2009 Honda Odyssey Touring

The price to pay
The Touring model's $41,075 base price surprised me at first - that's a lot of money for a vehicle whose interior will invariably be littered with kids' toys, gum, and puppy hair. The Touring, however, comes fully loaded with every conceivable modern amenity - including a navigation system, back-up camera, Bluetooth connectivity, heated front seats, leather, a DVD rear entertainment system, stability control, and three power doors (dual side sliders and a power rear hatch). That last door, which was previously available only on the Touring model, is now available on the EX-L model for 2009. The EX-L also comes well-equipped, and is priced at a much more palatable $33,725. Budget-conscious shoppers can find brand-new Odysseys for as little as $26,925.

And while that entry-level model seats only seven, it still offers the biggest benefits of a minivan - the carlike driving experience and cargo versatility. My Limited test car was able to transport all of the boxes from a friend's recent move to the recycling center - in one load. And when we were done, the leather seats flipped right back up, and the Odyssey turned back into a luxury cruiser that's great to drive. And so I'll keep asking: what about minivans makes them not cool? I just don't get it.

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