I am living in NZ, where the Honda Stream is a relatively common sight. This is only because NZ imports a large number of second-hand Jap imports. NZ is ‘blessed’ with plenty of Japanese cars that are not normally seen outside of the local market. The mark-two Honda Stream is one of those. Outside of Japan, the Stream was also sold in Malaysia and Singapore I think.
Prior to the Stream, I had a 2005 Honda Fit (aka Jazz) that had been very reliable, but a change in circumstances meant I needed a larger vehicle and something more suitable for traveling longer distances. The Fit was a great city car, but not so good on the open road.
I did not deliberately go out looking for another Honda, but after testing models from Subaru, Toyota and Ford, the Stream seemed to offer the best bang for buck, and as a brand I was pretty confident it would be reliable. After just over two years of ownership and about 25,000km, the Stream has needed no unscheduled trips to the garage. Routine servicing and two new tyres only.
Even though the Stream is relatively common in NZ, this is not the most common model. It has the 2.0-litre engine and 4WD. As it is the 4WD variant, it also means it has a five-speed torque converter auto versus a CVT that all others get. The 4WD is pretty basic and purely on-demand, but great for improving traction on wet roads or gravel.
Officially, the Stream is an MPV, and 'MPV' and ‘sporting’ are not normally terms that you see go hand-in-hand. Honda did try with the RSZ variant to insert some sporting pedigree into the model. It has firm damping, wider wheels, paddle shifters and a bodykit no less. For an ‘MPV’ I think it looks better than most.
It has also been very practical for family life. The second row of seats has heaps of space for kids, and the seats slide forward and back to allow more people or luggage space. Being an MPV it also has a third row of seats, which has only been used a few times and is more than adequate for kids.
Performance is adequate and typical of a Honda VTEC – it loves to rev and needs revs to make decent progress. It would be greatly improved with more torque. The five-speed auto was competitive 12 years ago, but is now a bit old school and could do with an additional ratio or two.
Safety is also not cutting edge – ABS, traction control and two airbags are all you get. The interior is certainly practical but lacks any real design flair. The blue lights on the edge of the cup holders are the only real items – odd as this Stream is based on the Civic of the same vintage and the eighth generation (especially the Euro) certainly had more panache.
From time to time I mull over changing the Stream, but struggle to think of anything that will do the job as well, plus be ultra-reliable.