- Excellent practicality
- Powerful enough
- Surprising handling
- Busy control arrangement on dash
- Lags behind Chrysler regarding features
The 2008 Honda Odyssey melds everyday practicality with fun-to-drive.
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.
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.