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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The Shuttle is cleverly packaged, good to drive and should prove reliable

Against Engine refinement is disappointing, the looks are bland and it's thirsty on fuel

Verdict An affordable and capable alternative to better known people-carriers

Go for… 2.3 SE

Avoid… LS cars

Honda Shuttle MPV
  • 1. Driving position is comparatively low and car-like
  • 2. It's important that the air-con is recharged every two years
  • 3. Among the known problems are that the suspension bushes can wear quickly and the anti-lock brakes can need a new pump
  • 4. Room in the boot for luggage is limited with all the seats upright
  • 5. The gear selector is mounted on the steering column so the floor is clear and you can walk into the back
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Honda Shuttle MPV full review with expert trade views

Some MPVs can come as a culture shock if you’ve always driven saloons and hatchbacks, but the Shuttle isn’t one of them. Its driving position is comparatively low and car-like, and the body is shorter and narrower than many rivals so it isn’t as intimidating to park or thread down tight city streets.

You might expect the Shuttle to be a bit cramped on the inside, then, but it’s actually very spacious. Six- and seven-seat versions were sold, with the seats spread over three rows in both.

The gear selector is mounted on the steering column to keep the floor clear, so you can walk to the back and separate squabbling kids, while the two-person bench in the third row folds flat into the floor when you need a bigger boot. Room for luggage is limited with all the seats in place, though.

On the open road, the Shuttle continues to feel impressively car-like, staying composed through corners, with little body roll. Wind and road noise aren’t too intrusive, but the ride can be unsettled over patchy surfaces.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Expensive new compared to competition so not many around. Clean ones rare

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Early Shuttles were powered by a 2.2-litre petrol engine, but this was replaced with a 2.3-litre unit in February 1998. Both get raucous when worked hard, so the stronger 2.3’s extra flexibility is worth having if your budget will stretch to it.

Unusually, no diesel engine was offered and the only gearbox is a four-speed automatic. However, this shifts slickly and is rarely caught in the wrong gear.

There are three trims to choose from, with basic LS cars getting air-con, alloy wheels, an electric sunroof, driver and passenger airbags and anti-lock brakes.

The mid-spec ES is our pick because it adds an engine immobiliser to stop all but the most determined thieves driving it away. You also get seven seats to the LS’s six and the convenience of central locking.

Finally, there’s the flagship ES Executive model. Introduced in 1999, it brings luxuries including leather upholstery and a CD multichanger.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Few around and LS spec good, but Executive easier to sell

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Decent residuals and limited supply mean the Shuttle isn’t the cheapest or easiest MPV to buy used and, while it's unlikely to bleed you dry, running costs could be lower.

When it comes to maintenance, for example, Honda dealers tend to charge less per hour than their rivals at Ford and Toyota, but more than Nissan and Mazda dealers.

Getting the work done at an independent Honda specialist can save you some money, but there's less of a difference between Honda dealers and Honda specialists than there is between dealers and specialists of other makes. The Shuttle has to be serviced more frequently than many rivals, too, having intervals of just 6000 miles.

The lack of a diesel engine means fuel bills will be steep – the 2.2-litre engine only averages 27.5mpg and the 2.3-litre 26.2mpg – and Shuttles attract rather high group 15 or 16 insurance ratings.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Expensive new compared to competition so not many around. Clean ones rare

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Owning a Shuttle should be fairly painless because Honda’s record in our reliability surveys is second to none, and information from Warranty Direct suggests that dealers are quick to diagnose the few faults that do crop up.

Still, even the most durable cars have weaknesses, and the Shuttle is no different. Its air-con needs recharging every two years, the rear suspension bushes tend to wear quickly and the anti-lock brakes can require a new pump. The last of these will cost you a hefty £1400 to put right.

The Shuttle has also been subject to a couple of recalls, making a full-service history all the more important. There was a chance the lower steering ball joint could wear out on cars built between January 1996 and December 1997, leading to a loss of steering control in the worst cases. Some Shuttles also needed their ignition switch replaced.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Few around and LS spec good, but Executive easier to sell

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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