If you have a tribe of young folk to take anywhere, each trip can seem like an odyssey. Perhaps that’s why Honda choose the badge for its people mover. Now in its fifth generation, and in existence since the mid-90s, it’s a common sight on kiwi roads and yet the model is a relatively slow mover compared with similarly priced SUVs. There’s a certain perception about MPVs here amongst new car buyers that we could spend too long outlining but if you have dependents to ferry, these people movers do a fine job.
This model was introduced in 2013 and so the time has come for a little freshen and a tech upgrade. Both Odyssey models receive a similar frontal styling update with the S now sporting the ‘aero’ fascia previously reserved for the top model while the L (now actually L Sensing) is said to showcase the latest evolution of Honda’s ‘solid wing face’ design. There’s an added aero kit too for those days when you really have to fly.
Part of the upgrade includes additional safety gear but only for the buyers of the top model. Though not a new practice, the omission of safety gear for base models is a tad cynical; where it is available, it should be offered for all models, or at the least made optional. Honda NZ says it’s committed to offering the Sensing suite of active safety tech across its range but it’ll be a slow rollout over the next few years.
Anyway, offered on the LS are adaptive cruise, forward collision warning, AEB, lane and road departure warning and a lane keeping steering function. The latter is pretty good at maintaining lane status but it doesn’t do bends. The active cruise is easy to activate but it’s a cautiously tuned set-up that leaves a decent gap on its shortest setting inviting people to cut in on the motorway, and it doesn’t work below 30km/h so there’s no help to ease the pain of crawling traffic.
While Honda has added blind spot monitoring here, they’ve taken away the lane view camera which we find quite handy, especially for checking those pesky cycle lanes and the like. The multi-angle parking camera is handy both in tight spaces and busy places like the bedlam of the school carpark, while the view relayed to the infotainment screen can be altered by tapping the button on the end of the indicator wand.
The LS and S models have different seating set-ups, the upmarket model with a two, two, three layout for a total of seven, while the S, with a bench seat second row, can fit up to eight. Third-row seating is fiddly to deploy but once in place there is still decent luggage space left, unlike most seven-seat SUVs.
The Odyssey still has its oddly positioned child seat tethers for the back row which you need to install yourself, and when in use they render the luggage space useless. But there’s otherwise good access to the rear which is also okay on comfort. Fold them away, and there’s an enormous hold in behind the second row.
And this is where you’ll want to score a seat, the individual captains chairs are sumptuously comfortable, complete with a recline function, an improved headrest and a retractable ottoman for the ultimate snooze en route. There’s a place for your beverage, retractable sun shades and separate AC controls for the rear outlets. Access is made easy with the two sliding rear doors, a blessing in tight parking spaces, and they can be remotely opened from the key fob.
There is no centre console in the Odyssey cockpit allowing freer movement about the cabin, which seems pointless, until you have kids onboard and it proves to be another useful feature. There is a lack of cabin storage as a result, but there is a sliding tray and drink holders which pop out of the base of the centre stack when needed.
The 2.4-litre four and CVT combination carry over. This powertrain does the job here, though it can feel sluggish off the mark. Odyssey LS feels heavy on the move and it scales up at just over 1850kg. Typical of a CVT and four-pot combo, it’s smooth when cruising but requires revs beyond 3000 to really get moving and then it’s a little rowdy.
Honda quotes an average of 7.8L/100km; we saw 10.2L/100km with a mix of motorway and short urban trips. The ride gets a pass mark considering the torsion beam rear and big wheels. Its steering is lightweight but would benefit from a quick ratio rack like the Civic for easier urban manoeuvres, though the turning circle is not bad.
As kid conveyor, Odyssey still does a fine job. The only frustration is Honda’s infotainment system; wish they’d upgraded that as part of the facelift. With the additional safety kit, the LS model is slightly more expensive now at $53,900 while the S is $45,900 and both come with Honda’s five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.
|Model||Honda Odyssey LS||Price||$53,900|
|Engine||2356cc, IL4, EFI, 129kW/225Nm||Drivetrain||CVT, front-wheel drive|
|Fuel Use||7.8L/100km||C02 Output||183g/km|