THIS can’t be a people mover - it handles more like a sports car.
Honda has produced a family truckster that dads just love to drive - with or without the kids on board.
The new and improved Odyssey sets a new benchmark for seven-seaters, which are not renowned for their handling.
Practicality is the usual catchcry in this class and although the Honda delivers this in spades, it also adds style, power and a sporty feel.
The key to this is the Odyssey’s design. It is longer but lower that the outgoing model.
This eliminates the body roll that most vehicles in this category wrestle with.
It also doesn’t feel bulky or heavy, despite its generous proportions.
The 2009 Odyssey features a more powerful 132kW engine, improved safety, visibility, and versatility.
The people mover is zippy around town and cruises quietly and comfortably on the open road.
There’s also impressive fuel economy, with the 2.4-litre i-VTEC engine returning average figures of 8.9 litres for every 100km travelled.
The engine is coupled to a smooth 5-speed automatic transmission with Grade Logic Control and Shift Hold.
The fourth-generation Odyssey is even better than the third-generation, which was a four-time winner of Best People Mover in Australia’s Best Car Awards.
Safety is a high priority and the latest release also features six airbags and for the first time, Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA).
Featuring slim-line ‘A’ pillars, the Honda provides the driver with a panoramic front view and improved overall visibility.
Inside, the Odyssey sets a new standard in styling and comfort with the unique ‘V’ shape seating layout providing all passengers with a clear view forward.
Comfort in the second row has been improved with the belt anchor built into the pillar, 20mm greater head clearance and a 25mm increase in the width of the centre armrest. The centre seat now gains a three-point seatbelt.
The enhancements continue in the third row with more foot and leg room.
Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloys, cruise control, trip computer, climate control air conditioning, and quality sound system.
The Luxury version adds heated front seats, electric driver’s seat, automatic tri-zone air conditioning, fog lights, sunroof, leather seats, 17-inch alloys, leather-wrap steering wheel, 6-stack CD player, plus power retractable third-row seats. This is very nifty and operates in a flash to create extra room if you have more luggage than people.
With superb driving enjoyment, advanced styling, comfort and comprehensive safety features, the 2009 Honda Odyssey is the ultimate family car.
The only grumble is that it costs more than before. The base model, from $43,990, comes with a price increase of $4700, and the Luxury variant ($49,990 is $4200 more.
There is no doubting the new Odyssey’s quality, however, and there will be plenty of buyers lining up for a slice of the action. Honda plans to sell about 1300 a year in Australia.