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2018 Honda Odyssey Review

2018 Honda Odyssey Review
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The redesigned 2018 Honda Odyssey is exceptionally well thought out, brimming with cool tech, spacious, comfortable, and well controlled on the road. Add in plenty of safety features, and it's a smart way to carry the family.

The 2018 Honda Odyssey features more plugs, more packaging, and more conveniences than a rolling circus—including sticky cotton candy everywhere.

Just when we thought that every possible family-oriented convenience had been plugged into the world of minivans, Honda has delivered a new minivan with every imaginable feature, with one big rival in mind.

With the redesigned Odyssey, Honda's translated its Civic-on-steroids styling in its quest to take down the flashy minivan newcomer—the Chrysler Pacifica, which we named our 2017 Best Car to Buy.

The Odyssey’s biggest highlight may be a camera that lets the driver watch passengers in the second and third rows without the distraction of having to look back, but the Odyssey is positively packed with new features.

Other new features include sliding second-row seats with a removable middle section and outboard seats that slide fore and aft and side to side. Also new are 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot capability that can power the rear entertainment system, a wireless charging pad for smartphones, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and an app that lets passengers set the rear temperature and send songs to the radio. That's in addition to the carryover in-van vacuum that comes on the top two models.

Honda offers plenty of luxury features, too, including heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, a hands-free tailgate, ambient lighting, and an 11-speaker sound system.

Honda made performance changes to improve the way the Odyssey drives. The new structure is stiffer, the steering is quicker, and there are new 9- and 10-speed automatic transmissions.

Under the hood lies a new 3.5-liter V-6 that produces 280 horsepower, 32 more than last year. Fuel economy improves, making the Odyssey the most efficient minivan in the class, aside from the plug-in Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. More effort was also made to block noise in the cabin.

On the safety front, the new Odyssey adds such features as automatic emergency braking and forward-collision warnings, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control. All but the base model get all of these features, but all models get knee airbags for the driver and front passenger. Crash-test scores are nearly perfect.

Its lightning-bolt profile adds visual interest and the Honda Odyssey has some presence, but it isn’t pretty.

Like the outgoing Odyssey, the 2018 model should stand out from its competitors in a parking lot, but it's not the prettiest minivan on the market. That distinction goes to the Chrysler Pacifica.

The Odyssey's front end is intentionally derivative of the brand's Pilot crossover and Civic compact car, and all models now have active grille shutters to improve aerodynamic efficiency on the highway. A large chrome grille runs between headlights that contain LED running lamps. LED headlights and fog lights are included on the top Touring model.

From the side, the Odyssey retains the previous model's "lightning bolt" chrome belt line kink, but it's toned down. However, this van dresses things up a little with a deep swoop carved into its hinged front and sliding rear doors. Honda moved the sliding-side-door channels to the bottom of the third-row window glass to hide them better.

The rear end echoes the front's chrome bar theme and includes standard LED taillights.

Inside, Honda added more soft-touch materials to give the Odyssey a more expensive look. It’s built around a digital instrument cluster and a large center screen. A massive center console has deep storage and a wide, flat area to put purses and the like in front of it. It's not beautiful, but it is useful.

The 2018 Honda Odyssey is the best controlled and quickest minivan on the market.

Minivans aren't known for their power delivery or handling prowess, but the Odyssey stands out as the best-driving minivan on the market. We rate the Odyssey a 7 for performance, giving it points for its controlled character and strong acceleration.

Changes for 2018 contribute to improvements on multiple fronts.

The 2018 Honda Odyssey gets a new structure that boasts 44 percent more torsional stiffness. The platform is related to that of the Honda Pilot and Acura MDX, and it contributes to a weight loss of up to 75 pounds versus the outgoing model. A new steering system has a quicker steering ratio, and a new rear suspension has a rear stabilizer bar for the first time.

On the road, the result is a higher level of vehicle control. The Odyssey reins in up-and-down and side-to-side motions better than its competitors and feels tied down to the road as much as a good family crossover. It rides well, too, though there is more road feel than you will get in the Chrysler Pacifica. Some drivers may like that while others won't.

