When Honda introduced its second generation Odyssey mini-van, in 1999, it was an instant success. Powerful, comfortable, and spacious, it was light-years ahead of its Accord-based predecessor, and the company routinely sold every single one they produced out of their plant in Alliston, Ontario.
But all things must change, and in late 2004, Honda brought out a new revised Odyssey for the 2005 model year. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it had gone up-market, but nothing drastic. According to Honda’s Yutaka Fujiwara, who was project leader at the time, the company wanted to shed the Odyssey’s "soccer mom" image and transform it into a "premium adventure vehicle". To quote Fujiwara, the new Odyssey had an interior that "reminds its occupants of a first-class lounge."
One of the ways Honda accomplished the Odyssey’s makeover was by giving it more power. The ‘05 version was propelled by a tweaked version of Honda’s 3.5 litre V6 engine and developed 255 horsepower at 5750 rpm, and 250 foot-pounds of torque at 5000 rpm. This was 15 more horses than the previous model and the upgraded engine was mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Honda designers also relocated the shift lever from the steering column to the dashboard.
What was really intriguing about the new powerplant was the introduction of Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management system, or VCM. In a nutshell, this arrangement shuts down the rear cylinder bank during certain driving conditions – highway cruising, for example – and as a result, gave the Odyssey considerably better fuel economy than its predecessor. In operation, it was virtually seamless, and returned 12.0 L/100 km in town and a thrifty 7.7 L/100 km on the highway. It also conformed to ‘05 Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) standards.
Combine the VCM feature with Honda’s patented VTEC variable valve management system, and you had a powerplant that seemed to accomplish the impossible: competitive fuel economy, low emissions, and class-leading performance all at the same time. The VCM feature did not come with the entry-level LX model, however, but was standard issue on the upscale EX.
But there was more here than a fancy powertrain. The new Odyssey had a slightly restyled body and came with all kinds of interesting little features, including a refined version of Honda’s third row seat apparatus that disappears into the floor, a second row seat that slides sideways for easier access, a removable second row centre console, a convex "conversational" mirror that allows you to maintain eye contact with rear seat passengers, and my personal favourite, an in-floor storage bin with a removable lazy Susan rotating tray that is accessible from both the front and second-row seats. Despite Honda’s new marketing strategy, soccer moms loved the Odyssey even more.
Nor did it hurt that Honda beefed up the safety side of things. With dual front airbags, side curtain airbags for all three rows of seats, re-engineered front, rear, and side impact zones and a rollover sensor that deploys the airbags if the vehicle turns turtle, the new Odyssey led the pack for occupant safety. Needless to say, anti-locking brakes were standard equipment, as was a vehicle stability assist program and a traction control system.
Offered in four trim levels – LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring – the new Odyssey was loaded with optional luxury and convenience features. Depending upon which model you chose, you could order things like power sliding side doors with an anti-pinch feature, a power rear tailgate, power adjustable pedals, a rear-view camera, leather interior, and, of course, a rear DVD entertainment system that came with wireless headphones and a pop-down nine-inch screen. Step up to the top-of-the-line Touring model, and you got a bi-lingual, DVD-based navigation system.
All of these features were nice, no question, but what has always separated the Odyssey from the rest of the pack is its performance. Although it now has more competitors than ever, it’s still a front-runner when it comes to reserve power and flat-out acceleration. It also came with a level of refinement and build quality that is still the benchmark in this market segment.
2005 also marked the end of Alliston, Ontario as the Odyssey’s place of origin. Henceforth, they were - and still are - manufactured at Honda’s facility in Lincoln, Alabama.
Three safety recalls to report with Transport Canada. One involves a possibly faulty fuel pump relay, another is concerned with a glitch in front air bag deployment, and the third involves a suspect sensor in the ABS control unit.
The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has the same recalls on file, as well as two more: one concerns a possibly flawed steering column assembly, and the second, another fuel system delivery malfunction. According to NHTSA, however, these two contretemps involve comparatively small numbers of vehicles: 203 and 1923, respectively. NHTSA also has 133 service bulletins for the ‘05 Odyssey, covering just about every aspect of the vehicle’s make-up. Lots of structural issues, often involving obstinate or faulty side doors. Nonetheless, Consumer Reports gave the 2005 Odyssey its top ranking in that year, placing it above the Toyota Sienna, Dodge Grand Caravan, and Saturn Relay.
If you’re in the market for a three-year old Odyssey, expect to pay from about $22,000 to $30,000, depending upon trim level and equipment. Considering its $32,700 base price in 2005, it’s held onto its value well.
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