Full 2009 Honda Odyssey Review
What's New for 2009
After a significant face-lift last year, the only change for the 2009 Honda Odyssey is an updated EX-L trim level. A power liftgate is now standard on this model, and the EX-L's optional navigation system gains integrated Bluetooth technology.
Having evolved extensively over the past 15 years to meet the changing demands and tastes of minivan shoppers, the Honda Odyssey minivan rolls into 2009 with few significant changes. We're sure this will be just fine with the Odyssey's target demographic, as Honda's minivan is a classic case of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Put simply, if you're assembling a short list of minivans to consider, the Honda Odyssey should be on it.
It's easy to see why the Honda Odyssey family van has garnered more "Edmunds Most Wanted" awards than any other minivan. While any contemporary van can serve as a competent people mover, none can match the Odyssey's killer combination of refinement and responsiveness on the road. This is one family hauler in which driving enjoyment and pride of ownership don't take a backseat to day-in, day-out practicality.
Although there are more choices than ever before in the family utility segment, including traditional rivals like the Toyota Sienna and a growing number of three-row crossover SUVs like the Mazda CX-9, the 2009 Honda Odyssey remains at the top of our people-mover list. Its spaciousness and hauling capability leave crossovers in the dust, and it bests most other minivans in terms of style, drivability and overall execution. It's what a big family vehicle should be.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The midsize 2009 Honda Odyssey minivan is available in four trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L and Touring. The base LX model comes standard with dual manual sliding rear doors, keyless entry, full power accessories, cruise control, dual-zone air-conditioning, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel and a four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with MP3 compatibility and an auxiliary audio jack. The EX trim level adds alloy wheels, power-sliding rear doors, a power driver seat, automatic triple-zone climate control and a six-speaker audio system with an in-dash six-CD changer. The luxurious EX-L provides a leather-trimmed interior, heated front seats, a power front passenger seat, a power liftgate, a back-up camera with a rearview-mirror-mounted display, satellite radio and a sunroof. Optional on the EX-L are a rear DVD entertainment system and a navigation system with Bluetooth and an integrated back-up camera display. For those with fatter wallets who desire the ultimate Honda Odyssey, the Touring edition adds run-flat tires, rear parking sensors, power-adjustable pedals, driver memory positioning and a premium audio system.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2009 Honda Odyssey is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that drives the front wheels through a five-speed automatic transmission. On lower-level LX and EX trims, this engine produces 244 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. For upscale EX-L and Touring models, it's engineered with a fuel-saving cylinder deactivation feature called Variable Cylinder Management (VCM). Compared to last year's, newly revised figures raise power levels to a similar 244 horses and 245 lb-ft of torque. With this more sophisticated power plant that can deactivate two or three of the engine's six cylinders under cruising conditions, the 2009 Honda Odyssey returns EPA-estimated fuel economy of 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined, while the base engine is rated at 16/23/18. In performance testing, we've clocked a Touring model from zero to 60 mph in a respectable 8.7 seconds.
Standard safety features on the 2009 Honda Odyssey include antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, active front head restraints, front-seat side-impact airbags and full-length head curtain airbags with a rollover sensor. For Touring models, Honda offers Michelin PAX System run-flat tires that can be driven for more than 100 miles when punctured. Note, however, that PAX System tires typically cannot be repaired when damaged, and replacement tires are quite expensive and may be difficult to find.
The Odyssey earned a perfect five-star rating in government front- and side-impact crash tests. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety test results are equally impressive: Honda's minivan earned a best-possible "Good" rating for both frontal-offset and side-impact collisions.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Odyssey can seat seven or eight passengers, with the maximum number of chairs made possible by a stowable center seat in the second row on EX, EX-L and Touring models. This optional seat can be converted into a tray table or removed and stored in the Odyssey's in-floor storage area. For added versatility, the second-row captain's chairs can be brought together to form a two-passenger bench. Out back, there's a fold-flat 60/40-split bench seat in the third row that seats three. With this seat stowed away, the Odyssey provides more than 91 cubic feet of cargo volume behind its second-row seats. This number increases to just over 147 cubic feet when the second-row chairs are removed, about average for this segment but significantly more than any crossover SUVs.
The 2009 Honda Odyssey remains the most carlike minivan currently available, thanks to responsive steering, athletic suspension calibration and a tight turning radius. However, smaller families on a budget and those not needing to haul around extra passengers and cargo might want to consider a trimmer and more maneuverable compact carry-all like the Mazda 5 or Kia Rondo. At speed, either Honda V6 provides good acceleration, but the Odyssey's interior noise levels and relatively firm ride make it feel less luxurious than the Sienna.