Honda also made considerable effort to control noise this time around, adding a barrier carpet, spraying expanding acoustic foam in 14 locations of the body, installing thicker windshield and front window glass in all models and acoustic glass on higher-line models, and using triple door seals. All models have active noise cancellation to help mask any imbalance caused by the cylinder deactivation.

Under the hood, Honda installed a new 3.5-liter V-6, replacing an engine of the same size. This one, however, makes 32 more horsepower for a total of 280. Aiding the V-6 are two new automatic transmissions, a 9-speed and a 10-speed. We haven't driven the 9-speed, but this transmission has been known to deliver slushy shifts and have trouble reaching its top gear. The Honda-developed 10-speed, however, is a revelation. It shifts smoothly and responsively, and makes full use of the range of its gears, as long as you get to about 70 mph. Unfortunately, only the Touring and Elite models get the 10-speed.

Honda says the Odyssey is a second quicker in the 0-60 mph run than any competitor, and a comparison drive versus the 287-horsepower Chrysler Pacifica made it clear that the Honda’s V-6 and 10-speed combination certainly feels stronger, especially from a stop. We’ll reserve judgement between these until Honda lets us drive the Odyssey with the 9-speed automatic it will fit to most models.

Comfort & Quality
For families with kids, the Honda Odyssey has lots of space and versatile seating that tops the class for comfort.

Honda has improved the Odyssey's interior in terms of seating flexibility, materials quality, and tech features that can entertain the family. That's in addition to an already generous interior space that can accommodate up to eight and carry lots of diaper bags, sporting equipment, camping gear, and anything else the family needs.

The Odyssey's dashboard could have been plucked from the company's CR-V crossover. A multi-configurable center console offers the obligatory space for a multitude of beverages and other small items, plus purses, laptops, tablets, and whatever else life throws at it. Plus, this year it features more soft-touch surfaces that impart a high-quality feel.

Honda calls the Odyssey's reconfigured second- and third-row seats Magic Slide. The second row features three individual seats. The middle seat can be removed to allow for a captain's chair-like walk-through to row three. The two outboard seats can be moved fore and aft or side to side; they can also allow that center walkthrough, or they can be pushed up against one another, too. Moreover, the seats can be pushed forward to allow for better access to the third row—and they can now be moved with a child seat still attached.

Honda's traditionally good attention to detail shows through even more for 2018. Higher trim levels include stain-resistant leather in the first and second rows as well as black carpeting and black seat belts that the automaker says will help hide stains.

But here's the caveat, and it's bound a big one for some buyers: The second row seats need to be removed manually (and stored somewhere outside of the Odyssey) if owners want to maximize their cargo space. Unlike the Chrysler Pacifica's Stow 'N Go system, they do not fold and stow in the van's floor, meaning impromptu big-item hauling will take some careful arranging inside.

If you do take out those seats, which weigh about 70 pounds each, the Odyssey becomes the roomiest in the minivan segment with up to 144.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the first row. Most models also offer a healthy 32.8 cubic feet behind the third row and an SUV-like 86.6 cubic feet of space behind the second-row seat.

Folding down the third-row seats is as easy as pulling on a pair of straps and either letting the seats fall into the rear well or giving them a little push to make sure they do. Putting them back up just requires a tug on a provided handle on each seat back.

The trade-off for the lack of a Stow 'N Go-type feature is thicker, more sculpted, and therefore more comfortable second-row seats that also have about as much room as the comfortable and roomy first-row seats. The third row, aside from being easy to get into thanks to Magic Slide is also adult-friendly, something that can be said of few third rows on the market.

High-tech features

A high-resolution 8.0-inch touchscreen display sits high on the dash, where it's flanked by big air vents. It runs the same infotainment system we've seen in the latest CR-V and, mercifully, it includes a volume knob (much to our chagrin, the 2017 Odyssey did not). Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are included, as is a 4G LTE hotspot for in-vehicle wi-fi use.

The driver looks at a big 7.0-inch high-resolution screen that will handle a variety of vehicle functions. It serves as a digital odometer and tachometer, a trip computer, among other functions.

Available for the center screen is the new CabinWatch feature, which displays a live video feed of the second- and third-row of seats. The days of swiveling around to tell the back seat to quiet down are over, meaning drivers can safely keep their eyes pointed forward. The video is infrared, so it works at night and the driver can zoom in on any seat.

