Citroen C4 Grand Picasso 2014 review
Trust the French to insist that a sensible, functional people mover doesn’t have to be boring.
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Honda's new fifth-generation Odyssey people mover represents the most significant departure from the Odyssey mould since the model first arrived in Australia in 1995.
Growing in wheelbase and height and able to swallow eight passengers for the first time, the more van-like model looks poised to tackle the once-dominant Toyota Tarago head-on, and provide a fresh alternative to the segment-dominating and ageing Kia Grand Carnival.
Armed with a fresh and more efficient drivetrain and a host of new features, the new Odyssey has also grown in price. However, its entry ticket matches the Grand Carnival segment sales hero and still undercuts the cheapest version of its Toyota nemesis by an even $10,000.
Once again available in two trim levels, the previous 'Odyssey' and 'Odyssey Luxury' have been replaced by the VTi and VTi-L, with an accompanying entry price rise from $35,100 to $38,990 for the VTi. The top-end pricing has also shifted upwards, with the $47,620 VTi-L sitting $4,700 higher than the old $42,920 Odyssey Luxury.
The eight-seat Odyssey VTi comes with a leather steering wheel, 7-inch MID touchscreen with satnav capability for iPhone 5 users (Android to follow in coming months), Bluetooth phone and audio, cruise control, reversing camera, conversation mirror, passenger side power sliding door, front and rear climate control with rear controls, auto headlights with LED daytime running lights and 17-inch alloys.
The seven-seat Odyssey VTi-L can be identified by its black-detailed 17-inch alloys, unique grille and sideskirts, and scores leather trim, power front seats with seat heaters, an electric sunroof, a four-camera 360 degree camera display with an auto-parking function, dual power sliding doors, tri-zone climate control with third row floor vents, retractable sunshades for the second row, LED headlights with active cornering beams, front foglights, auto-dimming rear view mirror and proximity keys.
Helping justify the Odyssey's upscaled pricing is an all-new body design that's grown 30mm in length, with 70mm added to the wheelbase, and a significant 150mm in height. These figures make the 2014 Odyssey the most-van-like yet after the more wagon-profiled third and fourth-generation models.
The bigger body has helped Honda to package a three-position rear seat for the first time, with an extra 90mm of cabin width enabling the VTi's eight-seat count, while the seven-seat VTi-L drops the centre-bench for twin reclining captain's chairs with footrests.
The driving position has also been lifted 100mm for improved visibility, which is further aided by a taller glasshouse and thinner D- pillars. The new Odyssey is also the first Australian model to feature sliding rear doors, with the move from conventional hinged doors aiding access to the second and third rows. Power opening side windows are maintained despite the shift in door design.
Access to the third row is indeed better than ever - particularly with the remote-opening powered doors - but the bench width wil be a pinch for three adults. The VTi-L's second row captains chairs should win the Odyssey many friends in the executive transport market, with limo-like legroom available with the third row folded. When fully reclined with the foot and armrests deployed, it will have some passengers reconsidering Business Class air travel.
The interior's design is also more restrained than the past two generations, with simpler shapes and a greater emphasis on material variety replacing the spaceship styling of the recent past.
Under the floor, the new Odyssey also sees a shift from the previous model's independent double wishbone suspension front and rear, to cheaper and lighter MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear.
Both Odyssey models will once again be powered by a 2.4-litre petrol four-cylinder engine, but move to the redesigned Earth Dreams Technology unit already found in the non-Euro Accord. The 129kW/225Nm unit loses 3kW and gains 7Nm over the previous Odyssey, and a CVT auto replaces the previous five-speed torque converter unit.
The new transmission and the addition of a standard stop/start system has helped to shave fuel consumption from the previous models' 8.9L/100km combined figure to a new combined figure of 7.6L/100km for the VTi, and 7.8L/100km for the VTi-L - both using 91RON regular unleaded. A 1000kg unbraked tow rating is carried over from the previous Odyssey, and the spacesaver spare wheel is now located beneath the front seats.
Both models come with dual front and side airbags, full-length – including third row - curtain airbags, ABS, stability and traction control, and a tyre pressure monitoring system, while the VTi-L adds a blind-spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert.
The new Odyssey will be tested by ANCAP in the coming weeks, and Honda Australia Director Stephen Collins is “confident of a five-star rating” after the four star ranking attained by the third-generation model, and the fourth-generation that was never tested.
Around town, the new Odyssey is quiet and refined, and handles urban bumps with comfort. Once revs climb above about 4000rpm under acceleration, the new CVT auto does make its presence known with a typical buzz, but it's perfectly fine under relaxed driving conditions.
The new engine has plenty of pep under a light passenger load, but overtaking with a full load of passengers will likely take planning. There's no shortage of urge for trundling about town though. On the bumpy rural roads on test, you could feel some body shake over bigger bumps, despite Honda boasting improved torsional rigidity with the new body.
The 100mm higher driving position does result in a more SUV-like view of the road, but the taller body is still composed during rapid direction changes. The overall experience is more van-like than station wagon, but feels at least a generation ahead of its ageing rivals, and offers passenger-carrying capabilities no wagon could match.
The new Odyssey ticks all the important boxes for a modern people mover. It's bigger on the inside without significantly expanding its footprint, more efficient, better equipped, safer and it's a significant step ahead of its competition.
|(base)||2.4L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO||$12,200 – 17,710||2014 Honda Odyssey 2014 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|Luxury||2.4L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO||$14,500 – 20,460||2014 Honda Odyssey 2014 Luxury Pricing and Specs|
|VTi||2.4L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$15,990 – 25,896||2014 Honda Odyssey 2014 VTi Pricing and Specs|
|VTi-L||2.4L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$19,990 – 33,988||2014 Honda Odyssey 2014 VTi-L Pricing and Specs|