2008 Honda Odyssey Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
August 1, 2008

The 2008 Honda Odyssey melds everyday practicality with fun-to-drive.

TheCarConnection.com editors have driven the 2008 Honda Odyssey and taken note of the improvements made to the Odyssey for 2008. These experiences are combined with opinions gleaned from the Web's most reliable sources of automotive reviews. This enables the TheCarConnection.com team to provide you with important insights on the 2008 Honda Odyssey that will help you in your search for the "right" minivan for you. TheCarConnection.com's review also compares the 2008 Honda Odyssey with other vehicles in its class so that you get a complete picture of the competitive market.

The 2008 Honda Odyssey is Honda's third-generation minivan. This iteration was introduced for the 2005 model year. For Honda, 2008 is the year they decided to modestly update their popular Odyssey's styling new grille and a new front bumper. The new look isn't startlingly good or bad, but it doesn't matter because people don't buy minivans based on looks and emotion. They buy minivans because these vehicles are practical. Period.

The 2008 Honda Odyssey hits the road with two engines. Under the hood, the LX and EX come standard with the 3.5-liter VTEC V-6 engine that delivers 244 horsepower and 16/23 mpg fuel economy.

Review continues below

The EX-L and the Touring are fitted with a new-for-2008 version of the 3.5-liter engine that utilizes cylinder deactivation technology. This technology shuts down half of the cylinders at cruising speeds for added fuel efficiency. This engine is rated at 17/25 mpg. This more efficient engine produces 241 horsepower, or 3 hp less than the base engine, but you'll never notice the difference--except at the fuel pump. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard with both engines.

The 2008 Honda Odyssey uses a four-wheel-independent suspension that helps this minivan handle really well for what it is. Editors from TheCarConnection.com continue to be impressed with how well the Odyssey drives. Another good point about the Odyssey is that the good handling does not come at the expense of a smooth ride.

Inside, the design is clean and functional, with the one exception of the controls in the center stack. They tend to be scattered about and take some time to get used to. Additionally, the Honda Odyssey uses second-row seats that are heavy if you need to remove them for cargo. The Chrysler Stow 'n Go system is much easier. The third-row seat on the Odyssey does fold into a deep well in the rear of the van. When the seat is up, this is an ideal location for grocery bags or other cargo.

The 2008 Honda Odyssey comes in four trim levels: a seven-passenger LX, and eight-passenger versions of the EX, EX-L, and Touring. Honda groups options by trim level, so while the base LX is well equipped, as you move up in price, much more becomes standard. The 2008 Honda Odyssey Touring is downright luxurious, trimmed in leather and fitted with a navigation system and rear-seat DVD entertainment system. The quality of the interior is high in terms of fit, finish, and materials.

In terms of safety, the Odyssey, like all other Honda vehicles, comes standard with stability and traction control, in addition to side and curtain airbags. Performance in government and IIHS crash tests has been excellent.

On the entertainment side of things, the Odyssey, 2008 is the model year that an MP3-capable CD player and an auxiliary jack for MP3 players come standard. Bluetooth is available on Touring editions; a rearview camera is now standard on EX-L models; and memory side mirrors are now standard on the Touring. A power front passenger seat is also standard for 2008 on the EX-L and Touring models.

A DVD entertainment system with wireless surround-sound headphones and a voice-activated navigation system that incorporates both a rearview video camera and XM Satellite Radio are optional on most Odysseys.

If you're looking to maximize value and you don't mind sacrificing some refinement, TheCarConnection.com recommends you consider the Hyundai Entourage. It does not offer every feature the Honda does, but the Entourage may have enough for you.

For those responsible for keeping kids happy while on the road, the vast number of features on the Chrysler Town & Country makes this minivan a standout achiever. The Chrysler also offers in-floor storage and seating options not available on the Honda.

Of all the minivans listed here, only the Toyota Sienna can match the 2008 Honda Odyssey in terms of refinement and polish. However, the Sienna doesn't drive with the same enthusiastic personality exhibited by the Honda.

The 2009 Ford Flex is a different take on the traditional minivan. With its MINI-esque styling and seven-passenger interior, this might be a Ford worth considering for your future.

7

2008 Honda Odyssey

Styling

The 2008 Honda Odyssey gets a few styling tweaks for the new year—nothing radical, though.

The 2008 Honda Odyssey gets a modest update to its one-box minivan shape, mostly in the form of a new grille and a new front bumper. The new look isn't startlingly good or bad, but it doesn't matter because people don't buy minivans entirely based on looks and emotion.

Autoblog says, "Honda has dressed up the Odyssey with some styling tweaks, including...front bumper fascia." Cars.com notes that the Honda Odyssey 2008 "continues its trend of exterior and interior changes," and describes one of the changes as "the grille has been reworked to include a bit more chrome in a six-sided design." Car and Driver appreciates the updates, saying, "Now there's a minivan we don't mind driving." Mother Proof agrees, describing the Honda Odyssey as "elegant, poised, smooth...[with] sleek lines and subtle accents."

