The Honda Odyssey has been a mainstay in the company’s MPV line-up since 1994. It is still going strong and has now entered its fifth generation in its native Japanese market. While several of the Odyssey cars are JDM models, they are not to be confused with some of the export models that also exist with the Odyssey name, especially in North America.
Today, the latest generation of Odyssey is a beautiful example of the modern stylish people carrier. An entire generation of improvement and enhancement have helped it to be part of shedding the old image of the “uncool” MPV category.
Key Stats for the Honda Odyssey
First Generation JDM Honda Odyssey (1994 -1999)
Wheelbase: 2,830mm (111.4”)
Length: 4,750mm (187”)
Width: 1,770mm (69.7”)
Height: Max 1,660mm (65.4”)
Curb Weight: Max 1,610kg (3,549lb)
Fifth Generation 2013 – Present
Wheelbase: 2,900mm (114.2”)
Length: 4,830mm (190.2”)
Width: Max 1,820mm (71.7”)
Height: Max 1,715mm (67.5”)
Curb Weight: Max 1,880kg (4,145lb)
Background 1994 – 2002
The Honda Odyssey wasn’t always as chic as the current JDM fifth generation, though. The first-generation Odyssey was created in the wake of hard economic times in Japan, which meant that the company were faced with great limitations on what exactly they could create in terms of scope and scale.
The result was compact SUV that worked well in the compact-friendly Japanese market, but wasn’t popular with the “bigger-is-better” North American market. It was quickly recognized in Japan for its innovation and quality, winning Japan Car of the Year, and selling some 300,000 units by 1997. This broke the record for fastest-selling new car previously held by the Honda Civic.
The second generation arrived in 1999 and was the sold in Japan, Australia and China. It wasn’t an entirely new vehicle, but more of an upgraded version of the first generation.
Background – 2003 To Present
The third generation JDM model in 2003 was the first full redesign of the Odyssey, and featured a 2.4L K24A VTEC engine and a generally sleeker more aerodynamic look. The car had also been lowered which made it look less of a “van” and more of a car.
The fourth generation JDM model gave us an improved DOHC i-VTEC engine with better fuel economy, a torque converter for the FWD and greater overall power. This generation ran from 2008 to 2013, before being replaced with a new and once-again facelifted model.
The latest incarnation (fifth generation) is being sold as the replacement for the now-ceased Honda Elysion. The size has increased somewhat, as has the luxury and power available. Perhaps most impressive is the latest generation’s fuel economy, a class-leading 40mpg combined. It also represents a significant design facelift, with more contemporary chic curvature and lines, as well as chrome touches and a sportier feel.
We’ll use the 2013 Honda Odyssey Absolute EX trim (fifth generation) as an example. This is one of the most popular trim levels in Japan, and has also managed to capture the hearts of many looking for Japanese imports. Honda has succeeded where many producers have failed when it comes to producing an MPV with mass appeal.
The first features you see are the outward design, sporty aesthetic, chrome finishes and athletic touches that help it really to stand out. What really grabs you with the exterior features is the attention to detailing like the stunning fog lights, edgy alloy wheels and sweeping contemporary lines.
Once you delve into the detail, you find more great features. On the inside you have a simple but comfortable interior, with great modern extras like push-button start, semi-digital instrument display, dash-mounted gearshift and oodles of storage space. You can get it as either a 7- or 8-seater.
The Odyssey Absolute is powered by a pleasing 2.4L i-VTEC Earth Dreams engine, delivering 175PS power and 225NM of torque. For the Absolute, you can opt for the direct-injection add-on which boosts power and torque to 190PS and 237NM respectively.
If you get a JDM model dated 2017 onwards, you can add more mod-cons like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert and other great features.
The Odyssey: Beautifying JDM People Carriers
Where so many had abandoned all hope that the MPV could be a truly appealing and dynamic car, Honda have worked to prove them all wrong.
An interesting fact about the first-generation Odyssey when it came to the European market was the reaction of British former F1 Grand Prix driver, Jonathan Palmer. He remarked how the Odyssey’s (marked as “Shuttle” in Europe) was the equal in handling to any executive saloon.
That’s quite a statement for a people carrier. If you ever thought that Japanese imports were just a playground for young men looking for drifting cars or other high-spec track cars with go-faster stripes, then you have missed the example of the Honda Odyssey. This car proves that JDM imports are for the family, too.
Find out more about our inventory of Honda Odyssey models by inquiring with us today.