Re-introduced with sliding side doors and a brand-new body style in 1999, Honda's Odyssey has been a success story from that point on.
Over the years, it's become more powerful, with a host of up-to-date upgrades and engineering goodies, but its dimensions have remained about the same. Why mess with success?
In 2010, it came in five trim levels, all powered by a silky-smooth 3.5-litre V-6 that developed 244 horsepower. Transmission was a five-speed automatic only, with Honda's Grade Logic Control system. This automatically finds the best gear combination based on driving conditions and engine speed, and Honda has been using it on various models for at least the past decade.
As well as adding 34 horsepower between 1999 and 2010, the Odyssey now had Honda's Advanced Variable Cylinder management system, which shuts off up to half of the cylinders during certain driving conditions. A little "eco" light on the dash let the driver know when it was in play and it increased the Odyssey's fuel economy both in town and on the highway. In 2010, it was only available on the EX-L and Touring models.
Eight people could fit into one of these, no problem, and the second-row seats, though heavy, were straightforward to remove and re-install. They also tilted forward for easy access to the back. The rear windows also opened, and the recessed floor in the back luggage area accommodated the third-row seats, which fold into the floor.
With everything folded away or removed, there was 4,173 litres of cargo space, with an under-floor storage area behind the front seats. This made the Odyssey one of the roomier minivans on the market. The base DX version did not have power side doors, but those that did featured dash-mounted buttons, interior switches, and a button on the key fob.
This generation of the Odyssey had perhaps the worst NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) of all minivans on the market. Rivals, such as the Hyundai Entourage and Kia Sedona, were much quieter to drive. This was a pervasive problem with many Honda products at this time. A redesign was just around the corner, for the 2011 model year, and things did get better in this area.
Lots of things to take your mind off the road racket though. The Touring model came with tri-zone climate control, leather interior, power-adjustable pedals, power rear lift-gate, heated front seats, rear DVD player and a navigation system.
Despite its annoyances, this generation of the Odyssey still had good road manners, with a high driveability factor. Then, as now, it was the benchmark when it came to people carriers.
No safety recalls here – either from Transport Canada or the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA, however, has six technical service bulletins on file, including "clunking, popping or clicking from the front of the vehicle while turning," issues with the power steering pump, spark plug fouling and random software issues. Some complaint from owners: "Rolled backward while the transmission was in Park," "Engine consumes too much oil" and "Brakes grind frequently."
Consumer Reports likes the 2010 Odyssey – but not overly so. It receives an "average" new-car prediction from this organization, with an expected reliability of 2 per cent below average in 2010. Still, it gets top marks virtually right across the board, with the exception of suspension issues, and the ubiquitous "squeaks and rattles." Some comments from owners: "Second-row (seats) too heavy to move – have to really want to do it," "Plenty of luggage room behind the third-row seats" and "Voice controls can be confusing."
Market research firm J.D. Power is not too keen on this one. Despite awarding it top marks for overall performance and design, it gets a failing grade for predicted reliability and an average mark for overall dependability. It does excel in terms of comfort and performance, according to the firm.
From a base price of less than $32,000 three years ago, the Odyssey has held up reasonably well. There's a large disparity between the base DX and top-of-the-range Touring models, but you can expect to pay from the high teens to about $30,000.
2010 Honda Odyssey
Original Base Price: $31,690; Black Book: $22,575-$31,350; Red Book: $18,245-$28,650
Engine: 3.5-litre V-6
Horsepower/Torque: 244 hp/245 lb-ft
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 12.3 city/7.8 highway: regular gas
Alternatives: Kia Sedona, Hyundai Entourage, Volkswagen Routan, Toyota Sienna, Dodge Grand Caravan, Nissan Quest