2018 Honda Odyssey

Phase one complete, the Odyssey still has work to do to win us over.

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2018 Honda Odyssey
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2018 Honda Odyssey

October 2017

Intro: 2018 Honda Odyssey

July 2017

WHAT WE LIKE: The Odyssey continues to impress with its refinement and ability to soak up hundreds of highway miles with ease. That doesn’t change with lots of people and stuff aboard, as assistant Buyer’s Guide editor Annie White proved, stuffing the van with six people, six suitcases, six sleeping bags, a cooler, and several grocery bags of comestibles on a trip to northern Michigan. She and her travel companions remained comfortable and connected—as has our staff on other journeys—thanks to the van’s heated and ventilated front seats, spacious second- and third-row accommodations, multiple USB ports, and onboard Wi-Fi.

Other drivers have praised the hushed cabin, which is even quieter due to our Elite trim’s extra sound-deadening material compared with lesser Odysseys. The Elite gets acoustically treated window glass in each of the vehicle’s four doors, as well as thicker carpet and additional lining in the wheel wells.


We also like that our first service, at $71, didn’t break the bank; it was performed at just over 8000 miles and involved an oil change, tire rotation, and various inspections.

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE: Yet for all this, the Honda’s logbook contains plenty of negative comments—and not just from our staff’s avowed cranks. Most of the notes lament the fact that the Odyssey doesn’t have Stow ’n’ Go second-row seating like the Chrysler Pacifica that also currently occupies a spot in our long-term lot.

After wrestling a single seat in and out of the Honda, features editor Jeff Sabatini declared, simply: “Stow ’n’ Go 4 Life.” Deputy online editor Dave VanderWerp was more verbose: “I was missing Stow ’n’ Go after a furniture purchase over the weekend while carrying five occupants. In the Pacifica, I could have stowed one second-row bucket and the small side of the third row and fit the TV stand, while still comfortably seating all three kids. Instead, I was forced to slide the second row all the way forward, pinching the kids’ legroom, and then place the stand in at an angle. Even then it didn’t fit, and I had to secure the liftgate with twine. Advantage Pacifica.” We note that these comments come from drivers and not anyone forced to sit in the Pacifica’s far less comfortable second-row Stow ’n’ Go seats. Still, this critical lack of interior flexibility played a role in an Odyssey finishing second to a Pacifica in our most recent minivan comparison test.


WHAT WENT WRONG: Just one fault has popped up, but it has done so multiple times: On three occasions, all after remote-starting the Odyssey, the infotainment screen has stayed blank upon startup. Cycling the ignition, and in one case just leaving the screen alone for a few minutes, remedied the problem, but this is not the behavior we’ve come to expect from a Honda. In addition, Honda issued a recall for the third-row center seatbelt tongue, as it may fail to latch properly; we had no such problem with our van, but the repair was performed during the first service visit.

WHERE WE WENT: Since our last update, the Odyssey hasn’t ventured much beyond our home state’s borders, only heading to Kentucky for the solar eclipse. Still, the miles have piled up quickly thanks to the Honda serving duty on several family vacations and weekends spent Up North in Michigan.

Honda’s latest van signs up for 40,000 miles.

2018 Honda Odyssey

Minivans are the antithesis of cool, and some people would probably rather be seen wearing an adult diaper on their head for a week than be spotted driving a minivan for even an hour. But we here at Car and Driver—among the gas-huffingest and, let’s face it, most judgmental gearheads around—absolutely love minivans. Truly, our fondness for minivans springs from the same place as our affection for supercars, hot hatches, and the like, which is to say our deep respect and enthusiasm for vehicles with a purity of purpose and the ability to execute on it. Heck, we love stuff with sliding doors so much that we have two of them in our long-term test fleet right now, a Chrysler Pacifica and this freshly unboxed 2018 Honda Odyssey.

We Swear Our Pacifica Isn’t Painted “Odyssey Red”

The Honda arrived in our parking lot in top-spec Elite form, wearing Pacific Pewter metallic paint over Mocha leather upholstery. That means it’s gray, and the seats are dark brown. There was some thought given to testing a lower trim—we’d already spent time with the top model during our first-drive experience—but the Elite packs every single one of Honda’s goodies in one box, and there are a few new tricks we wanted to live with over the course of our 40,000-mile test.

