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I had not looked at vans for some time and first started looking for a new van last fall to replace my 2002 Mazda MPV. When I saw the 2010 Odyssey I was shocked with the eighth seat, that is the center seat in the middle row. It was so small it looked like it was made for a doll and, since I had not seen one before, I did not understand what it was until it was explained to me. I didn't think I would want a vehicle with such a seat and thought I might consider an LX so as to avoid the eighth seat.

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the eighth seat in the 2011 Odyssey. By eliminating the center arm rests on the outer middle row seats, the eighth seat is wider and it is also thicker so it looks more like a normal seat. The back of the eighth seat forms the center arm rests for the other two seats when it is folded forward.

When I looked at the 2011 Sienna, I noticed the eighth seat was similar to the eighth seat in the 2010 Odyssey. I thought the pocket to store the eighth seat was also silly and I would not want a dedicated space to store the seat. Although there are many other important things to consider, I would not want a 2011 Sienna nor a 2010 Odyssey just because of the little eighth seat. Next year I am planning to get a 2012 Odyssey EX with the practical center seat in the middle row. That was a great improvement in addition to all the other nice features of the Odyssey.

It would be nice if Honda also offered a power lift gate in the EX. It would also be nice if they had factory installed folding roof racks like the 2011 Chrysler Town and Country has as standard in all models.
 

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I had to get <2010 center hook covers which i chopped up then snapped into the seat hook wells, now a SAAB carpet rests velcroed over them so kids can exit safely. I am shocked that this option is not offered in the 2011 Elite, the 2005 Touring had an extra carpet and custom hook covers. Oh well, it also had a proper Lazy Susan cover, as opposed to the ugly plywood covering the sparei in the 2011. Bad economy huh?
 

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The 8th seat in the 3rd gen was designed more to bridge the gap over the center isle, making a bench seat out of the whole row, rather than being a stand alone seat in and of itself. I only ever used it once, and kept it in the garage when not in use, but it sort of took 10% of the space from each captains chair and provided another 10% to seat 3 people. I personally loved the design because of the very reason that it did not compromise the comfort of the captains chairs at all. I understand that the car was built for kids, and that most buyers have kids, but for those of us who bought Ody's to transport adults, the center armrests are VERY important. I am sort of surprised that Honda didn't do what they did in 05 and provide a model geared toward comfort and luxury, rather than kids. (The Tourings never had an 8th seat until 2008)
 

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I agree with Cntrtwnltd: The eight seat is not something I would sit on for a six hours drive but it does great for our kids and in a pinch, if we need just one more seat or more storage space and lower the third row seats.

I also agree with Cntrtwnltd on the armrests: Having them on all the time was a selling point of the Ody over the Sienna for us.

Nicolas
 
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