Form fol­lows func­tion

Peo­ple­mover blended good looks with a fam­ily-friendly cabin lay­out

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Car - GRA­HAM SMITH grah.smith@big­pond.com

NEW

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.

NOW

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.

SMITHY SAYS

Spice up your fam­ily life with a peo­ple­mover you can love.

OWN­ERS SAY

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.

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