These include CabinWatch and CabinTalk, two parental aids that use visuals and audio, respectively, to help keep better tabs on the kiddos in the second and third rows, as well as the Magic Slide seats that allow you to push together—or pull apart—the outboard second-row captain’s chairs when the center seat is removed. CabinWatch displays on the front center screen the view (in color during the day, and using infrared light at night) from a small camera embedded in the ceiling just ahead of the second row. Turns out kids still want to be TV stars, as ours love to perform when it’s activated, doing goofy dances, making funny faces, and the like. But more important, the system allows us to keep our eyes pointed forward while still checking on the young ’uns. CabinTalk uses a microphone to amplify front-seat occupants’ voices through either the van’s speakers or, more usefully, the rear-seat entertainment system’s headphones, pausing Blu-ray videos on the 10.2-inch screen and allowing you to make like an airline pilot. It’s a fun parlor trick but seems to be the type of feature that gets used infrequently.

Using the onboard AT&T 4G LTE connection, the rear screen can display output from built-in apps, such as Epix movies and PBS Kids TV, and it can stream content from smartphones connected to the Wi-Fi. We have yet to really test the system’s entertainment capabilities, but with our Odyssey already flying hither and yon during summer-vacation season, we’ll no doubt have plenty to report in subsequent updates.

Other items baked into our Elite van—per usual Honda practice, there are almost no stand-alone options on any trim level—include the handy HondaVac onboard vacuum cleaner, 11-speaker audio, navigation, a heated steering wheel, a power sunroof, automatic wipers and high-beams, and LED exterior lighting. The Elite also packs an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen at the top of the center stack that features crisp graphics, but we’ve found some of the virtual buttons to be too tiny and hard to press while on the move, even for a front-seat passenger, ahem, undistracted by driving. There are many more features we could list, but Honda prints brochures for a reason.


Honda’s first 10-speed automatic transmission—and the first ever for any front-wheel-drive vehicle—reports for duty on the Touring and Elite trims, which means it’s handling the gear swaps in our van. (Other Odysseys use a nine-speed auto.) We detected some funky shifting behavior from the 10-speed during our first drive, but no staffer has reported anything amiss with ours so far, and it shifts unobtrusively and rarely if ever busies itself pecking around for a gear. Odysseys with this transmission also get engine stop-start functionality, which stays out of the way about as well as such a system can. Initially, we wondered if we’d ever experience it during a weeklong trip, where the engine failed to shut down even once, but others have observed it since working regularly at stoplights and in traffic, firing up the 3.5-liter V-6 smoothly and quickly. That V-6 is velvety and, with 280 horses, powerful, and it can yank our 4574-pound Odyssey to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, tops among its competitors, including the slightly more powerful Pacifica. Through 3400 miles, the Odyssey has returned 24 mpg combined, 2 mpg better than what the EPA says to expect.

The ride quality has impressed us so far, with expansion joints and frost heaves ironed smooth despite the Elite’s largish 19-inch wheel-and-tire package. The steering is faithful if a bit light for some of our drivers—there’s some back and forth about preferences between the Pacifica’s and the Odyssey’s steering—but the van tracks straight and true. For those not into steering for themselves, the Elite’s standard Honda Sensing bundle of driver-assistance and safety-tech features includes a lane-keeping-assist system (LKAS) that, in conjunction with the adaptive cruise control, provides a measure of semi-autonomous functionality above 20 mph (below which the adaptive cruise annoyingly deactivates). Provided that the lane is well defined, the LKAS automatically steers to keep the Odyssey between the lines. Our early experiences say it does so with varying success; straight-line cruising is little problem (you still need to deliver a minute amount of steering input every so often to let it know you’re there), but we haven’t worked up the trust to let the system handle anything more than gentle sweepers, as it sometimes seems to lose the plot until the van is justabout to cross the outer line before applying steering to regain the proper path. It’s possible more exposure will find us warming to LKAS’s nuances, but so far it seems more suited for Nebraska than, say, the hills of West Virginia.

While our Honda hasn’t yet made it to those destinations, we have ventured to Kentucky and to Ohio—getting to Kentucky from here usually involves Ohio, but these were separate journeys. There’s plenty of time remaining in our 40,000-mile test for it to wander much farther afield, as well as to reveal major foibles. But we’re enjoying our time with the Odyssey, and neither it nor the Pacifica gets much time to cool off between trips. It turns out that minivans are more our style than goofy headgear.

Months in Fleet: 1 month Current Mileage: 3449 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 24 mpg Fuel Tank Size: 19.5 gal Fuel Range: 460 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0


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