The Honda Odyssey is now in runout, with the long-running people mover to be retired this year.
It raises the question of what the brand’s local arm will offer in its place to cater for customers requiring three rows of seating.
At least for the time being, Honda Australia director Stephen Collins says the seven-seater role will be filled by three-row versions of the CR-V crossover.
“Right now, the seven-seater CR-V probably fills that niche, but I’m not sure that fills the people mover opportunity,” Mr Collins said.
“The reality is, we were disappointed that the Odyssey was discontinued globally. It’s a car that’s been a very, very successful for us over a long period of time – number one private [people mover], all that sort of stuff.”
“We don’t have anything on the radar currently in terms of sourcing a US-style, bigger seven-seater SUV. So in the immediate future the role will be filled by CR-V seven-seat variants, and beyond that we’ll keep looking for opportunities where we can bring something, but there’s nothing on the roadmap at the moment,” Mr Collins added.
Honda Australia currently offers two variants of the CR-V with seven seats: the VTi 7 ($40,700 drive-away) and the VTi L7 ($49,200 drive-away). Unlike five-seat versions of the CR-V, three-row models are front-wheel drive only.
Honda doesn’t sell a larger three-row SUV in Japan, with both the Odyssey and CR-V offering three rows like the local range. However, looking to North America there’s the option of the boxy Pilot, as well as the Acura MDX – the latter a nameplate that has made the trip Down Under before.
The Pilot and MDX actually share their architecture, with the Acura taking a more overtly sporting and premium path whereas the Pilot is almost like a jacked-up Odyssey. In fact it’s closely related to the North American Odyssey, which also shares the same platform.
One main factor holding back any dreams of bringing either the Pilot or MDX to Australia, however, is both nameplates’ exclusive North American production in left-hand drive.
The cost to engineer a right-hook version exclusively for the Australian market with lower volume prospects would be prohibitively high – the first-gen MDX was only produced in right-hand drive for three years before being axed in Australia and Japan.
The current Odyssey’s demise was confirmed in November 2021, with Honda indicating production of the people mover would cease during the first or second quarter of 2022. Read more on that here.
The global version of Honda’s venerable people mover (as opposed to the larger North American version) was being produced in Japan, and versions of the fifth-generation Odyssey are produced in China specifically for that market.
In 2021 the Odyssey returned 1143 registrations in Australia (+4.8 per cent), making it the second-best selling people mover behind the Kia Carnival (5862 units, +60.6 per cent).
The Odyssey nameplate was first introduced to the Australian market in 1995, and all subsequent generations have made the trip Down Under since. It’s long been a staple of the Aussie people mover market, and as noted earlier by Mr Collins, has been a favourite among private buyers.