Honda didn’t invent the minivan–we have Chrysler to thank for that–but they did practically perfect the family hauler, bringing to market a minivan as innovative as the Dodge Grand Caravan, but far more reliable. While the first Odyssey wasn’t as big or powerful as other minivans, Honda quickly adapted, launching the third-generation 2005-10 model that effectively dominated everything in its class. On all fronts, from power to roominess to comfort and great resale value, the 2005-10 Honda Odyssey is about the closest thing to perfection on four wheels (and two sliding side doors) that we can think of.
Why you want it
The 2005-10 Honda Odyssey is valued not for its ability to carry large numbers of people and gear–most minivans can do that–but for its outstanding design features, smooth and quiet ride and powerful V6 engine. Did we mention the Odyssey’s stellar crash test ratings and world-class resale value? Well, now you know.
To save time, it might be easier to mention all the things wrong with Honda’s people mover rather than the things they got right, but we honestly can’t think of any. From its clever and easy to use flush folding third-row seats, to its long list of standard safety features, opting for the Odyssey is pretty much a no brainer. In fact, the only problem you’ll have is deciding on which trim level you need. Those seeking higher-end features such as power sliding doors and the best gas mileage should look for the EX-L or Touring models, while those seeking to spend as little as possible will probably find the LX trim more than adequate.
Notable features and options
The Odyssey LX features seating for seven, with first and second-row captain’s chairs and a third-row bench that folds flush into the floor. Standard amenities include air conditioning, power operation for the windows, locks and mirrors, cruise control, and 16-inch wheels with covers. Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes, electronic traction and stability control, front seat side airbags, and three-row curtain airbags.
The EX trim adds alloy wheels, stowable second-row seating plus eighth passenger portable jump seat (fits between the second-row captain’s chairs), power sliding side doors, and a six-disc CD changer.
The EX-L brings leather seating surfaces, a power moonroof, heated front seats, and Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management system that conserves fuel by deactivating three of the six cylinders when not needed. The Touring trim adds a power tailgate, tri-zone automatic climate control, fog lights, corner/back up sensors, power adjustable pedals, 17-inch wheels with PAX run-flat tires, and more. The only options available are a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and navigation, which can only be had with the EX-L and Touring Trim.
2006 – The Touring trim is added to the Odyssey lineup.
2007 – The Odyssey gains a tilt/telescopic steering wheel, tire pressure monitoring system and center pocket coin holder.
2008 – The Odyssey receives a slight makeover, with new front and rear fascias, new interior upgrades and new wheels. New features for the EX-L and Touring include Bluetooth and four-way power passenger seats, while the EX-L gains as standard a rearview backup monitor. Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) is introduced on the EX-L and Touring trims.
2009 – The EX-L trim gains a power rear liftgate and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity is added to the optional navigation package.
2010 – No major changes.
Engines and performance
Although both the base 3.5-liter V6 engine and the 3.5-liter V6 with Variable Cylinder Management produce roughly the same horsepower, the VCM engine provides a bit more torque and slightly better fuel economy. Give or take 10 horsepower (the horsepower figures change slightly depending on the model year), 244 is a safe number and more than enough ponies to move the Odyssey with some momentum.
This is still a minivan, however, so don’t expect car like handling. The steering is accurate and nicely weighted with no play in the wheel, and the brakes are also sound. Once you learn to judge the Odyssey’s corners, getting around in tight parking lots and managing sharp turns isn’t all that difficult. On the other hand, we can’t stress enough the importance of finding a model with a rear backup camera because without it you really can’t see what’s below the rear windows lower edge when backing up.
Recalls, safety ratings and warranties
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, has issued the following recalls for the 2005-2010 Honda Odyssey:
2005 – Recalls were issued for a possible faulty fuse box terminal that could cause the fuel pump to fail; improperly installed rear-wheel ABS sensors; improperly assembled steering column; improperly sealed airbag sensors that could allow moisture to disable the sensor; a defective coil in the fuel pump that could break and cause the pump to fail; and faulty rear liftgate struts that could allow the tailgate to fall without warning (power liftgate only.)
2006 – A recall was issued for incorrect NHTSA contact information in the Odyssey’s owner’s manual.
2007-08 – A recall was issued for a possible defect in the VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist) pump that could allow air into the pump, resulting in the brake pedal feeling soft and with longer than usual travel.
2009 – A recall was issued for possible incorrect front brake hoses installed at the factory.
Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.
As for the Odyssey’s safety record, both the government and the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) give it their highest possible safety scores in its front, off-set front and side-impact crash tests.
The 2005 Honda Odyssey has a 3-year/36,000 mile powertrain warranty and a 3-year/36,000 basic warranty. The 2006 and newer vans have a powertrain warranty that covers them for 5-years/60,000 miles. Vehicles that qualify for Honda’s Certified Pre-Owned program add a 7-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty effective from the time the vehicle entered service, as well as a 12-month/12,000 mile basic warranty from the time of your acquiring the vehicle.
Word on the Web
There are not a lot of enthusiast sites dedicated to the Odyssey minivan, but from what we’ve gathered from sites like Consumer Reports, Odyessyownersclub.com and Odyclub.com, the 2005-2010 Honda Odyssey has proven to be a fairly reliable prospect. We did find more than a few customer complaints about the 07 model’s transmission shifting abruptly, some the result of a bad torque converter and others unexplained; we also found a fair number of complaints regarding the early models having a soft or spongy brake pedal (Honda did issue a recall for the brake problem.) While most owners love the vans smooth ride, powerful engine and versatile interior, not many owners are happy with the Touring model’s PAX run-flat tires wearing prematurely (there was even a class action lawsuit filed against Honda of America.) To make matters worse, non-PAX tires cannot be substituted so long as the original factory rims and TPMS are retained.
There are a few minivans that can compete with the Odyssey on paper, but each has their strengths and weaknesses. The Kia Sedona is as big and powerful as the Odyssey and will probably cost less due to its weak resale values.
The Dodge Grand Caravan also touts some unique features, but among the four possible engine choices, only one offers matching horsepower and torque; the 2005-08 Dodge Grand Caravan also has a poor service history and rather weak resale value. 2009-10 Grand Caravan models see a slight improvement but have yet to prove themselves over the long haul.
The Odyssey’s greatest rival is the Toyota Sienna, which can match the Odyssey in reliability and resale, but is not quite as large inside. On the flip side, the Sienna can be found with all-wheel-drive, an attribute the Odyssey cannot claim.
Auto Trader recommendations
We think if you’re looking for a good used Odyssey, go with the EX or EX-L trim. The base model can’t be had with the rear backup camera and the Touring trims PAX run-flat tire leave us a bit cold. We’d also shoot for the 2008 or newer model as it features the fuel saving VCM 3.5-liter V6 engine.