Though the crossover has been eating the minivan's lunch since about 2000, that doesn't mean that the minivan has just given up and gone home. In fact, in some places, they've gotten even cooler. Like this one, our autoTRADER.ca Find of the Week. It's an all-wheel-drive minivan with VTEC and some seriously sinister looks: a right-hand drive, Japanese market 2004 Honda Odyssey.
Today's North American Odyssey van is a mammoth family transporter with gadgets to let everyone on board hide in their own little cocoons. That is, until mom or dad up front chimes in through the CabinTalk intercom so that nobody can say they didn't know that last gas station was the last chance to pee for an hour.
Think back to the first Odyssey, though. It was from the generation of minivans with conventional doors (not sliding ones) that were sold in North America in the mid-1990s. They were smaller, more agile, and definitely not the Caravans, Luminas, and Aerostars that were being sold by the domestic brands. Honda like this were sold here from 1994-1998.
Now imagine a second-generation of that van that stayed on the smaller side and kept its regular doors. Outside of North America, this version of the van existed and still exists. While Honda has always sold the Odyssey in other parts of the world, it took until the fifth-generation for them to get sliding doors.
Our Find of the Week is the third-generation, international version of the Odyssey, which is the first one that was a complete redesign since the original. And it's one cool minivan. Take a look at the low roofline — it looks cool, but it also helps the van fit into low-ceiling parking structures in Japan. To make sure there's still room inside, the whole thing is low, making it look more like a tall wagon than a low van.
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The nose looks just like the second-generation Honda Insight, though the Odyssey beat it to market by five years. So the Insight hatch stole its nose from this van, right down to the blue headlight surrounds. Styling at the back is, well, a bit more interesting, with the massive chrome and red wraparound of the taillights.
This van is the Absolute model, which means it was the sportier one. Instead of a 160-hp four-cylinder engine, this one got the same 2.4L four-cylinder that came to Canada in the Acura TSX from 2004-2005 with 197 hp, 171 lb-ft, and a rev limiter set to 7,200 rpm. This one is equipped with the optional four-wheel drive system that's borrowed from the CR-V, meaning that it's as winter-friendly as any crossover while offering the cavernous interior space of a minivan.
This is a minivan, so it's big on space inside with rear seats that fold into the floor for a completely flat cargo area, and rear doors that are massive for access to both rows. Up front is a wonderfully designed dash with all the controls up on the center stack. Some have a walk-through to the rear, but this one gets a pair of cupholders and a massive center console storage area.
With under 66,000 km on the odometer, this Odyssey, for sale in Coquitlam, still looks practically new, which means it's likely got loads of life left in it for hauling family and stuff around with more style than just about any people carrier from today. It's definitely one way to stand out at the carpool pickup. Absolutely.