Maximise your moves
PEOPLEMOVER — you’d be forgiven for thinking the segment no longer existed, such is the lack of interest from the new car buyer.
Last month, Australians bought 840 peoplemovers.
By comparison, the Mazda3 sold 3005 on its own and a monthly sales tally of 840 would have taken the number nine spot in the topselling SUVs.
Kia’s cavernous Grand Carnival dominates the segment, with 271 sold last month, while the capacious Honda retailed 81 units.
We’re spending time in the Odyssey base-model, which hasn’t changed a lot in the past few years, but is still a worthy contender. VALUE: The value-formoney equation on the Odyssey is good — for $37,100 the seven-seater comes with climate control, cruise control, remote keyless entry, manual height adjustment for driver’s seat, folding centre table in 2nd row, 16in alloys, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, trip computer, reach and rake adjustable steering, insulated glass and reversing camera.
The entry-level model has SUNA-enabled satellite navigation and six-speaker system controlled by a touchscreen and helm-mounted controls, with Bluetooth audio and phone link and a USB cable input. TECHNOLOGY: The Honda has been around since 2009, so there’s not a lot of cutting-edge gear.
The 2.4-litre 16-valve DOHC four-cylinder has the i-VTEC variable valve timing system, which produces 132kW and 218Nm — not enough to fry the front hoops but it provides a useful amount of grunt.
The touchscreen infotainment system now has a USB input, as well as Bluetooth music and phone link.
The SUNA-equipped satnav has a broad range of settings and options, including the choice of vehicle displayed on the screen — you can be a police car, which was a popular choice, but it does nothing to help with traffic congestion, although the real-time traffic information does help. DESIGN: Honda did well with this design and it has aged gracefully.
The Odyssey has conventional doors. The only drawback to that is close-quarter access — shopping centre carparks where drivers have difficulty parking like a normal person, for example— is made easier by sliding side doors. The flat floor design works and there’s a flexible seating plan that even gives a bit of luggage space when seating seven, but it has flaws. SAFETY: It is well sorted on the safety features front, with stability and traction control, dual front, frontside and curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control; the front two pews get active headrestraints and seatbelts with pre-tensioners and load-limiters. DRIVING: The Odyssey is the most car-like peoplemover in terms of its onroad behaviour.
The driver sits behind the wheel, not on top of it, so there’s no bus driver impersonation being done.
Fire it up and slot the fivespeed auto into drive and the journey through traffic is quiet and smooth.
The four-cylinder has deceptive flexibility and the auto’s ratios are wellmatched to the powerplant, but when it’s loaded up a little the engine bay yearns for the V6 that was once available in this model — perhaps the clever cylinderdeactivating V6 from the Accord would be a worthy addition. The ride quality is good and the cabin is comfortable and airy.
The middle row can seat three and will slide fore and aft to allow the third row a little more legroom. The rear-most pews somersault out of the cargo area, leaving a reasonable amount of cargo space — 259 litres Honda says, or 708 litres with the third row stowed— but if any of the occupants require seats with tethers then this will change.
In order to strap a child seat in to the middle row of seats (where parents can reach children if required), the tether strap heads aft toward the roof line, making access and occupation in the third row difficult, if not impossible. There’s a cutout for tether anchor points at the base of the 2nd row backrest, which would not render the third row largely useless, but they are not utilised in the Australian market— why?
The Honda Odyssey might not be the latest but it’s one of best-value and nicest-driving kid-carters you’ll find.
The Honda Odyssey is the most car-like peoplemover in terms of its on-road behaviour