Honda Odyssey Hybrid Absolute

Honda Odyssey Hybrid Review: “I won’t make them say that the Absolute has sharp ride quality anymore” by Naoki Aoyama

The 5th-generation Odyssey, which has newly-equipped sliding doors on both sides, was released on October 2013.

The Odyssey Absolute, in the sporty grade, has the greatest number of units in the history of the Odyssey, and its sharpest ride quality has been equipped in the third-generation model. It had low overall height, a low floor, a low center of gravity, and a solid ride quality, which is like that of a sport wagon. This minivan was designed to have an exceptionally tough performance with a sporty steering operation.

Nonetheless, many also questioned whether is it really okay for a minivan to have such a hard ride quality; thus, the existing model, which was updated in January 2015, had its suspension system tuned towards its ride quality. It somewhat became flexible, but even so, its ride quality remained firm with its repeating vertical motion depending on the roads. It is alright from the perspective of the development group.

However, with the long-awaited hybrid version that has been added recently (which can also be equipped with Honda Sensing as an option), they made progress in creating the Absolute hybrid version as an environment-friendly minivan where family customers who consider ride quality can be fully satisfied.

As for the newly adopted hybrid system of the Odyssey, they reduced its cost by downsizing the two-motor sport hybrid iMMD for the Accord and increased its electric power. Its 2L engine has an output of 145ps & 17.8kg-m. With its motor that has an output of 184ps & 32.1kg-m, its engine and motor power exceed that of the Accord’s 143ps, 16.8kg-m/169ps & 31.3kg-m (hereafter, the Accord still adopts these specifications).

Its Li-ion battery is mounted on the space under the center of the first row seat, which is being used in other countries as a space for spare tires, and even though only that part of the floor was elevated by 10cm, it doesn’t affect the side parts of the first row seat as well as the first and second rows. Of course, it doesn’t have any effect on the back seat as well as the luggage space. It is a hybrid model which has maintained its spaciousness and usability (which is excellent).

Moreover, it is surprising since its mode fuel consumption, which is the best at 26km/L, is nearly two times higher than the gasoline version. Meanwhile, the Estima Hybrid, its rival car that has a 2.4L engine and two motors, has 18km/L fuel consumption.

I drove it silently and smoothly in EV mode. It had powerful motor torque as I stepped on the accelerator, and I was able to actually initiate a smooth, torquey, and seamless acelleration. It also has great response towards accelerating at mid-speed driving. It seemed that my right foot, the motors, and the engine were directly connected with each other.

However, I was greatly surprised with its ride quality. Its low center of gravity brought about by its integrated power unit (IPU), which is organized through its Li-ion battery mounted under the floor and the engine control unit (ECU) for controlling, as well as its hybrid system, weighs 80kg higher overall. Because of that, it exudes a steadily flexible ride quality with strokes that wouldn’t make you feel stiffness when driving at medium speeds, which is different from the gasoline version of the Absolute grade! Intuitively, this kind of ride feel is common in luxury saloons.

By the way, the suspension system of the Absolute hybrid version equipped with 17-inch tires is basically similar with the Absolute gasoline version. The incremental difference of its body weight was just being touched up.

Nevertheless, when exceeding the tight differences among the rough roads as I drove on the highway (at around 60 to 80km/h), it exceeded the heavier suspension stroke’s loose movement, which brought about shocks at the same time, but I didn’t want it to stand out on public roads, so it would be great if I could drive it calmly.

Of course, the Odyssey hybrid exceeds the gasoline version in terms of overall silence including when driving mainly with its engine and during engine rotation as you can focus on driving it using its motors or EV mode (with a maximum speed of 110km/h, consecutively within three to four kilometers). When its power source became silent, its wind and road noises stood out as I drove it on the highway.

Its actual fuel consumption as I drove it for about 30 minutes in the highway around Makuhari Messe throughout the Bayshore Route was around 19km/L. According to the development group, the fuel consumption of the hybrid version would only exceed 20km/L when you drive it in the city streets, and I believe that what they say seems true. This is astounding for a minivan this size that’s equipped with sliding doors on both sides.

However, there’s one thing I’m bothered about it. When you choose the EX grade for the hybrid version, it has a big center console box and big armrests in between the left and right first row seats, and even though it makes it easier to store CDs and DVDs, it somehow gets a little bit bothersome on the sides of the first and second row seats. Moreover, even though the floor is elevated by 10cm, there is no more floor space in between the left and right first row seats for handbags and tote bags.

Because of that, even though the only solution is not to choose the EX grade, in return, you wouldn’t be able to avail of the 100V/1,500W electric outlet (with one outlet located at the back of the big center console box), which is a long-awaited exclusive equipment for the Odyssey hybrid.

Regarding this point, I would like to request to have all grades of the hybrid version be equipped with 100V/1,500W electric outlet. That is because the Estima Hybrid has two outlets in all of its grades.

I was only able to test its first row seats, so I want to make a report about my impression of the backseats of the Absolute hybrid version.

But of course, many still bought the Absolute (90% of its sales rate in mid-February came from the Absolute). Its exterior part has aero specifications in both standard and hybrid versions, but its 10mm low-down style makes the Absolute look tougher. Its black interior as well as its seating locations have luxury quality. Moreover, the Absolute has been equipped with the Honda Sensing, and its price difference from the standard version is only at around 100,000 to 200,000 yen.

â–  5 Star Rating
Packaging: ★★★★★
Interior / Comfort: ★★★★★
Power Source: ★★★★★
Footwork: ★★★★★
Quietness: ★★★★
Recommendation: ★★★★★
Pet-friendliness: ★★★★★

Naoki Aoyama | Motor Journalist/ Dog Life Journalist

He became a freelance motor journalist after working as an editor for an automotive magazine. He started as a writer specializing on automotive magazines, and then of general news magazines and websites. He also worked on publication related to 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. He is a Japan Car of the Year Selection Committee member.

(Translated by Claire Marie Sausora)