Form follows function
Peoplemover blended good looks with a family-friendly cabin layout
There’s nothing very sexy about peoplemovers, well most of them anyway, because Honda made a real attempt to make them appealing with its Odyssey.
When most peoplemovers had all the appeal of a commercial van the Odyssey had many of the attributes normally associated with a car.
With room for seven people, car-like safety and driving dynamics, attractive looks and lots of standard features there was a lot to like about the Honda peoplemover.
The fourth generation launched in 2009 had more equipment, more power, electric power steering, slimmer windscreen pillars to improve visibility and new looks.
While all of those improvements made the Odyssey more appealing its prime function remained, which was to transport families.
In that respect it hit the bullseye with a flexible cabin that offered a range of passenger/luggage options.
The middle seat could slide and recline, while the second and third row could be split and folded to provide a multitude of passenger and cargo options. There was even the option of a full-length, flat floor like you’d find in a commercial van.
If there was a criticism it was that the third seat was cramped for headroom, and when all seats were occupied there wasn’t a lot of room left for luggage.
But there was nothing van like about the interior, it was comfortable and well laid-out with well-positioned controls that had a quality feel.
Honda offered just the one engine in the form of a freerevving 2.4-litre four-cylinder unit punching out 132 kW and 128 Nm. With 14 kW more than its predecessor it was better able to handle hills, although it could at times still feel underpowered.
A five-speed auto was standard fare. It was smooth and combined well with the 2.4litre engine.
One of the Odyssey’s most pleasing attributes was its onroad dynamics. With a low, wide stance and well-tuned suspension it was agile and responsive, and had a comfortable ride.
Safety was upgraded with all models boasting six airbags and stability control.
When checking a car that has been used for family transport it’s best to start inside where you could find scuffs, scrapes and food residue from constant attacks by junior members of the clan.
Upmarket models with their leather trim are likely to withstand the abuse from kids better than those with cloth trim.
Thoroughly check all fittings in the cabin, and operate all controls, as kids often fiddle with things they can get their hands on, and occasionally can cause nuisance damage.
Look around the luggage area for possible wear and tear from carrying sporting gear or pets.
General wear and tear on the interior doesn’t usually affect the function, but can drastically affect the price.
One of the things that appealed about the Odyssey was its wide opening doors that made getting in and out easy, but they can sometimes be swung into adjacent things like posts, walls, or other cars, so look for dents and scrapes.
Earlier Odysseys had troubles with the auto transmission, but these issues were said to be fixed with the five-speed used in the 4th Gen model.
It’s still worth thoroughly test-driving a car to put it through as many driving situations as possible to flush out any problem that might be lurking in the background.
Also make sure your chosen car has been well maintained by asking for a service record. Hondas demand regular maintenance, particularly regular oil changes, and missing services is a recipe for expensive disasters down the road.
Spice up your family life with a peoplemover you can love.
Alan Whittle thinks his 2012 Odyssey Luxury is very sexy. It has a better engine, improved gear shifting, leather, sat-nav, electric rear seat, sunroof, and more compared to the earlier model. His only complaint is that the sat-nav sometimes gets its rights mixed up with its lefts. He would happily recommend it to others.
Ollie Crompton praises the Odyssey’s finish and turning circle, but is critical of the fourcylinder engine, which he says it not up to the job when fully loaded.
Cheryl Allport says the Odyssey is a great car. It has a small turning circle, smooth engine, plush leather in the Luxury, a decent amount of space and looks good, but she would like more power.
Richard Savage loves the Odyssey’s driving position and space. No one misses out on luxury with cup holders and adjustable air-conditioning vents in all three rows.