Spotlighting Honda's slightly freshened minivan is the gearhead-media equivalent to examining Mitt Romney's penchant for royal-blue ties. But lest we forget, the Odyssey is the van that gave Chrysler marketers a half-decade of sleepless nights. And that's not all. Ask anyone who's ever dropped the hammer on an Odyssey EX or LX — sans family cargo, naturally. They'll recount a VTEC surge that's the nearest a young dad with a mortgage can get to an adrenalin dump without dialing that flirtatious cashier from the dry-cleaners'.
Honda's incrementalist approach to improving its models continues unabated, with the 2008 Odyssey getting a facelift to match it with the new Accord. But the main difference is under the hood of the Odyssey EX-L, where resides a more fuel-efficient, 3.5-liter V6 VCM (Variable Cylinder Management) i-VTEC powerplant. That engine's clockworks deactivate two or three of its six cylinders when they're not needed, as during cruising or deceleration. For more serious paternal pedalheads, the traditional 3.5-liter, producing 244 hp and 240 lb-ft. of torque remains an option. Geekdad will be pleased with new Bluetooth HandsFreeLink, a backup camera display in the rear-view mirror, and memory-linked side mirrors with tilt-down function in reverse gear — a parking must-have these days. With action like this in the sliding-door world, Chrysler will need to stay sharp, something new execs like Toyota's Jim Press will consider when they attempt to keep their own covered wagons rolling off the lots.