Honda is one of the few top automakers to neglect the huge light-truck market. Enter the front-wheel-drive Odyssey, intended to present loyal Honda buyers with a vehicle into which they can cram ever-larger families. The Odyssey will compete with both import and domestic standard-length (not stretch) minivans. It's 1.3 in. shorter and 1.5 in. narrower than a Dodge Caravan, and may squeeze into a few garages the others can't. The Odyssey is very carlike. It has four sedan-style hinged doors, no sliding door that kids can't or shouldn't close themselves, and a more convenient reach for the baby seat strapped into the center seat.
There are two seating options: The 6-passenger arrangement has two captain's chairs amidships that come out easily. The center bench seat in the 7-passenger configuration has two halves that fold against the front seats, leaving a large floor area in the center for cargo. In either case, the rear bench seat folds down into a well at the very back, leaving a flat floor. Derived from the Accord platform, the Odyssey shares the Accord's 2.2-liter 16-valve 4-cylinder engine and automatic transmission. Although the minivan has an extra 5 ft.-lb. of torque, it's not really enough for a van full of people and stuff. Coming soon is a 3.0-liter V6, a different engine than that in the V6 Accord.
There are two different trim levels. The base Odyssey LX includes ABS, a/c, power mirrors and locks, and six cup holders. The EX adds a power sunroof, alloy wheels and remote locking, and it makes the 6-passenger captain's chairs standard.
The first Honda Odyssey went on sale in January 1995.
Honda's Accord chassis is amazingly versatile. Shorten it and put on sleek coupe bodywork and you get the Prelude. Lengthen it and put on van bodywork and you get the Odyssey. The only drawback may be that the Odyssey’s Accord-based 2.2-liter 4-cylinder--despite having 140 hp--is overwhelmed by a vehicle that weighs 3500 pounds empty. Load it up, and it's almost as slow as a Volkswagen EuroVan. Honda promises an optional 3.0-liter V6 in the near future. The Odyssey is different from other minivans, and can be considered just a high wagon. Most noticeably, it has four hinged doors like any sedan. This makes it far more convenient to use as a family hauler, though trying to fit bulky cargo into the rear seat area may make you wish for a door that slides out of the way. On the other hand, the Odyssey's rear seat cleverly folds up flat into the floor. A center bench folds out of the way or you can get removable individual bucket seats. Either way, you end up with a huge cargo area, but without a pain in your back from the usual struggle to extract heavy seats from the back of a van.
The Odyssey is very user-friendly. It's lower and easier to enter than competitive vans and has an extremely comfortable interior. There are also a lot of little conveniences such as six cup holders and upper/lower glove compartments to make this a nice place to spend time--even with your kids. Honda offers two trim levels: LX and EX. Even the base LX has standard ABS, air-conditioning and power locks and mirrors. The EX includes central locking, alloy wheels and a power sunroof. Standard on the EX are six captain's chairs instead of rear bench seats.
As of early 1995:
- $23,625 (1995 Honda Odyssey LX)
- $25,225 (1995 Honda Odyssey EX)
As of October 16, 1995:
- $23,560 (1996 Honda Odyssey LX)
- $25,550 (1996 Honda Odyssey EX)