Honda Odyssey 2014 review
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.
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If money talks, the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is an eloquent orator against the Proton Exora’s terse chat.
The premise of the two vehicles is the same: to transport a family of five and still have the flexibility to occasionally include a couple of friends. The occasional bit bears some attention — load up either vehicle with a full complement and the default storage space won’t take a pram.
If the function’s the same, the form is poles apart. The Citroen is a tech-laden transporter with a price tag to match; the Proton appeals to the bottom line of the household budget.
There’s a gulf of nearly $20,000 separating the Exora from the Picasso. Proton’s people-mover is $25,990 drive- away for the base GX model, making it the cheapest compact people-mover on the market. The value is reinforced by free servicing for the five-year warranty term.
Standard gear includes parking sensors, roof-mounted DVD player and aircon with vents for all three rows.
The top-spec GXR costs $27,990 all-up and adds leather trim, reversing camera, cruise control and daytime running lights Citroen’s $43,990 price before on-roads also is the highest in this class by a fair margin.
That reflects the more luxurious materials throughout the cabin — and such top- end touches as a bird’s-eye view reversing camera, dual displays to handle infotainment and driver information and self-parking.
The Grand C4 Picasso has a six-year warranty — the best in the country — but does without a capped price servicing schedule.
Rivals to this pair include the Fiat Freemont at $27,490 and the Kia Rondo from $29,990. Step up to the eight seaters and the Kia Grand Carnival and Honda Odyssey start at $38,990. Haggle on the Kia — a new and vastly improved version is due next year.
It is Futurama v Flintstones. The Exora’s biggest claim to fame is the DVD player normally reserved for more expensive vehicles. The 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo shared with the Preve GXR small sedan isn’t an excitement machine but is more than adequate in this application, even with five adults aboard.
Motive power for the Citroen comes from a 2.0-litre turbo diesel with no shortage of torque once under way and an auto stop-start function. It uses a conventional six-speed auto with paddle-shifters.
The Picasso has a seven-inch touchscreen to operate the infotainment and aircon. The 12-inch top screen displays the speedo and satnav and can be configured in a variety of ways.
The massive glasshouse is the Citroen’s biggest point of difference in a field where many vehicles share the same basic profile. It is also its biggest point of contention given the scorching Aussie sun — those in our northern latitudes tend not to appreciate panoramic sunroofs.
The windscreen is also huge and rakes up over the roof. The windscreen pillars accommodate front quarter windows so outward vision is ample.
The front seats are great; the second and third rows are flat but reasonably well cushioned. It loses points for not having cupholders in any of the rear seats (no parent will trust the indentations in the second-row pop-down trays and similar depression by the right side third row seat) and for not having air vents for the back seats.
The Exora is downright conservative by comparison in terms of exterior looks, though the five-year-old design isn’t dating too badly.The interior is a mixed bag: basic, scratch-prone plastics but decent stowage bins and cupholders for second and third- row occupants (centre seat excepted).
The Citroen is a clear winner here without giving total security. Curtain airbags extend to the second row of seats but don’t cover the back pews.
Along with a solid body, that’s enough to earn it a five-star ANCAP rating and a score of 34.53/37 that isn’t far behind the class-leading Peugeot 5008 and Kia Rondo.
The Exora doesn’t have airbags for the second row (or headrests in the third) and didn’t fare as well in the crash-testing.Its score of 26.37 earns it a four-star rating.
It’s worth noting it is the oldest car in the Proton line-up and newer models have all earned five stars. Proton has also promised second-row bags when a new Exora launches in 2015.
Ignore the body roll around corners and both cars fulfil their brief as stress-free mass transportation. The Citroen does it with more style, as befits the price difference, and again applies a different philosophy to the driving experience with lightweight steering and soft suspension that soaks up most hits but can nudge the bump stops if tackling speed humps at pace.
The Proton is tied down tighter, which helps over the bigger bumps at some expense to rear seat comfort on corrugations. At lower speeds and/or over smaller obstacles the big sidewalls on the 16-inch tyres and decent damping absorb a lot of the impact.
The extra torque from the turbo diesel puts the Grand C4 Picasso clearly ahead in the performance stakes without too much noise intrusion, as the auto shifts up early whenever possible.
The same can’t be said for the Exora, with plenty of mechanical noise heard upfront, especially when the CVT is tasked with brisk acceleration.
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