Honda has made extensive improvements to the Odyssey's body to make it stiffer and more rigid, which helps make it one of the most refined-riding and precise-handling vans on the market. Meanwhile the Odyssey gets improved sound insulation and a quieter cabin--in part due to an active noise cancellation system, which is now included with all models, that electronically helps cancel out certain constant background noises.
Once again, Honda has improved the Odyssey's already impressive seating arrangements. The Odyssey can carry up to eight smaller-size occupants, or six larger adults in comfort. With a new '3 mode' design, the second row can be folded forward for cargo, stretched wide for adult-size seating space, or made more narrow for easier access to the third row--when carrying a full load of kids to the soccer game, for instance. The third row carries on with Honda's so-called Magic Seat arrangement, which folds easily, with a single hand strap, into the cargo floor when not in use, allowing a very impressive cargo capacity. Cargo capacity and places to put stuff must have ranked high on the Odyssey's design priorities. With the Odyssey's third-row seat folded down and the second-row seats removed, Honda says that a 4x8 sheet of plywood can fit inside the Odyssey. With the front console removed ten-foot 2x4 studs will fit. There are more than enough cupholders (15) for all, and the back of the center console now includes a ring for easily mounting a trash bag. Altogether, the Odyssey provides 38.4 cubic feet of storage behind the third row and 93.1 cubic feet behind the second row.
The highlight of the Odyssey's all-new styling this year is without a doubt the 'lightning bolt' alongside the beltline. The feature not only makes the Odyssey easy to spot from a distance; it also helps ease that claustrophobic feeling that third row seats often have. Otherwise, Honda has given the Odyssey a sleeker, more aerodynamic look, with a slightly lower roofline and wider stance.
There's quite a price and equipment range from base LX models up to the Touring and Touring Elite, but even those base LX models come quite well-equipped, and include air conditioning, cruise control and a 5-speaker sound system with auxiliary input. The EX adds a tri-zone climate-control system, heated side mirrors, alloy wheels, a garage-door opener and 2GB of audio storage, while EX-L models get leather upholstery, heated front seats and Bluetooth. All models but the LX now come with power sliding doors. A blind-spot information system included with the top-of-the-line Touring Elite model scans the area around the vehicle and warns the driver via lights on the side-view mirrors.
Safety features such as stability control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, front side airbags, side-curtain bags for all three rows and active front-seat headrests are all among the standard features. A new DVD rear entertainment system with 18.2-inch ultra-wide display is standard on the Touring Elite. It offers an HDMI input and the capability to display two different programs--even a video game plus a movie--simultaneously. In the EX-L model and above, there's a new intelligent multi-information display that allows access to a range of vehicle settings. A navigation system with voice recognition is also on the options list for the Odyssey EX-L and standard on Touring and Touring Elite; it's now driven by a 60GB hard-drive system and includes traffic information, a highway guide and point-of-interest information for gas stations, restaurants and other attractions.