Homer may have had to deal with the Cyclops Polyphemus, the witch Circe, and the sea monster Scylla, but at least his Odyssey never involved a traffic jam with a gaggle of grass-stained adolescent girls in the next car shrieking over why Mia Hamm should dump Nomar for A-Rod. I achieved the proud rank of soccer mom by tooling around Westchester County in New York in the 2005 Honda Odyssey. And I'm secure enough to say I enjoyed the experience. Then again, it was make-believe for me: I don't live in the suburbs or have kids -- and I hate soccer.
Sticker price: From $25,000 for the LX; $34,000 and up for the Touring edition.
Vital stats: All versions come with a 255-hp V6 engine, front-wheel drive, side-curtain airbags, antilock brakes, vehicle stability assistance, 118-inch wheelbase, and 209.8 cubic feet inside.
Nice touches: 28 (highway)/20 (city) mpg for the Touring edition, which also features the cinemarific nine-inch DVD screen with wireless headsets, 17 cup holders, a hideaway lazy Susan -- ideal for teenage contraband -- and a six-CD changer behind a panel that folds down like the entrance to the Batcave. This is the premiere vehicle for trapping clients with your promotional video.
Drawbacks: The "extra" middle seat on the EX editions barely fits a regular-size American, let alone a supersize one.
What you think it says about you: "I am a responsible parent whose priority is safe and efficient transportation and thus a level-headed, trustworthy business partner."
What it really says about you: "When is the lacrosse dad going to get his due?"
Second opinion: "The minivan is the ne plus ultra of automotive practicality," says Gary S. Vasilash, editor-in-chief of Automotive Design & Production magazine. He then addresses the so-square-it's-hip theory of minivans. "Those who embrace vehicles like the new Odyssey could claim they're really about rebellion," says Vasilash. "They would be dreaming."
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