- Handles nearly as well as a sedan
- Excellent acceleration
- Not a class leader in terms of features
- Dashboard layout is confusing
- Second-row seats are difficult to remove
The 2009 Honda Odyssey doesn’t just have the practicality that’s expected in a minivan; it’s fun to drive, too.
Honda’s minivan model, the Odyssey, was introduced in its present form in 2005 and saw some significant changes last year. For 2009 only the EX-L trim level receives additional upgrades, including a power tailgate and Bluetooth HandsFreeLink.
The Honda Odyssey’s fresh look isn't startlingly good or bad to TheCarConnection.com, but it doesn't matter because people don't typically buy minivans based on looks and emotion. They buy minivans simply because they are practical.
The 2009 Honda Odyssey LX and EX models come standard with a 3.5-liter VTEC V-6 engine that delivers a vigorous-feeling 244 horsepower and fuel economy ratings of 23 mpg highway. The EX-L and the Touring are fitted with cylinder deactivation technology, which raises the highway rating to 25 mpg. This technology shuts down half of the cylinders at cruising speeds for added fuel efficiency; the only consequence is that it produces 241 hp instead of 244 hp, but you'll never notice the difference—except at the fuel pump. Neither version is very efficient in city driving, with EPA figures of either 16 or 17 mpg. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard with both engines.
TheCarConnection.com editors continue to be impressed with the handling of the Odyssey. The 2009 Honda Odyssey uses a four-wheel-independent suspension that helps this minivan handle really well. What makes Odyssey stand out in this respect is that the crisp handling does not come at the expense of a smooth ride.
The interior design is clean and functional. However, the center stack of controls are scattered around and it takes some time to get used to the arrangement. The Odyssey uses heavy, second-row seats that are difficult to remove; 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 four trim levels available on the 2009 Honda Odyssey are the 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, more equipment becomes standard as you move up in price. The 2009 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 Odyssey has performed well in government and IIHS crash tests, and like all other Hondas, the 2009 Odyssey comes standard with stability and traction control, in addition to side and curtain airbags.
To keep things lively, the 2009 Honda Odyssey offers 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 as options. 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 2009 on the EX-L and Touring models.