2012 Honda Odyssey

Not cool, but oh-so-useful
By Imthishan Giado

2012 Honda Odyssey

Unless you work for a hotel or have between six and seven children, I can almost guarantee that you’re not shopping for a minivan, the automotive industry’s least sexiest sub category.
That’s a shame, because minivans have a long and proud history in the Middle East. From the ‘Dustbuster’ Chevrolet Lumina APV to the Toyota Previa, we have been buying them for the decades. I should know – I grew up in a gloriously velour Plymouth Grand Voyager.

But that was nearly 20 years ago and today, driving a minivan is nothing less than social suicide, especially when there are so many other juicy options in the form of SUVs and genre-busting crossovers. It’s a shame really, because if you were being totally honest with yourself, a car like the Odyssey is all you’ve ever needed.

Think about it. Do you ever go offroad? No? But you like the raised seating position of an offroader, right? The high-riding Odyssey has you covered. Need lots of room for your kids? The Odyssey is a bonafide eight-seater and even with all eight of those seats up, it still has room for some luggage. Stow the spacious-even-for-adults third row (which drops completely flat in a single fluid motion via a fabric strap) and you have cavernous amounts of room for your gear – and the cabin is festooned with places to store mobile phones, toys and other bric-a-brac.

Toys? The Odyssey really has everything most small (or large) families will need, including powered front seats, optional navigation, a strong stereo with standard Bluetooth and that all-important cruise control for long distances. Most importantly, it’s all Honda-simple to use with buttons for commonly used functions clearly labelled and falling easily to hand. Not pretty and the dash is once again a button fetishist’s wet dream, but it all works.

Even more surprisingly, the Odyssey is quite good to drive, and nothing like the doughy offroaders that most people opt to purchase instead. Off the line, the standard 3.5-litre 248bhp V6 is pleasantly punchy and the smooth-shifting automatic keeps the engine right in the centre of its meaty midrange where let’s face it, this minivan will spend most of its life. Handling is far better than you would expect with well-weighted steering, responsive brakes and crisp turn-in on corner entry. Yes, there is an awful lot of body roll for your passengers to not appreciate, but the Odyssey actually hangs on quite tenaciously in the bends, and the stability control is relatively untroubled.

So the Odyssey drives pleasantly, is built exceptionally well and is the most practical car you can use to transport people and their possessions, short of buying a fleet of limos. Sadly, none of you will consider it because it’s not as a cool as a thirsty, soggy-handling offroader to your friends, or doesn’t come with a fancy German badge like one of those baby crossovers that are all the rage right now.

Trouble is, perception is everything and the dowdily-styled Odyssey simply does not stand out in a crowd. Notice how I haven’t mentioned anything about the styling? That’s because there isn’t any to speak of.

Which is a shame really, because this car hits the nail on the head of its intended purpose as well as any sportscar I’ve driven in recent memory. If the ultimate supercar is the Lamborghini Aventador – noisy, supremely impractical, but thrilling like no other – then the Odyssey is its ideological opposite – unexciting, spacious but extremely capable of ferrying people in great comfort.

There, I’ve said it. The Odyssey is as good as the Lamborghini Aventador. Sort of…


2012 Honda Odyssey
How much? AED119,000 ($32,400)
Engine: 3.5-litre V6, 248bhp @ 5700rpm, 250lb ft @ 4800rpm
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Fuel Economy: 10.6/100km
Performance: 0-100kph 7.4 seconds, top speed NA
Weight: 1966kg


One response to “2012 Honda Odyssey”

  1. shiraz says:

    i recently rented this car and drove it all the way to salalah and back.

    i was mentally tired, but physically, not a scratch. i slept like a baby comfortably in the second row though i am a heavy duty 6 ft guy and so did all of my other 7 passengers.

    Simply in love with it

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.