2018 HONDA ODYSSEY
Honda redesigned its Odyssey minivan from the ground up, and made it a class leader in numerous ways. The cabin is the roomiest in its segment, and loaded with features. Active-safety equipment that is optional on other minivans is standard on the Odyssey, and new drive trains deliver more power and smoothness.
The one area that leaves something to be desired is styling. The Odyssey’s nose, which now resembles the one on the Honda Pilot, lacks the crispness of last year’s design. Viewing the Odyssey in profile, the kink in the beltline beneath the windows has been softened, and now flows better, but the new sculpted sides, with creases that go nowhere, lacks cohesion.
However inside, there are no complaints. My test car looked surprising luxurious for a minivan. The high-grade leather on the seats was very inviting. The dash, and all contact surfaces were finished in upscale soft-touch material. The compact center control panel was cleverly shaped with a tablet-like touchscreen at the top. Moreover, the interface was easy to understand and use.
The Odyssey offers terrific accommodations. Front passengers have chair-like seating and a great view of the road. Second-row occupants, even tall ones, have plenty of head-and legroom. Furthermore, the third row can actually accommodate three adults without difficulty—how many SUVs can claim that? Moreover, the second-row is exceptionally flexible. If you remove the middle seat, the outer seats can be moved together for easier access to the rear. The seats can also be moved closer to the front row, so parents can attend to small children.
The Odyssey is also the class leader in storage capacity—nearly 145 cubic–feet of cargo space with the second-row seats removed. And even when all seats are occupied, there’s almost 33 cubes of storage behind the third row.
All Odyssey models, except the base version come standard with a suite of active safety features. These include forward collision warning and braking, lane departure alert and intervention, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. These are all important features to have, but I did find that the forward collision warning on my test car was over sensitive. At times, it gave off a visual alert when there was really no hazard.
Beyond the safety gear, I think parents will really appreciate the new features to make family trips more manageable. The first is the upgraded rear entertainment system. Kids can watch apps like PBS Kids and Spotify on a 10.2-inch, flip-down screen. Then there’s CabinWatch, which provides live video of what’s going on in the second and third rows. This is complemented by CabinTalk, which amplifies the driver’s voice over the audio system for the folks in the rear.
Besides the new amenities, Honda has provided the Odyssey with a new V-6 engine and two new automatic transmissions. The V-6 is 3.5-liters in size, like last year’s motor, but this one generates 32 more horsepower, for a total of 280. Unbelievably, the transmissions now have nine and ten gears respectively. The nine-speed gearbox puts power to the pavement in the lower range models, and the ten speed does its work in the high-end Touring and Elite editions. My Elite test car delivered strong power and almost imperceptible shifts, while averaging 22-mpg in combined city/hwy. driving.
On the road, the 2018 Odyssey benefits from a stronger body, a revamped rear suspension and a new steering system. It feels steady going down the highway—no discernable bobbing or rocking motions. The steering responds more quickly than before, and the short turning radius (39-ft) makes the Odyssey more maneuverable in tight situations. The ride is almost luxury-car smooth, and the cabin is commendably quiet. This is an ideal minivan for vacation trips, as well as everyday family hauling.
Honda offers the Odyssey in six level of trim, LX, EX, EX-L, EX-L Nav & Res, Touring and Elite The base LX model sells for $31,450, and prices then escalate from there all the way up to $47,610 for the Elite.
Spacious and Flexible
Active Safety Features Standard