ODYSSEY is in a class of its own
It doesn’t matter what spin you put on it, Honda’s Odyssey is a station wagon and not a people mover, reports PETER BARNWELL.
IT’S a fat station wagon but still a station wagon. The new model is larger than the immediately previous model offering up seven seats in a 2-3-2 arrangement with the rear seats really only suitable for kids because of their size and the degree of difficulty getting in there.
Third row access has been improved over the previous model but is still an issue. I suppose you could get in from the rear tailgate and flop over the seat back. Fine if you`re a kid. Adults should restrict themselves to the front and middle rows.
There are some clever features in new Odyssey including an electrically operated third row folding function. It goes right into the floor creating a large load space if you don`t need the pews.
The side folding centre table between the front seats is also a handy piece of kit giving a walk-through facility while the numerous storage compartments dotted about the cabin are handy.
Our test vehicle was the $50,000 Luxury version that scores leather, 17in alloys, electrically adjustable driver`s seat, tri-zone climate control, sunroof, xenon headlights and front fog lights. Both models have stability control, six air bags and a five-speed automatic transmission (no sequential mode).
Power comes from an uprated version of the previous model`s 2.4-litre petrol four cylinder good for 132kW/218Nm output.
Lucky the transmission is so good, otherwise the engine might struggle to propel this 1700kg vehicle. Fuel economy is pretty good at 8.9litres/100km using regular unleaded. Load up Odyssey and that`s easily dented.
It has good dynamics for a relatively large, weighty family vehicle thanks to the double wishbone suspension and solid chassis. The brakes are powerful, there is a comfortable yet controlled ride but the steering that is way too light.
We don`t like the interior styling nor the colour scheme because it looks too unco-ordinated. There are too many bits and pieces and tacky blond wood timber inlays. One cruel observer commented that it looks like a stack of Tupperware containers.
The instrument pod has a 3D effect that, in contrast, is quite funky.The tri-zone air conditioning is appreciated with all seats occupied and the xenons are handy at night.
Access is made easy by the Odyssey`s low floor and large doors apart from the third row issue.
Honda has cleverly positioned Odyssey’s seat rows to form a V shape that affords every passenger reasonable forward vision. It eis asy to drive in the city because of the smallish turning circle and what Honda calls motion adaptive electric power steering.
Load carrying space is small with all seats up, good in five seater mode.
There are plenty of choices in the people mover segment these days, many at sharper prices than the Odyssey. But it’s one of a kind in the segment at present and couldn`t be described as a “mum bus”` by any stretch of the imagination.
That alone makes the Odyssey a much more appealing proposition if you have a large family.