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. For 2008, the Odyssey continues its trend of exterior and interior changes, and the V-6 engine has been updated to improve fuel economy.
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. The 2008 Odyssey also gets active front seat head restraints and daytime running lights.
Four trim levels are offered: LX, EX, EX-L and Touring. The top two models use an updated Variable Cylinder Management version of Honda's 3.5-liter V-6, which shifts automatically between six-, four- and three-cylinder operation in response to driving conditions. A regular V-6 goes into the LX and EX.
The Touring model has standard DVD entertainment and navigation systems; those systems are also available in EX-L models, though navigation can only be had in combination with the entertainment system. For 2008, the EX-L and Touring models both come standard with XM Satellite Radio and a leather steering wheel.
New features for 2008 include a Bluetooth HandsFreeLink (available on EX-L and Touring versions), a four-way power passenger seat (standard on the EX-L and Touring), a rear camera display in the rearview mirror (EX-L models without the navigation system) and memory-linked side mirrors (Touring). Odysseys are built in Alabama.
For 2008, the grille has been reworked to include a bit more chrome in a six-sided design. The front bumper area has also been slightly altered for 2008.
Built on a 118.1-inch wheelbase, the Odyssey measures 202.1 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 standard on Touring models.
Touring models are available with Michelin PAX run-flat tires. A power moonroof is standard on EX-L and Touring minivans.
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, EX-L and Touring 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.
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.
Under the Hood
Honda's 3.5-liter V-6 teams with a five-speed automatic transmission. In EX-L and Touring models, an updated Variable Cylinder Management V-6 switches operation automatically between three, four and six cylinders. Engines in the LX and EX make 244 horsepower and 240 pounds-feet of torque; EX-L and Touring engines are good for 241 hp and 242 pounds-feet of torque.
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, though Touring models get a more advanced system.