The test drive of the new Stepwgn for the press was held in Hakone. It was a perfect exhibition venue for a family minivan.
Honda actually intended to test drive this model on mountain roads. The 2L NA engine from the previous model was downsized to 1.5L turbo engine, and its weight has somehow become 50kg heavier compared to the G grade.
Can it smoothly climb up the mountain road of Hakone? Can I comfortably drive a minivan on a mountain road with a 25mm overall height and a center height higher than the previous generation model by 10mm?
All my doubts vanished the moment I started driving this model.
I did not feel that the weight of this car is 1,650kg (for G grade) when I started it because it felt so light, as if it was just a dream, and it had a smooth maneuverability. Its power steering, which felt mechanically and highly precise, has an outstanding and light manageability. It is easy to turn its front wheel on a mountain road, and it has an excellent stability. It certainly materializes a secure and refreshing handling.
It also has an excellent riding feel. Most cars and minivans have tolerable shocks and different levels of sound, so I was surprised that I was able to drive towards the zebra crossing in the Hakone curve with smooth maneuverability and without shocks. Anyway, it has a pleasant and comfortable maneuverability that is better than its rival cars.
As it is similar with the power performance of a 2L engine-powered previous generation model in flat roads, and with the torque feel of the previous generation when climbing the mountain road, it is trustworthy because it can ascend with smooth, low engine revolutions. One may think its astounding lightness when you start the car stems from the density of the torque of its turbo engine. This is the reason why the test driving session was held in Hakone.
The rattling sound which bothered me in the model I previously test drove is gone.
When travelling, it is fairly silent even when you turn its engine up.
The way it allows easy conversations among passengers on the first up to the third row seats is great for its class.
Certainly, its 17km/L mode fuel efficiency ranks high among the others and while it has a power performance that exceeds 2L, its vehicle tax is classified below 1.5L engine, thus it costs 34,500 yen per year. An engine that exceeds 1.5L but is less than 2L is cheaper by 5,000 than the original 39,500 yen price.
Passengers and dogs can also get on and off the vehicle through the Waku Waku
Gate subdoor of the new Honda Stepwgn, a lot more convenient than
the box type minivan whose big tailgate is difficult to open when in parking areas. The space needed at the back of the bi-fold subdoor for embarking and disembarking passengers and loading of baggage is 640mm, which is nearly half of the M class box-type minivan that has an average tailgate size of 1,000mm.
With the user-friendly subdoor convenient for all, especially in my case since I have two dogs which both love to ride, and for big families who are currently raising their children, they will surely sign up to avail of the Stepwgn G with the brown interior.
Moreover, I’d like to affirm that this car is really dog-friendly, thus I recommend it to pet lovers as well. You can freely let your dogs hop on and off this car. Dogs, which normally do not like vibration and noises, can also enjoy a comfortable driving with its silence and pleasant riding feel.
â– 5 Star Rating
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Naoki Aoyama| Motor Journalist/ Dock Life Journalist
He became a freelance motor journalist after working as an editor for an automotive magazine. He started as a writer to specialist on automotive magazines, then general news magazines and websites. He also worked on publication of pet (dog) and overseas travel, pet and drive-related television program as well as events. He is currently, expanding his career as a dog life producer.
(Translated by Claire Marie Sausora)