Now in its fifth generation, Honda’s Odyssey has been around for quite a while. Honda describe it as a Family Sports Sedan. Personally I see it more as a large family wagon. A friend, visiting from the UK, needing a lift from Wellington to Palmerston North provided an ideal opportunity to test the latest incarnation.
The 2015 Odyssey comes in two trim levels, named S and L. The S has eight cloth seats, whereas the L has seven leather seats plus some extra kit as standard. That’s not to say the S is low spec though, it has some decent features as standard. Our test car was the L spec and it had a lovely combination of new car and leather smells inside.
Both trim levels have the same 2.4 litre 4 cylinder VTEC engine giving 129kW at 6,200RPM and 225Nm at 4,000RPM, as well as the same CVT gearbox driving the front wheels – with shifter paddles if you’re using it in the 7-speed sport mode.
Both have ABS, EBD, Emergency Brake Assist, stability control and traction control. Other safety features include a five-star ANCAP safety rating, front seatbelt pretensioners, tyre deflation warning, hill start assist and six airbags including full-length curtain airbags. Auto lights and wipers are standard and the L model also has an electric tilt/slide sunroof and electric folding wing mirrors.
Externally the car is very van-like, which is unavoidable given the high floor and huge internal space. Honda has disguised this to some extent with the sloping windscreen, and styling creases on the sides to define the wheel arches and break up the side profile. The L has 17” alloys with a kind of blade look to them which I think look pretty decent. 18” Mugen wheels are available as an option but I’d be a bit worried about spoiling the ride quality. The front has a large chrome grille, which gives it some presence on the road but I wouldn’t say it was pretty. The test car was in a colour called Mauve Pearl, so I christened it the Purple People Carrier. In most lights it looks like a dark blue, but when the sun hits it the metallic purple shows through.
I collected the car from Honda in Wellington, and after a detailed handover covering most of the car’s features, I set off into the Friday evening traffic. The Odyssey is a pretty big car at 4.8m long and 1.8m wide, and at first it feels it; but light steering, an impressively tight turning circle and a 360 degree camera system all help with getting used to the size. The driving position is high with great visibility through the large front screen and big side windows. The ride is excellent, smoothly soaking up the bumps.
The interior is well-finished with no obvious hard plastics like Japanese cars of the past. The dash has a fairly simple layout with a well-integrated 7” touch screen in the centre. The screen is used for the cameras, entertainment system and satnav. There is a panel below it with more touch controls for the three-zone climate control, demisters etc. In front of the driver is a large central speedo with an information screen in its centre to the left and right are digital rev counter and fuel gauge. The central screen displays warning messages, trip computer, odometer, range and fuel consumption. There are steering wheel buttons to control the stereo, cruise control, phone and trip computer. Everything is well laid-out, simple and easy to find.
In the lower section of the dash is a flat storage area with a charging socket, two USBs and an HDMI socket for input to the entertainment system. The system is pretty decent, with nice clear sound, and the Bluetooth phone integration worked flawlessly. There are two pop-out cupholders in the centre and bottle holders in all four doors. The rear row of seats has another charging socket as well as cup holders each side.
The gear shifter is on the dash, and the parking brake is foot-operated meaning there is plenty of elbow space between the front seats, and room to use the separate armrests built into each seat. The flat floor continues right to the back which, combined with the high roof, makes it really easy to move around inside the car to get to seats, or to strap children in. Our car came with the $330 optional fitted carpet over-mats which add some protection for the carpets and make it easier to clean up mud or spills inside the car.
The side doors are both electric sliders, and can be operated from the remote, by pulling and releasing the handle, or from switches on the dash. They can also be turned off if you need to stop kids from playing with them. They’re huge doors which give easy entry to the middle row of seats. These seats tilt and slide forward to give access to the back. Talking of seats – the heated fronts are electrically adjustable in several directions, and combined with the tilt and reach adjustable steering wheel it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position. The centre row of seats are what Honda refer to as captain’s chairs. They can be moved anywhere from touching the back seats, to touching the fronts depending on how you want to configure the interior. They can also be moved sideways to either give a central aisle, or allow more room to get into the back seats. They have armrests, recline and have pop-out footrests. They’re very comfortable too! The rear row is a three seat bench with three proper seatbelts and a 40:20:40 split folding back. Judging by the width, the centre seat would be best for a child, especially on longer journeys. The rear seat can be folded completely down into the floor leaving a huge flat boot space.
Above the captain’s chairs in the roof there’s an extra set of aircon controls for the rear passengers which is independent from the dual-zone front aircon. There are aircraft style blowers in the roof alongside the super bright LED lights, and there are floor vents in the back too.
The first job with the Odyssey was the kindy run to pick up my daughter. She was very impressed with the purple colour, and the sliding doors. I was impressed with the doors and how much easier it was to get into the car in tight parking spaces. It was also very easy to get access to make sure my daughter was safely strapped in. As soon as the door closed, she discovered the built-in sun shades which pull up and clip at the top. They’re very neat and proved particularly useful the following day as the sun was setting.
The following morning there were a few errands to run. First off was dropping off a table, which fitted easily into the back with the rear bench folded flat. One thing I did note was the rear door opens just about perpendicular to the back of the car, so if you’re over 6ft tall you might bang your head on it. Fortunately I’m not that tall as I can be pretty clumsy!
The keyless entry made things simpler, being able to jump in and out of the car using the small button on the door handle to lock it, and just pulling a handle to unlock, starting the engine with the start/stop button and leaving the key in my pocket made several short journeys a bit quicker. I also discovered a couple of the car’s useful safety features. Blind spot monitoring is great – an orange light illuminates in the mirror if something is in your blind spot, and if you indicate in that direction an alarm sounds. The only issue with this is it kept sounding the alarm when going around roundabouts with the right indicator on. Another great safety feature is Cross-Traffic Warning which activates when reversing out of a driveway or parking space and sounds an alarm if cars are approaching from the sides.
