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Test Drive: 2011 Honda Odyssey
The Maximum Minivan
By: Mark Takahashi , Associate Editor
Vehicle Tested: 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite 4dr Minivan (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
Pros: Plentiful V6 power; quiet and calm cabin; lots of useful features; nimble (for a minivan); impressive utility.
Cons: Top trim levels are expensive; button-heavy dashboard layout.

The family minivan is a staple of the American road. Sure, SUVs have taken a big bite out of the market in the last couple of decades, but when it comes to shuttling multiple passengers and their personal effects, minivans are as purpose-built as it gets. After spending quite a bit of time with the redesigned 2011 Honda Odyssey, we confidently proclaim it the best minivan you can get today.

From tip to stern, the Odyssey delivers just what the carpool demands — convenience, comfort and confidence. Accessing any of the eight seats is easier than one could manage in any SUV, and once in place, passengers are treated to a smooth and quiet ride that can best be described as luxurious. The new Honda Odyssey also has enough power under the hood to get out of its own way and a suspension that helps it get out of the way of most everything else.

Just like the morning carpool, though, the 2011 Honda Odyssey isn't all smiles and sing-a-longs. The Odyssey is more expensive than the competition. Our range-topping Touring Elite model is as fully loaded as they come, and its $44,000 price tag is likely to frighten away a good portion of shoppers. Rest assured, the lower trim levels are comparably good, albeit with fewer bells and whistles.

The Toyota Sienna is a close second to the Odyssey, with similar features and power, but it lacks Honda's confidence in the curves. Most minivan shoppers might consider handling a nonissue, and for them the decision between the two will likely come down to personal preference. But we contend that a vehicle's handling prowess is key to avoiding life's little unpleasantries. For its all-around excellence, the 2011 Honda Odyssey takes the minivan crown, and it should definitely be on your short list of family haulers.