March 12, 2014 00:00 By Kingsley Wijayasinha
Honda's capacious 2014 MPV features eco-friendly "Earth Dreams" technology, has seats you can laze in and is easy to drive
Since its introduction in Thailand in the 1990s, the Honda Odyssey MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle) has zipped its way into Thais’ hearts, becoming a highly sought-after model.
Indeed, the Odyssey has built a strong reputation and this is a model that you don’t normally see on display at used-car dealers. That’s because Odyssey owners are so happy with their rides that they tend to hold on to the vehicle for a longer period of time.
The 2014 Odyssey was introduced during the Motor Expo late last year with retail prices ranging between Bt2.75 million for the 2.4 E and Bt2.95 million for the 2.4 EL, which comes with higher equipment level.
The Odyssey is powered by a 4-cylinder, 16-valve 2.4-litre i-VTEC engine that is capable of producing 175hp and 225Nm. The engine of the Odyssey, which is also shared by the Accord sedan, features Honda’s eco-friendly “Earth Dreams” technology and is now capable of running on E20 gasohol (80 per cent gasoline and 20 per cent ethanol).
Due to its large size – the Odyssey weighs roughly 1,860kg – there are many fuel-saving devices including the automatic engine start-stop function and the CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission).
The CVT is responsive and efficient. On the highway the Odyssey accelerates seamlessly thanks to the CVT, which also features steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles for sportier driving or for driving on mountain roads. There’s also the “Econ” mode. When engaged, it adjusts the engine, transmission and air-conditioning system to achieve the highest fuel efficiency as possible.
Meanwhile, the steering and suspension team up to give this MPV a ride that’s similar to a sedan rather than a van. The steering offers good precision and handling, while the front strut and rear torsion beam suspension provide occupants with a comfortable ride.
The Odyssey, which is 4,830mm long, has a turning circle of just 10.8 metres – about a metre narrower than the Accord.
There’s a lot of glass area, giving the driver and passengers a great deal of visibility, but as if this is not enough, there’s also a Blind Spot Information System that warns the driver when any vehicle travels in his/her blind spot, plus a Cross Traffic Monitor that helps drivers to reverse the vehicle safely.
On top of this, there are plenty of systems to help park the Odyssey, so soccer moms need not worry. A multi-view camera shows a bird’s eye view of the vehicle in comparison to surrounding objects, and graphics help guide the driver while reverse parking into a slot.
LED projector headlights with automatic levelling, LED daytime running lights and Active Cornering Lights that help illuminate corners at night are also offered.
From the outside, the first thing you’ll notice about the Odyssey is its size, which has been growing from generation to generation. The new model appears larger than ever and is capable of seating eight people. According to Honda, the Odyssey’s interior features a “Modern Suite” design concept that gives occupants a sense of being in a luxury hotel suite. What do I think? Well, for me it’s just a minivan. But it’s capacious inside, with plenty of headroom and legroom particularly for the 2.4 EL model that features two individual ottoman seats in the second row. The cheaper 2.4 E model, meanwhile, comes with a three-seat second-row layout, increasing the number of maximum occupants to eight. The third row with three seats can be split-folded (40-20-40) or made totally flat to create decent luggage space.
The ottoman seats are highly comfortable, and can be adjusted in a number of directions. You can lean the backrests, slide the chair fore and aft, or pull up the armrests. The adjustable legrests are the highlight here, offering considerable support for long trips.
Entry and exit is easy, with two powered sliding doors that can be operated via the remote unit. As for entertainment, there’s an audio system with a 7-inch “advanced” touch screen and Bluetooth connectivity. In addition, the SIRI Eye-Free Mode for voice commands is available for those in possession of an iPhone 4 or above. There are also two inputs for HDMI and USB interfaces, while the Honda Link system provides further support for some smartphone models.
All said and done, the Honda Odyssey is a not-so-small MPV that’s easy to drive and one that offers excellent comfort with its relaxing ottoman seats and spacious interior. The only problem is I drove it for almost a week and had no chance to enjoy those wonderful seats.