The 1999 - 2004 generation of Honda's front-wheel-drive Odyssey was a class leader. For 2005, the minivan received a major redesign in Honda's attempt to leapfrog the growing competition. It carries on into 2007 with minimal changes, including a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and tire pressure monitoring system for all trim levels, plus two new exterior colors.
The Odyssey has a foldaway third-row Magic Seat and a stowable PlusOne seat in the second row. Side curtain airbags protect occupants in all three rows, and an electronic stability system is standard. The windows in the sliding doors can be partially opened.
Four trim levels are offered: LX, EX, EX-L and Touring. The top two models use a Variable Cylinder Management version of Honda's 3.5-liter V-6, which shifts automatically between six- and three-cylinder operation in response to driving conditions. A regular V-6 goes into the LX and EX.
The Touring model is available with a DVD entertainment system; the system is also available in EX-L models for 2007, but only in combination with the navigation system. XM Satellite Radio is standard in Touring models, and the EX-L gets a leather-trimmed steering wheel. Odysseys are built in Alabama.
Built on a 118.1-inch wheelbase, the Odyssey measures 201 inches long overall. All models have dual sliding side doors, and all but the LX have power operation on both sides. Pulling the door handle halts the power doors, and a power liftgate is available on Touring models.
Touring models use Michelin PAX run-flat tires. A power moonroof is standard on EX-L and Touring minivans. Nimbus Gray Metallic and Dark Cherry Pearl are new exterior color options for 2007.
Seating for seven occupants consists of two bucket seats in the first and second rows and a third-row 60/40-split bench that folds into the floor. EX and EX-L models seat eight people thanks to a removable center seat in the second row that can stow into a recessed compartment, which can be used for storage when the seat isn't stowed. A Lazy Susan under-floor tray holds miscellaneous items in Touring models. Adjustable pedals are available in Touring models, and the gearshift lever sits on the instrument panel. For 2007, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel is standard for all trims, and there is a center pocket coin holder.
A DVD-based rear entertainment system, available on EX-L models and standard on Touring models, uses a 9-inch screen. Honda's navigation system operates with voice recognition, can respond to 637 commands, and understands street names, numbers and destinations.
Honda's 244-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 teams with a five-speed automatic transmission. In EX-L and Touring models, the Variable Cylinder Management V-6 switches operation automatically between three and six cylinders. Both engines generate 240 pounds-feet of torque, but at slightly different engine speeds.
Side-impact and three-row side curtain airbags, all-disc antilock brakes and traction control are standard, as is an electronic stability system. A tire pressure monitoring system is standard on all trim levels.
Exuding excellence, the Odyssey is energetic, quiet, capable and easy to drive. Although the Odyssey nearly meets Honda's Euro-sedan handling claim, its steering isn't quite as precise and requires a slightly heavy touch.
Slight corrections are needed on straightaways, but body lean in curves is minimal. With its comparatively taut suspension, the Odyssey's ride is a bit firm, but it exhibits near-instant recovery over bumps.
For a minivan, acceleration is wholly satisfying, though short of startling. It's impossible to discern when operation moves between three and six cylinders with the Variable Cylinder Management engine. Transmission shifts are crisp, quick and usually inconspicuous. The voice-recognition navigation system is simply amazing.