Business Class Practicality
Numerous generations of the Honda Odyssey have made it through the Philippine market, including a version from the U.S. market, which apparently were too big and too thirsty for most Filipino’s needs, so the arrival of this Japanese-market Odyssey proved to be a success for Honda, due to its adequate size that’s a perfect fit for Filipino roads. Now, Manila’s traffic is terrible to say the least. Granted, if you do have the money, as well as the driver, this 2018 Honda Odyssey 2.4 EX-V Navi would be one of my constant recommendations. Here’s why.
Designing an MPV to look good is a difficult task, but Honda’s designers have nailed it with this car. For the 2018 model year, Honda has given the Odyssey a refreshed front bumper, now with a dark chrome grille, slim LED foglights, a revised rear fascia with the Odyssey logo moved to the lower left of the trunk, as well as a new set of multi-spoke 17-inch two-tone alloy wheels, which when all taken into consideration, gives the Odyssey a modern and contemporary look without looking too busy. It has just the right amount of bling to give the Odyssey an elegant look without being too audaciously designed. The proportions are also just right for an MPV, without looking awkward in any angle, and its low stance do wonders to make the wheels look proportional to the vehicle’s design. Consequently, that low stance also must be considered when going over tall humps, because at 150 mm, it’s no higher than what you would usually find in a sedan.
Like the exterior, the interior is very elegantly designed, with a zen-like atmosphere provided by the relaxing hues of the black and dark brown (faux) wood accents, as well as the large glass area and airy open space. The dashboard is mainly built with soft touch materials, while the rest of the interior feels reasonably plush. Most manufacturers would cheap out in the materials as they extend into the rear, but in the Odyssey’s case, the leather padded surfaces reach all the way to the third row occupants. There’s subtle LED ambient lighting provided by the rear entertainment system when it’s closed, which is a nice touch. Just like in an airplane, each passenger receives LED reading lights, but the best part about the Odyssey’s interior are its second row captain’s chairs, which we’ll dive into in a while.
Space and Practicality
That low stance pays dividends to the Odyssey’s best asset: it’s interior space. The low ground clearance gives it the best ingress and egress in any vehicle, thanks to the low floor and high roofline. If there was anyone who enjoyed the most in this vehicle, it would be my parents, because the Odyssey was the easiest car ever for them to enter or exit. More than the easy entry and exit provided by the low floor and high roofline, the Odyssey was chock full of space especially considering its footprint. For perspective, the Honda Accord executive sedan is a little wider compared to the Odyssey, and yet, it’s amazing how much space Honda was able to eke out in such a small footprint for it to accommodate three passengers seated side by side in the third rows.
But as I’ve said a while ago, the best part about the Odyssey’s interior are its second row captain’s chairs. The cushions and support that the seats provide are excellent, which makes it easy for anyone to be able to sleep on long journeys. The foot rests seal the deal on just how comfortable these seats are. The outer cushions of the headrests can be folded inward, just like on an airplane seat, letting you rest your neck to provide support when you want to doze off. More than being able to provide couch-like comfort for long distances, the captain’s chairs can be moved in multiple ways, and this is where Honda’s ingenuity lies. There are a set of levers, which can adjust the recline, the angle of the upper cushion, the foot rest, and its fore and aft position. But that’s not all. At its default position, the seats are placed nearer to the doors with space a center aisle. There’s another lever that lets you move the seat side-to-side, and both seats can be moved closer to the center, effectively closing the aisle in the middle of the interior. Once in this position, you can adjust the second rows as far back as the third rows for infinite legroom, and when you do fold the third rows under the floor, there’s really no other vehicle that fits the bill for providing occupants the luxury of space.
Speaking of the third rows, these “Magic Seats” can be magically stowed under the floor, effectively creating space that is equal to a utility van. The solution is so ingenious, one wouldn’t know that the entire third row seats have been stowed underneath the floor. And yet, the practicality voodoo doesn’t stop there.
Being an MPV, there’s plenty of storage cubbies dotted around the cabin, especially at the front. There’s a conspicuous looking center storage bin that initially doesn’t seem to have any cupholders, but just below the climate controls is another storage area that can be pulled out like a drawer, providing a large surface area for placing your phone, wallet, as well as being the location for the cupholders. It’s really clever on Honda’s part to be able to engineer the interior for maximum storage flexibility whilst providing the luxury expected from such a posh MPV.
