The extra luggage room, seating and space of people movers can make life a lot simpler for a large family. We tested the seven-seater Honda Odyssey, one of the more popular people movers in the Australian market. We also sent it on a weekend test run with the Websters, a CHOICE voting member family with three kids aged eight, five and two.
The Webster family says:
With three child seats installed in the middle row, we didn't struggle to get the kids in and out. Also, there was no hump in the floor between the passenger seats which made it a lot easier to make adjustments and move the kids around.
The kids weren't able to tamper with any of the controls, including the rear air-conditioning controls on the ceiling, which we could adjust from the front seats. The kids still had plenty of room to move even when we had our seats as far back as possible.
Although the child seat anchors were easy to find, they're at the rear – not the most convenient location. Three child seats in a row almost totally obscures the rear vision and was a really tight fit; there wouldn't be enough room for two child seats and a third passenger in the middle row. The last row is only suitable for two people.
We were happy with the space available for storage as the last row of seats could be folded down to a flat position, which meant ample room for shopping. The picnic gear plus scooters had plenty of space too on our picnic trip. Luggage access was low enough that the kids could get things out of the boot easily, but this meant a low clearance so we kept bumping our heads.
Features we really liked in the Honda Odyssey include the number of cup holders and plenty of seat pockets and nooks and crannies to use. We appreciated the built-in navigation system, reversing camera and large side mirrors. However, there's no DVD system installed to entertain the kids while driving.
The driving itself was light and responsive for a people mover and it was easy to park, but it does need more power, especially when fully loaded.
The steering is light with good connection with the road. The Honda Odyssey's suspension is designed for comfort, but despite this the body doesn't roll much into corners. It's a heavy car for a 2.4L engine.
We really liked the individual armrests for driver and passenger. Seats are firm and supportive. There is a lot of road noise entering the cabin, but we hardly noticed the engine noise.
The mostly plastic interior is standard for a base model in the Honda Odyssey.
Both family and tester enjoyed the drive-handling aspect and were happy with the price for the equipment you get, although more power and some entertainment touches would have been appreciated. As with the more fuel-efficient and eco-friendly Prius V, it's a good car for a five-person family with luggage, or up to seven people for short-haul runs.
Cost: from $39,990
Fuel usage claim vs measured per 100km: 8.9L vs 11.2L
Acceleration to 100km/h: normal 11.5s, economy 11.4s
Braking distance from 60km/h: 15.4m
ANCAP safety rating: 4 stars out of 5