THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: Honda engineering excellence with acceptable fuel economy even with a full load of people or towing.
- What’s Worst: Because of what it is designed to do, Odyssey is very large and thus takes practice parking in tight spaces.
- What’s Interesting: The Honda Sensing comprehensive suite of safety features is standard on all models – a first for Honda.
CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI: “Everything you need in a minivan” is how Honda sums up the 2018 Odyssey.
And when it comes to minivans, Honda believes they are far from a dying species in a world increasingly dominated by CUV/SUV sales.
In truth, the Odyssey sells so well in Canada that Honda could have gone another year or two and reaped the fiscal rewards and delayed launching the 2018 model.
But go ahead Honda did, with the fifth generation building on Odyssey’s strengths and correcting any weaknesses no matter small they might be.
First, the exterior design has been cleaned up with the lateral grove for the sliding door panel removed.
There is new rear LED lighting, new wheels and a small, blacked out panel at the base of the D pillar to give the roof a “floating” look.
On the inside the instrument panel is much changed. The most noticeable item is the deletion of the centre stack shift handle, not surprisingly replaced by the push button system borrowed from the Honda Pilot CUV on which the front half of the Odyssey is based.
Although the exterior is more fluidly styled, engineers were able to gain cargo and passenger room with Honda claiming best-in-class ingress/egress while also swallowing a 4X8 sheet of building material with the seats folded flat.
Making this all possible is due in no small part to Odyssey’s Magic Slide second row seats, which offer four different seat/space positions.
First, the second row middle seat pops out and the fun begins with the Easy Access mode allowing the outboard seats to slide laterally through five selectable positions. That creates more access to the third row, even with one or two rear-facing child seats installed in the second row seats.
Next, the Super mode can be used for maximum access to the back row with either outboard seat set to walk-in position.
The two outboard seats in their outward most position is called Wide mode. The Buddy mode enables the two outboard seats to come together in the centre of the vehicle, putting the two people side by side.
Lastly, sliding either outboard second-row seat to its most forward position puts a child within easy reach of the driver and front-seat passenger.
It would take this entire story just to get into the connected features, but one I would have loved when my kids were youngsters is CabinWatch.
Touch the camera icon on the centre stack eight-inch display and a camera imbedded on the ceiling over the second-row area shows what’s going on in the back.
If things are getting rowdy, you can use the new CabinTalk in-car public address system that allows the driver to talk with the second- and third-row passengers through the third-row speakers. If you have the available Rear Entertainment System, you can also calm things down through the wireless headphones and third-row headphone jacks.
And you gotta love the new CabinControl app, which puts normally out-of-reach features at second-and third-row passengers’ fingertips via their smartphones.
Honda Sensing on Odyssey is standard across the board and includes Collision Mitigation Braking System with Forward Collision Warning, Road Departure Mitigation with Lane Keeping Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control.
Propulsion remains a SOHC 3.5-litre V6 but power and torque are up 280 hp and 262 lb/ft respectively, with a nine-speed automatic standard on all trim levels except the top line Touring, which gets a brand new in-house designed 10-speed automatic.
Charlottetown was the venue for the Canadian media launch of the 2018 Odyssey, where a local jokingly told us P.E.I. stands for Potholes Everywhere on the Island, which proved to be the case during part of a sodden day of rain.
For those who have not been there, P.E.I. can be as hilly as it is scenic, with the potholes and standing water making for unpleasant going in some places.
The Odyssey, being based on the Pilot CUV, is 75 lb lighter and the chassis 44 per cent stiffer than the outgoing Odyssey. And with a new front and rear suspension, it acquits itself very well in the ride and handling department despite its long wheelbase and size.
The quietness of the cabin, even with the empty space behind the front seats which should have acted like the interior of a big drum, was the biggest surprise, not to mention all the luxury amenities in the topline Touring models we where driving.
After a full day in the new Odyssey, I could see why owners are so loyal. My neighbour is on this fifth and was invited to a sneak peek of the 2018 by the local dealer while I was away testing this one.
There are times when you need to seat seven or eight people and the 2018 Honda Odyssey is one of the best ways to do it.
2018 Honda Odyssey
BODY STYLE: Five-door, seven/eight-seat luxury minivan
DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, front-wheel-drive
ENGINE: 3.5-litre SOHC V6 (280 hp, 262 lb/ft of torque) with nine- or 10-speed automatic transmission
FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular) Nine-speed auto, 12.6/8.4/10.7 city/highway/combined; 10-speed auto, 12.2/8.5/10.6
CARGO VOLUME: 929 litres behind third row; 2,452 litres behind second row; 3,984 litres behind front row
TOW RATING: Nine-speed, 1,361 kg (3,000 lb); 10-speed, 1,587 kg (3,500 lb)
PRICE: LX, $34,890; EX, $38,090-$39,590; EXL, $44,590; Touring, $50,290
WEB SITE: www.honda.ca