|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
The arriving Premium Twinkle Black Pearl (this is the actual color name) unit looks pretty much like any Honda of late. Some have criticized it for looking like a blown-up City, but that’s not a bad thing. At least Honda’s gotten their designers all on the same page, working on a family look. It’s all angular with lines that don’t look out of place in cubic art. The turbine-style alloy wheels look small, but are actually 17-inch rollers. Admittedly, the front end is over styled with way too much chrome. But hey, at least you won’t mistake it for a City, right?
The reduced overall height causes you to think that there’s not much headroom in the Odyssey, but that’s where Honda’s design know-how comes to play. The 150-millimeter ground clearance is no different from a typical sedan, but opening the door reveals the obvious: the low floor. Plus, the door actually opens low; it’s no more than ankle height because of a cleverly-designed hidden rocker panel. It makes for easy ingress/egress for children and the elderly and prevents the wanted soiling of pants. The side doors are power actuated, although the rear hatch is oddly enough, manual opening.
Aboard the Odyssey, it takes a very serious tone. Normally, this is where other carmakers would slather all the beige upholstery and fake wood they could find. Not in the Odyssey. It goes the all-black route giving it an executive car vibe. One can also say it looks very Teutonic. In either case, there’s nothing to fault in the cabin. The craftsmanship is top-notch with soft-touch plastics and supple leather seats. There’s a bit of wood going around, but it’s not distracting at all. Like other family-oriented Hondas like the CR-V, the most comfortable position is a tad high. That may necessitate adjustment to the driver, but that takes only a day. The gauges do look plain, but the information presented is easily digestible.
Despite the smaller proportions, there’s ample space in any of the three rows of seats. Granted it can’t seat eight anymore, this new one does offer improved flexibility. For instance, the floor’s flat throughout the cabin, front to back. The driver’s seat benefits from power adjustment though oddly enough, there’s no adjustable lumbar. It’s the second row that’s the talk of the town. The long seat rails, though unsightly, offer a clue to the tremendous range of adjustment available. The Captain’s Seats slide fore or aft and even side to side. There’s a built-in footrest as well and the seat rake adjusts in two locations. As much as the second row seats feel like a Business Class affair, the third row is more Economy in its execution. Knee room is dictated by how generous the second row occupants are, but at least, it’s knees down for everyone. And there are adjustable headrests too. Behind the third row, there’s usable cargo space thanks to a carved out space. In case you need more, the last row of seats actually flip flat into the floor.
This puts to rest one concern about the Odyssey; now, moving on to the other big concern: the way it drives. Understandably, there are skeptics given how the previous Odyssey had a ginormous 3.5-liter V6. This one swaps that out for a 2.4-liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder with Earth Dreams. Despite the terminology, there’s no direct injection tech yet. With the same K24 stamped on the block, Earth Dreams just means optimized running gear and reduced friction. It packs 175 horsepower and 225 Nm of torque, which are alright for an executive sedan, but how does it handle a fully-loaded people carrier?
It won’t light the drag strip on fire, if that’s your thing. After all, why would you consider a family hauler to be blistering quick. It’s best suited for smooth cruising—because, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do with an MPV? It’s only in the final 10 percent of pedal travel where the Odyssey comes alive and the entire Earth Dreams package kicks things up a notch. It obliges but only if you intentionally want it to. Other than that, it defaults to its tree-hugging, fuel-sipping mode. And on the subject of fuel-sipping, the Odyssey is the first Honda to offer the full suite of Earth Dreams stuff including an idle start/stop system. The resulting economy is good, but not dreamy: 7.7km/L in the city, 14.7 km/L on the highway. And that’s with the ECON mode on the entire time. In comparison, the Toyota Previa does 6.26 km/L in the city while the Mitsubishi Grandis does 5.99 km/L.
It may not score high in straight line performance, but it does fair excellently in terms of drivability. With its manageable proportions and excellent visibility, it’s easy to maneuver it around in traffic. For the most part, it behaves almost like an Accord wagon because it’s easy to dart it in and out. The ride is subjectively firm, but that’s a given because it needs to carry 7 adults with no compromise. It absorbs a lot of the crashiness before making its way to the cabin save for sharp ruts and narrow undulations—those make their way up almost unfiltered. Making it even more maneuverable in urban conditions is a set of cameras that project a 360-degree view around the car. It makes slotting into tight spaces easy. And it operates continuously at speeds below 40 km/h. And if you still can’t park it properly, it can park itself both in perpendicular and parallel spaces. This is also the best application of blind spot indicators. There’s no need to be overly reliant on the system because of the wide mirrors.
At higher speeds, NVH remains top notch, although a bit of road noise does permeate the cabin on the highway. The steering tightens up nicely, but there’s no denying the Odyssey being a top-heavy car. Though it remains stable and secure, it does understeer a lot in tighter corners because of the limitation of its non-independent rear suspension. In addition, there seems to be a lot of flex in the body when being pushed.
An executive or luxury MPV isn’t the first thing you’ll think of when it comes to a great driving machine, but Honda does manage to achieve the impossible with the all-new Odyssey. It certainly won’t replace an Accord in terms of driving goods, but it does manage to offer a very different choice for the would-be executive, especially if he or she’s got a family. Not only does it offer tons of space and a trick second row in a well-proportioned body, but it’s also well-designed, well-kitted, and lovely to drive. This is one MPV that will change your preconceptions.
2015 Honda Odyssey 2.4 EX-V Navi
|Ownership||2015 Honda Odyssey 2.5 EX-V Navi CVT|
|Vehicle Classification||Luxury MPV|
|Body Type||3-door+2 sliding (powered) MPV|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||Inline-4|
|BHP @ rpm||175 @ 6,200|
|Nm @ rpm||225 @ 4,000|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 91~|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,851|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Torsion Beam Axle|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Tires||Yokohama Blue Earth A34 215/55 R 17 V (f & r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Parking Sensors||No, 360-degree Camera with Cross Traffic Alert|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt/Telescopic|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Seating Adjustment||Electronic (driver)|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 50/50|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Power Mirrors||Yes, with Fold|
|Climate Control||Yes, Dual (front), Rear|
|No. of Speakers||6|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|