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David ASKED THE GUIDE

Should I buy a Honda Odyssey?

I'm interested in a new (or newish) Honda Odyssey, but the main negative I read of is the lack of power when loaded. Is there a “chip” similar to that used on diesel engines that could be used to give more power, without negating the reliability or warranty?

The issue of a lack of performance from the Honda’s 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine is one that has been noted in the past, David. It stems not from the fact that it’s a four-cylinder, rather the way it has been tuned and specified at the factory. Like a lot of Honda engines, the engine was designed to deliver good horsepower and high revs and, while that makes for a sporty feel in the right car, it does nothing for the Odyssey’s role as a people-mover.

The root problem here is that the engine is tuned to make its maximum torque (the force that actually accelerates the car) at 4000rpm. Combine that with the odd nature of the standard CVT transmission and you had a recipe for a car that could feel quite lethargic around town. Throw in a full complement of six bodies and their luggage, and things only got worse.

Unfortunately, there’s no real way around this. You could have the engine retuned with an aftermarket chip in the computer, but it may not do very much except increase fuel consumption. At that same time, you could wave goodbye to any remaining factory warranty as it applied to the driveline. Manufacturers don’t like customers tinkering with that stuff and will usually claim that the modifications contributed to the mechanical failure.

All that being said, I have heard of people `chipping’ the Odyssey’s engine. But of all the examples I’ve seen, the net gain was just 11 or 12 or so kiloWatts; not enough to warrant the cost or transform the vehicle in any major way. Even then, I’d imagine the extra power to be high in the rev range, not down low where you want it.

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