2007 Honda Odyssey Touring
2007 Honda Odyssey Touring. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

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Photo Gallery: 2007 Honda Odyssey

Oshawa, Ontario – In general, I think minivans get a bad rap. They’re dismissed as “soccer mom” vehicles, something that no self-respecting driver would ever pilot. But while they’re not exciting vehicles, they’re extremely useful, and perfectly suited to their task of moving people and their belongings in comfort. Each year, I drive two adult passengers and a load of goods on a 1,500-km trek, and we’ve taken everything from station wagons to an $85,000 SUV. For comfort, spaciousness, ease of driving and parking, and fuel efficiency, nothing has ever bettered a minivan on our trip.

Honda’s Odyssey has long been heralded by critics as the benchmark for the genre, and having driven two of them now, I have to agree. Still, one pays heavily for quality, which is no doubt the reason why the less-expensive Chrysler still dominates the segment: the Odyssey starts at $33,300, while my top-of-the-line Touring carried a hefty sticker of $48,100. It’s a lot of minivan, yes, but that’s a lot of money.

Available as the LX, EX, EX-L and Touring, the Odyssey uses a 3.5-litre V6 mated to a five-speed automatic, but there are two versions: the EX-L and Touring models use variable cylinder management, which shuts off half the cylinders under light load, such as highway cruising. Horsepower and torque numbers are the same for both versions, but the shut-off system is rated at a combined average of 10.4 L/100 km, versus 10.9 L/100 km for the regular engine. In my week with it, including an 800 km highway trip, I averaged 9.9 L/100 km, which is quite impressive for a vehicle this size.

2007 Honda Odyssey Touring
2007 Honda Odyssey Touring. Click image to enlarge

The engine is also a superb performer: it’s quiet, extremely smooth and powerful, and the transition to variable cylinder is completely seamless.

Handling is also above-average for the segment: it’s light and smooth but very responsive, and a fairly tight turning radius makes it simple to swing it around in parking lots. Good on-centre feel makes it effortless as a highway cruiser and, combined with a well-damped ride, it’s a pleasure to take on a long trip. The brakes do a good enough job of bringing it to a halt, but the pedal is squishier than I like.

Interior quality on this van is extremely high, with good fit-and-finish, soft-touch plastics, and narrow, even gaps where panels meet. Even the base model has numerous features, including air conditioning, anti-lock brakes, stability control, front seat side airbags, three-row curtain airbags, power windows, and power locks with keyless entry.

2007 Honda Odyssey Touring
2007 Honda Odyssey Touring
2007 Honda Odyssey Touring
2007 Honda Odyssey Touring. Click image to enlarge

The mid-range EX models add power sliding doors, sunroof, leather seats and six-CD changer, but the Touring really heaps it all on: tri-zone automatic climate control, navigation system, backup camera, power-adjustable pedals, power liftgate, and a rear DVD system that includes a ceiling-mounted dock for the remote, making it easy to find. The Touring trim line is pretty much every available item in the box; the only add-ons are accessories such as trailer hitches and cooler bags.

Still, when you’ve got that much packed in, you need numerous controls to run it; the result is a dash and centre stack that can be rather complicated, with more than forty buttons across it all. That really isn’t something I like to see in a vehicle most likely to be piloted by parents who may already have their attention split between the other vehicles up front, and the passengers in behind. I also found the navigation system to be less intuitive than many others I’ve driven – GM still gets high marks for the simplicity of its system, and the Honda’s is much tougher to use – and some of the navigation control buttons are placed so that the dash-mounted shift lever gets in the way when the vehicle’s in Park.

Chrysler still has exclusivity with its Stow ‘n Go seats, which fold and tumble away completely into the floor, but the Odyssey’s seats can still be configured in several ways. On EX and EX-L models, the seven seats are supplemented with a small “Plus One” seat, which fits in between the two second-row chairs, and which can be opened to form a small seat, closed to create a console tray, or removed entirely and stowed away.

2007 Honda Odyssey Touring
2007 Honda Odyssey Touring. Click image to enlarge

The Touring model comes with a removable second-row console, which locks into the floor between the two seats. The seats slide forward for easier access to the third row, but if you prefer a larger entry space, you can remove the console, and lock the passenger-side seat into the floor in its place; with the two seats together, there’s plenty of room for adults to step back into the third row. The seats can be removed entirely as well for extra cargo space, although they’re heavy to lift in and out.

The third row flips and folds flat into the floor – Honda originally introduced the concept, now a standard feature on minivans – using a single motion that’s extremely easy to do, both up and down. The third row is quite roomy; during an earlier stint with an Odyssey, I put three adults wearing heavy winter clothes into it, and none complained of lack of space.

2007 Honda Odyssey Touring
2007 Honda Odyssey Touring. Click image to enlarge

An under-floor storage bin between the first and second rows is easily accessed without removing the floor mats, and on the Touring, it includes a spinning, compartmentalized Lazy Susan that’s perfect for such items as toys, snacks, or pet supplies; it can be removed if you want to use the bin alone for larger items. You’ll probably run out of stuff before you run out of places to put it; the Odyssey is stuffed with small-item storage, including cubbies, a fold-down table between the front seats, zippered pockets on the seatbacks, and big door pockets.

A new interest in crossover vehicles has prompted some automakers to drop minivans entirely, and the segment is now relatively small: the Odyssey competes with the Toyota Sienna (the only full-size minivan still available with all-wheel drive), the Hyundai Entourage and its Kia Sedona cousin, and the newest twins, the redesigned Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country. Each has its strong points that will appeal to various buyers – Sienna’s quality interior and AWD, the Korean manufacturers’ price points and warranty, and Chrysler’s seating configurations, just for starters – and buyers should assess each one on its merits. The Honda has the highest base price, and only the top-line AWD Sienna costs more than the Odyssey Touring, but if this is what you’re willing to spend, you’ll certainly get a lot of top-quality minivan for the money.


Pricing: 2007 Honda Odyssey Touring

Specifications

  • Click here for complete specifications


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