Review: Honda Odyssey EXV

It doesn’t look like an Odyssey…

Charting the Odyssey’s own journey is something of an, erm, odyssey itself. The first two Odysseys were as regular-looking as you can imagine, then the closely-related third and fourth-gen models broke ranks with the faceless MPV crowd, becoming wider, lower and more car-like than ever before. That they looked sleek and had the drive to match won over family drivers tired of regretting the begetting of offspring, although the third-row seats were noticeably smaller than the that of the ‘full-sized’ competition.

Why does it look like it’s from a Michael Bay movie?

Like other Japanese MPVs who mostly favour a squarish, prominent facade with a suitably high-tech, cutting-edge flavour. That the Odyssey’s front resembles a Transformer is probably no coincidence, with the LED headlamps and running lights flanking the almost robotic vertical grille.>

At first glance the Odyssey has noticeably ‘regressed’ – unlike the third and fourth-gen models, it’s become narrower, taller and longer. In numbers (see box) the new car’s 15cm taller than it used to be, which is a huge amount, but it’s not reached the literal highest peak of MPV-dom just yet, as near-rivals like the Toyota Alphard are much taller.>

So no fusion powerplant then…

Unfortunately no, but the new 2.4-litre engine is quite an improvement. While it lacks the direct-injection (and extra power) of the US version, it’s both cleaner and more powerful than the previous version: 8.9L/100km and 212g/km versus the new 7.9L/100km and 184g/km.

The gearbox is now a continuously-variable transmission. Given the sort of duty most MPVs will pull, the new drivetrain seems well-suited to the job, pootling around town and conserving low revs wherever you go. It’s very quiet, and only displays a slight rort and almost direct-injection type rattle when you really give it the guns. Acceleration is decent, though as it is with all big people movers, you can feel the work of the engine blunted by the mass of the vehicle. A rocket sled it ain’t, but it’ll do your bidding without mess or fuss and, with the CVT, there’s very little to worry about in terms of gearing. As an MPV it works well: With a full load of people (the majority of the CarBuyer team on a lunch run) the industrious Odyssey makes a decent run of things too.

Sardines in a can, then?

What you notice first is just how much more room there is in the new car – space for all your appendages to flail freely if you wish, probably without hitting anyone else in the eye. The EXV model driven here is the higher-grade, seven-seat variant, contrasting to the basic EX variant with eight seats. The former has a two-two-three seating arrangement, with the middle row taken up by two luxurious throne-style chairs with Ottoman foot rests, while the latter has a two-three-three arrangement, with a double, three-person bench in the rear two rows. While you can fit three adults in the rear, it’s best not to do so on long drives unless you have enough beeswax to block your ears from the siren calls of agony that will surely arise from the back. Two adults will fit quite comfortably for longer jaunts, and the passengers get their own cup holders, 12V socket and air-con controls/blowers, which even ventilate the feet.The main attraction is the pair of thrones in the middle row, which can be shifted forwards, back, sideways, and can even recline fully. It’s nothing like being strapped to the underside of a sheep, but rather the opposite, and the occupants of these chairs will soon be snoozing away like lotus-eaters.

Ooh, all the shiny buttons…

Honda’s pushing the new Odyssey as ‘the most luxurious Odyssey ever’. This one’s so packed full of stuff you can also call it one of the most luxurious MPVs around. First off, the build quality is stellar, even compared to the rather well-made previous model. But what truly makes this Odyssey stand out is the extremely high level of equipment.It boasts a new infotainment interface with a touchscreen that’s not only easy to use but also packed full of features such as Bluetooth telephony and music streaming and so on. There’s not one but two USB ports and even a HDMI input to keep the occupants occupied.

And while the original Odysseus had to fight the one-eyed giant Cyclops, the Honda Odyssey is packed full of eyes: Not only does it have a reverse camera, but also a 360-degree parking camera, two forward mounted side view cameras and a front camera too. The Odyssey even has an automatic parking system which does both reverse or parallel parking. So in a nutshell, a long journey on this Odyssey is not an ordeal because it does all the hard stuff for you.

NEED TO KNOW: Honda Odyssey EXV
ENGINE 2,356cc, 16V, in-line four
MAX POWER 174bhp at 6,200rpm
MAX TORQUE 225Nm from 4,000rpm
TOP SPEED 195km/h
0-100KM/H 11.5 seconds
CO2 187g/km
PRICE $199,888 with COE
For the full, comprehensive test drive story, check out CarBuyer #221, out on news stands in April.

about the author

Leow Ju-Len
Leow Ju-Len is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 23 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.