2002 Honda Stream 1.7L D17 VTEC I4

Summary:

Tough little van for the family with small kids, and a hoot to drive

Faults:

The brakes are generally susceptible to getting stuck: Both the pads and the calipers do that. They need very regular attention, or they will generate high replacement bills.

The speedometer unit's plate has burned through. Changing the bulbs at high cost was of no use.

Interior bits and pieces are coming off.

Honda has one of the industry's worst paint qualities. Scratches easily, clear coat coming off a 14 year old car that is hardly ever exposed to sun (Western Norway has that rarely).

General Comments:

As a family car, the Stream is perfect if you have small kids. The rear seats are not removable, and if you want to invite other kids home after kindergarten/school, you just put them up very quickly. There's good space for two large car seats in row two. The car is based on the Civic, and thus leg space is highly limited. 7 adults to and from the airport with luggage on your lap may work, but on long trips with just the four of us, we take our Toyota sedan instead. The seats are awful and designed for small people. There is no arm rest in the front.

As a driver's car, the Stream excels. The rear wheels have a wild camber, the steering is the tightest I have owned (even compared to brand new rentals), and the gear lever right next to the steering wheel is a fantastic placement. Like "What Car?" says, this is the sportiest minivan ever made. It is light and zippy, and even the 1.7 litre engine makes it go quite nicely. It is a very willing engine even though you'll have to drive it in a binary way: Either on or off. My kids say I make the van sound like a motorcycle... which is an apt description, because it has to work quite hard if you want it to accelerate well. A big advantage are the huge brakes, designed to stop the car with a load of up to 700kg: They never overheat. The biggest setback is the FWD with the engine almost behind the wheels: Uphill on ice or sometimes even just gravel, the Stream has awful traction. Coming from a succession of Volvos, the Honda is a harsh ride, but I got used to it. Back pain from the N├╝rnburgring-approved chassis and bad seats sets in on drives longer than 40 minutes though.

As an utility, the Stream can swallow a lot of weight and differently shaped objects, but the trunk door opening is significantly lower than the roof height. That limits the loading capacity a fair bit; if it is firewood or large cuboid objects you want to transport, this is what stops the car from being filled up 100%. Fuel consumption over 40000km has been exactly 7.32 l/100km, which is fair given my binary driving style, size and age of the vehicle. Insurance is dirt cheap and the maintenance cost are exactly the same as fuel cost. Our local Honda shop is extremely pricey, hard to reach, and somewhat incompetent, so we use the Toyota garage to get stuff fixed. When we bought the car, we haggled the price down 25% + new tires. The Stream is the better Zafira in some respects, and of so much better build quality. That makes some sellers ask wild prices, but have the confidence to negotiate: It's a rare car and can be a tough sell.

Overall, I have grown fond of this van. It takes abuse well, is economical (even though certainly not best in its class), and it is very practical for our transport needs. The perspective we have now is to own the car maybe another 5-8 years until our kids need more legroom. We may finally be able to justify buying a huge Toyota Previa then...

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th November, 2016