INSIDE INFO Specs and ratings Model:
individual seats that can be adjusted separately and, thanks to the MPV’s incredible 2,011mm width, can fit three child seats with ease.
All three seats slide forward and back so the rowdy brood is never out of arm’s reach. And if you have only two passengers in the second row, fold that middle seat down and it doubles up as a wide centre armrest complete with cup holders.
Unlike many SUVs and crossovers on the market, the Odyssey’s third row is not meant for gnomes. It is spacious enough to accommodate up to two adults and a child in comfort. And as in other MPVs and SUVs, if you have more cargo than passengers, the Honda’s third-row seat folds neatly into the floor in a 60:40 split.
But the best thing about the Odyssey is the way it drives. For a capacious eight-seater family car, it drives like a much smaller vehicle. Thanks to the MacPherson struts in the front and a double-wishbone rear suspension, the ride is probably more comfortable and refined than the Pilot SUV’s, while it handles more like the Accord saloon.
Honda has also done well to keep engine and road noise at bay, thus leaving the cabin surprisingly quiet. It’s still hauled by the 3.5-litre V6 engine featuring Variable Cylinder Management that shuts down two to three cylinders according to the power requirements, improving the Odyssey’s fuel efficiency.
In the previous model, only the top-end Odyssey Touring came standard with a six-speed automatic transmission, while the lower models had five-speed ’boxes. But for the 2014 model, Honda has made the smooth-shifting six-speed auto standard across the range.
The Odyssey’s hydraulic power steering automatically bumps up the power assist when you’re pottering around town or parking in a tight space, while nicely weighing up as the car gathers speed, offering more feedback than you’d expect from a minivan.
There are loads of new features inside including a beverage cooler built into the bottom of the dashboard, while new touch-panel audio controls via a screen help reduce the clutter in the dash and make it less button-heavy.
The Odyssey EX-L and Touring grades also get a smart entry system with a start button. One new feature I found especially handy is the Honda LaneWatch system with a blind-spot monitor that adds additional safety when changing lanes. This feature, which debuted in the latest Accord saloon, provides a sweeping view of the car’s blind-spot area on the 8.0in LCD screen using a camera mounted under the right wing mirror and activated by the right-turn indicator switch. Other safety features like anti-lock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front headrests and a number of airbags make sure you and your family are protected from all angles.
Altogether, Honda has managed to make this already fantastic MPV even better with the 2014 changes. It’s much more practical and comfortable than any crossover and is a lot more fuel efficient than any SUV with comparable space and comfort.
If you’re considering something bigger than your current car to accommodate a growing family, and if you think driving an MPV is a different kind of style statement, then there aren’t many family cars out there that are better than the new Honda Odyssey.