Volkswagen Multivan Generation Six 2017 review
Richard Berry road tests and reviews the new Volkswagen Multivan Generation Six with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
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Honda's sleek Odyssey has long been a popular choice for Australians in need of more seats/better contraception. As the years have gone by, however, the people-mover market hasn't so much shrunk, it has collapsed into a black hole, taking a bunch of competitors out of space and time.
The Odyssey stands with the ancient Tarago and gigantic Kia Carnival as the only real options if you don't want an SUV to shift lots of people and gear. And to not have to put up with people telling you you're driving a commercial van in drag.
|Honda Odyssey 2018: VTi|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
When Toyota's Tarago went all cool and spaceship in the middle of the 1990s, the segment became instantly cool... well, cooler. The first and second generations were solid if unspectacular efforts, distinguished by 'normal' car doors for the rear rather than the psychologically van-like sliding doors. The third and fourth generations are the versions everyone remembers - sleek and stylish, it really looked pretty good for an MPV.
This fifth generation isn't quite so successful and is probably the most delivery-van like. The higher bonnet and boxier profile are further complicated by an extraordinarily busy grille and light arrangement, with more chrome than is probably necessary. It makes the Odyssey look a bit bluff and the sliding doors are a bit van-ish if not more useful, especially in tight spaces.
The spacious interior is filled with light from huge expansess of glass all the way down the car. There are a few clever features, like the front quarter window to help place the car while parking. It's a gracefully ageing space but with some nice touches like the touchpads for the HVAC (heating, ventilation, air-conditioning) controls. The dodgy wood is less welcome and should be dispatched post-haste - it looks aftermarket and is obviously plastic.
The big reason the VTi is more practical than the more expensive S is that the lower-priced car has one extra seat. The middle row of the VTi-S is made up of two swivelling-sliding captain's chairs with old-school business class style leg rests. The VTi's middle row is far more conventional with that extra seat, meaning a total of eight.
The middle row can slide fore and aft and the seatback reclines. Life is a little desolate in the back row, with few convenience features apart from a fixed glass window so they can watch more fortunate people. To be fair, the seats back there are comfortable and offer better-than-expected legroom, and there are even ceiling-mounted air vents.
Despite having eight seats, there are "only" six cupholders on board and you can only get to two if the middle row is fully occupied. The third row has them built into the mouldings either side of the seats. Front-seat passengers also score a handy, pop-out-and-up tray that will fit two big phones right next to the two USB ports.
Boot space is, as you would expect, variable. It starts at 330 litres with all seats in place, which is smaller than an HR-V's boot. A very neat trick is the way the back row folds right into the floor. If you weren't paying attention, you'd think Honda short-changed you and sold you an absurdly tall wagon.
Drop those rear seats and let the middle row-dwellers have all the available space and the boot expands to 1332 litres. Push the middle row forward and you gain another 340 litres to 1672, although you won't have much legroom. Fold all of the rear seats and you have 1867 litres. The second row doesn't come out and it is rather in the way, but it's handy if you've got a long flat pack or modest shelves or cupboards to shift. Great for a bunch of balloons, though. With room left for a clown or two.
Honda offers two specifications in Australia; the VTi and VTi-S. This week we spent time with the more practical, eight-seater VTi, the version that does without the famous captain's chairs.
The $37,990 VTi undercuts the S by nearly 10 grand, which is quite a difference. The VTi leaves Japan with 17-inch alloys, a six-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, remote central locking, reversing camera, cruise control, auto headlights, leather steering wheel, power windows, folding heated mirrors and a space-saver spare.
The passenger-side rear door also has an electric slide, with a button on the dash and the key fob for remote activation. It's a neat party trick.
Honda's ageing multimedia software fills a 7.0-inch touchscreen with jagged old graphics and fails to fill it with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, like in the Civic and CR-V. The sound is fine, but it's not a great system to navigate or use.
Hey remember the Odyssey V6? Yeah, me too. It was great. Almost nobody buys people movers anymore and even fewer people buy big-engined ones, so the V6 disappeared into the black hole.
Honda says the 2.4-litre swallows standard unleaded at the rate of 7.6L/100km on the combined cycle. I've tested three Odysseys over the last three years and each time the fuel figure is almost bang-on 10L/100km, and this time was no different.
With modest power and torque outputs and a fairly lazy CVT auto, the Odyssey is a very relaxed car. It almost encourages you to sit back and cruise. Actually, you're forced to, because it's not very quick. You can hustle if you're in a hurry, but only when it's just you on board. The 2.4-litre is readily overwhelmed when loaded up to the gills. Which, in the end, doesn't matter, because seven passengers aren't looking for the Craig Lowndes Experience in an Odyssey.
It has car-like manners and you really only feel you're in a long box when you come to park. The reversing camera is certainly helpful but the strange habit of leaving out parking sensors from the spec list (Subaru does it too) is baffling.
It corners securely and the body is kept well under control by a reasonably supple suspension set-up. It certainly rides better than the Carnival and is streets ahead of the Tarago, which is a roly-poly mess with little in the way of feedback for the driver.
The Odyssey actually puts me in mind of the smaller HR-V - competent and composed, if nothing outstanding for the driver.
The transmission also has an annoying quirk - every time you lift off, you can hear Maria Sharapova moan, or the sound of a jet engine winding down. You really only hear it when the radio is off, but it's slightly unnerving.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The Odyssey has six airbags and, crucially, the curtain airbags stretch the entire length of the car. You can add to the list ABS, stability and traction controls, two ISOFIX points in the middle row and three top-tether anchorages.
Irritatingly, none of the advanced safety features you might want on a car carrying so many people are available, such as AEB or lane-departure warning. Reverse cross traffic alert is only available on the VTi-S.
The Odyssey scored five ANCAP stars in May 2014.
Honda offers a five year/unlimited kilometre warranty, which goes some way to covering the deficit to the Kia Carnival's seven-year coverage.
Service intervals are every six months or 10,000km and the first 10 are covered under Honda's Tailored Servicing arrangement. This means capped pricing for up to five years or 100,000km, with costs bouncing between $267 and around $300, give or take a few bucks. Also in the schedule are a range of adaptive items. These seem reasonably -priced and include things like air filters, brake and transmission fluid.
Roadside assist is available at extra cost.
The Odyssey is dependable for a number of reasons - it seems built to last, is good to drive rather than good enough and the interior space is crammed into a fairly small outer body, aiding its likely cause as a city-dwelling family wagon or uber Uber.
Seven-seat SUVs have certainly taken over this space. None have managed eight seats, though, which the Odyssey does, and none can pull off a flat, walkthrough interior, the gigantically expensive Tesla Model X excepted.
And like all good cars, the Odyssey does exactly what it says on the box.
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||7|