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.

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - Front Page -

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.

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