2018 Honda Odyssey Review

Odyssey

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2018 Honda Odyssey Overview

The minivan has come a long way from its boxy beginnings. Chrysler essentially invented the segment with its 1984 Caravan, and it hoped to recapture best-seller status from more recent and reliable Japanese competitors with last year’s launch of its new Pacifica. But while the Pacifica got plenty of attention, it sold less than half the volume of Dodge’s retiring Grand Caravan, which trailed only the Toyota Sienna (and by a small margin) in minivan sales for 2016. Pacifica numbers may get some help this year from the upcoming hybrid version, but the real minivan show-down will be between the Sienna and the fully redesigned 2018 Honda Odyssey.

The 2018 Odyssey was unveiled at this year’s Detroit Auto Show. It doesn’t look a whole lot different from the ’17, although its notched beltline is a little more refined and it features new head- and taillights as well as a new grille. The more important changes come under the hood, where an updated version of the 3.5-liter V6 engine produces 280 horsepower, a 32-hp jump from last year. A new 9-speed automatic transmission also used in the Pilot is standard for lower-level trims, and higher trims receive a debuting Honda-designed 10-speed automatic. A better transmission combined with almost 100 fewer pounds of curb weight should boost mileage figures, but we’ll have to wait and see, as 2018 estimates haven’t been released yet.

The interior of the 2018 Odyssey offers the latest in smartphone projection technology, seating flexibility, and parental tools. In addition to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, the new Honda-developed Display Audio system adds an 8-inch touchscreen, a separate volume button, and a Social Play List feature that lets up to 7 family members upload music to a virtual playlist from their smartphones. A backseat entertainment system features a 10.2-inch ceiling-mounted screen that can use available 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity to stream content from PBS Kids, iHeart Radio, Spotify, and more.

The Odyssey’s Social Play List feature is part of a new system called CabinControl, which also lets passengers adjust the rear entertainment system, climate controls, and navigation via smartphone app. CabinWatch adds an in-cabin camera, displayed on the touchscreen on the dashboard, so parents up front can keep an eye on kids in the back. A new CabinTalk system lets front-seat occupants address folks in back through the second- and third-row speakers and rear entertainment-system headphones. We’re sure parents will appreciate having the ability to demand the attention of those in the rear, particularly on long, crowded car rides.

Chrysler’s removable Stow ‘n’ Go second-row seats have earned quite a few fans over the years, but because of their weight, getting those seats out of or back into a minivan takes a fair amount of work. Only one of the Odyssey’s new Magic Slide second-row seats is removable, but the redesigned second row offers far more adjustability than simply sliding fore to aft or folding down. It features three seats: one removable center seat and two bigger, more adjustable outside seats that can move front to back or side to side and tilt forward. Honda suggests four different configurations for these second-row seats that offer extra flexibility for parents with kids, easy access to the third row, or some combination of the two.

Safety is a critical factor for minivans, and Honda expects 95% of 2018 Odyssey sales to feature the Honda Sensing package of advanced safety and driver-assistance technologies. Included on all EX and higher trims, the package comes with automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, road-departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and rear cross-traffic alerts.

The noteworthy HondaVac is once again an option on the 2018 Odyssey, while newly available creature comforts include a heated steering wheel, front-seat ventilation, and wireless charging. Pricing should be announced sometime before the new Odyssey goes on sale in spring 2017.

Updated

Born & raised in upstate NY, a fun 7-year stint in Seattle taught me that I'm an East Coaster at heart. My car history was mostly Honda until I bought a used '97 Camry V6 that was quieter and a little more fun to drive than my Accords, but I beat that car to death. Now I drive a 2013 Mazda3 hatchback, with a manual, which I like despite its silly smile. When's that new Mazdaspeed3 coming?

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