Text & Photos: Derryn Wong
Honda’s most obvious credos, at least to enthusiasts, would be ‘Natural aspiration freaking rules!’. Which is why the ‘VTEC just kicked in ‘yo!’ meme (yes it is really a thing, go Google it) is so damn hilarious.
But its other unofficial guiding principle is more important, and that is ‘Making more from less.’
After all it’s the small-but-useful Honda Super Cub motorcycle that gave the company a major success, allowing it to branch out into automobiles.
The most obvious, current example of this is the Honda Jazz hatchback, which has always had a mind-bogglingly spacious interior, despite its compact hatch dimensions.
Similarly, Honda’s Odyssey multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) may not look small, but it’s all about making the best use of what’s available.
This is the fifth-generation model, first launched in 2014, as covered in our Honda Odyssey review on CarBuyer.com.sg previously, and now having its mid-life facelift.
The usual frontal tweaks apply. While the bright LED headlights (with integral DRL units) are the same, the lower half of the face is restyled with more horizontal lines, a more aggressive appearance with a front lip spoiler and LED foglamp units too.
All this adds a little more pizzazz to the already shapely Odyssey. It’s not irredeemably boxy, thanks to its raked windscreen and clever styling, and while not at the French-level of eye-triguing, it’s certainly not boring to behold.
While the previous fourth-gen Odyssey was known best for its low-slung styling, and proper handling to match, this version has grown to look more like a conventional, large Japanese MPV.
But the Odyssey’s size/price position is clever too: It’s larger than a Mazda 5, about the same size as a Toyota Previa, but not as large as a Toyota Alphard, and priced accordingly. It also helps the Odyssey’s case that it’s still cheaper than both the Previa and Alphard, as well as other cars that can fit full-sized humans in all three rows, like the impressive, but costlier, Mazda CX-9 SUV.
It’s worth noting that even while the Odyssey has grown in stature, it’s still a very pleasing drive. The 175hp 2.0-litre engine with CVT gearbox is is buttery smooth. With decent power and torque, the rubber-band effect of smaller engines isn’t present, the Odyssey moves forward with the authority of a larger-displacement engine.
You can only expect so much from a big MPV, but the Odyssey surprises with deft handling and pointability you don’t usually expect from cars of this class. But its strongest point is smooth, easy motoring at high or low speed – it makes short work of long Malaysian runs.
The Odyssey is least expensive in eight-seat form. Dubbed EX, it’s $7k cheaper than the EXV tested here, comes with halogen lights, no sunroof, double three-seat benches.
Meanwhile the seven-seat EXV model, features dual Ottoman-style thrones in the second row, and a three-seat bench in the last row.
The rail-mounted Ottomans can be (manually) adjusted every which way, even sideways, but there’s so much room inside that even tall folk sitting reclined still leaves room for normal people in the final row.
Proof? CarBuyer’s twin towers (staff writer Jon and designer Bruno, both exceeding 1.85-metres in height) fit comfortably the car’s second and third rows. There’s AC controls in the ceiling, plus blowers and cup holders even for the last row.
With all the seats in play, there’s 330-litres of boot space. Honda’s folding system makes stowing the third-row a cinch, and while it doesn’t quote a figure for space with the thrones folded away, push the Ottomans in the full forward position, and there’s probably enough space to stuff a small couch inside.
Space aside, business on the inside is the same as before. In other words, it’s a large-segment Honda, so benefits from more premium touches than its smaller brethren.
A gloss-black climate control panel is paired with Honda’s touchscreen infotainment system, with the deep-pile carpets, soft leather and impressive refinement of the Odyssey adding to the feeling of quality.
Safety is already at a high level with six airbags, blind spot monitors, rear cross traffic alerts, a multi-view camera system, as well as Honda’s useful self-parking system.
Drive past and line-up a green box with your intended parking space, it’s much quicker than systems that do everything automatically, with you driving forwards and backwards and ultimately abandoning the attempt when impatient drivers form a queue behind you.
One novel addition with the facelift is Honda’s modern safety suite, Honda Sensing. Like Toyota Safety Sense P, it adds adaptive cruise control, autonomous braking (Collision Mitigation Braking System), Lane Keeping Assist System, and Road Departure Mitigation.
It only comes with the highest grade variant, EXV Navi Res, which also has an additional rear entertainment system, but at a $6k premium over the model tested here, and like almost all extra safety equipment, we feel it’s well worth the extra outlay.
With its price and position, the Odyssey feels small in the right ways (price, relative size) and big in the best ones (refinement, interior space, safety, utility). Unlike Odysseus himself, in an Odyssey you won’t mind leaving home at all.
Honda Odyssey EXV
|Engine||2,356cc, inline 4|
|Power||175hp at 6200rpm|
|Torque||225Nm at 4000rpm|
|VES / CO2||C1 / 184g/km|
|Price||$151,999 with COE|