What’s in a car’s name? Very little it would seem, so often car makers choose mythical creatures or dangerous animals to help give the vehicle a desirable image. However, when manufacturers choose more feminine names it doesn’t discourage buyers and even enthusiasts, look at Nissan’s handiwork with the Silvia or Fairlady Z. It remains very rare that a car named with a single word can offer a genuine clue to its character. Is the Honda Odyssey one of these rare examples?
The Odyssey as an epic poem is largely about separation from family, in contrast the Odyssey vehicle is all about bringing families together. The 7-seat capacity is a huge selling point for larger families, and the Odyssey can fit seven adults or children comfortably into a single vessel.
Visually the Odyssey sits somewhere between beauty and beast, but is without doubt an improvement on older styled MPVs. The roofline is noticeably low and it has a very car-like stance. The exterior shape disguises the vehicles size well, because like the epic poem it’s very long. Blue tinted headlights squint at those in its way and colour-coded skirting sets off sporty 16-inch rims. The Odyssey’s exterior styling package is evidence that Honda has forgotten MPVs are meant to be basic and dull.
Step into the cabin and it is soft leather seating for all, the seats are comfortable and spacious for all three rows with the exception of the middle seat in the second row back which is not full-sized. Good variation in seating layout is a strength of the Odyssey and it can be easily switched between a five-seat station wagon, seven-seat luxury people carrier and a two-seat cargo van. Even with all three rows of seats erected, there is still usable storage space behind the last pew.
There is a lot to see on the dashboard where digital and analogue dials merge together and are lit up fluoro blue. Marble-look detailing gives a feeling of occasion and there is a good blend of hard and soft touch surfaces. When the traffic Gods are conspiring against you the Odyssey has a six-speaker siren-sweet stereo to keep you entertained and multi-zone air-conditioning to keep the crew cool. The centre console between driver and passenger seats can be folded down to provide interior access into the rear which is convenient for retrieving stuff from bags or chastising kids.
When it comes to performance the Odyssey is no thunderbolt but it won’t take you 10 years to get home either. The 2.4-litre i-VTEC engine kicks out 118kW of power and 218Nm of torque, this will take the Odyssey from 0-100km in a respectable 10.8 seconds. The throttle is responsive and the vehicle does feel more rapid than the performance figures suggest.
The driving experience of the Odyssey is slightly tarnished by unresponsive steering which breaks down communication between vehicle and driver, personally I prefer more feedback when at the helm. But run a gauntlet of windy roads in the Odyssey and it responds with agility and poise holding its line well and gives little indication of its long length. The handling is very similar to a wagon with the Odyssey sitting low into the corners and only showing over-steering tendencies when pushed hard. The 5-speed auto transmission works itself well through the gears and a manual shift option is on hand for drivers wanting to squeeze a little more out of it. The driving position itself takes some getting used to; with a lot of dashboard in front of the driver there is a feeling of distance from the motor and front wheels.
The ride is very comfortable and quiet. The benefits of the Odyssey’s low height are noticeable and potholes and dips in the road are eaten up easily. With safety features like ABS, emergency brake assistance and six airbags Ulysses himself would struggle to wreck the Odyssey.
The Odyssey is a master of disguise, in both its appearance and driving ability. It doesn’t feel big when driven around town and on more challenging roads it never lumbers round like a blind Cyclops. Visually it’s far from dull both inside and out and it is very well equipped for its price.
If it’s Homer’s Odyssey or Honda’s Odyssey it’s still all about the voyage, but in Honda’s Odyssey you’re sure to have quick, comfortable and even stylish travels. The Odyssey does exactly what it says on the dust cover; it moves people, up to seven of them and it does this very well. So well that it is very difficult to match in its class. The Honda Odyssey, good name, great vehicle.
Click through to the next page to see specifications for the Honda Odyssey
Price: from $44,500
What we like:
- Comfortable for all crew members
- Well powered
- Good style for its breed
- Excellent turning circle for a long car
What we don’t like:
- Unresponsive steering
- Erratic parking sensors
Words Adam Mamo, photos Darren Cottingham
Honda Odyssey (2006) – Specifications
Engine Type: 16-valve PGM-Fi
Maximum Power – kW: 118 @ 5,500rpm
Maximum Torque – Nm: 218 @ 4,500rpm
Transmission Type: Automatic 5-speed transmission with SportShift, Grade Logic Control and Transmission Lock-Up Control
Steering – Gear Type: Speed sensitive power assisted rack and pinion steering with VGR
Suspension – Front/Rear Independent double wishbone with coil spring and front and rear stabiliser bars
16″ Alloy wheels. 16×6.5JJ AL (VTIL and VTIL-S)
17″ Charcoal Alloy wheels. 17x7JJ AL (VTI-L X, VTI-LS X)
215/55 R17 tyres (optional on VTIL-S)
215/60 R16 tyres (VTIL and VTIL-S)
215/55 R17 tyres (VTI-L X, VTI-LS X)
Braking System – Front
300 mm ventilated discs
Exterior Length (mm): 4,780
Exterior Width (mm) / including door mirrors(mm): 1,800/2,068
Exterior Height (mm): 1,550
Interior Length (mm): 2,790
Interior Width (mm): 1,535
Interior Height (mm): 1,220
Wheelbase (mm): 2,830
Track – Front / Rear (mm): 1,560/1,560
Ground Clearance (mm) empty / laden: 119/110
Turning Circle(metres) / Radius (metres): 10.8/5.4
Boot capacity (VDA litres) rear seat up: 245L
Boot capacity (VDA litres) rear seat down – second and third rows / third rows. (Up to window line): 1056L/674L
Kerb weight (kg): 1670