Full 2008 Honda Odyssey Review
What's New for 2008
The Honda Odyssey receives minor improvements for 2008. The front end has been restyled, and under the hood of EX-L and Touring models is an updated version of the Variable Cylinder Management system. New convenience features include Bluetooth, a power passenger seat, a back-up camera integrated into the rearview mirror and memory-linked side mirrors with a reverse-gear tilt-down. The Odyssey also receives minor interior material upgrades, additional interior storage and a standard auxiliary audio jack.
Raising a family presents a seemingly never-ending parade of choices. Cloth diapers or disposable? Private school or public? Cash flow into the 529 plan or 401(k)? When it comes to shopping for a minivan, however, we'll make the decision process easy for you: Just get a 2008 Honda Odyssey.
Since the late 1990s, the Honda Odyssey has been a perennial favorite of ours, and it's been a constant Consumers' Most Wanted award winner since the most recent redesign in 2005. Why? While just about any minivan can serve as a competent people mover, only the Honda Odyssey combines the usual minivan qualifications with a polished and refined nature and responsive steering and handling. Just because your life often seems like one Gymboree schlep after another doesn't mean you have to give up a pleasing ownership experience or driving enjoyment.
Honda has also been keeping the Odyssey fresh. This year, there are a variety of updates that include new front-end styling, additional interior features and an updated version of the Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) technology. As before, it's fitted to the V6 engine on EX-L and Touring models and imperceptibly shuts down cylinders during cruising to reduce fuel consumption. This year's VCM (it's the same as used on the 2008 Accord) expands the cylinder-deactivation cylinder count and operating range even further, and the result is increased fuel efficiency in a wider variety of driving conditions.
These changes certainly help keep the Odyssey on top, even though there are more choices than ever for a family-oriented vehicle. Besides the usual selection of recommended minivans -- the Chrysler Town & Country, Toyota Sienna and Hyundai Entourage are also worth a look -- there's also the growing field of three-row crossover SUVs. But no crossover will ever beat a minivan in terms of ease-of-use and hauling capacity, and no other 2008 minivan matches the Honda Odyssey in terms of all-around desirability. Parenting choices are tough. Thankfully, purchasing an Odyssey is a life-simplifying choice.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Honda Odyssey minivan is available in four trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L and Touring. The base-level LX model comes standard with manual-sliding rear doors, power front- and second-row windows, cruise control, air-conditioning, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and a CD/MP3 player with an auxiliary audio jack. The EX trim level adds alloy wheels, power sliding doors, a power driver seat, an in-dash six-disc CD changer, automatic tri-zone climate control and additional interior convenience and storage features.
The more expensive Odyssey EX-L provides a leather-trimmed interior, heated front seats, a power front passenger seat, a rearview-mirror-mounted backup camera, satellite radio and a sunroof. For the EX-L, Honda offers a navigation system with a display-based backup camera and a DVD entertainment system for rear passengers. For an Odyssey with all the toys, go with the Touring trim. It has a power liftgate, parking sensors, Bluetooth, power-adjustable pedals, driver memory positioning and an upgraded audio system.
Powertrains and Performance
The Odyssey is powered by a 3.5-liter V6. On LX and EX trims, it produces 244 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. For the upscale EX-L and Touring trims, Honda equips the engine with a cylinder deactivation feature (VCM). It drops power slightly (241 hp and 242 lb-ft of torque) in exchange for a slight bump in fuel economy. With VCM, the 2008 Odyssey has an EPA fuel economy rating of 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway, best in class for the mainstream minivan segment.
Standard safety features on the 2008 Honda Odyssey include antilock disc brakes with brake assist, traction control, stability control, front seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags with a rollover sensor. For the Touring trim, Honda offers Michelin PAX run-flat tires, a technology that allows punctured tires to be driven on for more than 100 miles. A downside to PAX tires is that they typically cannot be repaired when a puncture does occur. Also, replacement tires can sometimes be difficult to source due to their relative scarcity.
In terms of crash safety, the Odyssey earns a top five-star rating in all National Highway Traffic Safety Administration front- and side-impact tests. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety test results are equally impressive; the Honda minivan earned a "Good" rating (the best possible) for performance in frontal-offset and side-impact crashes.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Odyssey can seat seven or eight passengers. Enabling the latter is a stowable middle seat in the second row for EX and above models. This optional seat can be converted into a center tray table or removed and stored in the vehicle's in-floor storage area. Additionally, the second-row captain's chairs can be pushed together to form a two-passenger bench. In the far back, there's a fold-flat 60/40-split third-row bench seat. With the third row stowed, the Odyssey offers 91 cubic feet of cargo volume behind its second-row seats. Remove the second-row chairs and this minivan can haul up to 147 cubic feet.
The 2008 Honda Odyssey is the most carlike minivan on the market today, thanks to its tight turning radius, responsive steering and athletic suspension tuning. A high seating position makes the Odyssey easy to pilot, though as with all minivans, its bulk can be a hindrance if you're never taking extra passengers or gear along: Smaller families might prefer the tidier footprint of the Mazda5. The V6 complements the van's likable road manners, providing satisfying acceleration in virtually all situations.