As cars go, people movers don’t quite cut it as sexy or aspirational – they are more about function and need rather than desirability.
So the Honda Odyssey’s clever blend of practicality with refined, car-like driving characteristics and sleek stylish looks make it about as desirable as transport dedicated to the larger family gets.
Four class wins in Australia’s Best Cars is proof of its credentials. The third generation Odyssey, released mid 2004, is more a luxury multi-purpose family wagon with seating for seven in comfort, than traditional ‘box-on-wheels’ mini-bus.
There are two variants, the base model just known as Odyssey and the better equipped Luxury. Safety features include dual front and side airbags and antilock brakes, while the Luxury also benefits from curtain airbags for all three rows plus niceties including leather trim, 16’ alloys, a power driver’s seat and power retractable third row seats. Odyssey scores a four-star ANCAP crash rating.
Traction and stability control weren’t available. A lap-only seatbelt for the second row centre seat, poorly located child restraint anchor points and a spacesaver spare wheel also earn our disapproval.
There was a mild facelift in 2006, with a new model launched in early 2009.
The 2.4-litre, four-cylinder iVTEC engine performs willingly around town or on the highway while the standard five-speed auto is smooth and a good mate for the engine. Some owners comment a little extra low down grunt or a V6 option wouldn’t go astray though.
A low centre of gravity combined with well-tuned suspension delivers excellent ride and nimble handling. It’s easy to drive, smooth and quiet and rates well ergonomically, foot operated park brake and thick ‘A’ pillars aside. Interior space is good, though like most of its ilk, luggage space is limited with all seats occupied. Child restraint top tether location isn’t ideal either.
In true Honda style it’s well built with reliability a virtue. But neglecting servicing, especially engine oil and coolant, is courting disaster, so check records. Watch for interiors far from pristine thanks to kids and pets.
Under the pump
Odyssey will use between 9.0 litres and 12.5 litres of fuel every 100km, depending on model and driving conditions.
What will it cost?
For an indication of what you would pay for this vehicle please go to CD's online car price guide or our Car review Advice Service on 07 3666 9148 or 623 456 outside the Brisbane area.
Mitsubishi Grandis 2004 – 2009
Sound all-rounder with seven seats, well worth considering. The four-speed auto handicaps the 2.4-litre engine a little. Slightly higher fuel consumption than Odyssey. Limited cargo space with all seats in use.
Hyundai Trajet 2004 – 2009
Not as well resolved for refinement, on-road manners, interior comfort and layout. The 2.7-litre V6 offers larger outputs on paper but doesn’t translate to on-road strength. Matched to a four-speed auto. Average fuel use. Certainly more affordable, but a bit old school.
Toyota Tarago 2003 - 2009
Offers space, versatile interior and seating configuration, easy access and eight seats. The 2.4-litre engine four-speed auto combo does a fair job moving a heavy vehicle. An improved model from 2006. From 2007 beefier and substantially dearer 3.5-litre V6 versions also.