Honda Odyssey makes a minivan easy for the driver and riders
Date Posted: 5/10/2005
BUCKHEAD, Ga. -- It's so easy: Steering Honda's Odyssey minivan on a tight course through narrow lanes at a shopping mall off Peachtree Road in Atlanta's glitzy Buckhead suburb, we're hardly working.
There's scant room for error on this car-crowded lot, slab-sided fenders and protruding chrome bumpers left and right but traffic moving at the pace of slugs on a sidewalk. Still, our Odyssey inches ahead and, when a parking space opens on the left, we slip effortlessly into place.
Tap a button to open both sliding side doors and all riders tucked inside on two rows of rear seats climb out for a shopping foray.
Honda's design for the Odyssey, which first appeared in 1999 on a larger and wider platform, sets the floor at a low level like a car so you may easily step inside or out -- much like you would slip into a family sedan -- rather than having to hoist your body aboard or climb down, as some wagons require.
Making a van more like a car has always been the big idea behind a minivan, of course, but until Honda's design appeared no other automaker dared to structure and equip a minivan with so many car-like comforts.
That overriding concept of making a minivan easy to drive and easy to use -- as easy as a family sedan -- explains why Honda's minivan has been so successful in a market filled with keen competitors.
An extended chassis, derived from Honda's popular Accord sedan and rigged with car-like independent suspension and steering mechanisms, serves as Odyssey's foundation. The platform -- stretching the wheelbase to 118 inches and the overall length of 201 inches -- sets up a smooth and stable ride quality, while also forging a passenger compartment of generous dimensions.
Odyssey comes with two sliding side doors set behind the two front hinged doors. Top trim EX uses power controls to open and close the sliding doors.
Inside, there are three rows of seats in place, with twin buckets in front followed by a middle row of convertible buckets and a back bench for two.
Up front, Honda provides two individual captain-style chairs in a cockpit outfitted with all of the convenient features you would expect to encounter in a fine luxury sedan.
Odyssey's second-row seats move around to several positions for flexibility in hauling people and cargo.
The two captain's chairs slide together to convert into a bench when more floor area is needed on the right side. These seats also can be removed easily by simply flipping a latch or two -- and one person can do that job, thanks to the lightweight frames.
Reaching the second-row seats is also easy: Just open a door, slip aboard and buckle up. Access comes from either side due to the dual sliding doors, and without bending and scooting or crawling.
Reaching the third tier's two-person bench requires more work, but not so to fold it flat into the floor because this thing flips and tucks in a neat disappearing act.
Stand at the rear of the vehicle, reach through the back gate and remove both head restraints, which store in handy side pockets, then twist a release knob on the back of the seatback and fold it forward. Next, twist a second knob on the cushion's back to unlock the bench. It will flip with only a slight touch and slip into a floor well.
No other minivan makes rear seat removal so easy.
As a secondary trick, the third bench also flips down and back to the floor so the seatback becomes the seat and the seat is the back, all facing rearward as a handy seat for use at a tailgate party. The top-hinged gate swings up so you can stand beneath it in shelter.
Behind the third tier is more than adequate storage space, including additional room in a well.
A spare tire, removed from the passenger compartment to make way for people and gear, stows in its own well located mid-ship below second-tier seats.
Also, since the floor of Honda's minivan is perfectly flat, you end up with a vast cargo bay with second and third rows of seats removed. The space is large enough to hold even wide items like 4x8 sheets of building material.
Odyssey's unitized structure is built on a large rectangular frame fortified by cross braces and reinforced at frame and body junctions to fabricate a stiff system that resists tendencies to bend and flex.
Rigged with a low center of gravity and broad wheel track, the Odyssey chassis applies independent suspension components to all wheels, along with speed-sensing power rack and pinion steering.
The brakes, with front discs and rear drums, tie to anti-lock controls as well as an electronic module that can optimize braking force in response to weight and placement of cargo.
Odyssey has earned a quadruple five-star safety rating -- the highest possible award -- following frontal and side-impact crash tests conducted by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Frontal air bags are in place plus steel reinforcements inside every side door.
Added safety equipment on the 2001 editions includes low anchors for installing a child's seat on the second row and top tether anchors on the third row.
Further, an electronic traction controller has been added to the list of standards for Odyssey LX.
The LX also gains a manual height adjustment lever for the driver's bucket seat plus upgraded front stereo speakers and an intermittent wiper for the rear window.
All aspects of Odyssey's interior orient toward comfort -- from power windows and door locks along with other power-assisted controls such as cruise control to assets like front and rear air conditioning with the individual controls at each seat, even rear heat ducts.
On deluxe Odyssey EX where there's power to open and close the dual sliding rear doors, a safeguard device stops the door movement if a rider's hand ends up in the path of a closing door.
For power, Odyssey draws from a 3.5-liter V6 engine tied to a four-speed electronic automatic transmission. Displacing 3.0 liters with single overhead cam and the wizardry of Honda's VTEC valve control, the V6 pushes to 210 hp.
Pricing for Honda's minivan also looks easy, structured in a range from $23,900 to $28,400.
| Vehicle Specifications:
| 2001 HONDA ODYSSEY Specs
||Compact 4-door minivan
| Model Options:
||Compact 4-door minivan
| Overall Length:
| Engine Size:
||SOHC 3.5-L V6
| Gas Mileage:
||$ 23,900 to $ 28,400