Honda Odyssey Review
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The real life “Odyssey” of Honda’s Odyssey minivan began with its introduction in 1995. With this first inception of Honda’s attempt into the minivan market, it was released with four hinged doors and was met with mediocre acceptance. However, by 1999 Honda had perfected the Odyssey’s design and it had become a best seller in the minivan market. Since then, it has been the leader in innovation and a popular favorite amongst consumers looking for a family vehicle with a car-like ride, safety, and great gas mileage. Now in their third generation of the Odyssey, Honda continues to show that they know how to lead the car industry in improving on their already successful car models.
See also the main fact sheets for the Honda Odyssey.
- Smooth and reliable ride
- Good gas mileage
- Can seat up to 8 passengers
- Large demand means a higher price
- No four wheel drive
- Some steering slack in wheel
Performance and Handling
Underway, the Honda Odyssey delivers everything you could ask for in a minivan: a smooth ride, responsive handling, stability at speed and a smooth, powerful engines. Honda's goal with this latest-generation model was to produce a minivan with the handling of a European sedan.
The Odyssey belies its size on the road and handles like a premium sedan. It's not as dynamic as a European sports sedan, of course, but it's certainly better than an SUV. It is neither too firm nor too soft and provides a pleasant ride. Granted, there is some road vibration. And there is some slack in the steering on-center: You can turn the steering wheel a few degrees in either direction before the vehicle starts to move. It is no worse than in a Chrysler Town & Country, however, and many people will not notice as it's a common trait of many large cars and most SUVs. All in all, it's an ideal vehicle for a long-distance drive.
Several laps around a race track show the Odyssey to be stable at high speeds. The Odyssey can be driven hard enough into a sharp corner to feel the tires slip without any drama. Not much body roll (lean) can be felt in corners, and the Odyssey is remarkably stable for a tall vehicle.
Parking is easy. The turning radius is among the tightest of any minivan, making it an easy to make U-turns and maneuver in parking lots. The park-assist system, with beeping tones that warn the driver of other bumpers front and rear, helps considerably when parallel parking.
The Odyssey's 3.5-liter V6 engine is smooth, powerful, clean and fuel efficient. The iVTEC V6 (intelligent Variable Timing and Electronic Control) that comes with the EX with Leather and the Touring model gets an EPA-rated 20/28 mpg City/Highway, which is better fuel economy than the standard VTEC that comes with the LX and EX, 19/25 mpg. The iVTEC engine does this by deactivating three of the six cylinders whenever you're cruising. We were never able to discern when the engine was running on three cylinders as there is no visible lurching or change in engine note, although a green dash light illuminates to tell you the system is working. Both versions of the V6 generate the same amount of power: 244 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque (though the iVTEC generates its peak torque at 4500 rpm vs. 5000 rpm for the VTEC). If it looks like horsepower figures are lower for 2006, it's due to a change in how the Society of Automotive Engineers tests engines. No change has actually been made to the engines.
The brakes work well. Every Odyssey comes with anti-lock brakes (ABS) and Vehicle Stability Assist, Honda's electronic stability control system. This system works in conjunction with the drive-by-wire accelerator and ABS to modulate the brakes while managing the throttle and ignition. If the vehicle starts to lose grip on a tight turn on a slippery surface, the system automatically slows the engine and gently applies brakes to stop the vehicle from skidding out of control. Fortunately it only works in emergency situations so it's not distracting during normal spirited driving. It can be turned off, though it is recommend not to do so.
Booming road noise, especially from the rear seats, was a common complaint of early generation Odysseys. Honda claims that the current vehicle is much quieter with increased amounts of sound-deadening material and floating sub frames that keep suspension and tire noise more isolated. The Touring model and the EX with leather benefit from high-tech noise-abatement features. When the i-VTEC engine with VCM is only running on three cylinders there is a natural imbalance, which can produce drumming sounds and vibrations. To counteract this, the engine is mounted on special active control engine mounts that electronically adjust themselves to counteract engine vibrations. Further booming sounds are reduced by an active noise control system that automatically sends an out-of-phase sound through the loudspeaker system to cancel out engine noises; it also works when the engine is idling.
Michelin's PAX run-flat tire system comes on the Touring model and it's a truly worthwhile feature because changing a tire can be dangerous, especially in high-crime areas. The Michelin PAX system is better than traditional run-flat tires because there is no significant ride-quality penalty. Run-flat tires have in the past relied on super-stiff sidewalls to support the car when the air is lost, which usually results in a harsher ride. We were hard pressed to notice any difference in ride or handling between the Touring and other models. Michelin's PAX system uses a solid plastic ring that wraps around the center of the wheel like a rubber band. When deflated, the tire presses against it and uses it for support. In a demonstration while driving with a flat tire we noticed deteriorated handling, but the vehicle was certainly controllable in a safe manner. Honda says the vehicle can be driven up to 50 mph for 125 miles with a flat tire. The wheels and tires are a special size and require specialized equipment to change, but Michelin says it can have a set mounted within 12 hours within 125 miles of almost anywhere in the U.S. From a practical standpoint, that should work just fine; you won't be able to buy just any tire when you go to replace them, but Michelin makes superb tires.
The Honda Odyssey comes standard with the following features:
- Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
- Brake Assist
- Vehicle Stability Assist
- Front 3-point seat belts with pretensioners
- Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH)
- Front airbags
- Front side airbags
- 3-row side curtain airbags with rollover sensor
- An Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure that absorbs and disperses crash energy
Reliability and Maintenance
As with all Honda’s the Odyssey comes standard with a 3 year or 36,000 mile comprehensive warranty. The Odyssey has had a great track record of performing well and is considered to be very reliable amongst its minivan peers. The Odyssey was awarded the IntelliChoice “Best Overall Value of the Year” award for 2007.
