1 Apr 2009
HONDA rolled out its fourth-generation Odyssey in April 2009, with more safety, refinement, power, and practicality.
However, prices soared by around 10 per cent, while the five-speed automatic gearbox lost its Tiptronic-style shifter.
Among the new additions were the long-overdue ESC Electronic Stability Control, along with lap/sash seatbelts for all occupants, standard curtain airbags, and thinner A-pillars that greatly improve driver vision.
The Mk4 Odyssey is not an all-new vehicle.
Instead, it uses a stretched variation of the Mk3 models’ previous-generation Honda Accord sedan-based front-wheel drive platform, as well as much of its drivetrain components.
But the body and interior are fresh re-interpretations of the low-slung wagon-style theme that has proved a hit with buyers in both Australia and Japan – the only two countries that receive this specific ‘Japan Domestic Market’ Odyssey.
Once again, there are four conventional doors and a lift-up tailgate, as well as three rows of seats set in a ‘V pattern’ from front to rear which, according to Honda, improves vision for all occupants and creates more of a space buffer in a side impact scenario.
Like before, the first row have two reclining bucket seats, the second row has reclining split seats for three people, and the third row is a two-seater bench that tumbles backwards into a space underneath the floor to increase luggage room and turn the Odyssey into a cargo-cavernous five-seater wagon.
Honda has applied the same ‘Maximum-Man/Minimum-Machine Interface’ thinking from the GE-series Jazz light car for its Mk4 Odyssey.
As a result, the powertrain, suspension and other mechanisms have been made more compact, and the cab-forward body is now more space-efficient and user-friendly than the previous version even though the Mk4 Odyssey actually sits even lower than before.
Functionality and comfort improvements also abound, with larger rear doors aiding third-row access and a larger cargo area.
Increases in body rigidity are the upshot of improved joint efficiency, Honda says, which benefits driving dynamics, as does the use of the high-tensile steel for increased body strength.
A significant mechanical overhaul also sets this Odyssey apart from the Mk3 model, thanks to a revised 2354cc 2.4-litre twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder petrol engine equipped with Honda’s i-VTEC technology, which combines variable valve timing and control with variable lift control.
Euro4 compliant and 91 RON standard unleaded petrol tolerant, it features higher compression ratios to up power by 14kW, to 132kW at 6500rpm (from 118kW at 5500rpm), but torque output remains static at 218Nm at 4500rpm.
Honda claims improved fuel economy and lower emissions, despite weight rises between 35kg and 65kg (Luxury).
Sadly, Honda has dropped the sequential-shift ‘Tiptronic’ facility for the heavily revised five-speed automatic gearbox, in lieu of a ‘D3’ button that holds third gear, and a ‘D2’ and first-gear slot underneath ‘drive’.
The Mk4 Odyssey continues with the old model’s space-saving double wishbone front and rear suspension system, but a more rigid chassis and improved suspension geometry have brought progress in both areas, according to Honda.
What is new to the series is ‘Motion Adaptive’ electronic power steering, replacing the old hydraulic set-up. It works in conjunction with the stability control system to provide greater steering assistance when needed, and helps keep the minimum turning radius down to 5.4 metres.
Large disc brakes are also fitted all around, backed up by ABS anti-lock, electronic brake assist, TCS traction control and the ESC system Honda dubs VSA.
Also on safety, a new side-curtain airbag system helps to provide protection for all three rows of outboard-placed occupants.
Equipment levels rise along with the price. Full-length curtain airbags, ESC and traction control, alloy wheels and auxiliary input MP3/WMA CD radio audio join the standard features list, while the latest Luxury model’s gains include Tri-zone automatic climate control that also includes a humidity sensor, and HID High Intensity Discharge headlights with auto-levelling low beam and washer.
All models make do with a temporary spare wheel.