Honda Odyssey: Only for families or has it got other uses?

Honda Odyssey (3)

 

Honda Odyssey rear seats (1)Honda Odyssey rear seats (2)LuggageHonda Odyssey rear seats (3)

Luggage space? What Luggage space.

Honda Odyssey (4)Honda Odyssey (5)

Rear A/C

Honda Odyssey (2)Honda Odyssey (6)Honda Odyssey (7)Honda Odyssey (8)Honda Odyssey (9)Honda Odyssey (10)

Luxury model with Satnav

 

 

The question was “Is the Honda Odyssey quite suitable for a boy to use for Luxury wine tours and classy airport transfers” so we took one around the block a bit. It wasn’t nearly as embarrassing as you’d expect a people mover to be.

A people mover is never going to be the object of desire is it? Let’s face it, it just reeks of grubby children spilling drinks on the carpet and putting filthy fingers all over freshly polished glass. The question remains: It is any good?

Before I answer that I must add that the notes I take on the cars I drive are all made on my iPhone. It’s a shining beacon of technology built by underpaid children in the furtherest reaches of China. It, and its stupidly complex support system, is the darling of the trendy-set. But sync the wrong thingie to the wrong thingie and it all goes badly tits-up. Such was the case when I changed a setting and all my car notes vanished in a POOF of smoke. So bear with me while I recall the subtle nuances of the Honda from the inner sanctums and darkest recesses of what I’m want to call my mind.

So, to the Odyssey: I was quite grateful to the couple of lads who wanted to add airport transfers and wine tours to their B and B because had they not asked the question we would not have driven the Odyssey. Despite its Soccer-Mum looks, its quite nice to drive. It has Honda’s attention to detail: a decent engine, decent fuel figures, decent handling and very clever seats. By far the feature which got the most comment was the carpet. We dubbed it the “sandy” rug. It’s a dark weave with sparkly highlights that look like sand. Brush it and the pattern changes. Passengers spent hours trying to brush the sand to one side. It amused me no end.

The equipment level on the top model gets the goods with standard Satnav, usb, bluetooth SD and audio streaming. It’s all very easy to use except for the bluetooth. The bad news is you can’t use voice dial or the phonebook from your phone unless you download your address book into the car. This can only be done if your phone is compatible with the Honda, and unbelievably, iPhone is not compatible so best you stick to using voice-dial vial the phone itself.

The exterior is ok for a people mover, but it doesn’t get my juices flowing. Honda have tried their level best to make Odyssey look a little less like a box but you simply can’t expect bucket loads of space inside and not have a boxy look outside. It isn’t a TARDIS, and I’m not the Doctor so as a buyer I’d expect to have a decent trade-off between looks and accomodation. Having said all that, there are LED’s for a modern look and pretty alloys. The overall impression is one of decent quality in build and materials. It doesn’t have that god-awful cheap and tacky feel that some cheap chinese cars have. Pleasingly, its not been put together by workers who have had big liquid lunches. You don’t realise how big it is until you try and park it. It has sensors and a reverse camera which is most fortunate because you would never want to go shopping otherwise. It would be like trying to dock the QMII. Honda have stressed the word “stylish” in all the bumph but that is a word thoroughly over-used. No amount of advertising is going to make a mini-van feel like a luxury sports sedan.

The interior has also been given the Honda attention thanks to their little detail-fairy. She must spend an age thinking of putting places to store things and of ways to configure the seating. The rear seats slide forward so you can sandwich another few chums right up the back but as with all vehicles like this, using all 7 seats means bugger all boot space. If you were to do an airport run you’d need a trailer for the gear or you friends would need plonk their ports in their laps. If they’ve opted for the largest of the Louis Vuitton Knock-offs, that trip is going to seem like torture. I did spy a certain hotel using a mini-van to luxury-transport guests to the airport with one of those little full height trailers in tow proving my point about the useless boot.

The feel inside is what you’d expect especially in the luxury model. The only difference between the top and bottom model is cowhide and satnav as far as I can tell. Where once upon a time the Pov models were fit only for the most destitute, Honda just adds some nice things to make the base model into something with a smidge more panache. You get the same engine, the same gearbox, the same body, and the same seats but the luxury has leather splshed all over. They all are equally quiet and ride equally well and even more importantly there is no difference in the way they drive. Just one point before we move on to the drive, the infotainment centre is the same fabulous unit we saw in the CRZ and we liked that very much. As Coco Chanel once said, “less is more” and the simple unit is vastly superior to those in cars costing 4 times as much.

You’ll no doubt recall the fondness we have for the wonderful Accord Euro so you’ll squeal with excitement when we report the engine and gearbox are the very ones in the Euro and Accord. Yippee! Honda assured me there was more than enough grunt from the 2.4L to transport seven of the beefiest lads in quiet luxurious comfort. I don’t doubt it would be quiet and comfortable but I am less convinced of the varsity of the performance claims. With five of the largest boys I could find safely ensconced, the get-up-and-go was feeling distinctly unenthuseastic so an extra couple would only make things worse. But surely that matters not a jot because the boy buying this little number is going to have a specific use in mind which would have little to do with highspeed outings. With that in mind, I thought there little point driving this car as I would the stunning CRZ, or expecting the performance of the beauteous Lexus ISF. Nor is there any point to bitching about the lines not being like that of a Nissan 370Z because that simply is not the purpose of an Odyssey. We therefore dispensed with the sporty mountain challenge because you’re never going to be driving sportily in an Odyssey anywhere, let alone in the mountains. We did however do a shopping run to collect some tasty tempters from the Danks St Depot and that test was passed with flying colours. We also did an airport run and ran several inner CBD chores. The steering still has the vagueness that electric assistance engenders but to my surprise the Odyssey coped very well with the darting required of inner city driving. I’ll confess to a slight prejudice when considering mini vans in any way whatever, but a fortnight proved that them to be most capable modes of transport. It didn’t have me doing cartwheels down George Street but I did find myself thinking of the uses buyers might put it to.

