Honda endeavored to make the Odyssey's body very rigid, which helps make it one of the most refined-riding and precise-handling vans on the market. The ACE body structure with improved frontal area makes the Odyssey the safest minivan available.
Inside, Honda has worked to make the Odyssey as comfortable as possible for all occupants. The Odyssey can carry up to eight smaller-size occupants, or six larger adults in comfort. With a "3-mode" design, the second row can be folded forward for cargo, stretched wide for adult-size seating space, or made more narrow for easier access to the third row -- when carrying a full load of kids to the soccer game, for instance. The third row carries on with Honda's "Magic Seat" arrangement, which folds easily with a single hand strap into the cargo floor when not in use. Coupled with second-row seats that are also completely removable, this allows for a very impressive cargo capacity. The Odyssey's extensive use of sound insulation and active noise cancellation system -- standard on all Odysseys -- means a quiet ride.
Cargo capacity and storage must have ranked high on the Odyssey's design priorities. With the Odyssey's third-row seat folded down and the second-row seats removed, Honda says that a 4x8-foot sheet of plywood will fit inside the Odyssey. With the front console removed 10-foot 2x4 studs will fit. There are more than enough cup holders (15) for all, and the back of the center console includes a ring for easily mounting a trash bag. Altogether, the Odyssey provides 38.4 cubic feet of storage behind the third row and 93.1 cubic feet behind the second row.
The highlight of the Odyssey's styling is, without a doubt, the "lightning bolt" shape of the beltline. The feature not only makes the Odyssey easy to spot from a distance and distinguishes it from myriad similar vehicles, it also helps ease the claustrophobic feeling typical of many third-row seats by expanding the side windows for those passengers.
There's quite a price and equipment range from base LX models up to the Touring and Touring Elite, but even the LX models come quite well-equipped and include air conditioning, cruise control, one-touch turn signals, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, power front seats, SMS text messaging functionality and a 5-speaker sound system with auxiliary input. The EX adds a 3-zone climate-control system, heated side mirrors, alloy wheels, a garage-door opener, LaneWatch blind-spot display, push-button start, and 2GB of audio storage, while the new SE features satellite radio, rear entertainment, a 115-volt power outlet, and an ingenious vacuum cleaner system called HondaVAC, with a hose long enough to reach every corner of the Odyssey. The EX-L models get leather upholstery, heated front seats, Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning. All models but the LX come with power sliding doors. Touring Elite adds HondaVAC as well as HD radio and 5.1 Surround audio.
Safety features such as stability control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, front side airbags, side-curtain bags for all three rows and active front-seat headrests are all among the standard features.
A DVD rear entertainment system with 18.2-inch ultra-wide display is standard on the Touring Elite. It offers an HDMI input and the capability to display two different programs -- a video game and a movie, for example -- simultaneously. In the EX-L model and above, there's an intelligent multi-information display that allows access to a range of vehicle settings. A navigation system with voice recognition is also on the options list for the Odyssey EX-L and standard on Touring and Touring Elite; it's driven by a 60GB hard-drive system and includes traffic information, a highway guide and point-of-interest information for gas stations, restaurants and other attractions.