The onslaught of SUVs in the 1990s and crossover utility type vehicles of the new millennium have kept minivan sales numbers from returning to those of their glory days Ð but automakers are still makin’ ’em and folks are still buyin’ ’em.
There aren’t quite as many players in the minivan game anymore mind you, but one who held firm to delivering a quality product over the years has been Honda. Because of that, the Honda Odyssey minivan has had a target on its back almost since its inception.
“A minivan is tough to beat when it comes to carting your kids around or to moving the maximum number of people in maximum comfort and efficiency,” said Vicki Poponi, assistant vice president of Product Planning for American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “Beyond the superior functionality inherent to a minivan, the Odyssey offers customers convenient seating versatility, a high-quality feel and a reputation for surprisingly engaging driving dynamics.”
The Odyssey has won numerous awards and critical acclaim including the Kelley Blue Book award as one of the 10 “Best New Family Vehicles of 2009,” and “2009 Best Resale Value Award” in the van category, which honors vehicles that are expected to have the best resale value after five years of ownership.
While the Honda minivan may not exactly excite all of the senses that, say, the Accord Coupe does, Odyssey does provide peace of mind and a very good value.
We recently spent a week with a new 2010 Odyssey Touring model, the top-of-the-line trim level for the Honda minivan (meaning Honda has thrown just about everything they could into this vehicle, short of the kitchen sink).
Odyssey carries itself very well on the road. Steering is quite responsive for a minivan and suspension is tighter than some of its competitors. The tradeoff is a slightly stiffer ride and our tester did give a bit of vibration back through the steering wheel, but overall the driving experience was pleasant enough for driver and passengers alike.
Seating is in three rows, with the third row able to disappear into the cargo floor. In the second row we find a removable center seat that also serves double duty as a storage bin.
The Touring trim level puts leather seating surfaces in all three rows with heat available up front, power side doors with sun shades and a power rear liftgate Ð all very convenient features when called into use.
Our tester also included power adjustable pedals, nav system whose center dash monitor flips down to reveal the CD changer, premium audio system and corner and backup sensors and rearview camera. There is also a DVD rear entertainment system with nine-inch monitor.
Powering the Odyssey is a i-VTEC 3.5-liter V-6 engine that produces 244hp and 245 lb. ft. of torque and Touring models also get the VCM cylinder deactivation technology that shuts down two or three cylinders when operating under light loads, thereby increasing fuel efficiency. Our tester was EPA rated at 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. All Odyssey models come with a five-speed automatic transmission as standard (with a shifter protruding from near center dash, apparently all the rage in minivans these days).
Honda Odyssey models in the Touring trim ride on 17-inch alloy wheels with all-season radial tires and feature four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, electronic stability control and vehicle stability assist.
Other standard safety equipment includes all the requisite front and front side impact airbags (with occupant position detection system for the front passenger seat), active front seat head restraints and three-row side-curtain airbags with a rollover sensor.
Pricing for 2010 Honda Odyssey models begins at $26,805 but for a fully loaded version like our Touring model tester expect to pay northward of 40 grand.