Granted, Honda Odyssey is recognized as the best selling minivan of this decade, with Toyota Sienna close on its tail, and the upstart of the segment, Chrysler Pacifica, coming up fast in the rear view mirror. And let’s not forget Kia Sorento, a dynamic looking, turbocharged contender offering Kia’s proprietary slant on what a minivan should be -- they’re all pretty good. What sets 2018 Honda Odyssey above the competition? Time for a cup of coffee? Read this on the way to the break room.
Honda takes a “driver’s” approach to the minivan through exceptional V6 power
What that does for me and others that may appreciate the fuel efficient, on-tap power and torque afforded by turbocharged 4-cylinder gasoline engines, but don’t care for the raucous, high revving characteristic of a smaller displacement motor, is remove the associated engine noise, while retaining most if not all of the across the shift range available torque and sprint speed.
For 2018, Honda employs the time tested 60* single cam 24 Valve V6, with a twist or two. This year Odyssey comes standard with +30 horsepower, and +12 lb-ft-torque, and does so while returning fuel efficiency, thanks to direct cylinder atomized fuel injection, and VCM (variable cylinder management.) Truthfully, modern engine propulsion is a complicated balancing act between drive-by-wire exceptional on-tap passing power, emission standards, and fuel efficiency.(19 city /28 highway /22 combined)
Honda balances power and fuel efficiency exceptionally well in Odyssey, all the way down to the electronic vibration cancelling active engine mounts. Honda tells us that this is the same engine and transmission technology found in 2017 Pilot, I like that.280 horsepower V6, plus a 9 or 10 speed automatic transmission, with paddle shift, drive mode selection, and redesigned suspension
Granted, I preffer the feel of a select shift stick in my hand, Odyssey never featured a center console stick, it was positioned on the dash, but it worked well. For 2018 both transmission offerings are activated with the push of a well lit button, with reverse activated by the pressing of a toggle -- they too work flawlessly, once one gets used to the positioning.
I found the parking brake setup to be a bit awkward at first. It too is electronically activated by a push toggle situated on the dash to the left of the very smart steering wheel. No worries, once your seat belt is unbuckled, Odyssey will default to “park” so the specifications tell us. It’s a brave new world, embrace it!
While much is being made of the interactive smartphone app, kiddy channel pre voyage downloading, onboard wi-fi connectivity, and Cabin Watch ™ , I simply enjoy driving Odyssey -- that’s the Odyssey benefit for parents, it’s a pleasant driving vehicle. Easy to maneuver in town, road conquering and comfortable on long drives.
On our recent Family Odyssey adventure, I was missing one key ingredient, a young family in tow. So, I adopted one to demonstrate the family fun and convenience associated with the redesigned 2018 Odyssey, watch that video here.
Getting back to the drive
2018 Honda Odyssey presents the quietest interior cabin in the segment. Honda engineering claims a reduced interior engine and road transmission noise level of - 3 DB. While the differential doesn’t read like much, the library, normal talking voice level communication experienced in the cabin is measurable -- thanks to available acoustic glass, thicker carpet padding, triple door seals, wheel well treatments, active electronic noise cancellation, frame cavity foam integration, seam sealing and more.
Furthermore, Odyssey’s frame is much more rigid than in past generations -- less frame flex results in better road handling, superior safety and a quieter interior. When combined with superior dampening(shocks) and Odyssey’s redesigned rear suspension, we experience a very “flat” cornering attitude, with road to steering wheel feedback akin to may premium sport sedans on the road today. If there’s such a thing as a “driver’s” minivan, the 2018 Honda Odyssey is it.
My driving partner and wife Nancy doesn’t like me driving aggressively with here in the car, so I dropped her off for a moment, and dropped the hammer
On our last driving day in Kona, it occurred to me that I’d been driving “aloha style” for the better part of two days -- it must have been the pineapple, man. It was time to measure the acceleration and passing capabilities of our 2018 Odyssey Elite. Dropping into Odyssey’s Italian-shoe-leather-like comfortable, 12-way adjusted driver's seat, I reflected on my drive time in the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica earlier that afternoon.
I found the Pacifica to be rather sporty and acceleration happy, due to a bit more horsepower and torque, yet somehow, Honda engineers created a sense of greater driver cockpit space, and unobstructed forward visual field. It’s that thing that Honda does so well -- the engine performance difference was negligible.
Our Odyssey Elite test ride was equipped with Honda’s designed and manufactured in Alabama 10 speed automatic transmission, featuring drive mode selection(dry surface and snow) steering wheel mounted paddle shifting, a Park, Reverse, Drive and Sequential mode. I opted for the closer, more aggressive gear spacing of sequential mode, push buttoned into drive, released the parking brake, and dropped the drive-by-wire accelerator to the floor. In full disclosure, I’ve driven thousands of miles in Honda Odyssey, and always found on tap power to be more than adequate. But in this instance, I was blown away by the new found acceleration and torque produced by Odyssey’s new engine.
As to the transmission
I find it to be a bit busy. But, it does maximize available torque throughout the shift range, while dropping the final drive engine revolutions to that of most diesel engines. At 70 MPH, Odyssey is tooling along at just a bit over 1500 rpm -- with no measurable lack of grade climbing capability. Astounding.Trim levels and availability
Honda has not announced a dealership arrival date, although they are rolling of the assembly line as of this writing. As to pricing: Your basic, well equipped Odyssey LX sports a beginning MSRP of $29,990 + delivery, prep, taxes, etc. The top of the mark, decked out, family hauler limousine 2018 Odyssey Elite carries a noteworthy MSRP of $46,670 +. This Odyssey lacks nothing all the way down to the rear compartment integrated Hondavac ™.
Odyssey EX-L Navi/RES
What we like: Great ride stability, comfort, transformable seating, climate control, V6 engine, and decent fuel efficiency.
Changes I'd like to see: A near-future plug-in electric hybrid option for greater fuel efficiency and electric-only driving. greater adjustment front passenger seat, a first row seat bin for tall object hauling, greater headroom (adults) in the 3rd row. I recommend test driving 2018 Honda Odyssey to anyone considering the purchase of a 3-row minivan -- it's that good!