Inside, the design is clean and functional, with the one exception of the controls in the center stack. They tend to be scattered about and take some time to get used to. Cars.com, for example, points out the Odyssey's “gearshift lever sits on the instrument panel." ConsumerGuide finds "it's easy to reach but obstructs some controls when in park." Elswhere, ConsumerGuide likes the "large, clearly marked main gauges." Mother Proof says "subtle backlighting creates an elegant view of the instrument panel," and Autoblog points out the "interior has received new colors, textures and fabrics, as well."

8

2008 Honda Odyssey

Performance

Carlike handling is a strength of the 2008 Honda Odyssey, and fuel economy improves with its upmarket engine.

The 2008 Honda Odyssey hits the road with two engines. Under the hood, the LX and EX come standard with the 3.5-liter VTEC V-6 engine that delivers 244 horsepower and 16/23 mpg fuel economy.

The EX-L and the Touring are fitted with a new-for-2008 version of the 3.5-liter engine that utilizes cylinder deactivation technology, which shuts down half of the cylinders at cruising speeds for added fuel efficiency. This engine is rated at 17/25 mpg. This more efficient engine produces 241 hp, or 3 hp less than the base engine, but you'll never notice the difference--except at the fuel pump. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard with both engines.

Providing details, Cars.com reports, "Engines in the LX and EX make 244 horsepower and 240 pounds-feet of torque; EX-L and Touring engines are good for 241 hp and 242 pounds-feet of torque." The 3.5-liter V-6 that moves the Honda Odyssey provides very respectable acceleration, especially in a class that isn't especially well known for performance. Edmunds agrees, enjoying how the "V6 complements the van's likable road manners, providing satisfying acceleration in virtually all situations." ConsumerGuide is also impressed by the Honda Odyssey 2008's performance, calling the acceleration "ample around town and when merging onto highways, even with a full complement of passengers."

Cars.com notes, "Honda's 3.5-liter V-6 teams with a five-speed automatic transmission." The transmission is generally without major fault, although ConsumerGuide points out the gearbox "doesn't always downshift promptly in passing situations." Fuel economy is improved with the more advanced engine, and Autoblog finds an increase with the system: "VCM improves fuel economy of the 3.5L from 16/23 to 17/25, which isn't a huge jump, but may be appreciated by parent-run chauffeur services."

Editors from TheCarConnection.com continue to be impressed with how well the Odyssey drives, and its good handling does not come at the expense of a smooth ride.
Edmunds calls the Honda Odyssey "the most carlike minivan on the market today, thanks to its tight turning radius, responsive steering and athletic tuning." ConsumerGuide likes the Odyssey's "sharp, accurate steering," but cautions potential buyers about the Honda's ride over rough roads, "where sharp bumps and highway expansion joints sometimes jab through -- especially to rear-seat riders." Edmunds finds the Odyssey "easy to pilot," but warns that "its bulk can be a hindrance if you're never taking extra passengers or gear along." As for braking, ConsumerGuide notes "stopping control is good even with a full passenger load."

9

2008 Honda Odyssey

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Honda Odyssey is spacious and well-outfitted, though its seats don’t perform all the tricks of a Chrysler van.

With minor improvements to an already very solid package, the Honda Odyssey delivers a comfortable cabin for up to eight passengers.

Passengers have seven seats to choose from in the Honda Odyssey, while 2008 EX, EX-L and Touring models can seat eight people, according to Cars.com, "thanks to a removable center seat in the second row that can stow into a recessed compartment, which can be used for storage when the seat isn't stowed." ConsumerGuide calls the front seats "comfortable and supportive," and proclaims the Honda Odyssey's room "ample for large adults." ConsumerGuide also enjoys "a fine driving position," which is "enhanced on Tourings by power-adjustable pedals." The 2008 Honda Odyssey doesn't disappoint when it comes to rear seat room, either, although ConsumerGuide once again chimes in with a comment about the third-row seat, which they claim "has adult-size room, but seat suffers a short backrest and thin padding." Kelley Blue Book notes "Honda engineers have made the third-row seat more accessible, thanks to sliding second-row seats."

One point about the Odyssey’s seating system: Honda’s minivan uses second-row seats that are heavy if you need to remove them for cargo. The Chrysler Stow 'n Go system–in which the seats fold into the floor--is much easier. The third-row seat on the Odyssey does fold into a deep well in the rear of the van. When the seat is up, this is an ideal location for grocery bags or other cargo.

