Joel Helmes road tests and reviews the 2014 Honda Odyssey VTi.
The Honda Odyssey has morphed from being quite an impressive and unique wagon/people mover hybrid into a fully-fledged people mover.
With a roofline 150mm higher than the previous generation Honda Odyssey, the new model also has a longer wheelbase (up 70mm) and is 30mm longer.
With a more upright seating position the Odyssey really has changed quite a bit.
Is it still as impressive as the previous generation models? The answer is - almost.
The old Odyssey really impressed because the cabin space and seating capacity far exceeded the driving feel and genuinely comfortable and luxurious nature of the model.
The new Odyssey though is now pretty much just a run-of-the-mill people mover. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it certainly is a change.
Available in two specification levels – VTi and VTi-L, the Odyssey is priced from $38,990.
Under the bonnet there is just the one engine/transmission combo on offer – a 2.4 litre petrol and CVT. The engine develops 129kW and 225Nm, combined fuel consumption is quoted at 7.6L/100kms.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get close to that. In a week of running around in the suburbs I averaged 11.4L/100kms, respectable yes, but significantly more than the claimed urban rate of 9.4L/100kms.
The engine provides more than respectable performance, though when asked to work does tend to become a little noisy.
The Odyssey handles remarkably well for a people mover and the ride is very good. The best element of the driving experience is the steering, which is excellent.
Visibility from the driver’s seat is as good as you would get in any vehicle and all the Honda Odyssey’s controls are well placed and quite easy to use. The speedometer is large and clear and the gauges area also easy to take in.
One disappointment though is the driver info screen, located in the centre of the speedometer, the display is large and clear, but to navigate through the info you need to push a stem type button that comes out of the instrument cluster, just like the old odometer reset button.
Some drivers might also be turned off by the foot operated parking brake and in the entry-level Odyssey you are stuck with an old fashioned key ignition (the key doesn’t fold either).
I was also not overly impressed by the climate controls in the centre of the dashboard. Featuring a smooth, button-free interface, the lack of tactile feel and dedicated buttons or knobs means you really have to take your eyes off the road if you want to make an adjustment.
The infotainment screen is similar, a touch complicated I felt. Though, steering wheel buttons do enable you to complete most functions without having to touch the centre screen on the go.
In the VTi grade you access sat-nav via Bluetooth and your smartphones data connection; I’m pleased to say a reversing camera is standard in both grades of the Odyssey.
Now, to the most important question – is it roomy? Well yes, the Odyssey may have lost a little of its individuality by growing into a more traditional people mover, but the plus side is that you can easily accommodate a full load.
Access to the third row of seats is reasonable, without being great though, thanks to the middle-row of seats not being able to fold forward, still for anyone reasonably sized getting into the third row is a relatively easy manoeuvre.
Once back there head and legroom is reasonably good.
The seats all-round in the Odyssey are a highlight, very comfortable and trimmed with a lovely fabric. I was also happy to see the Odyssey boasts plenty of rear air-vents and rear climate controls too.
One complaint however, the folding-out of the third row of seats is a bit awkward and poorly designed. Yes, the way the seat folds into the floor is clever, but the strap and clip system of holding the seat down seems cheap and is not particularly user-friendly.
Then, when the seat is folded up you need to individually unlock and pull all three seatback sections into place.
The power sliding door on the rear left is a highlight however and I particularly like that you can open the door at the push of a button from the driver’s seat (no need to get out when picking up the kids!).
Summing it up: The new Honda Odyssey is much more van-like than it used to be and hence it’s lost a little of its charm and individuality. In saying that, it is a well-designed and well-executed vehicle that is still quite easy and pleasant to drive.
The roomy cabin and comfortable seats are a highlight. Priced from $38,990, the VTi Odyssey provides reasonably good value for money, though before I signed up for one I would check out the Kia Rondo diesel, just for a comparison.
In saying that I was impressed - 8/10 from me.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 2.4 litre petrol producing 129kW and 225Nm
Transmission: Seven-speed CVT automatic
Safety: Not tested
Price: From $38,990