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2005 Honda Odyssey

2005 Honda Odyssey Minivan Review

by Jeff Voth

In Homer's Odyssey, the tale begins just as the Greek warrior Odysseus sails off into the sunset after successfully conquering Troy and ransacking a seemingly impenetrable city.

Although it required nine years of fighting to accomplish this feat, it was the now infamous Trojan horse that sealed the fate of tis once powerful foe in the end. It begs the question, "Was this the first successful application and design of a minivan?"

2005 Honda Odyssey

In many ways, the Honda Odyssey has a similar story to tell. The difference is, however, the past nine years have been anything but unsuccessful for Honda.

Marching boldly into a territory once held securely by the likes of DaimlerChrysler, General Motors and Ford, the two previous versions of the Odyssey proved Honda had what it takes to compete in this market. In many ways, they turned the whole minivan world on its head.

Having just returned from driving the 2005 Honda Odyssey, there seems no reason to believe the newly designed version is going to allow the competition to lower its guard anytime soon.

Built in Lincoln, Alabama, a small city located east of Birmingham on Interstate 20, the new Honda Odyssey once again sets the standard for drivability, design and performance. It's a small wonder that Honda would choose HMA, (Honda Manufacturing of Alabama) as the exclusive manufacturer of this very important vehicle. A tour of the plant shows it to be state of the art, employing a highly trained and motivated staff in a spotless work environment.

The target for the 2005 Honda Odyssey is to offer the best in class performance and fuel efficiency. Honda also aspires to achieve a 5-star safety rating, a versatile interior, premium build quality and dynamic styling. A tall order indeed, especially since the words "dynamic styling" and "minivan" aren't usually used synonymously.

To prove the new Odyssey's best in class performance, Honda took a group of journalists to Barber Motorsports Park and let them loose on the racetrack. In addition to the track time, they set up a wet skid pad area and pylon course to highlight the latest developments in the vehicles traction control and run-flat tire technology.

In tow for this event, Honda graciously provided one vehicle from each of its three main competitors, the Toyota Sienna, Nissan Quest and Chrysler Town & Country. In every case, the 2005 Honda Odyssey out cornered, out braked and out drove the competition. I was even shocked to see how tired looking the dash was in the comparably equipped 2004 Toyota Sienna. For me, the new-last-year Sienna represents the best of what a minivan has to offer. But I must admit it looks like the new Odyssey has jumped ahead by more than a few steps.

2005 Honda Minivan

Its no wonder the new Honda Odyssey handles the road like a midsize sedan on cross-trainers. Honda's internal handling target for the Odyssey was no less than a BMW. Gregory Thomas, Senior Engineer at Honda R&D Americas, Inc. relates the story of how he was originally given the responsibility of tuning the suspension and drive characteristics of the 2005 Odyssey. When asked by senior executives as to how he thought the new minivan should drive, he suggested a BMW 7-Series sedan as the benchmark.

At first, his proposal was treated with the sense of corporate humor it seemingly deserved. How could anyone seriously think they could make a minivan perform like a BMW? Mr. Thomas, however, persevered, and it wasn't long before he had the full support of Honda behind him in his quest for minivan supremacy.

The Odyssey rides on a 118.1-inch wheelbase; MacPherson strut suspension in front and double wishbone multi-link rear suspension.

New for 2005 is Standard Vehicle Stability Assist, (VSA) with Traction Control. The value of this precise system was proven in the wet skid pad portion of our test. With VSA on, the Odyssey performed continuous turns flawlessly.

Standard on all Touring models are Michelin PAX run-flat tires. Capable of maintaining highway speeds for hundreds of miles, (service centers are not always close by) they offer superior performance, without sacrificing ride comfort, or adding noise to the relative silence of the passenger cabin.

At the heart of every Honda vehicle, is the Honda engine. I think it was Jacques Villeneuve who coined that phrase in a commercial several years ago, but it seems a logical statement to make since Honda is renowned for engine technology. In the case of the new Odyssey, the 3.5-liter i-VTEC, SOHC V-6 engine produces 255 horsepower and 250 lb.-ft of torque. Drive-by-wire throttle control provides precise contact between the driver's brain and foot and the vehicle's engine. Requests for more power are flawlessly executed, even when driving in stop and go traffic.

