Last week, you read about how brilliant the Odyssey is as a long-distance travel companion. The flexible seating, the sliding doors, an abundance of cargo space, and a pliant ride make it arguably the best family hauler available in this market today. However, the Honda MPV’s impressive credentials aren’t limited to these. There are many technology features in the Odyssey that show the engineers and designers have put in a lot of thought into making this as parent- and child-friendly as a vehicle can get.
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One such is the rear entertainment system that features a 10.2-inch screen that is mounted on the ceiling behind the front seats and swings down when the second- and third-row passengers need it. Apart from the usual entertainment options including playing videos from a disc or USB, it also supports media streaming. But the most interesting feature as far as a parent is concerned, especially if you have kids who keep nagging you with constant “are we there yet?” queries, is the new on-board app called “How much further?” It is essentially an animated display that graphically shows how much time the trip will take, and how far the car is from the destination. This obviously takes information from the car’s satellite navigation system, so you will need to enter a destination on the sat-nav for the kids to be able to track the journey.
Then there is Cabin Watch, which lets the driver and front passenger keep an eye on the rear passengers, most likely kids in a family car, via the 8.0in display on the centre console. The wide angle footage is shot using a camera mounted on the ceiling and covers the second and third rows. It boasts night vision capability so that you can keep a tab on the kids even if it’s dark inside the cabin. It even lets you pinch and zoom on the screen if you want to take a closer look at one of the little passengers. While this is quite handy in the sense that you need not turn around, it is still potentially dangerous as the driver will have to look away from the road. So it’s best to leave the monitoring to the front passenger.
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The third cool parent-friendly feature is Cabin Talk, which lets you use the vehicle’s speaker system or wireless headphones to talk to rear passengers. This feature overrides the entertainment system, so the kids can’t pretend they didn’t hear you even if they are watching something on the rear screen and have their headphones on. Although at first I thought it was just a gimmick, I found that Cabin Talk makes it less stressful to communicate with rear passengers, especially those in the third row.
It’s also great that rear passengers get their own controls for the air-conditioning system, with roof-mounted switches and LCD display letting them adjust both the fan as well as the temperature. However, it’s slightly disappointing that the seats in our top-spec Touring trim does not come with seat heating option, which would have been welcome in the chilly winter mornings, when leather seats tend to be cold.