Honda last redesigned the Odyssey for 2011, bringing with it a 3.5-liter V6 with 248 horsepower and cylinder deactivation on all trim levels. That means the Odyssey's V6 runs on three cylinders during highway cruising for better fuel economy. Most versions are mated to a five-speed automatic transmission and are rated at 27 MPG highway by the EPA. The top-level Touring and Touring Elite trims get a six-speed automatic that boosts the MPG rating by 1. All Odysseys get full-length curtain airbags with a rollover sensor and LATCH points in both the second and third rows. LX models seat 7 passengers and have an 8-way power driver's seat, front and rear air conditioning and a five-speaker audio system. EX adds 8-passenger seating, alloy wheels and power sliding doors. EX-L is the best value. It adds leather seats, power tailgate and is available with DVD entertainment and a navigation system – both of which are standard on the Touring. Touring Elite adds a widescreen DVD system and blind-spot monitoring. For 2013, a backup camera is standard on all Odysseys, a rarity even in the minivan class.
Compare the best minivan models of the last year with our 2012 Minivan Buying Guide
The Toyota Sienna is the biggest rival to the Odyssey. It has Toyota's popular six-speed automatic transmission and 3.5-liter V6 that provides smooth power and good fuel efficiency. The Sienna is also available with all-wheel-drive, a class-exclusive. The Sienna loses the fuel economy race to the Odyssey, though, and many of its options are bundled into expensive packages. The Chrysler Town & Country and the similar Dodge Grand Caravan are the only minivans to offer Stow 'n Go, the feature that allows both the second and third-row seats to fold into the floor. The Chrysler Group minivans therefore win the versatility race. They also have available DVD screens for the second and third row and are available with technology like cross-path detection. Where both fall down is in build quality, which isn't as good as the rest of the class. And they both restrict maximum seating capacity to 7, instead of 8 like in the Odyssey and Sienna. Some luxury features are not available on the Grand Caravan and Town & Country gets expensive when loaded up with options.
While the minivan bench might not be that deep, as major automakers GM and Ford have been out of the game for several years, the Odyssey is one of the strongest forces of the segment. All versions come well-equipped with safety and comfort features, and there are child seat connection points in both second and third rows, something many crossovers do not have. EX and higher get 8-passenger seating and power sliding doors to make packing passengers in easier. And high-end Touring and Touring Elite models have luxury car-grade features to keep drivers happy. This is all of what puts the Odyssey in contention for best-in-class honors year after year.
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