On the Road

The Odyssey is more fun to drive than most minivans, but that's not because of its acceleration. Honda's widely used 3.5-liter V-6 provides enough oomph around town, but it falls short of Chrysler's 4.0-liter Town & Country and Toyota's fleet-footed Sienna. (The Kia Sedona, which I reviewed last fall, lumbers roughly apace with Honda.)

What's more, Honda's automatic transmissions are an inconsistent bunch. Some are remarkably responsive; the Odyssey's, unfortunately, is not. It finds the right gear to power through a corner or get back up to cruising speed faster than the Sedona's slow-witted automatic, but on the highway it takes too long to kick down. Both the Sienna's and Town & Country's automatics feel more responsive.

Characteristic of Honda, ride quality is a bit firm. Some, I suspect, will find it uncomfortably so. At higher speeds, wind noise is contained, but road noise can encroach. My test car had 16-inch wheels, too; the Odyssey Touring swaps them for 17-inchers and lower-profile tires, which may worsen ride quality.

The Sienna has a more forgiving ride, and it's quieter on all fronts. Chrysler's minivans ride softer, too, but all the ones I've tested have exhibited a bad case of the creaks. The Odyssey's payoff comes in handling: The steering wheel exhibits the sort of turn-in precision no minivan deserves to have, and the minivan's resistance to body roll is admirable. It feels planted on the road, and if soccer practice is at the park down a curvy mountain road, the Odyssey is what you want. The steering wheel's 36.7-foot turning circle is best-in-class. In comparison, a Honda Accord sedan requires 37.7 feet to turn.

Gas mileage, at 16/23 mpg city/highway for the LX and EX, is among the worst for minivans. EX-L and Touring versions get a cylinder-deactivation system that shuts down three or four of the six cylinders in certain conditions to save gas. It bumps mileage up to 17/25 mpg, competitive with the best minivans, but, again, you'll have to buy a more expensive trim to get it.

    See also:

    Parking Your Vehicle
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    Bluetooth Hands Free Link
    On models with navigation system Bluetooth HandsFreeLink (HFL) allows you to place and receive phone calls using voice commands, without handling your cell phone. To use HFL, you need a Bluetoo ...

    Semi-automatic Operation
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