2009 Odyssey New Car Test Drive
The Honda Odyssey might be the best minivan on the market. It's one of the most enjoyable to drive and lives up to Honda's reputation for refinement, convenience, and great fit and finish. Its flexible seating system can accommodate up to eight passengers and it has plenty of room. In short, it's a good choice for families.
All Odyssey models are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine with a five-speed automatic transmission, and it's a good powertrain. Four trim levels make it affordable to a wider group of buyers, yet all deliver car-like ride and handling and a comprehensive set of safety features, including electronic stability control and side curtain airbags for head protection.
Now in its fourth year of production, the current generation Odyssey still seems fresh. The base LX starts at about $26,000 and includes most of the features that make family travel easier. The line-topping Touring has as many bells and whistles as a good luxury sedan, and it comes with Acura pricing.
For 2008, the Odyssey receives several updates. On the outside, the front grille and front fascia get a new look closer to that of the new Honda Accord. Under the hood, Honda's Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system is updated. Standard on EX-L and Touring models, the new VCM system allows the V6 engine to run on six, four, or three cylinders, depending on driving conditions. The last version used only six or three cylinders. Also for 2008, the Odyssey gets an audio auxiliary input jack and a CD player that can play MP3 or WMA files. Finally, four new premium features are offered: Bluetooth cell phone link, a four-way power passenger seat becomes standard on EX-L and Touring models; a rearview camera display is integrated into the mirror on the EX-L, and the Touring gets memory-linked side mirrors with reverse tilt-down feature.
The 2008 Honda Odyssey lineup includes four models, LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring. All are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 with variable valve timing. In LX and EX, the engine makes 244 horsepower at 5750 rpm and 240 pound-feet of torque at 5000 rpm. In EX-L and Touring models, the engine makes 241 horsepower and 242 pound-feet of torque at 4900 rpm, and it is equipped with the latest edition of Honda's Variable Cylinder Management system that shuts down two or three cylinders in light engine load conditions to conserve fuel. Both versions of the engine are equipped with a five-speed automatic transmission.
The LX ($25,860) comes with cloth upholstery, seating for seven with second-row caption's chairs and a 60/40 split fold-down rear seats. It also has manual sliding side doors, manual seat controls, front and rear air conditioning, air-filtration system, power door locks with remote keyless entry, power windows, power exterior mirrors, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary input jack, theft-deterrent system, and P235/65R16 tires on steel wheels with hubcaps.
The EX ($28,960) adds power sliding doors, tri-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power driver's seat, a storable second-row PlusOne seat, in-dash six-disc CD changer, steering wheel audio controls, heated exterior mirrors, universal garage door opener, conversation mirror, second-row sunshades, roof rails, rear spoiler, and alloy wheels.
The EX-L ($32,210) adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, a four-way power adjustable front passenger seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power moonroof, XM satellite radio, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Honda's active noise reduction, and the iVTEC engine with Variable Cylinder Management. The EX-L is available with the DVD rear-seat entertainment system ($33,810), and the navigation system with rearview camera can be added to that ($35,810).
The Touring ($40,010) is what Honda's Acura luxury division would sell if it sold a minivan. It has a slightly stiffer suspension for improved handling and a 350-watt audio system with six-disc CD changer, seven speakers and a subwoofer. It also gets the navigation system, front and rear park assist, a power tailgate, memory for the driver's seat and mirrors, power-adjustable pedals, 17 cupholders, outside mirror tilt-down backup aid, Bluetooth wireless cell phone link, trip computer, compass and outside temperature display, automatic headlights, fog lights, the DVD rear-seat entertainment system, and P235/60R17 tires. The Touring comes with the iVTEC engine with VCM. The Touring is available with Michelin PAX run-flat tires ($40,610).
Safety equipment that comes standard on all models includes dual-stage front airbags, front side-impact airbags, curtain-style head-protection airbags for all three rows of seats and deploy in case of a rollover, active front head restraints, a tire-pressure monitor, antilock brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control, and electronic stability control. A rearview camera, run-flat tires, and front and rear park assist are also available.