2018 Honda Odyssey
Some people think there's a stigma associated with minivans. The 2018 Odyssey isn't for them, says chief engineer Chad Harrison. It's for people passing unabashedly into the family stage of their adult lives, including the early wave of millennials.
"We chose to directly target the people who know they need a minivan and want a minivan," Harrison said.
If minivan battles are waged with second-row seating innovations, Honda arrives well-armed, with Magic Slide chairs that can move forward, backward and side to side, allowing for easy boarding even with a child seat installed. Quarreling children can be separated to keep the peace, or forced to sit side by side and sort things out.
The CabinTalk microphone on higher trims lets the driver address rear-seat passengers at a normal volume, even those wearing the wireless headphones paired to the rear entertainment system. A CabinWatch camera gives parents live coverage of rear-seat crises.
Higher trims get Honda's new 10-speed automatic transmission.
- Powertrain: 3.5-liter V-6, 9- or 10-speed shift-by-wire automatic transmission with paddle shifters
- Technology: 5-inch LCD display on base LX model. Midlevel trims add an 8-inch touch screen, smartphone app for remote climate-control and infotainment operation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Top-tier trims include CabinTalk and CabinWatch, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, streaming TV channels. Wireless phone charging is standard on the top-of-the-line Elite trim. Wi-fi-equipped models can get over-the-air infotainment updates.
- Safety: Front-row knee airbags are new on the 5th-generation Odyssey. The Honda Sensing suite included on all but the base LX trim adds driver-assist functions such as forward collision warning, emergency braking for collision mitigation, lane-keep assistance and adaptive cruise control. Honda expects 95% of its sales mix to include Honda Sensing.
- Market: Honda expects the minivan segment to stabilize at 450,000 to 500,000 units a year, and the Odyssey to retain its share of about one-quarter of that, with the two midlevel EX-L trims being the volume leaders.
- Competitors: Chrysler Pacifica, Dodge Grand Caravan, Toyota Sienna and ... other
- Strengths: Versatile Magic Slide seats; responsive touch screen; active safety features standard across most trims.
- Weaknesses: Odd gear-shift switches take some getting used to. Given Honda's aversion to discounts, sticker price will make higher-trim Odysseys — the EX-L with rear-seat entertainment starts at $40,300 with shipping — a stretch for families on a diaper budget.
- Bottom line: Honda's engineers are right: For passenger packaging and cargo capacity, there's still no substitute for a minivan, and the 2018 Odyssey only makes that argument more compelling. Its judiciously applied technology, polished interior and reassuring driving dynamics can ease the drudgery of the daily suburban schlep as well as they enhance the romance of the road trip. A worthy competitor for the outstanding Pacifica.
|2018 Honda Odyssey touring||2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring L Plus|
|Wheelbase||118.1 in.||121.6 in.|
|Length||203.2 in||203.8 in.|
|Width||78.5 in.||79.6 in.|
|Height||69.6 in.||69.9 in.|
|Seating||8 passengers||7 passengers|
|Curb weight||4,564 lbs.||4,330 lbs.|
|Cargo volume behind third row||32.8 cu. ft.||32.3 cu. ft.|
|Passenger volume||160.1 cu. ft||165.0 cu. ft.|
|Base engine||3.5-liter V-6||3.6-liter V-6|
|Transmission||10-speed auto||9-speed auto|
|Horsepower||280 @ 6,000 rpm||287 @ 6,400 rpm|
|Torque, lbs.-ft.||262 @ 4,700 rpm||262 @ 4,000 rpm|
|EPA mpg||19 city/28 hwy.||18 city/28 hwy.|
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