NEW FOR 2008:

– New Canada-exclusive entry-level DX trim line
– Redesigned hood, front grille and bumper, alloy wheels, taillights and new seat fabric
– Revised Variable Cylinder Management now deactivates two or three cylinders
– MP3/auxiliary input jack and active front seat head restraints added to all models
– LX adds roof rails, body-coloured moulding and 2nd-Row Plus One Seat with storage
– EX adds tri-zone automatic air conditioning
– EX-L adds tri-zone automatic air conditioning, reverse camera with display in rear-view mirror, XM Satellite Radio and four-way power passenger seat
– Touring adds 2nd-Row Plus One Seat with storage, Bluetooth hands-free telephone system, XM Satellite Radio, four-way power passenger seat and 17-inch alloy wheels
– Exterior colours: Mocha, Baltic Blue and Taffeta White added; Midnight Blue and Desert Rock deleted

For 2008, the Honda Odyssey minivan receives a facelift, with a new front end and taillights, and new seat fabrics. The big news is an exclusive-to-Canada DX trim line, which allows buyers to get into this big, well-made minivan at a lower entry price.

The Odyssey is available as the DX, LX, EX, EX-L and Touring. All use a 3.5-litre V6 engine, but the EX-L and Touring also include Variable Cylinder Management (VCM), which shuts off certain cylinders under light load, such as cruising or deceleration, for improved fuel economy. The Odyssey’s VCM previously shut off half the cylinders; the new system selectively shuts off two or three, depending on requirements, so that the Odyssey can run as a three-, four- or six-cylinder engine.

All models include anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, electronic stability control, active front seat head restraints, front-seat side airbags, three-row curtain airbags with rollover sensor and tire pressure monitoring system. All models but the DX have eight-passenger seating, thanks to a stowable 2nd-Row Plus One Seat that now becomes standard on the Touring, replacing the previous second-row centre console.

Features on the DX include 16-inch steel wheels, air conditioning with second-row controls, heated mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, intermittent rear wiper, power locks with keyless entry, cruise control, tilt and telescopic wheel, in-floor storage compartment, first- and second-row power windows, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary jack, and 60/40 split-folding third-row seat.

The LX adds body-coloured side moulding, roof rails, tinted glass, conversation mirror, and 2nd-Row Plus One Seat with storage.

The EX adds 16-inch alloy wheels, tri-zone automatic climate control, security system, body-coloured door handles and mirrors, power sliding doors, ambient cabin lighting, auto-off headlamps, exterior temperature gauge, garage door opener, second-row sunshades, eight-way power driver’s seat and six-CD/MP3 stereo.

The EX-L adds power sunroof, Active Noise Cancellation, auto-dimming rear-view mirror with reverse camera display, XM Satellite Radio, heated leather seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and four-way power passenger seat.

The Touring adds 17-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, fog lamps, 115-volt power outlet, automatic headlamps, bilingual voice-activated navigation system with back-up camera, Bluetooth hands-free telephone system, multi-information display, power pedals, driver’s side two-position memory, power liftgate, premium six-CD/MP3 stereo and rear-seat DVD entertainment system.

Long considered the benchmark for minivans, the Odyssey is powerful, it handles well, and its upper lines have luxury interiors that rival some high-end sedans, although the price rises accordingly. The new styling incorporates the six-sided grille introduced on the redesigned Accord.

The new DX trim line brings down the price, an important consideration in a family hauler. Competition includes the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country, which are still the only vans with fold-away second-row seats, as well as the Chevrolet Uplander and Pontiac Montana SV-6, Nissan Quest, Toyota Sienna, Hyundai Entourage and Kia Sedona.

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