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2005 Honda Odyssey

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San Francisco: When the second generation Honda Odyssey debuted in 1999, it quickly became the minivan to own. Honda had applied the same care and skill to the family vehicle that it previously lavished on the benchmark Honda Civic compact and the perennially huge selling Accord midsize sedan. But time moves on, and the Odyssey was getting dated.

So, Honda created the completely redesigned and reengineered 2005 Odyssey. Looking familiar despite entirely new styling, it is improved in every imaginable way, and once again sets the standard for people movers.

The new minivan gets a more aggressive look up front, with a prominent grille and a more dramatically sculpted hood. The headlamps are mounted in chrome tubes gleaming under clear plastic lenses. The body sides are more deeply sculpted, and the tail end gets massive polygonal tail lamps. The original clean, angular proportions have been bulked up.

The new car looks more substantial, but it is about the same length as the old one, and just one inch wider. There is substantially more room inside, especially in the third seat area. The third seat folds down in one motion into the floor, an improvement upon the original much-copied Honda innovation. The second seat on upscale models has a stowable single seat, which gives the minivan eight-passenger capacity if needed.

The interior gets a stylish upgrade. The shifter now lives in a projection of the dash. The instruments are gloriously backlit, as my son Cameron said, like an eclipse of the sun. The textured leather seats in my tester were worthy of any living room or den for looks and comfort. The second row captainís chairs can be pushed together to form one bench and create easy access to the third row seats. Thanks to multiple engineering and design improvements, it is extremely quiet inside the new Odyssey as well.

Safety is a high priority, with many standard features, such as the Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, front passenger side airbags, three-row side curtain airbags with rollover sensors, and a specially designed safety structure. To prevent crashes in the first place, Honda has equipped every Odyssey with Vehicle Stability Assist with Traction Control, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, and Brake Assist (to make sure full braking is applied in an emergency).

Todayís high-tech engines are amazing in their ability to deliver incredible power with extremely low emissions. The Odyssey employs a 3.5-liter, 255-horsepower VTEC V6, up from 240 horsepower last year. Running through a five-speed automatic, the engine enjoys a broad, flat torque curve for power whenever you need it. Fuel economy is surprisingly good, at 19 City and 25 highway.

But it gets better. The i-VTEC engine, available in top-level models, uses cylinder deactivation to shut down the back three engine cylinders when the car is cruising along. This saves gas and reduces wear and tear on the engine. In my car, a green ECO light blinked on at these times. The i-VTEC is otherwise undetectable, and it pushes fuel mileage to 20 city, 28 highway. Both versions of the engine use regular gas.

You can get an Odyssey in four levels. The LX is the well-equipped base model, with the EX above it. The EX with Leather is the third tier, and a new model, the Touring, offers true multi-passenger luxury. The Touring brings in a power tailgate, power adjustable pedals, special interior trim, automatic day/night mirrors, tri-zone automatic climate control, a removable second-row console, driverís seat memory, a programmable information display, and a 115-volt power outlet. The Touring model also includes the Michelin PAX run flat system, which monitors tire pressures and lets you drive for up to 125 miles at 55 mph after a loss of tire pressure.

The only thing not standard on the Touring is a navigation system. If you do order it, you get voice recognition technology and a cool rear view camera that gives you a clear look at whatís behind the car when you place the transmission in reverse.

I was fortunate to receive an EX with Leather in expensive-looking Silver Pearl Metallic, with an appropriately subdued gray interior. The Odyssey is surprising lithe in city traffic, but it stretches out and feels like a motorhome on the highway. Honda invested in a new chassis and body structure that are not only much more rigid, but also use full-isolated front and rear subframes to banish noise, vibration, and harshness, the three demons of automotive design. The car is flat out comfortable, and doesnít feel like a beast on the highway.

My EX model with Leather sells for $31,010, including shipping charges. You can get into the LX for $25,710. There are lots of options to add, including bike racks, nose masks, and kayak attachments. The Touring model with navigation system and rear seat DVD entertainment system tops the list at $39,010.

In two decades, the minivan has grown from a friendly appliance to a truly luxurious cruiser. Regardless of how you equip your Odyssey, you get 100,000 miles with no scheduled tune-ups, an Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle, top-rated crash safety, and the peace of mind of knowing you are driving a Honda.  By Steve Schaefer  © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name: 
 It once again sets the standard for people movers
 The 2005 Honda Odyssey Minivan
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Photo Caption: 
 The 2005 Honda Odyssey Minivan
Photo Credits:  
Honda Internet Media
Series #:   2005 - 19

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