click above image for additional high-res images of the 2008 Honda Odyssey

One of my buds just bought his first minivan. He traded in his Nissan Maxima for a 2005 Honda Odyssey. That transition from sports sedan to minivan can be tough pill to swallow, but most enthusiasts we know consider the Odyssey a good compromise for being more attractive than most, as well as offering a powertrain and handling package that's sportier than the minivan mean. For 2008, Honda has dressed up the Odyssey with some styling tweaks, including a new six-sided grille and front bumper fascia. The interior has received new colors, textures and fabrics, as well. Bluetooth connectivity for cell phones is now available, as is a 4-way power passenger seat, rearview camera display in the rearview mirror and side mirrors that tilt down when in reverse. There are two engines available for 2008, both 3.5L V6s. The first is a SOHC VTEC motor that produces 244 HP and 242 ft-lbs. of torque. The second is a SOHC i-VTEC with Variable Cylinder Management, similar to the system used on the new 2008 Honda Accord's V6. VCM improves fuel economy of the 3.5L from 16/23 to 17/25, which isn't a huge jump, but may be appreciated by parent-run chauffeur services. I'll be emailing this post to my friend, just so he knows the Odyssey is still going strong despite some competitors (looking at you Ford and GM) have exited the segment.

[Source: Honda]

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PRESS RELEASE:

2008 Honda Odyssey Showcases a Freshened Style with New Premium Features; Newest Version of Variable Cylinder Management Technology Introduced

Stylish and sporty minivan seats up to eight people in premium comfort with sedan-like handling and fuel economy

The significantly-updated-for-2008 Honda Odyssey minivan receives new exterior styling along with a more fuel-efficient version of the available Variable Cylinder Management™ (VCM®) i-VTEC V-6 engine. Exterior styling focuses on a bolder, six-sided grille design and a front bumper fascia with crisp lines that add to the vehicle's dynamic and premium appearance.

"The Odyssey is the king of the Honda lineup when it comes to moving the maximum number of people in maximum comfort," said Dick Colliver, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "For 2008, the Odyssey strengthens its styling and functional advantages while adding even more premium features."

Four new and notable available premium features include Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® (available Odyssey EX-L and Touring), 4-way power passenger seat (standard Odyssey EX-L and Touring), rearview camera display integrated into the rearview mirror (standard Odyssey EX-L) and memory-linked side mirrors with reverse gear tilt-down (standard Odyssey Touring).

Interior styling receives updates in the form of new colors and textures for the instrument panel, along with premium fabric for Odyssey LX and EX seating surfaces. Further interior refinements include an additional storage bin in the 2nd Row PlusOne Seat™ (standard on Odyssey EX, EX-L and Touring), standard MP3/Windows® Media Audio (WMA) compatibility (CD-based) and a standard auxiliary input jack.

The Odyssey achieves the highest five-star crash safety rating by the federal government for both frontal and side impacts . In keeping with the Honda "Safety for Everyone" initiative, all Odyssey models are equipped with Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®), also known as electronic stability control; standard anti-lock brakes with brake assist; advanced dual-stage, dual-threshold driver's and front passenger's SRS airbags; front side airbags with passenger-side Occupant Protection Detection System (OPDS); three-row side-curtain airbags with a rollover sensor; and a pedestrian safety design in the front of the vehicle. An Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure provides enhanced occupant protection in a frontal collision. New for 2008, active front seat head restraints and daytime running lights have been added.

Known for its industry trend-setting One-Motion 60/40 Split 3rd-Row Magic Seat®, the Odyssey's innovative eight-passenger seating areas (seven-passenger on LX) quickly and easily adapt between passenger and cargo duties. The 3rd-Row Magic Seat can accommodate up to three passengers and still provide 38.4 cubic feet of cargo volume behind the seats, or fold completely flat into the floor for cargo duty to create 91.1 cubic feet of cargo volume while still maintaining room for five passengers (four passengers on LX). With the second row seats removed, total cargo volume expands to a voluminous 147.4 cubic feet. Total interior volume measures 209.8 cubic feet for passenger and cargo volume combined - representing a total volume greater than two Civic Sedan interior volumes combined, for comparison. The 2nd-Row PlusOneSeat™ integrates a new storage bin inside the seat structure and is standard equipment on the Odyssey EX and EX-L (as before). The 2nd-Row PlusOneSeat has been added as standard equipment to the Odyssey Touring, replacing the standard removable center console, while retaining similar functionality and adding a seating position to the previously seven-passenger Touring model.

Designed with families in mind, a total of three Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) child seat attachment systems exist: two are located in the outboard second-row seating positions and one is located in the middle third-row seating position.

Standard comfort and convenience features include dual-zone air conditioning (tri-zone automatic climate control on Odyssey EX, EX-L and Touring), tilt and telescope steering wheel, power windows and door locks, keyless entry and cruise control.

Available premium features include the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System™ with voice recognition, an 8-inch screen, and Zagat Survey® restaurant guide information, and a Honda DVD Entertainment System with a 9-inch screen. A rearview camera aids rear visibility on the Odyssey EX-L equipped with the available navigation system. Odyssey EX-L models without the available navigation system provide a rearview camera display via a 2.5-inch monitor embedded in the rearview mirror.

Determined by specific model, two engine variations exist. The 3.5-liter, all-aluminum, SOHC VTEC® engine on the Odyssey LX and EX produces 244 horsepower at 5750 rpm and 240 lb-ft. of torque at 5000 rpm. The Odyssey LX and EX models achieve an EPA-rated city/highway fuel economy of 16/23 mpg .

The Odyssey EX-L and Touring models feature a 3.5-liter, all-aluminum, SOHC i-VTEC® V-6 engine with VCM for enhanced fuel efficiency. This engine produces 241 horsepower at 5700 rpm and 242 lb-ft. of torque at 4900 rpm.

For 2008, a new generation of VCM provides the additional capability to selectively deactivate either two or three of the engine's six cylinders during cruising and deceleration (instead of three, exclusively). Similar to the new VCM system available on the 2008 Accord, the Odyssey's new VCM engine expands the cylinder deactivation operating range, which helps to increase fuel efficiency in a wider variety of driving conditions and speeds. An "ECO" indicator light illuminates on the instrument panel when the vehicle is operating at an optimal level of fuel efficiency. The Odyssey EX-L and Touring models achieve an EPA-rated city/highway fuel economy of 17/25 mpg2.

Vehicles equipped with VCM use both an audio system-based Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) system and a chassis-based Active Control Engine Mount (ACM) system to cancel noise and vibration that can occur during cylinder deactivation.

An independent front and rear suspension and a rigid unit body structure help provide comfortable and refined ride performance. Additional chassis components include power-assisted 4-wheel disc brakes and variable power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering. Odyssey LX, EX and EX-L models have 16-inch wheels (alloy on EX and EX-L) with all-season 235/65R16 tires. Odyssey Touring models are equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels and all-season 235/60R17 tires (standard); Michelin® PAX® System run-flat technology wheels and tires are available (460 mm wheels and 235-710R 460A tires).