The highway drive was the last mountain to climb so obviously we had to drive down to Canberra right? I picked up my dear sister Soph and headed down the M5 towards our nation’s capital. I’d been meaning to get down seeing a couple of mouldy old pictures on loan from Accademia Carrara in Bergamo, Italy. They said something about old masters.

This road is a well-worn one for me and driving the same road in lots of different vehicles gives a unique opportunity to spot the pitfalls built into the cars. After doing battle with the customary slow crawl through the toll tunnels, something the public have been conned into thinking is good for them; the road opened out to a pleasing wide ribbon of black threaded through the hills of the southern tablelands. It always seemed odd to me to stick such an important city in a cow paddock at the end of the earth. Perhaps this was Walter Burleigh-Griffin’s little joke and that he thought pollies should all be gathered together in the middle of nowhere.

We rolled into town and headed straight for the gallery where we spent a few lazy hours. It’s a most impressive building and the new extension with its wall of translucent marble which is luminescent in the afternoon light. Importantly, more than 3 hours with only a small potty break didn’t leave us numb from the waist down. It seems that as with every other Honda we’ve tested, the seating is both supportive and comfortable. Of course Odyssey’s capacious interior feels even more cavernous with only two peeps in it. We couldn’t quite figure out why the centre console hinges down and out of the way. Perhaps one of the seating configurations leaves only the driver’s seat and it would look silly with an arm rest sticking out in mid-air like dogs testicles, but it does make for a very flexible setup.

The trip back was spent with my learned passenger fiddling with the bits and bobs with a view to assessing the ease of which one was able to use the accessories. My passenger is high up in a large bank, IT’ing something or other. He found the things easy to use so that proves someone with a great deal of technical expertise can meander through the functions bothered little by its little foibles. The audio played discretely in the background and the conversations were similarly low because the cabin is so damned quiet. Only the most awful of the chipped bitumen road intruded into our consciousness.

The cabin is very well thought out and to me that is the main thing. The instruments are all clear with controls that make sense without needing to consult the bible.

To summarise our trip, the Honda was quiet, economical and very easy to drive and after that amount of time, not all that different to an Accord drive-wise.

Conclusion:

I’m able to report the Odyssey would be very much at home doing luxury airport transfers or posh wine tours. The latter would be far less fun for the driver but the 6 chums would be having a whale of a time, but I suppose the driver could drink a bucket of cocktails incontinently upon arrival at the final destination. I liked the car very much for what it was. The lack of luggage space was a concern with all 7 seats full and I’m sure if each of those seats contained a 100 kilo man, the story would have been not quite such a rosy one. As it was, it was very very good. It’s worth remembering that a lot of SUV’s also have 7 seat options however most of these cost substantially more.

It probably wouldn’t appeal to most gayboys as the situation requiring so many seats would be rare indeed. Perhaps the next time you have a half dozen Swedish friends jet in from some unpronounceable city, you could collect them in an Odyssey without dying of the shame. Driving something mothers use to collect the ankle-biters at 3 pm weekdays need not be an embarrassment. You might remember the ad campaign trying to sex-up the people mover market. Whilst I’m not 100% convinced the Odyssey is sexy, it is very good at what it does, and has awards to prove it.

FEATURES

Odyssey

Odyssey Luxury

Powertrain

Engine type

Inline 4-cylinder, 16-valve, DOHC i-VTEC

Inline 4-cylinder, 16-valve, DOHC i-VTEC

Displacement

2.4 litre – 2354 cc

2.4 litre – 2354 cc

Maximum power

132kW @ 6500rpm

132kW @ 6500rpm

Maximum torque

218Nm @ 4500rpm

218Nm @ 4500rpm

Compression ratio

10.5 : 1

10.5 : 1

Bore x stroke (mm)

87.0 x 99.0

87.0 x 99.0

Emission – Australian Standards

ADR 79/02 (Euro 4)

ADR 79/02 (Euro 4)

CO2 emissions – combined (g/km)

212

212

Automatic transmission

5 Speed with Grade Logic Control & Shift Hold

5 Speed with Grade Logic Control & Shift Hold

– with steering wheel mounted Paddle Shifters

P

P

Gear ratios

1st

2.651

2.651

2nd

1.516

1.516

3rd

1.081

1.081

4th

0.772

0.772

5th

0.566

0.566

Reverse

2.000

2.000

Final drive ratio

4.437

4.437

Ecological Drive Assist Programme (Eco Assist with ECON Mode) for improved fuel economy

P

P

Fuel type

Unleaded (91RON)

Unleaded (91RON)

Fuel tank capacity (liters)

60

60

Fuel supply system

Honda Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI)

Honda Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI)

Fuel consumption – (litres/100km)*

– combined*

8.9

8.9

– urban*

12.1

12.1

– Extra urban*

7.1

7.1

Drive-by-Wire throttle system (DBW)

P

P

Chassis

Price: $39,990 – $47,990

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