Honda Odyssey VTi-L is a mixture of excellent comfort, space and quality but is let down by a lack of interior storage
What is it?
The fifth-generation Honda Odyssey. While it might be the fifth version of Honda’s popular people mover, it is considerably different to its predecessors as the current model is the first Odyssey to make use of sliding doors, whereas previous versions were more carlike and featured conventional rear doors.
The addition of sliding doors should improve passenger friendliness and practicality.
What’s it cost?
Honda Australia has kept the Odyssey range pretty simple. There’s the entry-level Odyssey VTi from $37,610 and the version we tested, the Odyssey VTi-L from $46,490.
Standard equipment includes six leather wrapped seats with heating for the front two occupants, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, sunshades for the middle row occupants, a 360 degree camera system, satellite navigation and electrically operated side doors.
What’s it go like?
All Honda Odyssey models are powered by a 2.4 litre four-cylinder engine that develops 129kW @ 6200rpm and 225Nm @ 4000rpm and is paired to a seven-step constantly variable transmission (CVT) that drives the front wheels.
The engine is smooth, free-revving, quiet and offers all the refinement that you’d expect from a Honda powerplant. However, while I know outright performance isn’t a key priority on the average people mover buyer’s shopping lists, I do feel that the Odyssey’s four-cylinder engine isn’t quite up to the task, especially when laden with six people and all their associated paraphernalia.
Don’t get me wrong, the engine is good – the CVT is a CVT – but it feels like it’s working too hard too much of the time and for some prospective customers this may be off putting. The V6 in the Toyota Tarago is rapid in comparison and the diesel in the Kia Carnival serves up muscular dollops of torque with frugal efficiency.
During our time on test, the Odyssey averaged 9.9 litres per 100 kilometres. Less than the Tarago, but noticeably more than the Kia.
Handling wise, the Odyssey is fairly pleasant as far as people movers go. It does admittedly feel large, but never cumbersome or ungainly and certainly worthy for consideration for family transport.
The 360 degree camera system helps when parking, but we find it odd that a car in this sector and at this price bracket isn’t fitted with parking sensors.
What’s it like inside?
Let’s start with the positives: the seats are fabulously comfortable and are probably some of the best we’ve sampled, there’s ample space for all six passengers, the fit and finish and use of materials is excellent and there’s good all round visibility oh and those carpets wouldn’t look out of place in the formal sitting room of a prestige home.
The dashboard is clean and simple, and the instrument cluster is elegant if a little dated. Those centre seats have extending leg supports and folding armrests too, so passengers can luxuriate on long journeys.
Now, the not so good. People movers need to accommodate people and their things. That’s what they do. Yet while the Odyssey VTi-L seems to pamper passengers, it’s very good at holding their stuff. Put bluntly, there’s no interior storage. Not even a centre console. There is a tray at the base of the centre stack that does raise up to improve convenience, but there’s no lidded storage other than the glovebox which was both puzzling and frustrating even more so when the dated Tarago seems to have the biggest centre console in the world, and the Kia seems to be able to swallow any oddment you throw at it without fuss.
Additionally, with all seats up there isn’t a whole lot of cargo space. Still, the seats are easy enough to move about.
What we like:
- Fit and finish
What we don’t:
- Lack of oddment storage is frustrating
- Drivetrain can struggle
- No parking sensors
- Annoying infotainment and satellite navigation system
Sale or no sale?
Sort of. There’s much to like about the Honda Odyssey VTi-L. Unfortunately for the Odyssey, there is some seriously good competition in the people mover class, and we’re still swayed by the Kia Carnival.