Family Planning

If you have more than two children at some point you would most likely have done some serious research into your car ownership options. If you have three children, depending on their age and child restraint requirements, you may get away with a five seat sedan/SUV. But what if you need to transport extra children or have more than three children yourself?

Then you have to think about your seven seat car options. There are more SUVs now offering seven seats, but these will most likely come with compromises when it comes to the boot or cabin size. So your next option is a people mover.

But just mention the word ‘people mover’ and you immediately think of a big, boxy and let’s face it, unattractive car. But not when it comes to the Honda Odyssey, it may be large, but its low roofline and design make it the most attractive people mover currently on the market in Australia in my eyes.

The drive in the Odyssey is very comfortable and something you would appreciate if your children are prone to car sickness. The 2.4 litre inline 4-cylinder engine has 129kW of power and 225Nm of torque and considering the 1,727kg heft of the car there are no zippy overtaking moves to be had in it. The combined fuel consumption figure for the VTi-L is 7.8L/100km and for my week with the Odyssey I achieved 9.8L/100km.

The Odyssey I spent a week with was the higher specced VTi-L with the second row captain’s chairs (the VTi has eight seats with three seats in the second row). The captain’s chairs were by far my children’s favourite feature of the Odyssey. Even though they are both still in child seats, they loved the recline feature and the ottomans that extend from the seat to offer afoot rest. These two seats have rear tether and ISOFIX child restrain points. But there was a limited view in the rear view mirror with the two car seats in the second row.

The captain’s chairs slide both forward and back and side to side. This allows access down the centre of the seats to easily get to the third row. If your children are tall enough they can reach up and access the climate control functions for the rear passengers  in the roof above them. They also have built in sun shades to reduce glare for your passengers in the back.

The rear passenger climate settings can be controlled from the panel in the roof above the seats.

But there are no USB or 12V power outlets for the second row, which would mean having to run a cord from the rear 12V outlet if your children need to charge their electronic devices. One feature I did like was that the carpets in the Odyssey had pop fasteners and were simple to remove for cleaning.

The third row of seats can be folded flat in the boot or easily raised manually and locked into place. The third row can accommodate three rear tether child restraints, but the anchor points are on the rear-side of the car, so having them in place would make it difficult to get a pram or the shopping in and out of the boot.

There is plenty of head and leg room and two adults could comfortably sit in the third row. To keep you fresh there are air vents in the roof and in the floor under the seats as part of the tri-zone climate control. There is one 12V power outlet back there and small drink holders on each side of the car.

With the third row of seats in place there was enough boot space for the weekly shop, with a clever storage area that extends under the third row seats which would probably be large enough for a small stroller as well. The Odyssey doesn’t have a power tower gate, something I though it should have come with considering how large and heavy the tailgate is. Where’s the temporary spare tyre located then? It’s actually under the floor in front of the second row of seats.

The VTi-L comes with leather appointed seats, which some may see as a luxury in a family car, but I think they are a necessity as they make cleaning seats so much easier because spills can be wiped and don’t soak in like they would with cloth seats.

The front seats are a captain’s style as well with arm rests and nothing between them giving you a feeling of space and allow your handbag to be placed next to you if you need it to be. The front seats are heated and have eight way electric adjustment for the driver and four way adjustment for the passenger and they are at a nice height so you don’t have to step up into the car.

I really felt like a captain driving the Odyssey, with the controls for all aspects of the car at my fingertips. The driver can even control the rear climate from the front of the vehicle, a feature that all cars with dual climate control should have if you ask me. Plus you can also electronically open and close the power sliding doors if your children cannot reach the control to do it themselves.

The centre console pulls up so it’s closer to the driver and there is one HDMI, two USB outlets and one 12V outlet for your electronic devices. You can keep an eye on everybody in the back as well with the handy curved mirror that appears when you open the sunglass holder in the roof.

Via the 7-inch colour touch screen you can access phone, audio, cameras, car settings and sat nav. The satellite navigation has live SUNA traffic updates, so if you have a destination programmed in and the traffic conditions go pear shaped your car will help you navigate around it. Your phone can be connected via Bluetooth and you can make calls via voice control function on the steering wheel, but you need to set up voice tags to be able to use this.

The Odyssey comes with a multi-view camera system – front, side, rear, 360° view, but on my press car the front camera wasn’t working. Honda investigated this on the return of the car and advised that there was a loose wire in the front camera and it was easily fixed.

The Odyssey has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating with safety features including front, side and full length airbags and side impact protection. Basic active safety features such as ABS, brake assist and vehicle stability assist and the blind spot information system all come as standard.

I really liked having sliding doors on the Odyssey as it removes one stress of being a parent and that is worrying that your children could open the rear doors on to your other car in the garage or someone else’s car in a public car park. You can child lock the rear doors so they can’t open them at all if you prefer.

My children loved the space they had in the Odyssey, but even if you had four or five children in the Odyssey it would still not feel cramped. There is plenty to like about people mover life including the fact that the Odyssey does just that, moves people in comfort and provides the driver control of the whole car.

All of this space can be yours for $47,590 plus on-road costs. But there are currently offers available from Honda that include 7-Year Unlimited KM Warranty, 7-Year Premium Roadside Assist, 12-Month Registration & CTP Insurance and a Free Genuine Honda Accessory Pack.

So if you have more than two children I recommend you visit your preferred Honda Dealer to investigate the Honda Odyssey for yourself.

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.

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