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Honda Odyssey

by Martha Hindes

Honda Odyssey
Honda Odyssey

Honda, the company that offers few if any options on its vehicles, is expanding its variety of Odyssey minivan amenities in a time-tested Honda way: More model choices. While that could put Odyssey at a seemingly higher price than some competitors that list at base, then are layered with pricey options, Honda buyers know right away what they are getting.

Entry level for the Odyssey is solidly mid-20s in price. But going upmodel -- tops is the Odyssey Touring, with leather, rear entertainment and nav system -- can push that to nearly $39,000, reflecting an average $267 price jump for 2006 models. (A loaded anything-else would likely be at a comparable cost.) The 2006 newby is a toney Touring model that includes the DVD entertainment system but not the voice recognition/rear camera-equipped navigation system previously on all Touring models. The '06s also get XM Satellite Radio on all Touring models, and leather steering wheel and shift knob on EX-L models.

"Standard" on Odyssey comes with assurance that a vehicle model's amenities will be the same no matter how many dealerships one tends to shop. (It probably also takes some sting out of the process.) For this year, standard includes advanced safety features (Honda cites its "Safety for Everyone" initiative), including vehicle stability assist and rollover sensor. Odyssey won a "best pick" crash test rating last year from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Good fuel economy comes from Honda's Variable Cylinder Management that idles three of the six cylinders during highway cruising.

Odyssey was totally redesigned in 2005 as a larger, spunkier, yet more luxurious minivan, its second reinvention since being introduced to American buyers in the mid-1990s. The newest Odyssey hit the streets rolling with a 3.5-liter V-6 powerplant, self-described "class leading" fuel efficiency and an ultra-low emissions rating. With LX, EX, EX-L and Touring Versions, the 2006 amenities list, depending on model, includes power tailgate and sliding doors, halogen headlamps, tri-zone climate control with air filtration, 360-watt premium audio, in-floor storage with a compartmented lazy susan, and barely noticeable body-colored front and rear parking sensors so the vehicle doesn't look like it has a case of the zits.