Honda Odyssey Handles Well Both in Town and Out
Storck, Bob, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
HOT SPRINGS, Va. - Just about now we are sending the first generation of children raised on minivans to college, and carmakers have graduated into new levels as well. Now four doors have become the price of admission, and Honda breaks new ground with handling, power, and clever use of storage capabilities.
These hills between Virginia and West Virginia are sparsely populated, and since they don't have beaches or amusement parks, are not common vacation destinations, but have been resting areas since Colonial days. Natural thermal springs and verdant scenery add to the relaxed ambiance, and a smooth and capable vehicle such as the Odyssey takes all the stress out of narrow mountain roads.
Honda was one of the last holdouts for the station wagon concept, and has capitulated with the Accord-based 1999 Odyssey, now a traditional minivan in layout and size.
They were late into the sport utility market, and have collaborated with Isuzu to create the Honda Passports. (But look for a Honda-designed sport ute this year.)
Acura also uses the Isuzu Trooper to create its SLX sports ute. In order to repay the favor, they are giving Isuzu the access to their old Odyssey production line to provide an Isuzu van called the Oasis.
Front-drive minivans offer so many advantages over the traditional wagon - they are smaller externally for the same carrying capacity; they are easy to enter and load heavy objects; and they are more economical to operate. Matching the rest of the major competitors, Odyssey has always had four doors, but this larger four-door version now has sliding rather than hinged doors as on the first version.
The EX version ups the ante with both doors available with power operation. Odyssey's main party trick is the relocation of the spare tire, one of the last large components that clutters up available storage space. All others have the tire somewhere in the back storage area, usually under the floor. By opening up this space, Odyssey lets the rearmost seat fold back and down into a well to create a flat, floor-level open space.
The second-row bucket seats will fold, remove or even slide side to side to allow center or side access to the rear. This allows the traditional suburban standard 4x8 sheets to be placed flat when the center seats are removed, or even on top of folded rear seats.
Odyssey ideally fits the lifestyle of many of Honda's traditional customers. As usual, Honda makes the folding and removing mechanism simple and effortless. …