The Odyssey used to be a car, but now it’s a minivan. It was one of the very few 7-seat cars you could buy back in the mid-2000s. We last tested one in 2009 (read here) when it was a mere 1545mm tall, and was still ostensibly a car. Now the Odyssey has grown up and is 150mm taller. This average growth rate of 30mm per year is 10 times faster than the world’s fastest mountain is growing (Mount St. Elias grows at around 3mm per year). Continue reading “Honda 2015 Odyssey L review” »
See Disney’s “High School Musical 3.” And get there in the Honda Odyssey.
When Ulysses set off on his famous Odyssey it was in a fairly barren wooden ship, comfort was minimal, ride quality poor and ultimately it would take years to get anywhere. By contrast Honda’s Odyssey is a vessel aiming for the exact opposite. Since its first generation in 1995 the Odyssey has been a trendsetter in the people mover marketplace. It was the first to use a flat-folding third row seat and to fuse together sharp styling and car-like dynamics with minivan practicality. Fast forward to 2009 and Honda has released its fourth generation Odyssey that boasts improvements over the popular outgoing model. Available in two variants the base Odyssey S and the luxury Odyssey L, it was the high-spec model that we took on a voyage of discovery.
Before getting on-board it’s hard not to admire the Odyssey’s exterior aesthetic. Despite the Odyssey’s practical requirements there is a clear defiance at dull safe styling and it stands out when viewed from any angle. The grille and bumpers have been restyled mixing an aggressive look with the Honda corporate face. Straight flat sides push into wrap-around jeweled taillights that are a feature point of the rear. Twin chrome tail pipes and flashy 17-inch alloys cap off the ultra-modern look. Overall, it’s sculptured, sleek and a radical departure from the brick-on-wheels people mover styling still used by some competitors.
Once inside, the cabin feels very roomy and the leather seats are wide and comfortable. It has three rows and seven seats in total all of which are a usable size regardless of passenger body type. The seating layout is exceptional with decent leg and head-room combined with a clever “V” shape seating pattern and a raised back row meaning visibility is good for all occupants and commanding for the driver.
The dashboard is a unique design that visually won’t appeal to all but instruments and controls have typical Honda intuitive functionality. The only exception is the stereo that sounds fine but has a bland dated look and is positioned a distant reach from the driver. Moving the seating is a breeze with the third row folding flat into the floor with the push of an electronic button. Perfect for using the Odyssey as a wagon, go a step further and fold the second row of seats flat into the floor and you have huge van like space, long enough to lay down and wait out any stormy weather.
The dashboard-mounted gear stick functions well as does the centre storage tray that can be folded down if you need to access the rear seats and check on the crew. Other storage options and cup holders are numerous. Fit and finish is very good generally and there is a genuine feeling of durability to the cabin. The equipment list is also impressive, featuring cruise-control, MP3-compatible six-CD stereo, trip computer, power sunroof, electrically adjustable heated front seats, tri-zone climate control, automatic HID headlamps and fog lamps. The only noticeable omissions are Bluetooth, a ceiling-mounted DVD player and satellite navigation. Overall, it’s very pleasant being on-board but how does it feel to captain Honda’s latest transport ship?
What’s most impressive about controlling the Odyssey is its car-like driving dynamics, and this starts with the motor. The 2.4-litre i-VTEC sends 133kW of power through a 5-speed auto transmission and onto the front wheels. The engine is smooth, whisper quiet but still packs enough power to move the Odyssey along rapidly if required. The auto transmission is relaxed and precise in its changes but with a full load the throttle will need to be worked to keep it awake. At the helm the power steering is accurate but very light which is great for any low speed maneuvers, however it can feel vague during more spirited driving.
Ride quality in the Odyssey is exemplary thanks to a lack of wind, road and engine noise and also excellent suspension. The double wishbone setup can feel on the firm side round town but it’s compliant and really comes into its own during cruising where few bumps and dips in the road are passed onto occupants. Move onto twisty roads and the Odyssey sits reasonably flat in corners and offers good grip at the front shifting only into slight understeer when pushed. The Odyssey has an uncanny ability to disguise its length and general size, and when driving it’s made easy to forget the two rows of seats behind you.
If conditions worsen and you’re heading for the rocks the Odyssey has its safety bases covered. Front, side and curtain airbags are ready to pop and an Electronic Stability Program uses Traction Control and ABS with Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Emergency Brake Assist. There are also three-point seat belts on all seven seats. To appease the environmental gods Honda has chosen materials for their recyclability and environmental compatibility.
Overall, the Odyssey has a signature effortless charm where no function feels like a chore. This simple factor is pleasant for any driver but for those who are mobilising a large family on a daily basis it’s a huge selling point. Combine that with exterior looks to charm Poseidon himself and the drivability to outrun an angry Cyclops and you have transport far beyond Ulysses’ long boat. The Odyssey has been class-leading from its first generation and this latest version successfully reinforces that reputation.
Click through to the next page for a list of specifications.
Price: from $48,800 as tested $59,400
What we like:
- Sharp exterior design
- Spacious comfortable cabin
- Excellent driving dynamics
What we don’t like:
- Stereo look and placement
- Vague steering feedback
Words and Photos: Adam Mamo
Honda Odyssey (2009) – Specifications
Engine Type 16-valve PGM-Fi
Maximum Power – kW 133 @ 6,500rpm
Maximum Torque – Nm 218 @ 4,500rpm
Transmission Type Automatic 5-speed automatic transmission, Grade Logic Control, Turning Logic 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
Wheels 16″ Steel wheels. 16×6.5JJ AL
17″ Alloy wheels.
Tyres 215/60 R16 tyres (S Model)
225/55 R17 tyres (L Model)
Braking System – Front 300 mm ventilated discs
Braking System – Rear (with ABS) 305 mm solid discs
Exterior Length (mm) 4,800 (S Model) / 4,810 (L Model)
Exterior Width (mm) / including door mirrors(mm) 1,800/2,068
Exterior Height (mm) 1,545
Interior Length (mm) 2,822
Interior Width (mm) 1,536
Interior Height (mm) 1,220 (S Model) / 1,183 (L Model)
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) 1665
Maximum warrantable towing weight (kg) 1000
Fuel Tank Capacity 60 litres
Recommended Fuel 91-octane
ADR Combined Consumption 9.3 L/100km
Optimal NZ Drive Test 6.5 L/100km (S Model) 6.7 L/100km (L Model)
EnergyWise Rally ’08 unavailable
Fuel Saver Infomation
Make and Model: Honda Odyssey 7 Seat 2.4L 5 Door 5 Spd Auto
Star Rating: 3½ stars out of 6
Yearly Cost : $2,410
Mileage : 9.3 Litres per 100 km
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