Max­imise your moves

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By STU­ART MARTIN

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

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