The success of the Honda Odyssey in appealing to minivan enthusiasts came mostly from its innovative design and performance. Originally conceptualized and manufactured in Japan, Honda Odyssey reflected the country's dark ages back in the '90s, resulting in a smaller minivan in the Compact MPV class. Throughout its four generations, the Odyssey has been a consistent and competitive vehicle, representing Honda's remarkable innovations.
First generation: 1994 - 1998
What made the first generation Odyssey unique is its few yet different features. Launched in 1994 for Japan and in 1995 for the North American market, the first gen came with the conventional swing-open doors and roll-down windows instead of the usual sliding doors. It offered an inline-4, which it shared with the Accord EX, despite competitors offering V6 engines. The first gen's inline-4, together with VTEC variable valve timing and lift, produced a decent 140hp. However, 140hp was insufficient to run the Odyssey when it carried kids or cargo.
Second generation: 1999 - 2003
To address the lack of power in the first gen Odyssey, the second generation was available with a 3.5-liter V6, which rated at 210hp from 1991 to 2001. By 2002, however, it cranked up to 240hp and retained that amount of power until 2004. The 1999 Odyssey offered a 4-speed automatic transmission and new, dual sliding rear doors, which replaced the first gen's traditional swinging doors. Though the second gen became relatively larger than before, it still had the fold-flat third row seat feature.
Aside from engine upgrades, the new Odyssey came with standard antilock brakes and side curtain airbags. It was offered in two trim levels, LX and EX, and received a number of interior updates. These changes include traction control, automatic climate control, rear-seat entertainment system, and leather upholstery.
Third generation: 2005 - 2010
Available in LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring models, the third gen Odyssey received minor changes such as an added electronic stability control and integrated sunshades in the rear doors. Some of the exterior styling updates were the new power tailgate and a sunroof. In addition, the previous straight bench structure of the Magic Seat was converted into a split 60-40 design to allow for variable folding.
Another notable update was the increase in engine power from the previous to the new 255, which was re-rated to 244 by the new SAE J1349 guidelines. By 2009, the EX-L model came standard with a power liftgate and an integrated Bluetooth feature for the optional navigation system.
Fourth generation: 2011 - present
Debuted for 2011, the fourth generation Odyssey was presented at the Chicago Auto Show in early 2010. It received a complete redesign with its larger and wider body. It possessed an improved look, with sleeker styling and a more spacious interior. Some of its new features included a 12-speaker 650-watt audio system, a voice-controlled satellite GPS and DVD navigation system, and a "cool box" chilled by the air conditioning system. Aside from a restyled interior, the fourth gen Odyssey came with HID Xenon headlamps, 18" alloy wheels, and a 6-speed automatic transmission.