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A perennial favorite of ours, the 2006 Honda Odyssey deftly excels at all things important for a minivan. This is one you won't want to miss.
Agile, carlike handling; split flat-folding rear bench; optional eight-passenger seating; extensive feature list; smooth and powerful V6; strong reliability record.
Touring model's PAX run-flat tires can be a hassle to repair and replace.
Available Odyssey Models
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Most significant for the Honda minivan this year is the option to get the Touring trim with the rear-seat entertainment system and not the navigation system. Previously, the two features were always packaged together. Other changes this year include additional child-seat tether anchors for the third row and standard satellite radio for the Touring model. Finally, stated power output for the Odyssey's V6 engine has dropped slightly due to Honda's adoption of a new SAE horsepower-rating procedure.
There's no disputing the fact that the Honda Odyssey is a great minivan. Having claimed the best-in-class crown from Chrysler shortly after its debut in 1999, the Odyssey reigned supreme for five years thanks to its cavernous interior filled with useful features, pleasant driving characteristics, excellent crash test scores and generally favorable reliability record.
And just when you thought the best couldn't get any better, the Odyssey hit the market for 2005 offering numerous mechanical improvements as well as increased feature content. The newest Honda Odyssey is quieter, more spacious and offers even more innovative features than before, including increased seating configurations and unique storage solutions.
The Honda Odyssey offers two V6 options. Both are 3.5-liter VTEC engines rated at 244 horsepower, and are mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. The difference is that one is classified as an i-VTEC featuring Variable Cylinder Management (VCM, standard equipment on top trim levels). VCM increases fuel-efficiency by "shutting off" three of the engine's six cylinders during cruising and deceleration, and switches back to using all six cylinders when added power is needed. The VCM system, noted to increase fuel economy by as much as 12 percent over the regular VTEC V6, is virtually undetectable. As an added bonus, Honda Odyssey models with VCM are extra quiet because they're equipped with Active Noise Control (ANC) technology that works with the audio system to effectively cancel inherent noise produced by the VCM system (along with some road noise).
The Honda Odyssey continues its tradition of a carlike ride and handling, further enhanced by a stout structure and well-tuned suspension dynamics. If you're looking for a minivan that's enjoyable to drive in addition to being practical, Honda's van remains the leader in this area. Inside, the Odyssey offers optional eight-passenger seating with a stowable middle seat in the second row. This optional seat can be converted into a center tray table or removed and stored in the vehicle's in-floor storage area, which can be made even more functional with a rotating "lazy Susan" feature hidden inside. Additionally, the second-row captain's chairs can be pushed together to form a two-passenger bench. In the far back, the third-row seat remains a fold-flat 60/40-split bench.
If it sounds like the 2006 Honda Odyssey is a great place to spend time, you're right. With vehicles designed to be everything from no-frills transportation to luxurious, fast sport coupes, the most important thing about minivan design is utility. It's not simply about style or luxury or power. Minivans are about the people inside them -- their comfort, their safety and the way they live. And in the case of the Odyssey, Honda approaches the challenge with a special thoughtfulness that has always set it apart from the competition. Although competiting minivans are also worthy candidates to consider, the Odyssey is our top recommendation to buyers in this class.
The seven- or eight-passenger Honda Odyssey minivan is available in three main trim levels. The base-level LX model comes standard with items like manual-sliding rear doors, power front- and second-row windows, cruise control, air conditioning, keyless entry, a CD player, and a smart maintenance indicator. The EX trim level adds power-sliding doors, a power driver seat, an in-dash six-disc CD changer, automatic climate control and additional interior convenience and storage features. There's also an EX-L version that provides a leather-trimmed interior, heated front seats and a moonroof. Family road-trippers can also add a DVD entertainment system and a navigation system with voice recognition and an integrated rearview camera to the EX-L. For an Odyssey with all the toys, go with the Touring trim. It has a power liftgate, tri-zone auto climate control, driver-seat memory, a 115-volt AC outlet, a multi-information display, power-adjustable pedals, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, XM Satellite Radio and parking sensors.
The Honda Odyssey is equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 244 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard. EX models with leather and Touring models have Honda's new Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) feature. Virtually imperceptible to the driver, VCM increases fuel-efficiency by "shutting off" three of the engine's six cylinders during cruising and deceleration. When more performance is needed, the engine switches back to using all six cylinders.
Standard safety features on the Honda Odyssey include stability and traction control; four-wheel antilock disc brakes with BrakeAssist and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution; front-seat side airbags; and three-row side curtain airbags with rollover sensors. Touring models come with Michelin PAX run-flat tires and a tire-pressure monitoring system. In NHTSA crash tests, the 2006 Odyssey earned five out of five stars in all front- and side-impact tests. IIHS test results were equally impressive; the Honda minivan earned a "Good" rating (the best possible) for performance in frontal-offset crashes and was named a "Best Pick."
The Odyssey's highly useful interior features three rows of seating. All versions have a 60/40-split third-row seat that folds flat in one motion. EX models feature a "Stowable Second-Row PlusOne seat" that gives the van eight-passenger capacity. When not in use, the seat can be converted into a center tray table or removed and stored in the vehicle's in-floor storage area (which is made even more functional with a rotating lazy Susan hidden inside). Touring models forego the bonus seat in favor of a removable second-row center console. With the third-row seat lowered, there's 91 cubic feet of cargo room available.
The Odyssey has always been highly regarded for its carlike driving characteristics. A high seating position, tight turning radius and nimble suspension make the 2006 Honda Odyssey easy to pilot both down the freeway and through the grocery store parking lot. The V6 complements the van's likable road manners, providing satisfying acceleration in virtually all situations.
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