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Honda Odyssey VTi 2014 review: first drive

EXPERT RATING
7
Who kidnapped the Odyssey? For a long time Honda's 7-seat people mover was the refuge of those who needed a "mum bus" but really didn't want one, at least one that looked like a bus.

Who kidnapped the Odyssey? For a long time Honda's 7-seat people mover was the refuge of those who needed a "mum bus" but really didn't want one, at least one that looked like a bus.

Sitting long and low, with doors that opened outwards like a car and the driving dynamics to match, the Odyssey was the perfect solution. What then are these people going to make of the new Odyssey that has suddenly morphed into a fully blown people mover is anyone's guess?

Value

It's not all bad news because the new fifth generation Odyssey is still excellent value for money. It's more expensive but standard equipment includes an auto, auto stop-start, daytime LEDs, auto lights and cruise control, plus front and rear climate air with rear controls.

There are two models the eight-seat VTi and the more expensive seven-seat VTi-L, priced from $38,990 and $47,620. The VTi has a power operated passenger side sliding rear door, that can be operated from the key fob. The VTi-L adds leather, heated front seats, multi-view camera with Smart Park Assist, Blind Spot Information System and Cross-Traffic Monitor. 

Technology

The 2.4-litre four cylinder engine produces 129kW and 225Nm of torque at 4000 revs, about the same as the old one that was good for 132/218 but peak torque arrives 500 revs earlier. It is however Euro 5 compliant which means that it produces less harmful exhaust emissions, especially as it is fitted with auto stop-start.

The previous five speed auto has been replaced by a 7-step CVT style continuously variable unit with paddle shifters. Underneath the double wishbone setup has been replaced by cheaper, lighter Mac struts and a torsion beam suspension at the rear. Fuel consumption has been reduced from 8.9 to 7.6 litres/100km using standard unleaded.

Design

Think big. It's 3cm longer and a whacking 15cm taller than before, with a slightly longer wheelbase. That translates to more space inside which is needed for the extra seat. A large flat tablet system touch screen dominates the dash. But as is becoming the norm you need a mobile phone with a reasonable data plan to make full use of its capabilities. Not just any phone either only an iPhone 5 will do.

Satnav we discovered requires a downloaded app. Normally $50 it is being offered free to buyers until the end of June. But don't get excited because we found it cumbersome in practice and it does not offer warnings for speed cameras or school zones.

Safety

It hasn't been tested yet, but comes with a full suite of safety systems including a reverse camera and is designed to get five stars.

Driving

Our test VTi model had a quality feel and we liked the velour trim. In terms of driving we were prepared for the worst but frankly surprised at how well it performed. The dynamics are still quite car-like and it is still pretty quick out of the blocks, but the ride is not as refined and it lacks torque down low.

Most of the time this is not an issue, but it becomes apparent when you need some get up and go in hurry such as merging into the traffic flow. We hate to think what it would be like with a full load on board.
Fuel economy on test was not far above the claimed figure, and were getting 9.6 litres/100km after about 400km.

Verdict

We like it. It's strange to hear those words but the new Odyssey is still a force to be reckoned with. It might not appeal to those who were drawn to it before but it might win many more friends at the same time.

Pricing guides

$24,500
Based on 46 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$15,990
Highest Price
$33,988

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(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
EXPERT RATING
7
Pricing Guide

$15,990

Lowest price, based on 48 car listings in the last 6 months

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