honda - honda odyssey front - Take the family business class

What is it?

Well, the sleek people mover had us foxed.

We collected a shiny black one, drove for an hour and parked while we had coffee. When we emerged, it had changed to purple.

What?

Back home, it became bright pink in the setting sun, but next morning it was dark blue.

Welcome to Honda’s Odyssey, available in two levels of spec and in five colours. We learnt our mobile chameleon was finished in ‘premium spice purple’ so it’s safe to say ‘more than five colours’ if you choose that hue.

honda - honda odyssey rear - Take the family business class

What’s it cost?

The fifth-generation Odyssey we had was the top-ranking $47,590 VTi-L, a handsome, refined vehicle with a big smiling dark chrome grille and swept-back headlights that looks like a million bucks and a glance inside confirms it sure is more than a cut above most other people movers.

There are captain’s seats in front and in the second row, a new dash with a classy woodgrain finish, a glass sunroof, power sliding doors and two-tone alloy wheels.

The middle row seats look to be straight from a Gulfstream executive jet; they have reclining feature and a pop-out footrest at one end and a big headrest at the other, and they’re shaped for great body support.

Passengers never had it so good.

Those centre-row seats are quite a story in themselves.

They’re designed to slide together for enhanced access to the third row, or apart if you want a centre aisle.

And with the rearmost seats folded down, the captain chairs can slide all the way back, so you can stop and have a have a quiet kip by a scenic spot in your utopia.

Come to think of it, two people could feasibly live in the Odyssey. Much cheaper than buying a house — and you can just take off if you don’t like the neighbours, or the neighbourhood.

honda - honda odyssey wheel - Take the family business class

What’s it go like?

Visibility is excellent, front, back, sides and top. There’s a 360 degree camera, so you get a magpie’s view when you’re reversing the 4.8m long vehicle which has a turning circle of only 10.8m.

There’s adaptive cruise control and three-zone climate-control with outlets to all three rows and even the rearmost, with 40/20/40 split-fold, has recline functionality.

When not in use, they fold away into underfloor recess, and make for more cargo space.

Boot space with the third-row seats up is 330 litres, which grows to 1332 litres with them folded away, and with both rows folded, the cargo space reaches a cavernous 1867 litres.

Up in the cockpit is a multi-function steering wheel with rake and reach adjustment, a touch-screen infotainment system with six-speaker audio, and a neat gear selector that juts out of the dash rather than being on the floor between the seats.

The handbrake isn’t. It’s a foot-operated parking brake that in our opinion detracts from the car’s class.

Power is from a smooth 129kW/225Nm 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine that does a good job in everyday conditions, but can do with more power for country cruising and for faster overtaking.

Transmission is by an equally smooth CVT.

The big, clear speedometer glows white if the Odyssey is driven with vigour, but switches to green if you drive it as any decent chauffeur should.

As with most modern vehicles, the Odyssey is loaded to the gills with safety gear and gets a five-star safety rating. We won’t bore you with all the acronyms, but be assured they are plentiful.

Fuel economy is pretty good too at a claimed 7.8L/100km.

We averaged 8.8L in normal driving mode, which can be improved upon by selecting Eco mode, but that takes the sparkle out of driving and S-mode adds more dash — but needs more fuel too.

The car has a five-year/unlimited distance warranty.

honda - honda odyssey seats - Take the family business class

What we like?

  • Looks
  • Versatility
  • Comfort
  • Standard features
  • Build quality
  • That purple paint

honda - honda odyssey thirdrow - Take the family business class

What we don’t like?

  • Parking brake
  • A turbo wouldn’t hurt

honda - honda odyssey luggagespace - Take the family business class

The bottom line?

The VTi-L would serve as a luxurious, easy to drive family transporter, executive airport shuttle or five-star Uber ride. It’s versatile and sophisticated.

There’s a lesser model available at $37,990.

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Honda Odyssey VTi-L, priced from $47,590
  • 8.5/10
    Looks - 8.5/10
  • 7.5/10
    Performance - 7.5/10
  • 9/10
    Safety - 9/10
  • 8/10
    Thirst - 8/10
  • 9/10
    Practicality - 9/10
  • 9/10
    Comfort - 9/10
  • 8.5/10
    Tech - 8.5/10
  • 8/10
    Value - 8/10
8.4/10

Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.