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Honda Odyssey
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Overall: Forget the nay-sayers. Minivans are cool and practical vehicles that can accomplish a variety of tasks with aplomb. The Odyssey is one of the pack leaders.

Drivetrain: A 248-horsepower V6 with fuel-saving cylinder deactivation is standard; linked to a six-speed automatic transmission.

It’s tough to tell when driving an Odyssey that it’s actually a minivan and not a high-sided wagon. The steering is far from ponderous, yet the suspension soaks up the bumps as if it were a limo. Which, when you come to think of it, is what it does best if you count ferrying kids to and from various activities. When not serving that function, the Odyssey can haul a great deal of cargo that is accessible through its wide-opening sliding side doors and/or liftgate. Base models include the usual niceties plus Bluetooth networking, four-way power passenger seat, “Expanded View” driver’s mirror and a rearview camera. Combined with a power driver’s seat, keyless entry and cruise control, the least expensive Odyssey is far from stripped down. Atop the heap, the XL Touring Elite comes with self-leveling headlights, 16.2-inch rear video screen (bigger than the average the laptop computer screen), 650-watt 12-speaker surround-sound system and a handy “HondaVac” on-board 12-volt vacuum positioned at the rear of the van. It will run for up to eight minutes with the ignition in accessory mode, or continuously with the engine running. A 3.5-liter V6 that produces 248 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque is common to all models. It features variable-cylinder-management that cuts out two or three of the cylinders under light-load conditions for improved fuel economy. Shifting duties are handled by a six-speed automatic transmission. The list of available electronic safety includes lane-departure and forward-collision warning systems.