Seven-seater MPVs are the norm for growing and larger families. When one wants to buy a "luxury MPV", the first model which comes to most people's minds is probably the Toyota Vellfire/ Alphard duo.
But what if the Vellphards are too common, too typical, and make you look like a sheep that is part of a large flock? Well, there are obviously other choices, but they too have become a little too familiar. So what are you left with?
Well, if you want a luxurious MPV that's relatively high-tech, reliable, sophisticated, comfortable and full of safety gear without making you look like the Joneses, then the Honda Odyssey will answer your calling.
Introduced to the Malaysian market in 2018, the Honda Odyssey has become somewhat of a forgotten player. Why? Well, we know why but we'll get into that later because we want to mainly talk about why this luxury Asian seven-seater with its generous amount of technology and features is one of the best MPVs you can buy.
The Odyssey, currently available from Honda Malaysia (albeit through special order just like the Type R), is an updated fifth-generation Odyssey, introduced in February 2018. Apart from cosmetic updates, the most significant addition to the Odyssey was Honda Sensing, their take on advanced driving assistance systems.
At the time, the updated Odyssey was only the third model in Honda Malaysia's portfolio to get Honda Sensing after the CR-V and the Accord. The Honda Sensing gave the Odyssey, Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS).
Powering the Odyssey is Honda's Earth Dreams 2.4-litre DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder petrol engine producing 175 PS and 225 Nm, paired to a CVT-type automatic gearbox.
The Odyssey is only offered in one trim level - the 2.4L EXV, which was priced at RM258,896 (OTR without insurance) at the time of its debut.
As with most cars that have just been recently released, LED lighting is a must, and we're glad to report that the Odyssey is up to date in this department as it comes with LED projector headlights, front LED fog lamps, LED taillights and LED rear fog lights.
When you couple this with the Odyssey's stylish front bumpers, chromed-out front grille, 17-inch dual-tone alloy wheels, as well as Auto Retractable Door Mirrors, we can safely say the Odyssey does not feel dated.
Despite being one of the smaller models in the luxury MPV segment, the Odyssey is surprisingly generous with space and practicality inside - a testament once again to Honda's brilliant packaging.
Like in a much bigger MPV, one can walk from the second to the third row between the seats. Yes, you do have to crouch down a little bit to do this, but who can really stand up straight while doing this in any MPV?.
The second-row captain seats, which are the main highlight of the Odyssey, also come with retractable leg rests and window blinds. Plus, these seats can also be moved sideways to widen the "walkway" between them.
Unlike the plush ones in the Alphard or Elgrand, the third row in the Odyssey doesn't really feel luxurious, but the saving grace was that there is ample legroom thanks to the moveable second-row seats. It was actually surprising to see how much legroom third-row passengers had, considering the Odysseys size.
One thing that was a disappointment, however, was the amount of charging access available onboard - while the Odyssey did have two USB ports, an HDMI port, and a 12-volt socket in the front, all the second and third-row passengers got was one USB slot and two 12V sockets in the third row, which was rather inadequate.
After spending a few days with the Odyssey, where we were caught up in a massive eight-hour traffic jam and had to use a lot of back roads to get to our northern destination, we found it to be an absolute delight to drive.
The engine was very smooth and quiet and only became audible when we had to push it really hard. The CVT was also a delightful surprise, as it felt refined and was pretty much inaudible. There was still a little bit of body roll, but nothing that would bother a regular MPV driver. All in all, however, the Odyssey felt agile and had a very comfortable ride even on crooked back roads, which are less smoother than highways.
Besides all of the above, what sets the Odyssey apart from most MPVs in the game and puts it in a league of its own, is the safety features it is equipped with.
The six airbags, ABS, EBD, BA, HSA, and VSA aside, the Odyssey comes with Smart Parking Assist System, which allows the MPV to basically park itself. The Cross Traffic Monitor system, which alerts the driver when a vehicle is approaching while it is getting out of a parking spot, is also helpful. The multi-angle rearview camera, Blind Spot Information, and the Honda Sensing package just make the Odyssey a world-class MPV in the safety department.
From a personal standpoint, I actually find the Odyssey to be one of the best MPVs I have driven in recent times. It just has everything from a comfortable ride to just the right amount of comfort for its passengers.
It drives nice too and has an unpretentious reputation, making you feel classy and not 'assy' like how some MPVS do. Its Honda Sensing package makes you feel safe, and its up-to-date LED lighting system makes you feel like you own something from 2021.
We guess the biggest problem with the Odyssey is its official price, which makes people turn to a certain MPV from the grey import market. But if you can get past that, then the Odyssey is a gem, one that will give you smiles per miles plus make you feel special. Unlike other MPVs that are a bit too common, the Odyssey is a breath of fresh air.
Wants to live the simple life, especially when it comes to cars and bikes. That's what tech is for he reckons, to make motoring simpler