CabinWatch works with a CabinTalk system that features a microphone mounted near the driver that amplifies their voice over the vehicle's audio system or its rear entertainment system headphones for the second and third rows of seats. It's a great way to yell at the kids.

The optional rear seat entertainment system also gets a big upgrade—something it needed since many families opt instead to let kids use tablets. There's a 10.2-inch flip-down screen with 4G LTE-based apps like PBS Kids, iHeart Radio, Spotify, and more. A "How Much Farther" app lets the kids track the vehicle's progress to its destination; while it probably won't eliminate "Are we there yet?" it's a step in the right direction.

A new CabinControl app will also let any passenger with a smartphone control the rear screens and rear climate control system, as well as send songs to the sound system and destinations to the navigation system.

Available comfort and convenience features above and beyond the usual include a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, wireless device charging, and an in-van vacuum.

With the Odyssey, Honda earns near-perfect crash-test scores.

The 2018 Honda Odyssey adds some active safety features that the last-generation model did not offer. The result: near-perfect crash-test scores.

The NHTSA says the Odyssey earns a five-star score overall. In nearly every test it's rated the same, but in rollover resistance, it earns four stars, preventing it from earning a perfect score here.

The IIHS calls it a Top Safety Pick, which means it earns "Good" scores in all tests and has "Superior" front-crash protection provided by forward-collision warnings. Its headlights are rated "Acceptable," but only on Touring and Elite models with special LED reflectors.

Standard safety equipment consists of the usual government-mandated features, plus three-row curtain side airbags with rollover sensors, driver and front passenger knee airbags, and a rearview camera. However, that is just the base model. All of the rest of the models add forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings and active lane control, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts. Honda says 95 percent of buyers will get those features.

Front and rear parking sensors are standard on the Touring and Elite models.

All Odysseys offer the features you need to haul the family in comfort, but only top models get the new 10-speed and the most desirable tech gear.

Honda offers the 2018 Odyssey in six models: LX, EX, EX-L, EX-L Nav & RES, Touring and Elite. Even the base model is fairly well equipped, but buyers will want to move up to the EX for its power sliding side doors, which are a must in a minivan.

We rate the Odyssey a 10 for features, giving it points for the its strong base equipment, the plentiful features of higher-line models, the entertainment choices, and the features that help the driver make life easier.

The 2018 Honda Odyssey LX comes standard with a 60/40-split folding third-row seat, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a four-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, keyless ignition, cruise control, a tilt/telescoping steering column, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, automatic climate control, a rearview camera, a seven-speaker audio system, power mirrors, power windows, power locks, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

The Odyssey EX model adds dual power sliding side doors, Magic Slide second-row seats that slide fore and aft and side to side, a second-row center seat, second-row sunshades, a 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, a display audio system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, HD radio, HondaLink apps connectivity, the CabinControl app that lets occupants control the climate system and send songs to the playlist from their smartphones, automatic headlights, heated door mirrors with turn indicators, fog lights, and remote starting.

The EX also adds safety features, including blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts and automatic high beams, plus the Honda Sensing package, which includes adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings and active lane control, and road departure mitigation.

The EX-L adds leather, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, two-position memory for the driver's seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a universal garage door opener, a sunroof, and a power tailgate.

On top of that, the Odyssey EX-L Nav & Res gets navigation with voice recognition and real-time traffic information, a Blu-ray rear entertainment system with wireless headphones, a 115-volt power outlet, and Honda's CabinTalk system that allows the driver to talk to all passengers through the speakers or those wireless headphones.

Odyssey Touring models add the new 10-speed automatic transmission, start/stop technology, Honda's CabinWatch feature that points a camera at any seat in the vehicle and lets the driver see the image on the center screen, 4G LTE mobile hotspot capability, an in-vehicle vacuum cleaner, third-row sunshades, a hands-free power tailgate, LED headlights, LED fog lights, and front and rear parking sensors.

The top-line 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite model gets an 11-speaker audio system, wireless phone charging, a heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, ambient lighting, gloss black interior trim, rain-sensing wipers, power-folding exterior mirrors, and 19-inch wheels.



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