Interior and Comforts
Inside, the Honda Odyssey is comfortable and convenient. It feels downright luxurious when ordered with leather trim. The materials are nice and the metallic-colored trim that runs across the center dash is attractive.
The driver's seat is designed to hold the driver more firmly and is positioned in a car-like setting. Power-adjustable pedals are available in the Touring model. The shift lever is mounted on the dashboard; it looks odd at first, but it's easier to use than a column-mounted shifter. A handy drink tray is provided between the front seats.
The second-row bucket seats are comfortable.
The third-row seat is split 60/40 and folds easily into the well provided for it, and the headrests do not need to be removed before folding.
There's room for eight people with the optional PlusOne seat that fits between the two captain's chairs in the second row. If it's not needed as a seat it can be turned into a table or stowed in the floor in place of the Lazy Susan bin. If the PlusOne seat is not being used, the right-hand seat can be slid across to allow easier access to the third-row seats. This flexibility makes the Odyssey a versatile people hauler, but it's not the best in the class for hauling cargo.
The optional voice-activated DVD navigation system includes Zagat restaurant data. The large eight-inch monitor is positioned high on the dashboard for easy viewing. The voice-activated system responds to 637 commands and is smart enough to understand different accents and find locations without any need for input other than by voice. Apart from navigation, the system can be used to operate the radio and climate controls. We found the system responds effectively to voice commands.
The available DVD entertainment system features a large nine-inch widescreen display that folds out of the ceiling. The wireless headsets turn on and off automatically as the ear pads are rotated.
Who'd ever think of putting a Lazy Susan in a minivan? Honda has. No, it's not for serving food, but for adding an incredibly useful hidden storage area. The previous Odyssey had a storage well under the floor of the front seats for the spare tire. Honda engineers have moved the spare to a location in the rear. Instead of removing the round space under the floor where the spare used to reside they've turned it into a hidden storage compartment with a rotating compartmentalized bin. There's a small access panel in the floor between the two front seats for front passengers to get access and another bigger one in front of the center-row seats for access. So whatever stuff is stowed in the Lazy Susan, front or middle-row passengers can turn it for access. Ingenious!
Not as ingenious are the two glove boxes, which are more awkward for storage than one big one.
Large headlights flank its big grille. The hood is sculptured with curves that lead naturally back to the windshield and emphasize the big fender flares. Honda has not hidden the sliding door channels at the base of the window but left them partially obscured by a crease that runs the length of the vehicle.
All models come with two sliding doors, manually operated on the LX and electrically operated on all other models. The power windows in each of the side doors can be opened in the same fashion as in a car. The tailgate is electrically operated in the top-of-the-line Touring. The power doors seemed a bit reluctant to operate at times, less responsive to key fob commands than Toyota's sliding doors.
The Odyssey boasts Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure. The vehicle's crush zones have been re-engineered to provide better protection for occupants while lessening damage when hitting other smaller vehicles and pedestrians. Its body structure is rigid, a key element for crisp handling and a smooth ride. A low drag coefficient helps improve fuel economy and high-speed stability.
Styles and Options
The Honda Odyssey is available in 4 trims: LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring.
The LX is your base model coming standard with:
- Aluminum-Alloy 244hp VTEC V6
- Drive-by-Wire Throttle
- MacPherson Strut Front Suspension
- Double Wishbone Rear Suspension
- 16" wheels w/Full Covers
- 235/65 R16 All-Season Tires
- Remote Entry System
- Cruise Control
- Power windows and doors
- 120-Watt AM/FM/CD Audio System with 4 Speakers
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) Indicator
The EX is your next trim up adding:
- 16" Alloy wheels
- Power Sliding Doors
- Steering Wheel-Mounted Audio Controls
- Ambient Console Lighting
- Conversation Mirror with Sunglasses Holder
- Tilt & Telescopic Steering Column
- Seatback Pockets
- Integrated Sunshades
- Front Door Courtesy Lights
- 120-Watt AM/FM/XM Ready/6-Disc In-Dash CD Changer Audio System with 6 Speakers
- Exterior Temperature Indicator
The EX-L is your semi-luxury trim adding:
- Aluminum-Alloy 244hp i-VTEC V6
- Variable Cylinder Management (VCM)
- Power Moonroof
- Leather-Wrapped Steering Wheel and Shift Knob
- Leather-Trimmed Seats
- Heated Front Seats
The Touring trim is your top of the line Odyssey adding:
- 460mm Alloy wheels
- 235-710R 460A Michelin PAX System Run-Flat tires
- Power Tailgate
- Parking Sensors (front/rear)
- Tri-Zone Automatic Climate Control
- DVD Rear Entertainment System
- Automatic Day/Night Rearview Mirror
- Power Adjustable Pedals
- 360-Watt AM/FM/6-Disc In-Dash CD Changer Premium Audio System with 7 Speakers, including Subwoofer
- Corner and Backup Sensor Indicator
- Navigation System
- Toyota Sienna: side-by-side comparison
- Nissan Quest: side-by-side Comparison
- Chrysler Town and Country: side-by-side comparison
WikiCars Contributor Favorites
Honda Manufacturer Sites
- Honda Odyssey - Official US Site