The 2.4-litre engine remains unchanged and offers superb fuel economy
Can the Honda Odyssey get better? Absolutely Absolutely fabulous: The Honda Odyssey has been updated, made more refined with a facelift and has its range expanded

SINGAPORE'S best-selling multi-purpose vehicle has just got better. Two years after it cruised onto our roads with the crossover proposition of a more car-like MPV, the Honda Odyssey has been facelifted and its range expanded.

The 2.4-litre engine remains unchanged and offers superb fuel economy - a typically Honda characteristic which, in the Odyssey's case, includes banishing anything remotely close to the concept of kickdown.

But there are now three trim levels - from two - and they have a higher level of standard equipment. The top two versions wear the Absolute badge, which Honda uses to denote its higher-end models. A more sportily-tuned suspension is also standard on the Odyssey EXV Absolute and the Odyssey EXV Absolute Premium. 

The ride height is the same but the damping of the model's already sophisticated chassis is now slightly firmer and the body roll previously experienced in fast, sweeping corners has been reduced. The trade-off is that your bottom will feel those irregular road surfaces a bit more during high-speed cruising.

But the set-up's bias towards comfort is still evident and the ride never feels harsh.

In fact, the updated Odyssey feels even more refined. Even though the two Absolute models now ride on 17-inch alloy wheels - from 16 inches previously - the noise and vibration levels seem lower. The cabin is also quieter because the centre tray between the front seats is better mounted and doesn't jiggle, while the turn indicator no longer clicks during U-turns.

Steering weight and feel remain impressive for a front-wheel-driven car, and the Odyssey still has the smallest turning circle in its class.

The Absolute range has a body kit to enhance the Odyssey's low-slung styling. Inside, the most obvious change is the new integrated audio module with its in-dash six-CD changer and multi-function steering wheel controls.

As a result of the relocated hi-fi, the centre hump in the dashboard is gone, replaced by a storage box and an LED strip panel showing the audio information and, more importantly, the time. The latter is a major improvement considering the pre-facelift model had no clock - something Honda in its quest for technological innovations and driving dynamics has strangely overlooked.

The main difference between the two Absolute versions is that the higher-end car has four extra airbags. In addition to the two front airbags, Premium has two side and two curtain bags. It also has a factory fitted all-black leather interior.

But all three versions have received cosmetic changes in the form of a new grille and tailgate design. The door mirrors have also been repositioned and now boast integrated LED turn indicators. There are new colours too (one of them, the Carbon Bronze, is an unusual shade of grey with a cool futuristic effect). All this in the hope that the carmaker can continue with its successful Odyssey.

SPECS

Honda Odyssey EXV Absolute

Engine: 2,354cc inline-4

Gearbox: 5-speed auto with sport shift

Max power: 160 hp @ 5,500 rpm 

Max torque: 218 Nm @ 4,500 rpm

Price: From $92,000 (with COE)

Distributor: Kah Motor 6841-3333