Honda Odyssey Review : LT4

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Our time with the Honda Odyssey has come to an end, and despite none of the CarAdvice testers having a tribe of kids, it's been an office favourite.

Six months and more than 7000km since we took delivery, the Honda Odyssey continued to be an office favourite.

We learnt a lot about the incredibly versatile people mover over the time we spent with it. As you’re aware, our test version was the top spec VTi-L model, so it was loaded with everything a larger family would ever need. We loved the leather trim and tech inclusions, as well as the electric sliding doors, but you won’t need to fork out top dollar if you’re on a budget either. The entry VTi model will do the same job just as well.

As you’d expect there was plenty that we loved and a few things that we couldn’t quite come to terms with — overall though, it was an enjoyable six months.

The styling continued to polarise right up to the end of our time with the Odyssey. That said though, even CarAdvice team members who weren’t enamoured with the somewhat ‘out there’ styling agreed that the Odyssey certainly looks pretty cool for a seven-seat people mover. Even more so when you take into account the staid visage of the competition.

The smartphone-based sat nav system works well enough once connected, but the wiring and the way it needs to be mounted and connected just seems a little messy and cumbersome. While there are ways of minimising data usage from your phone plan (such as storing your route to the phone beforehand), we’d still ultimately prefer a conventional in-car mapping system. However, it is far easier to update mapping software on your smart phone than it is on a separate SD card-based satellite navigation system so that’s one positive of the Honda system.

The around town ride — especially when the Odyssey has only a driver up front, can get choppy. One or two CarAdvice testers didn’t like the ride back in the third row, but the majority of my passengers over the period had no issue at all. Regardless, the Odyssey is designed to carry seven (or eight for the lesser variant) people and their luggage, and getting that balance right isn’t easy in an engineering sense. Ever driven an empty utility for example? It’s not pretty.

Finally, the Odyssey is genuinely low — both in ride height terms, and externally. The nose of the Odyssey especially is close to the ground, which can cause an issue over sharp speed humps and when you’re approaching concrete safety blocks in parking stations.

It’s strange too, given the reality of the Odyssey’s role in life. It will be largely plying its trade around town, in parking lots and in and out of parallel parking spots as well. The front doors are low, and the electric sliding doors open wide away from the body before they retract, so high gutters can also be an issue.

What did we love?

Comfort, comfort and comfort. It’s a recurring theme whenever you’re seated in the Odyssey. Driver’s seat, passenger, second or third row, you’re never short on seating comfort in the Odyssey. There’s an enormous amount of legroom too, and the array of seat maneuverability options means occupants of any height can get comfortable.

Accessibility is unsurprisingly the key to the Odyssey’s people moving abilities. Getting into and out of any seat is a breeze, even for adults and it means that you can really make use of the full seven seats. There’s nothing ‘occasional’ about the third row. Large families take note — the Odyssey offers exactly what you’ll need to move around in comfort.

Near perfect seating height for the front two seats means getting into — and out of — the Odyssey is easy. It’s one of those vehicles you easily step out of rather than fall into or climb into. If you’re in and out of the car a lot, you’ll appreciate the Odyssey.

There’s so much room, you’re often not sure what to do with it. Especially when you’re in the Odyssey without any passengers. The rear hatch seems a mile away. With the third row seats up, there remains room for large suitcases; such is the storage space available. As Tegan mentioned in our last video, that hatch is heavy though and won’t be easy to open for smaller children.

The 2.4-litre engine and CVT combination work well and deliver an efficient fuel consumption average. The number dipped into the 9s on a longer country run and hovers around 11L/100km around town with passengers and luggage on board. Buyers on a budget won’t find that the Odyssey costs an arm and a leg over the course of the driving week.

The Odyssey is also reasonably enjoyable to drive — despite what the naysayers may think. The engine is no powerhouse, but the Honda is snappy enough to get up to speed and stay there without working too hard. You’re hardly going to be flying around at redline with six passengers in the car anyway.

At highway speeds, the Odyssey is quiet and composed and there’s little in the way of droning or wind noise entering the cabin. There’s no drumminess either, which you might expect of such a large volume, which means you can hear the occupants of the third row, although they will have to raise their voices a little bit.

The clever camera system makes moving around and parking a lot easier than I initially expected, given the Odyssey is a big vehicle. This is especially the case in tighter, inner city parking stations where the Odyssey might otherwise be a little ungainly.

What the Odyssey absolutely illustrates is the futility of buyers opting for seven-seat SUVs when they really should be looking at a proper people mover. Impractical third row seating, which impinges on luggage space, needing to be a Cirque Du Soleil performer to get into or out of the third row, and precious little in the way of proper legroom for adults once seated mean seven-seat SUVs are chosen more for their ‘look’ than their real world people-moving capability.

Many buyers of these SUVs should be looking long and hard at a proper people mover, and the Odyssey is currently at the top of that pile. It’s not as car-like as it used to be from behind the wheel and it doesn’t ride as well. It does however have a lot more space and versatility than the old model and that is a big plus.

Six months with the Odyssey in our long-term garage proved that the big Honda is an entirely livable mode of family transport for those families comprising three or more kids. It represents solid value for money and thanks to Honda’s build quality; you know you’ll still be cruising around in style with a few hundred thousand kays on the clock too.

Odometer reading: 9354km

Distance travelled at time of writing: 2365km

Consumption at time of writing: 9.7L/100km