Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Honda Odyssey Still a Minivan Leader

Honda has long been known for making quality-filled, practical vehicles. One of the key models that helped it earn this reputation is the Odyssey minivan. 

And while it's true that the minivan market has shrunk significantly over the past few years thanks to SUVs, crossovers and lately even small station wagons, it's still an important market segment.

And seemingly, as long as moms and dads need to haul kids around, and as long as retirees (another key buyer of minivans) need an easy-to-enter-and-exit vehicle that lets them haul stuff, Honda will keep making the Odyssey, one of the best.

Women buyers are said to love the Odyssey because of its great reputation for safety and dependability. Honda's "Safety for Everyone" policy, found throughout its lineup, means that important safety features are standard, rather than optional.

Buyers of both genders like the Odyssey’s fuel economy, up to 17 mpg city/25 highway for the model we tested, numbers that are nearly as good as and sometimes better than those popular crossovers. 

Plus the Odyssey has bona fide eight-passenger capability, unlike some of those crossovers that throw in a third row of seating that sometimes is only good for someone the size of a horse-racing jockey. 

Honda's fuel-efficient 3.5-liter V-6 engine, which has a Variable Cylinder Management system, gets some credit for the good fuel economy.

Drivers and passengers like the premium features in this minivan, including a Bluetooth hands-free phone system, a four-way power passenger seat, a rearview camera with display in the rearview mirror for models without the optional navigation system, and side mirrors with memory and reverse tilt-down.

On the inside, spiffs include a new instrument panel, optional leather seats, or if you get cloth seats premium fabric.

Honda has a power-operated tailgate on its EX-L model as standard equipment.

If you don't need to haul eight people, you can get captain's chairs in the middle row.

Or if you only need to haul yourself and one other adult, fold the seats down and experience the cavernous cargo space that exists.

The only beef we had with our tester was that the automatic side sliding doors worked very inconsistently. Might have been just a flaw on this particular model, but I'd still prefer the manual sliding doors.

 Prices start at $27,015 for the base LX model, and run a little over $41,000 for the fully equipped Touring model, which comes with such extras as leather seats, rear-seat DVD entertainment, premium audio, and a navigation system.

So maybe you're not ready to join the minivan set yet, but when you are, it's sure hard to beat the Odyssey.

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