Active control engine mounts and active noise control mean the high output i-VTEC engine remains quiet. The Odyssey's V-6 engine meets California's tough LEV2-ULEV criteria as well as the Federal Tier 2-Bin 5 emission requirements. A 5-speed automatic transmission provides smooth gear changes as the direct control shift system works with the drive-by-wire throttle control.

2005 Honda Odyssey Features

Inside, the 2005 Honda Odyssey sets the standard by which all other minivans will be measured. That's not to say it is perfect, but it comes very close.

If there is one feature that must drive minivan manufacturers green with envy, it has to be the STOW N GO seats from DaimlerChrysler. It seems to have caught every car manufacturer off guard, and try as they might to convince me otherwise, I believe Honda was just as surprised as everyone else.

The corporate line in Birmingham was that Honda seats are more luxuriously appointed and offer superior comfort. Having now driven both, I would agree that Honda does offer a more comfortable seat. Sitting in the second row is as comfortable as sitting in the front. The third row offers more leg room than any of its immediate competitors and of course it offers the Magic Seat option of the previous generation of Odyssey.

It was also stated that for the most part, people who use the fold-down or removable function of a mid seat, generally know beforehand when they require added space and will make the appropriate adjustments at home. With this in mind, the Honda Odyssey offers mid seats that are fully removable, or slide fore and aft up to 10 inches. They also have a fold and flip function that makes getting in and out of the 3rd row seats much easier.

A unique stowable 2nd row plus one seat accommodates an additional person, meaning the Odyssey is capable of carrying up to eight passengers. When the stowable seat is in use, a smartly designed Lazy Susan storage compartment is accessible by both front and 2nd row passengers.

2005 Honda Odyssey Review

The two-tone dash panel of the new Honda Odyssey is the finest I have seen to date in a minivan. It offers a full compliment of easy to read gauges, an excellent HVAC system and a high console mounted gear lever.

The optional voice activated, 8" Navigation system employs a human voice for the first time in an automobile. It also provides a truly intelligent freeway interchange split screen mode, making it much easier to find your way through unfamiliar terrain. When not in use, the DVD based navigation screen flips and folds out of sight.

Interior features include power windows, mirrors, locks and cruise control, with adjustable pedals, 17 cup holders, automatic climate control and an optional 9" fold-down DVD screen with wireless headsets. The Touring model offers a 360-watt amplifier with a total of seven speakers and pre-wiring for XM Satellite Radio.

Honda has deemed the 2005 Odyssey a premium adventure vehicle. The target market is new Gen-X families, 34 years old, with two kids. Marketers define this group as youthful spirited, in the know, creative, individualistic and multi-dimensional.

After spending several hours touring the beautiful back roads of Alabama at more than the legal speed limit, I would also include in the target demographic anyone who is looking to drive a sporty vehicle, but really needs the space and storage capacity of a minivan. Yes folks, you can have your van and drive it to!

If there is one Achilles heel for the 2005 Honda Odyssey, it has to be the stowing capability of its main competitor at DaimlerChrysler. Time will tell which one appeals most to consumers.

Maybe Honda doesn't need to worry. With a target of 160,000 units in the first year, I see no reason why they won't easily reach this goal. Minivan buyers of the world, your ship has just come in!


Description: Minivan
Model options: LX, EX, EX with Leather, Touring
Wheelbase: 118.1 inches
Overall length: 201.0 inches
Engine size: 3.5-liter VTEC V-6
Transmission: Auto/5 electronically controlled
Drive: FWD
Braking: 4-wheel ABS with EBD
Air bags: 2 (front) 2 (side) 3-row (side curtain)
Fuel mileage city/hwy: AT: N/A
MSRP: $ 25,000- $ 34,000 est.

For More Information Click: Honda Odyssey
For the Honda SUV 2005 Model Guide : Click Here