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  • 2005 Honda Odyssey EX-L

    Posted on March 20th, 2005 ninarussin

    Honda’s all-new minivan maintains its segment-leading quality.

    By Nina Russin

    2005 Honda Odyssey

    2005 Honda Odyssey

     The Honda Odyssey takes its name from Homer’s epic saga about a Greek warrior who spends twenty years wandering the high seas after the Trojan War.  Despite their circuitous route, Odysseus’ ship  delivers the clan home to Ithaca, no worse for wear.  Similarly, Honda’s Odyssey minivan will carry its passengers in safety and comfort whenever and wherever adventure calls.

     Knowing the Odyssey’s reputation for comfort and reliability, it seemed to be the perfect vehicle to drive from Phoenix to San Pedro, en route to the Catalina Marathon.  Having driven to several California marathons in the past, I knew the type of vehicle that would work best after the race:  automatic transmission (no need to beat the quads up further), ergonomic seats (for all of the other aching muscles), and a cargo area large enough to hold the luggage and me, if I decided to stretch out in back during the ride home.

     The test car was an EX model that retails for just over $30,000.  The EX comes standard with roof rails and dual sliding power doors, which makes it ideal for people who carry lots of cargo. 

    Comfort and convenience features include an AM/FM, 6-disc in-dash CD audio system, pre-wiring for satellite radio, steering wheel audio controls, dual-zone climate controls, power/tilt moonroof and an 8-way power driver’s seat with adjustable lumbar.  Heated front seats, and a standard rear wiper with washer will appeal to buyers living in the snow belt. 

    Honda’s 60/40 split third-row magic seat also comes standard on the EX.  It folds into the floor with one quick motion, and no need to remove the headrests. 

    The Gods are in the Details

     To paraphrase a famous architect, it’s the details that usually make the difference between a pretty good car and a great one.  For example, the Odyssey’s VTEC V6 engine with variable cylinder management combines excellent power and fuel economy.  The system automatically cuts off power to three of the cylinders when engine load is low. 

    The variable engine management feature is available on the upscale Touring and EX models with leather trim.  Unlike similar systems in the past, the on-board computer controls eliminate excess noise and vibration.  In fact, the power shifts are imperceptible , except for an indicator light on the dash.

     EPA figures for the test car were 20 mpg city and 28 highway.  The round trip, about 800 miles, took just under two tanks of gas.  On the other hand, the engine had enough low-end power to merge onto a crowded freeway in Long Beach, and find the sweet spots in Friday afternoon traffic.

     The 355-horsepower engine is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission that provides buttery smooth shifts.  The MacPherson front and double wishbone rear suspension provide a compliant ride that isn’t overly soft, thanks to improvements in torsional rigidity, and standard front and rear stabilizer bars. 

    A tire pressure monitoring system, standard on the Touring model, keeps drivers informed about any impending failures.  Michelin run-flat tires can go up to 125 miles at highway speeds following a puncture.

     There is excellent steering feel with the power rack and pinion system at all speeds.  The Odyssey is easy to maneuver into a standard parking space, and visibility is excellent all the way around the vehicle.  In fact, the ride and handling are more like a Honda sedan than a minivan.

     The seats with adjustable lumbar were comfortable for the 7-hour drive from Arizona to California.  The map pockets in the doors are well designed, as is the large, split level glove box. 

    Extensions on the sun visors make them more effective at blocking out sunlight early and late in the day.   The front center console and new in-floor storage area are much better designed than those in earlier models; they do a great job of holding small packs, books, cell phones, and like items within easy reach of the driver and front passenger.  A standard coin holder is handy for drivers who have to toss change at a toll booth basket during the daily commute. 

    Honda’s available navigation system is one of the best in the industry:  it’s easy to use and calculates (and recalculates) routes extremely quickly.

    User-Friendly Cargo Area

     The Odyssey’s interior is two inches longer and an inch wider than the previous generation, for more passenger and cargo space.  The third-row magic seat and removable second-row seats make it easy to create a large, flat load floor for holding large cargo. 

    The second-row seats move fore and aft ten inches to give taller passengers the legroom they require; the can also be pushed together to function as a single bench. 

     A removable second row center console provide additional storage for passengers in the back.  There are numerous bottle holders throughout the vehicle, and the touring model comes with a 115 volt power outlet. 

    A cargo area light makes it easy to load and unload the Odyssey at night.  There are plenty of hooks and nets in the cargo area as well, for storing smaller items that tend to shift around.

    Segment-leading Safety

     The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, one of two groups that conducts crash tests on new vehicles, named the Odyssey “best pick” among minivans in its frontal offset crash.  This is significant because offset crashes are more frequent than straight-on frontal crashes in the real world. 

    In the crash test,  40 percent of the vehicle’s front end hit’s a deformable barrier at 40 miles-per-hour.  The Odyssey received a “good” score, for its ability to minimize intrusion to the front passenger space, and divert crash forces away from the passengers.

     Standard safety features on all models include antilock brakes, vehicles stability assist and traction control.  Standard side curtain airbags have dedicated sensors for all three rows of passengers, plus a rollover sensor that deploys the side airbags in the event of a rollover. 

    The body of the car is designed to be compatible with other size vehicles in the event of a front impact or offset collision.  All models have the LATCH child seat attachment systems on both second row seats and the middle position, third row seat.

     The new Odyssey also received five-star crash test ratings on both frontal and side-impact tests by the federal government.

    Three Available Trim Levels

     The EX, and EX-L (leather) are two of four available trim levels.  Both the EX with leather (tested) and the upscale Touring model come standard with the variable cylinder management system, that cuts power from six to three cylinders when engine load is light. 

    The LX and EX models that do not have this feature get slightly poorer fuel economy than the test car:  19/25 mpg city and highway. 

    Pricing for the base LX model begins at $25,195, while the fully-loaded Touring model with leather trim and rear-seat DVD entertainment system retails for $38,495.  The Honda Odyssey is currently available at Honda dealerships nationwide.

    Likes:  Good power and fuel economy, thanks to Honda’s variable cylinder management system.
    Comfortable driver’s seat, with easy access to numerous storage bins and cubbies.  Redundant audio controls on the steering wheel make it easy to flip channels with minimal distraction.  The Odyssey remains the segment leader in safety, has a spacious, easy-to-use cargo area, and power sliding doors make the cargo bay easy to access.

    Dislikes:  None

    Base price: $25,195
    Price as tested: $30,810
    Horsepower: 255 Hp @ 5,750 r.p.m.
    Torque: 250 lbs.-ft. @ 4,500 r.p.m.
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: No 
    Towing: No
    Off-Road: No
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Fuel economy: 20/28 m.p.g. city/highway
    Comments: Base price does not include a standard $515 destination and handling fee.


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