18 May 2018

Honda Odyssey 2018 Car Review

MPVs have long been a niche new-car segment, at best. Just look at the figures: 1256 large cars were bought and 5664 large SUVs to the end of April 2018, yet only 175 MPVs.Five brands all but carve up the market between them. Kia Carnival and Hyundai iMax sold 54 and 52 respectively, with Honda’s Odyssey third, at 43. The Japanese brand clearly hopes the new model will top that.

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Honda Odyssey
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Honda Odyssey
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Honda Odyssey
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Honda Odyssey
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Honda Odyssey
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Honda Odyssey

If large families with the cash for a new car buy via common sense, they should sell well. That they don’t is usually blamed on the fact SUVs look cooler, even though their ride and load height isn’t always convenient when loading kids into car seats, quite apart from handling compromises like extra body roll round bends – never good with kids aboard.

So why look at this new Odyssey? That van-like styling won’t make many friends, despite smart bits of body kit and 17-inch alloy wheels. The previous Odyssey was lower and sleeker, but if you’re buying an MPV for the extra space, you want that space, and this generation has it in spades. The LS (or L Sensing) we sampled is the top-spec car, and it gets seven exceptionally comfy leather-clad seats. Even the third row boasts a decent attempt at a footwell, row two passengers get reclining backs, leg rests (albeit too short to do much for kids big enough to leave their booster seat), their own little storage spaces and height-adjust armrests, while the front two occupants are equally well looked after. There’s just enough space between the left and right pews to squeeze through to the back to adjust a child’s position, or hand out snacks and drinks, and there are air vents and controls for all three rows and even pull-up sunshades for some, though side airbags are only fitted for the driver and first set of passengers, it’s the curtain airbags that are full length.

And the clincher for that harassed parent? A ‘conversation’ mirror, aka eyes in the back of your head, so you can nip any quarrel in the bud by targeting the right culprit.

With all seats in use you can fit 330 litres of luggage out back, the third row does a tumble fold and tucks under the boot floor to impart 1332 litres, and row two will push quite a way forward: we’re told you can then wheel an upright bicycle aboard.

Need to get everyone out in a tight parking space? The side doors open at the touch of a button – and close that way too, fabulous if you want a small child to shut them on a hill.

So far the kids are happy, while up front the seven-inch touch screen helps access a range of functions – including satnav in this LS, and Bluetooth music streaming with speed sensitive volume control.

The main reason to purchase the LS over the cheaper, eight-seat L is for all the tech stuff. So there’s adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning, emergency braking and lane departure warning, road departure warning and lane-keep assist, and a suite of parking aids that any parent will love come the school run, or busy supermarket car park – especially if your passengers are playing up.

Smart Parking Assist with 360 degrees of cameras should make parking this thing idiot proof, and even backing out less stressful, given a cross traffic warning.

As for driving it, Honda engineered a low centre of gravity for Odyssey, so there’s very little body roll and it handles far more nimbly than you’d expect. Its ability to isolate lumps and bumps from the cabin was good too, both factors great news if any of your brood gets car sick.

However, the 2.4-litre engine did at times feel as if it was working a bit too hard, not assisted by the way CVT transmissions operate, and our very hilly test route. You can change through seven gear steps via steering wheel paddles, and that certainly helped make the most of the urge on offer uphill, but it didn’t do much for fuel economy. That said, our average dropped fast come the highway, when Odyssey made an accomplished, and very comfortable cruiser.

List the advantages, and any parent who spends their lives rushing kids around will be impressed, and so will those kids. Trouble is the littlies don’t pay the bills, and an MPV still tends to scream ‘sensible’ to parents who do sometimes like to look as if they have a life beyond their children.

And that’s why the bill payer may still buy an SUV, and sell it to the kids as ‘cool’, when most days and on most drives, the Odyssey will do a better job as a practical family runabout.

At a glance


Honda Odyssey LS


2.4-litre, four-cylinder i-VTEC petrol


 $53,900 (8-seat S, $45,900)

ANCAP safety rating


Power and Torque

129kW at 6200rpm, 225Nm at 4000rpm


Auto CVT with idle stop start

Fuel economy


Towing capacity

1000kg brakesd



Seating capacity

7 (entry-level S seats 8)

Luggage capacity/payload

1332 litres with third row folded

Safety systems

Six airbags inc full-length curtain

2nd row ISOFIX, four child seat anchors

Smart park assist with 360-degree camera

Blind spot monitor

Cross traffic warning

Lane keep Assist

Collision mitigation braking

Road departure warning

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