment.
The six-year-old design is aging well and still looks sharp inside
and out. The edgy styling of Hondas big box is now commonplace. The chiseled face
wears its chrome grille with a determined but friendly expression.
The wide doors slide on both sides, allowing riders easy access to
the three rows of seats. Honda created the magic disappearing third seat, which is no
longer an exclusive, but it still works great.
The Odyssey drives like a tall Accord sedan. I was taking a friend
on a trip recently and he noticed that there was some road feel in the ride. He was
expecting the completely isolated feeling of his full-sized van, but the Honda is actually
fairly involving to drive.
The interior fittings are, as in other modern Hondas, clean and
understated. The dash panels may be hard plastic, but they look padded, and your eye
quickly finds itself looking at the road and the view as you motor along. Clear
instrumentation and generously proportioned knobs make operating the Odysseys
controls simple and intuitive. The instrument panel area wears a matte black finish, so
there is never any annoying glare. Everything is close to the driver, and mounted high
enough that you dont have to search for it.
Safety is important with family haulers. Besides its superior
crashworthiness, the Odyssey has a standard four-wheel anti-lock braking system and
load-balancing Electronic Brake Distribution to avoid crashes entirely. Dual-stage driver
and front passenger airbags open with less force than the old kind. In tandem with
seatbelts with load limiters and pretensioners, they ensure that youre OK even if
the great brakes arent enough to get the job done.
For simplicitys sake there is only one engine and transmission
combination, and there are only two models, LX and EX. The LX comes well equipped, with
items like power mirrors, power windows with drivers auto-down, air conditioning,
cruise control, AM/FM stereo with cassette, and other handy things.
The EX steps it up with power dual sliding doors, auto-off
headlamps, body-colored mirrors and side moldings, an eight-way power drivers seat,
a sound system with a CD player and six speakers, remote keyless entry, and a security
If you crave even more luxury, the EX-L submodel adds heated leather
seats, and offers two exciting options, a satellite navigation system or a DVD
entertainment system. My Redrock Pearl test car was the EX-L with the DVD system, and I
cant imagine a better way to keep your family content on a long trip to
grandmas place. Because of configuration issues, you cant order both options
Prices vary from model to model, but the LX starts at $24,490 and
the EX begins at $26,990. The EX-L jumps up to $28,490, and you can add $1,500 for the
hide coverings or $2,000 for the navigation system. All vehicles add a $460 destination
and handling charge.
Besides its many satisfied customers, the Odyssey has made plenty of
friends in the auto publishing industry. The minivan won recognition from buff books such
as Automobile Magazine (2003 Editors All-Star Award and Readers Choice All-Stars)
and Car and Driver (5 Best Trucks three years running). Then, they charmed flinty-eyed
consumer watchdogs Consumer Reports (Top Pick Minivan) and the folks at JD Power and
Associates (Most Appealing Compact Van).
Parents Magazine even made it one of their Top 5 Choices in Segment.
Edmunds presented the Odyssey with the slightly sinister sounding Most Wanted Awards
(Minivan), but you wont see this minivan on a post office wall. Youll see it
at the factory in Lincoln, Alabama, and in driveways and garages all across America. By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San