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Roseville, Calif.- When the search is on for a “people hauler,” many people select the mini van as the smart choice. They feature three rows and can accommodate eight people with relative comfort, assuming not all the passengers are adults.

A longtime favorite of the mommy brigade, which typically has the assignment of car-pooling kids to school, soccer practice, and various other activities, the mini van is perfectly suited for these assignments.

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Behind the Cellar Door

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Behind the Cellar Door

Behind the Cellar Door

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Although most men would prefer a more macho-looking large sport utility vehicle, mini vans like the popular Honda Odyssey actually do the job with more efficiency. The Odyssey has sliding doors, a fuel-efficient V6 engine, low step-in height, and a configurable passenger compartment.

The Odyssey is not the only mini van that possesses the above qualities, but it’s arguably the best of the bunch. The competition also includes the Toyota Sienna, Kia Sedona, Nissan Quest, Dodge Grand Caravan.

There are no significant changes for the 2016 Honda Odyssey. One difference is Honda now has a Special Edition (SE) model that takes features from its Touring Elite package and placed them in a more affordable package.

There’s a lot of value in the Odyssey, which starts at around $29,275 and can climb to just under $45,000. Standard features on the base model include rear privacy glass; manual two-zone air-conditioning; eight-way power driver seat, four-way power front passenger seat; 8-inch infotainment display; Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity; rearview camera; seven-speaker audio system with a CD player, Pandora compatibility; auxiliary audio input jack, USB port.

One of the Odyssey’s best features is the highly adaptable second row. The row is three separate seats that can also function as a single bench. The two outer seats can slide to the side and expand the overall width by 1.5 inches, allowing parents better access with child-safety seats.

The Odyssey also has some cool interior features, like an in-car vacuum, flip-up trash bag holder and a cooling compartment for beverages. There are numerous bins for storage and multiple cupholders. Even with the three rows occupied, the Odyssey still provides 38.4 cubic feet of cargo room that expands to 93.1 cubic feet with the third row down.

Since mini vans are often children haulers, it’s also worth noting that the Odyssey has received top marks in crash tests.

There’s only one engine with the Odyssey, an efficient 3.5-liter, V6 that generates 248 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. While some of the competition may provide a little heftier performance, the Odyssey still performs well with eight people aboard. It’s been clocked going 0-60 mph in 8 seconds.

Handling is strength of the Odyssey. Due to the precise steering, it’s easy to drive around town and is no problem maneuvering into parking spaces thanks to a helpful driver’s view of the front end. The mini van also provides a quiet ride.

2016 Honda Odyssey

  • Performance: 3.5-liter, V6, 248 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate range: 19-28 mg
  • Price: $29,275 to $44,750
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; corrosion 5 year/unlimited; roadside assistance: 3 years/36,000 miles

Although the Odyssey costs more than its competitors, it also delivers considerable value. It is extremely family friendly, features a second row that is very adaptable, and also provides performance, comfort, solid gas mileage and can carry a large load.

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