Honda Odyssey Performance
The 2008 Honda Odyssey is praised for its powerful engine, fair fuel efficiency, and smooth car-like handling. Nevertheless, minor transmission and suspension woes impact its overall driving experience. Kelley Blue Book writes, "With plenty of horsepower and usable torque, the Odyssey moves quickly from a stop and easily merges with traffic." Every Odyssey is outfitted with a 244-hp V6 engine.
Acceleration and Power
Every trim-level of the 2008 Honda Odyssey is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes 244-hp at 5,750 rpm and 240 pound-feet of torque. While the LX and EX maintain a 24-valve SOHC VTEC valve train, the EX-L and Touring come equipped with a 24-valve SOHC i-VTEC, which is quicker off the line, due to its ability to produce more torque at lower rpms. Kelley Blue Book reports, "Until someone drops a V8 into a minivan, the Odyssey's 244-horsepower V6 is the most powerful engine in the class." Automotive.com adds, "In short, the Honda VTEC V6 is a great engine, and the iVTEC version is just a little bit better."
On balance, most reviewers are satisfied with the Odyssey's level of acceleration. Forbes claims that "the engine has plenty of power for overtaking vehicles on the highway as well as hauling lots of people and stuff." An auto writer at The Auto Channel adds, "I must say that for a van, this vehicle performed like a race car. The pickup was more than adequate for getting in and out of fast lanes." While not all reviewers are as ecstatic, most concede that acceleration is generally pleasing. "For a minivan, acceleration is wholly satisfying, though short of startling," says Cars.com.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not yet rated the fuel economy of the 2008 Honda Odyssey, but in their 2007 ratings the LX and EX maintained a city/highway fuel economy of 17/24 miles per gallon -- which Kelley Blue Book describes as being "fairly fuel-efficient in this class." Assisting the EX-L and Touring in achieving a lower EPA fuel economy rating of 16/23 mpg (in 2007 ratings) is Honda's Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system -- which deactivates three of the six available cylinders when power isn't needed, such as during highway cruising. Cars.com asserts that "it's impossible to discern when operation moves between three and six cylinders." Auto writers at Automotive.com agree, stating that they "were never able to discern when the engine was running on three cylinders as there is no obvious stutter or change in engine note." MSN adds, "There was no sensation of lost power and no shuddering or hesitancy as the V6 disengaged and re-engaged the cylinders."
While the Odyssey's VCM system receives accolades for its performance, its standard five-speed automatic transmission earns mixed reviews. Cars.com boasts, "Transmission shifts are crisp, quick, and usually inconspicuous." MSN adds, "The five-speed transmission managed shifts smoothly." Still, Consumer Guide warns that it "doesn't always downshift promptly in passing situations." Forbes agrees, stating that "the transmission can be slow to downshift at times." Nevertheless, no reviewer appeared to be completely dismayed by the transmission's performance.
Handling and Braking
Test drivers seem generally pleased with the 2008 Honda Odyssey's handling abilities. In fact, Forbes reports, "The Odyssey almost feels like a sedan behind the wheel." Kelley Blue Book adds, "One of the goals of every new minivan is to deliver a car-like driving experience. If the car in that comparison is a large sedan, the Odyssey succeeds on some levels and comes close on others." Moreover, the Odyssey's "maneuverability" is what "impressed" auto writers at MarketWatch the most. They claim, "It was a snap to get into a supermarket parking space with this van."
Variable power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering comes standard on every 2008 Odyssey. While Consumer Guide describes it as being "sharp" and "accurate," MSN claims that it's "heavy," yet "precise." Cars.com agrees, noting that "although the Odyssey nearly meets Honda's Euro-sedan handling claim, its steering isn't quite as precise and requires a slightly heavy touch." Automotive.com adds, "There is some slack in the steering on-center: You can turn the steering wheel a few degrees in either direction before the vehicle starts to move."
Standard on every Odyssey is a MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link double wishbone rear suspension -- which Automobile Magazine claims allows for it to "drive like a well-suspended car." Nevertheless, harsh roads still impact the Odyssey's overall ride quality. While Kelley Blue Book asserts that "rougher roads don't go unnoticed," Consumer Guide claims "sharp bumps, highway expansion joints sometimes jab through -- especially to rear-seat riders." Even so, Cars.com claims that "it exhibits near-instant recovery over bumps."
In addition to power-assisted ventilated front disc/solid rear disc brakes, every Odyssey trim-level comes equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with Traction Control, and Brake Assist -- contributing to what Consumer Guide describes as "ample stopping power even with [a] full passenger load." While Automotive.com asserts that "the brakes work well," Kelley Blue Book explains, "The Odyssey brakes and corners with a capability some may find surprisingly good for a vehicle of its proportions."