By this time I was used to the size of the car and getting more confident, especially with the 360 degree camera system. Pressing a button on the end of the indicator stalk activates the cameras, and they turn off when you go over about 15kph. The button cycles between front, rear, side or the default combined front/top down view. The top-down view shows the car in the centre and views all around, with graphics to show the direction the wheels are pointing, lines showing where you’ll go and boxes representing the ends of the bumpers. It’s great for getting in tight spaces or avoiding kerbs that you can’t see from the high driving position.
This mode also allows the auto parking system to be activated. I was really impressed with how well this worked. It can either parallel park, or reverse into a parking space. After a couple of practices it’s easy and quick to activate and use. First step is to select parallel or reverse park, then the system shows the top-down camera view and detects the spaces where the car will fit, drawing green boxes around them. It can see the white lines, other cars etc. Once the box is in the right place, stop the car and leave in D. Selecting the box on screen starts the process. A blue box appears on the screen and you control the accelerator and brake while the car steers itself into the box. When a beep sounds, shift to reverse and drive into the new blue box. Back to D to straighten up. It’s as simple as that! There are no parking sensors fitted as standard (they can be added as an option) and you are responsible for making sure you don’t hit anything! The system works really well, though it is a little freaky watching the car steer itself
I filmed myself testing out the auto park functions for the first time – with the help of my daughter in the back seat. Here’s my reaction!
A little comment on the video – it missed the lines because it was seeing some older blacked-out lines on the car park and put the box in the wrong place. This shows you just have to make sure before you start that the system has chosen the correct place to put the car. After a couple more practices I found the system quick and simple to use.
The next day it was time for our little weekend road trip. We headed to the airport and collected our friend, who was immediately glad of the USB charging sockets and comfy seats. I was impressed to find that his large suitcase fit in the deep boot with room to spare even though the 3rd row of seats were in place. This is partly possible because the space saver spare is under the middle seats rather than being at the back.
Heading North out of Wellington, the Odyssey cruised up Ngauranga Gorge with ease where a lot of autos seem to struggle. Maybe this is an advantage of the CVT gearbox as others seem to hunt through the gears.
The cruise control is a less sophisticated system than I expected in a 2015 model. It’s very slow to adjust its speed when holding down the + or – buttons, so adjusting to a new speed limit usually means hitting cancel then re-setting when the car is at the new speed. It would be nice to see the set speed on the digital display. Also it would be nice for it to be radar guided, and for it to brake down hills. It did do its job well, though.
I realised after a while that the LED lines at the top of the instruments changed colour occasionally, finally realising that they turned green when driving more efficiently and white when using more fuel. I liked this nice little touch. There’s a green mode button on the lower dash which can be activated to soften the throttle response, saving up to 10% on fuel by forcing the car to accelerate slightly slower. It’s not really noticeable when cruising on the open road so it’s a nice little feature to save on fuel. If the throttle is pushed past 50% the system disables itself to give you full acceleration if needed. Talking of fuel, the quoted fuel economy is 7.8l/100km. We covered 420km with just over a third of the 55l tank remaining. The trip computer said we’d achieved 8.9l/100km, which I think is pretty good for such a big car, especially given it was used for a number of short trips.
The Odyssey is very quiet – road noise is pretty minimal, the engine note is muted and I didn’t notice any wind noise. This meant it was easy to have a conversation between all three rows of seats. Under the sunglasses holder behind the rear view mirror is a curved “conversation mirror” which is great for keeping an eye on what the kids are up to in the back!
The ride is really good. The suspension is well damped without being soft, so it smooths out the bumps but has minimal body roll on corners. My wife and daughter sometimes suffer from car sickness but both were fine in the Odyssey.
We were fairly late getting home, so had an opportunity to test the LED headlights, which were excellent. Bright and white with a very flat beam pattern, and the cornering function works really well. When the wheel is turned or the indicator turned on an extra light comes on, pointing out from the corner of the car. It’s really useful on very dark roads or when turning at low speeds. There’s also an auto-dimming rear view mirror. The Odyssey also has puddle lights in the bottom of the sliding doors which are great in dark car parks.
What it’s up against
|Brand / Model
||Number of seats
||Price Highest to Lowest
|Citroen C4 Grand Picasso
||2.0l 4 cylinder
||3.6l 6 cylinder
|Honda Odyssey L
||2.4l 4 cylinder
||2.0l 5 cylinder
||2.2l 4 cylinder
||3.7l 6 cylinder
|Hyundai Santa Fe 4×4
||2.4l 4 cylinder
||2.4l 4 cylinder
The Good and the Bad
- Huge, well appointed interior
- Flat floor makes it easy to move around
- Massive boot with rear seats folded
- Great safety features
- Quiet and relaxing to drive
- Cruise control could be better
- Van-like appearance
What do we think?
The quiet ride, great visibility and high seating make the Odyssey relaxing to drive on longer trips. The drive to Palmerston North and back seemed to fly by in no time. It handles pretty well for such a big tall vehicle and has plenty of equipment as standard. It’s a very practical family car with loads of room. It’s easy to manoeuvre and park. For the money I think it’s great value and it comes with a 5 year warranty and roadside assistance.
||Front Engine, FWD Large Luxury Family Wagon
||$ 52,500 NZD + $724 on-road costs
||$ 52,830 NZD
||2.4L 4 Cylinder 16 valve i-VTEC chain drive DOHC
||Automatic CVT with idle stop
|0 – 100 kph
|Length x Width x Height
||4840 x 1820 x 1695 mm
|ANCAP Safety Ratings