I'm the first to admit that while I can fully appreciate minivans, I can't appreciate the need for one.
Maybe it's because I spend so much time driving, stuck behind a blobby-butted minivan festooned with bumper stickers telling either something I don't want to know (''My son is an honor student at Upsy-Daisy Day School'') or some useless saying masquerading as general wisdom (''Meat is murder'').
Or maybe it's because I don't have the usual 2.5 kids and the vast acreage of stuff parents insist on toting along wherever they go with said offspring.
OK, guilty as charged.
But really, the all-new 2005 Honda Odyssey minivan is a very large vehicle, especially for one with a Honda tag. At over 77 inches wide and 201 inches long, it's sizeable enough to make you feel as if you're piloting a hallway.
Luckily, Honda stuffs a single-overhead-cam V6 under this vehicle's hood, matching it to a five-speed automatic that's remarkably smooth for a Honda automatic unit.
The engine revs nicely, lending this vehicle decent acceleration, but you'll always be aware of the domicile-like size and weight of this van.
Considering how easily it moves, it's ride and handling are benign enough to please any parental units. The ride feels a bit firmer than the class-leading Toyota Sienna minivan, with ample body lean dialed into cornering to discourage any crazy thoughts, such as driving with gusto. After all, we wouldn't want to tip over those drink boxes, now would we?
Let me just stop right here and mention that this vehicle had decent build quality, but I didn't feel it was much better than many others.
It had quite a few rattles, and some the dashboard controls, particularly the radio knob, felt very cheap.
While wagon-like vehicles tend to rattle, it's been a long time since I drove one with as many rattles as this one.
Luckily the radio helped cover up the noise from the rattly components. (Of course, if my niece and nephew were in the car, the rattles would probably be drowned out by the two of them fighting, but I digress.)
Overall, I found refinement pretty good, while fit and finish were just average.
But I did appreciate how Honda did its homework on the features that could make any rugrat-toting adult smile.
Both second and third row seats fold. Opt for leather and the center of the second row converts into a table, or can be removed altogether.
Rear seat passengers can also enjoy the DVD Entertainment System with a 9-inch display, remote control and wireless surround sound headphones.
Sure the DVD may keep them quiet, but the second row now has power windows, so when little Johnny blasts the back of your neck with frigid air in the middle of Winter, you'll know why.
There are four models, LX, EX, EX with leather and Touring. Of course, Honda sent the Touring model, which is new to the Odyssey line, and its most expensive model.
Touring models get a heavy dollop of luxury features, including power adjustable pedals, three zone automatic climate control, power tailgate, optional navigation system with voice recognition, rear view camera, parking sensors, automatic headlights, premium 6-disc CD audio system with available XM satellite radio, heated seats and a second-row removable center console.
Opting for the mid-level EX will net the best mix of reasonable price and features. The most important feature, power sliding side doors, are available on an all models except the base LX model.
Fuel economy was about average for the breed, coming in at 19 mpg in mixed driving.
While Homer's Odyssey was long, and marked by many changes in fortune, Honda's Odyssey is also long, but it's destined to keep you going along the straight and narrow. That's because Honda has heaped in all the necessary safety gear, including front and side airbags for front-seat passengers, and side-curtain airbags with rollover sensors for the rest of the vehicle. Vehicle stability control and anti-lock brakes are standard.
The Odyssey is perfectly suited for family duty and while I don't have the requisite family members with which to fill it, I do feel that the Toyota Sienna is generally superior, and crossover SUVs are more interesting to drive, even though the Odyssey still manages to come close to the front of the pack.