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Motoring: Honda Odyssey has its perks

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | February 14th, 2011

The Honda Odyssey has been around for a long time. The firstgeneration model went by almost unnoticed. It was a fine mini-van but it was perhaps too mini for North American tastes, and it only offered a four-cylinder engine, while the competition offered six cylinders.

The second-generation Odyssey addressed this issue and many more with it. When it debuted in 1998, it was the best mini-van on the market by far, and Honda sold them in huge numbers.

The third-generation model followed a few years later. It was largely the same as the second generation, but with everything enhanced. This model was like a Rolls Royce Phantom for the less wealthy crowd. In terms of features, it was excellent; however, the third generation model was not the best mini-van in terms of driving fun — I always felt the Toyota Sienna was better.

Now for 2011 there is a new Odyssey, so is it the best mini-van on the market? Let's find out.

Let's start with the styling. It isn't a radical step forward compared to the last model. It looks good, but personally, I think the previous model looked nicer.

Step inside and you'll notice the interior is slightly better, while quality remains the same. Not a bad thing, because on quality, the Odyssey was always impressive.

The new model can seat up to eight people, and if you get the Touring model, your passengers will get to enjoy a wonderful DVD entertainment system with wireless headphones.

In the front, you can get a nice navigation system, which you can program on the move, because it calls out the letters as you scroll to type in an address. I find this feature very useful.

As always, the Odyssey is a comfortable, quiet, reliable transportation for the family, but what is it like to drive?

Well, it's no sports car, that's for sure. While some mini-vans, like the Kia Sedona, have a sporty feel to them, the Odyssey doesn't. It's a big, heavy vehicle and it feels like one. It's not very fast either, because it doesn't have the most potent engine in the mini-van world. What it has is a 3.5-litre V6 that develops just 248 hp and 250 lb/ft of torque. So don't bet any money on any traffic light Grand Prix.

Thanks to its new six-speed automatic transmission, it is very frugal. I averaged about 12.2- litres/100km, which makes it more economical to run than some fourcylinder family sedans, like the Buick Regal. It won't cost you a fortune to run, and that means you can go on long road trips with the family without breaking the bank.

It's not badly priced either. A base Odyssey is yours from $29,990, while a loaded Touring model will set you back $46,990.

Is the new Odyssey the best mini-van on the market? Frankly speaking, no. But it is good enough, and that might be enough to convince plenty of buyers.
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