Features, Safety, and Infotainment
As expected, being one of Honda Cars Philippines’ flagship products, the Odyssey is fully kitted out with everything but the kitchen sink. There’s a lot to talk about, so I’ll just dwell with the stand out features, which include power sliding doors, a rear entertainment system, as well as a plethora of passive and active safety features, including blind spot warning with rear cross traffic alert, 360-degree cameras, all-around parking sensors, as well as an automated parking assist feature, which is finicky at best. The way to operate the system is that, rather than relying on the sensors to look for a parking spot, you have to place a market on the screen as to where the Odyssey should park, which is often a hit-or-miss affair.
Front and center in the Odyssey’s dashboard is Honda’s Display Audio infotainment system. It’s still the first generation system that made its debut in the 2014 Honda City and Jazz, and as a result, the interface feels quite dated when compared to the Civic’s, let alone the CR-V’s with the volume knob. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto isn’t available as a result. The interface looks nice enough, but the response is now behind compared to the competition.
Under the hood of the Odyssey is a 2.4-liter K24 i-VTEC petrol engine with direct injection, producing 175 hp @ 6,200 rpm and 226 Nm of torque @ 4,000 rpm. Power is sent through an Earth Dreams CVT, driving the front wheels.
How It Drives
Pressing the engine start button barely gives a ruckus inside the Odyssey. The iconic K24 motor is known for its VTEC kick, but in the Odyssey’s application, it’s a smooth and refined motor that adequately provides the grunt that the Odyssey needs. The keyword here is adequate, because as the Odyssey weighs a little less than 1.8 tonnes, there’s just enough pull with four of us inside. Load it up fully with seven people though, and the Odyssey needs some prodding of the throttle to get it going. While the Odyssey’s engine and CVT do a good job of providing power and torque in a linear manner, show it a hill with seven people on board and the engine needs a lot of revving just to maintain the pace. Overtaking is also not its strong point. While the CVT responds quickly enough to your throttle inputs when you want to overtake a smaller vehicle, it never feels urgent. Instead, power is delivered smoothly and in a relaxed manner, just enough for the executive not to wake up from his slumber.
While the Odyssey isn’t stellar in terms of straight line pace, it scores well everywhere else. The manageable dimensions when compared to the Alphard or the U.S. market Odyssey it replaced means that you really have to be a total idiot to do any damage to its sheetmetal. Intimidating to drive it isn’t, thanks to the extremely generous glass area, as well as the active safety and sensors that keep the vehicle in check. It corners quite well, too. Its suspension does a good job of keeping body roll in check, and while the steering isn’t full on feedback, it still provides enough response and dynamism that the Odyssey has a reasonable amount of fun dialled in to the vehicle. It’s no Civic Type R, let alone a Honda NSX, but it has got the goods for the type of car it is intended to be.
The independent MacPherson Strut suspension up front and semi-independent torsion beam rear suspension may seem crude on paper, especially considering a Civic uses fully-independent suspension all-around. The main reason is for space and packaging. Since its footprint is smaller than an Accord’s, Honda’s engineers did everything to extract every inch it can to provide occupants unparalleled levels of space. How does it deal with bumps on the road? Quite good actually. Without anyone on board, the rear can be a tiny bit stiff for the MPV’s intended purpose. It does have some delicacy to it, but it can get unsettled through bumps since whatever happens to one rear wheel, the other one also gets affected. It never has the suppleness of the Toyota Alphard, but then, the Alphard is a bigger vehicle and costs about a million more. For its intended purpose, the suspension deals quite alright with bumps.
On The Downside
The Honda Odyssey is also fitted with an engine start/stop system to save fuel while at a stoplight, and quite surprisingly, fuel economy still isn’t its strong suit. Under my hands, the Odyssey was able to do 7.5 km/l, which is so-so especially considering all the “Earth Dreams” stuff Honda has going for with the Odyssey. Oddly enough, and this is already towards me just nitpicking only, I wish that Honda would’ve added a power liftgate, considering that the sliding doors are already automated.
The Honda Odyssey is a strong contender for the luxury MPV segment. Priced at P2,498,000, the Odyssey is excellently priced, being only a little more expensive than the outgoing Honda Accord 3.5 V6, whilst offering a much better luxury experience for seven people. Not only that. While it may serve for the most part as a shuttle of executives, families can also thoroughly enjoy the Honda Odyssey, thanks to loads of ingenious practicality solutions that Honda’s engineers were able to inject into the Odyssey. It is business class comfort and practicality rolled into one vehicle that can serve more than one job for the lucky owner privileged enough to be able to buy such a finely engineered MPV.
Price and Rating
Exterior Design: ★★★★★
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Space and Practicality: ★★★★★
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★☆☆
Value For Money: ★★★★☆
Overall: 4.2 out of 5