Road Test: 2005 Honda Odyssey Wheelchair Vans

Filed In Road Tests
Author : Kylie Evans

The 2005 Odyssey is an interesting wheelchair van. Honda has managed to merge the design and styling of a traditional sedan with the size and practicality of a minivan. The result is one of the best wheelchair van options available.

Model Lineup

Honda has three trim packages for the Odyssey. The LE is the entry-level model. It’s an acceptable option for those on a budget, but the absence of power doors, a CD player and other expected creature comforts will probably persuade people to invest in the EX or Touring packages.

The EX offers everything one would need in a minivan including improved wheels, a higher quality engine, a moonroof and even an optional leather interior. The Touring model tacks on a stiffer suspension, more interior options and a high-end sound system. Both the EX and Touring variations have power doors and an automatic liftgate among numerous other features.

The EX package is the most popular in terms of sales. Anyone interested in creating a luxury driving experience should consider the Touring model, though. The sturdier suspension and other features make it one of the nicest minivans on the market.


The Odyssey stands out from the rest of the minivan pack due to its unique styling. While clearly a minivan, the vehicle’s lines are reminiscent of a European sports sedan. It’s the best-looking minivan on the market and somehow avoids the boxy sameness found in other models.

Interior Features

The interior isn’t as inspired, but it’s more than adequate. The instrumentation is easy to read and the controls and accessories have a solid feel. Honda has found a way to turn virtually every square inch of the interior into usable space with a Lazy Susan-style storage hatch and other under-the-floor cargo holds.


The Odyssey has the Honda iVTEC engine. The 3.5-liter V6 has more than enough muscle to move the Odyssey convincingly while maintaining 25 mpg of highway fuel efficiency. The upgrade “intelligent’ iVTEC is available with the EX and Touring packages.

The iVTEC is accompanied by a five-speed automatic transmission that seems tuned to perfection, as the Odyssey is capable of rapid acceleration and better than expected fuel efficiency at the same time.

Driving the 2005 Odyssey Handicapped Van

The 2005 Odyssey wheelchair vans don’t handle like a minivan. It’s much more like driving a high quality, larger passenger sedan. It hugs the road nicely, avoids body roll and provides a great overall driving experience.

It isn’t as quiet on the road as its competitor, the Sienna, but most drivers won’t notice the road noise. They’ll be too busy enjoying the Odyssey’s one-of-a-kind handling and feel.

You probably won’t confuse the Odyssey’s handling with that of an expensive sports car, but you will be able to feel the distance between the Odyssey and other minivans.

Wheelchair Van Safety and Reliability

The Odyssey wheelchair vans come standard with antilock brakes and a complete collection of airbags. It passed all of its crash tests and rollover tests easily and qualifies as a safe vehicle.

Honda did experience some concerns regarding the potential for some airbag sensors to corrode over time and issued a recall. There were also some Odysseys affected by fuel pump problems and a few were recalled as part of an initiative relating to steering problems.

Survey data indicates that the Odyssey is more than adequate in terms of overall reliability. It doesn’t quite measure up to its top competitor–Toyota’s Sienna–but the minivan doesn’t tend to spend a great deal of time in the shop for repairs.

The 2005 Honda Odyssey Wheelchair Van

You might assume that the sleek Odyssey would fail to offer enough interior space to be an effective wheelchair van. That’s not the case. Conversion manufacturers have successfully installed a wide variety of adaptations to the minivan.

VMI, for instance, creates a modified Odyssey with a powered fold out ramp, a power kneel system and a dropped floor that increases clearance by eleven inches. VMI has reached an agreement with 150 Honda dealers to sell and service this popular side-entry wheelchair van.

A converted Odyssey will provide most wheelchair users with more than adequate space, providing them with an opportunity to driver a sportier and more attractive wheelchair van.

Wheelchair van users have been forced to compromise style in favor of function for years. The Odyssey proves that’s an unnecessary compromise.

The Bottom Line

The first vehicle of the Honda Odyssey’s second generation rolled off the assembly line in 1999 to strong reviews. Since then, the manufacturer has consistently improved the vehicle. The retooled 2005 edition marks the first entry of the model’s third generation. It also promises to be the most popular Odyssey yet.

The Odyssey isn’t perfect. Sometimes, it seems as though Honda may have rushed just enough to overlook a few small details. Despite its imperfections, it’s a fantastic wheelchair van choice. The strong powertrain, gorgeous design and suitability for conversion combine to produce one of the best wheelchair vehicles on the market.

About the Author
Kylie understands from her life experiences that people who have a spinal cord injury are a true cross-section of humanity. Kylie provides excellent advice from her life experience with disabled people.