October 23, 2005
2005 Honda Odyssey: A Family Cocoon With Frills
By JOHN BRODER
WHEN Chili Palmer, the loan shark played by John Travolta in the 1995 film "Get Shorty," shows up at the rental counter to pick up his image-appropriate Cadillac, he is presented keys to the last car on the lot, an Oldsmobile Silhouette, a lamentable attempt at a minivan.
The rental clerk demonstrates the power sliding door and assures the skeptical Mr. Palmer, "It's the Cadillac of minivans."
Ten years on, it is Honda's third-generation Odyssey that can credibly claim that mantle. The paragon of its class, it is a van with features and passenger comfort comparable to what you'll find on all but the highest-end luxury cars.
The Odyssey, particularly in top-of-the-line Touring trim, rivals many luxury sedans in fit and finish; in entertainment options; in its interior quiet; and in long-distance comfort. The middle-row captain's chairs, which adjust fore and aft and side to side and offer a clear view of the nine-inch video screen, are as pleasant a place to spend a day on the road as almost anywhere short of, say, the back seat of a Maybach.
On a trip from Detroit to northern Michigan to drop off my teenage daughter and a friend at camp, those middle chairs were the scene of a marathon DVD viewing of the entire first season of "Sex in the City." All we heard for four hours from the girls, snug in their wireless headphones, was laughter and an occasional gasp at some risqué line. I think they wished their camp was farther away, perhaps in Duluth.
My wife and I played with the XM Satellite Radio, switching between public radio stations and the all-Motown channel. This is what the lifestyle gurus call cocooning; we did it at a cruise-controlled 72 m.p.h.
Most Odysseys sell at close to sticker price. If you want a discount, some other automakers have bargain-bin vans and are ready to deal.
INSIDE TRACK: The Maybach of minivans.
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