Redesigned in 2005, the Honda Odyssey undergoes only two minor changes for 2006: there are two additional child seat tether anchors in the third-row seats, and the EX with Leather and Touring models receive a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob.

The Oydssey is available as the LX, EX with Leather, EX with Leather and RES (Rear Entertainment System), and Touring. All models use a 3.5-litre V6, but the EX models and the Touring receive Variable Cylinder Management, which deactivates the three rear cylinders for extra fuel economy. With all six cylinder firing, the V6 makes 255 hp; a drive-by-wire throttle system provides instant acceleration.

The LX includes 16-inch steel wheels, front and rear manual air conditioning, fifteen cupholders, power locks with keyless remote, front and second-row power windows, CD player with four speakers, dual sliding doors, heated mirrors, fixed intermittent rear wiper, trailer pre-wiring and cloth seats.

The EX adds dual front automatic climate control with rear manual air, ambient lighting, cargo net, conversation mirror, exterior temperature gauge, Homelink garage door opener, six-CD stereo with six speakers and wheel-mounted controls, dual power sliding doors, auto-off headlamps, eight-way power driver’s seat and 16-inch alloy wheels. The second row of seats comes with “PlusOne” seating, a small seat between the two larger ones that turns only the EX models into eight-passenger vehicles.

The EX with Leather adds power sunroof, heated leather seats, leather-wrapped wheel and shift knob; the EX with Leather and RES adds a DVD rear entertainment system with nine-inch flip-down screen, wireless headphones, wireless remote and video jack.

The Touring also includes the leather interior and entertainment system, and adds a 115-volt power outlet, adjustable pedals, dual front and rear automatic climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, seventeen cupholders, 350-watt stereo with seven speakers including subwoofer, cornering sensors, fog lights, automatic headlamps, power tailgate, second-row centre console, navigation system and rear camera.

The Honda Odyssey remains the benchmark for minivans, with a powerful engine, excellent handling, and in the upper lines, a luxurious interior that rivals some high-end sedans. Even seven adults can stretch out in comfort; third-row passengers receive ample legroom and sufficient shoulder space. Pull a handle, and the 60/40 third row cleverly flips and folds into a storage well to create a flat floor. The only thing missing is Chrysler’s superior Stow ’n Go disappearing-seat system; if you want to free up extra space in the Odyssey’s second row, you’ll have to lift the heavy seats out.

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