2006 Honda Odyssey Touring
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Review and photos by Bob McHugh

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There must be something buried in our human psyche that makes us resistant to anything that approaches perfection. The minivan is a good example: in its heyday we couldn’t get enough of them. Today, the market choices are better than ever and the level of refinement is fantastic – but we don’t want them anymore!

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration; the minivan market has declined but it’s still sizeable and an important segment for manufacturers, particularly in Canada. One of the better minivans on the market is the third-generation Honda Odyssey, redesigned last year. It offers car-like ride and handling, a powerful 244-horsepower V6 engine with an available fuel-saving cylinder de-activation system, a versatile seating system for up to seven passengers, plus lots of space to store both big and small stuff.

Pricing and features

2006 Honda Odyssey Touring
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The 2006 Odyssey lineup includes three models, LX, EX, EX-L and Touring. The base LX ($33,200) comes with power door locks, remote keyless entry, power windows and 60/40 split fold-down third-row rear seats. If you don’t mind manual sliding side doors, seat adjustments and air conditioning it’s a good choice.

A move up to the EX ($36,400) adds stuff like power sliding doors, three-zone climate control, an in-dash CD changer, steering wheel audio controls, power driver seat adjustments, alloy wheels and more.

2006 Honda Odyssey Touring
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Leather upholstery is the main upgrade in EX-L ($39,500) and it also includes the iVTEC engine with variable cylinder management (VCM), a power moonroof and heated front seats.

The top-line Odyssey Touring ($47,600) is the super-deluxe edition. All the above plus a navigational system, a DVD entertainment system, a back-up camera, front and rear parking sensors, a power tailgate and power-adjustable pedals.

Interior impressions

2006 Honda Odyssey Touring
Click image to enlarge

All versions of the Odyssey come with two sliding doors with power up/down windows, just like a car. In our test-van, a top-of-the-line Touring edition, these windows also had pull-up inside sun screens.

The Odyssey was the first minivan to offer a fold-under-the-floor third row seat, a neat feature that is now copied by most competitors. Initially, the spare tire was stowed in a mid-body compartment to allow room in the rear for the third seat storage. The spare tire in the new Odyssey is in a rear side compartment and the mid-body well is now a ‘Lazy Susan’ type storage container. Hidden from view beneath the floor, this large compartment has a pull-out tray and two doors with locks.

2006 Honda Odyssey Touring

2006 Honda Odyssey Touring

2006 Honda Odyssey Touring

2006 Honda Odyssey Touring
Click image to enlarge

Storage innovations abound: there’s a double glove box, two-level door storage pockets, a moveable rear centre console, and a fold-away tray between the front seats. I lost count, but apparently there are 17 cup holders in the Touring Edition.

Our test vehicle also came with a voice-activated DVD navigation system. I found the large touch-screen monitor, which is positioned high on the dashboard, very easy to use. It responds to 637 bilingual voice commands and can also operate the audio and climate controls.

In back, the right-hand second-row seat can slide across to allow easier access to the third-row seats when the centre console is removed. However, these seats don’t fold into the floor like Chrysler’s clever stow-n-go second-row seating system.

Our van’s overhead DVD entertainment system featured a large wide-screen display that folded out of the ceiling and came with wireless headsets. Even the third row passengers have audio controls and headphone plugs.
Some safety advancements were introduced with the Odyssey’s redesign in 2005: Honda’s “Advanced Compatibility Engineering” reduces damage that the Odyssey can do to other (smaller) vehicles in a frontal collision. As well, the Odyssey’s passengers have better protection in the form of front side airbags and three-row side curtain airbags with rollover sensors.

2006 Honda Odyssey Touring
2006 Honda Odyssey Touring US model. Photo: Honda. Click image to enlarge

A check by the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation for child seat compatibility did not show up any serious installation problems, but it was a bit of a struggle to attach the second-row seat tether hooks as the anchors are embedded in the upholstery. Two second-row seats and the middle third-row seat had LUAS attachments.


Driving impressions

The Odyssey is considered by many auto critics to be the best handling minivan on the market, although Toyota Sienna owners may take issue. Considering its size and height, the handling characteristics are remarkable and it offers a luxury car like ride as well.

2006 Honda Odyssey Touring

2006 Honda Odyssey Touring

2006 Honda Odyssey Touring

2006 Honda Odyssey Touring

2006 Honda Odyssey Touring
Photos: Russell Purcell. Click image to enlarge

The Odyssey’s suspension soaks up bumps remarkably well and has a stable feel on the highway. Chassis changes to the third-generation Odyssey include increased rigidity, a slightly wider track and redesigned front and rear suspensions. New electronic driving enhancements include Vehicle Stability Assist to help prevent the van from oversteering or understeering, and Brake Assist to provide additional braking force in a sudden stop.

Honda has strived to reduce road noise and to give the steering a better on-centre feel and more linearity. These are subtle changes, but when combined, do make a noticeable difference to the driving experience. Noise reduction has been taken to a new scientific extreme with the addition of active noise control. Booming sounds are reduced by an out-of-phase sound that’s sent through the speaker system, primarily to cancel out engine noises.

Parking an Odyssey Touring was surprisingly easy. It has a tight turning radius (for a minivan) and in addition to a park-assist system, which beeps a warning if a bumper gets too close to something solid, it had a rear video camera.
The V6 engine is smooth, powerful, and relatively fuel-efficient. Although the claimed horsepower numbers are lower than last year (244-hp vs 255-hp) it’s an identical engine. The lower figures are due to a change in the evaluation method used by the Society of Automotive Engineers. The iVTEC V6 engine with ‘Variable Cylinder Management’ cuts three of its six cylinders in light cruising situations. The transition to three and back to six is very slick and if you do mostly highway driving, you’ll save almost a litre of fuel every 100-kilometres. This engine, by the way, is only in the EX-L and Touring versions.
Verdict

The Odyssey’s interior space utilization, technology advances, passenger comfort and the improvements in ride and road handling make this a simply marvellous vehicle.


Pricing: 2006 Honda Odyssey Touring


Specifications

  • Click here for complete specifications for the 2006 Honda Odyssey


Crash test results


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Competitors

  • Buyer’s Guide: 2006 Toyota Sienna

  • Buyer’s Guide: 2006 Nissan Quest
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2006 Chrysler Town and Country
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2006 Buick Terraza

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