Storage in the Honda Odyssey, 2008 is ample as well. Cars.com enjoys the "Lazy Susan under-floor tray holds miscellaneous items in Touring models," while ConsumerGuide is impressed by the well behind the 2008 Honda Odyssey's third-row seat, which "swallows a surprising volume of cargo." Edmunds gives us the facts on the Honda Odyssey: "With the third row stowed, the Odyssey offers 91 cubic feet of cargo volume behind its second-row seats." There is only one problem with the storage availability in the Honda Odyssey: ConsumerGuide complains that the Odyssey's "Under-floor compartment adds extra storage but is not readily accessible." Mother Proof has some quibbles about the cup holders as well: "The two front cupholders don't fit cans easily....The other two cupholders held the can steady but were difficult to reach."

Honda has a reputation for high-quality vehicles, and when it comes to the interior of the Honda Odyssey, 2008 models hold true to tradition. ConsumerGuide calls the Honda Odyssey's materials and assembly "top-notch," but "one tester exhibited several squeaks and rattles from aft area," an experience noted by TheCarConnection.com’s editors as well.

When on the way to soccer practice, it's important for modern minivans to stay quiet, and the 2008 Honda Odyssey complies nicely. ConsumerGuide reports that the Honda Odyssey "is among the quieter minivans. Engine noise is particularly well-subdued. Road noise is prevalent at highway speeds, especially with the run-flat tires." They do note passengers in the third row "hear some wind whistle around the tailgate that grows tiresome on long trips."

10

2008 Honda Odyssey

Safety

The 2008 Honda Odyssey offers a myriad of standard and optional safety equipment, and performs well in crash tests.

Almost more than in any other segment, consumers in the minivan market are concerned with safety, and the 2008 Honda Odyssey doesn’t disappoint.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the Odyssey top marks for crash safety, granting it five out of five stars in front impact and side impact protection, and four stars for rollover resistance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) grants a "good" rating for frontal offset crash tests to the Honda Odyssey; 2008 models receive the same rating for side impact test results.

Standard safety gear is abundant on the 2008 Honda Odyssey, as confirmed by Cars.com: "Side-impact and three-row side curtain airbags, all-disc antilock brakes, and traction control are standard, as is an electronic stability system." Additionally, Motor Trend notices the "2008 model adds active front seat head restraints and daytime running lights as standard equipment." On the Honda Odyssey, 2008 buyers can also get a unique option, according to Edmunds: "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." Edmunds has a complaint about the unusual run-flats, however, noting that the high-tech tires "typically cannot be repaired when a puncture does occur."

Some optional safety gear is also available on the 2008 Honda Odyssey for purchasers of the Touring model, as ConsumerGuide remarks they will gain a "Front- and rear-obstacle-detection system." Cars.com provides another reason for consumers to upgrade their Honda Odyssey, 2008 to the Touring: "A tire pressure monitoring system is standard on all trim levels, though Touring models get a more advanced system."

As for visibility in the Honda Odyssey, ConsumerGuide reports that "rear visibility is hindered by large headrests and thick roof pillars," though the optional "rearview camera and front and rear park assist help in close-quarters maneuvering."

8

2008 Honda Odyssey

Features

The 2008 Honda Odyssey sports a big package of convenience features, but some are bundled only in more expensive versions.

The 2008 Honda Odyssey comes in four trim levels: a seven-passenger LX, and eight-passenger versions of the EX, EX-L, and Touring. Honda groups options by trim level, so while the base LX is well equipped, as you move up in price, much more becomes standard. The 2008 Honda Odyssey Touring is downright luxurious, trimmed in leather and fitted with a navigation system and rear-seat DVD entertainment system. The quality of the interior is high in terms of fit, finish, and materials.

The 2008 Honda minivan "is available in four trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L and Touring," reports Edmunds. Standard on all models, says Kelley Blue Book, are "the disappearing third-row seat, in-floor storage, CD player, dual-zone air conditioning (tri-zone in EX-L and Touring), power windows, keyless entry and cruise control."

According to Edmunds, of the four trim levels available on the 2008 Honda Odyssey, "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." Cars.com notes that the high-end Touring model "has standard DVD entertainment and navigation systems; those systems are also available in EX-L models, though navigation can only be had in combination with the entertainment system." ConsumerGuide is not necessarily a fan of the gadgets on the high-end Honda Odyssey models: "EX, EX-L, and Touring have an abundance of buttons, switches, and more complicated control design that takes time to understand."

Motor Trend reports "four new premium options have also been made available, including a Bluetooth HandsFreeLink, four-way power passenger seat, rearview camera display, and memory-linked side mirrors with reverse gear tilt-down. DVD entertainment and voice-activated navigation units also are available." According to Kelley Blue Book, options exclusive to the "premium Touring model are a power tailgate, memory driver's seat, power-adjustable pedals, front and rear parking sensors and a run-flat tire system."

XM Satellite Radio is optional on most Odysseys.

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April 20, 2015
For 2008 Honda Odyssey

Great van but lots of wind noise

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Enjoy the van but do not like the fan controls. They turn on at full power . Poor mileage but better than our 2007 Pilot
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