All-New 2018 Honda Odyssey Offers Quieter Cabin, 10-Speed Transmission
As anticipated, this brand-new minivan is loaded with clever features and amenities. But despite the additional technology, this three-row hauler is still up to 95 pounds lighter than its predecessor, with 44 percent greater torsional rigidity.
Dimensionally, the new fifth-generation Odyssey is about an inch (30 millimeters) narrower than the outgoing model but it’s also almost half an inch (roughly 10 millimeters) longer. It shares the same underlying architecture as the Pilot crossover.
Exterior styling is more conservative than expected, with clean, flat surfaces and a familiar Honda grille. Inside, things are a little more interesting. There’s a host of soft materials and premium leather in higher-trim models.
As in years past, a 3.5-liter gasoline V6 motivates the new Odyssey but output has swelled to an impressive – and class-competitive – 280 horses. It can be matched to one of two different automatic transmissions. A nine-speed will serve in lower-trim models, but upper-crust variants will feature a brand-new, Honda-developed 10-ratio unit.
When asked why they’re offering two different gearboxes, a company spokesman explained that this is because production of the 10-speed will ramp up gradually. Curiously, for customers that need a minivan but still enjoy the thrill of driving, this transmission will also offer paddle shifters.
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With its new drivetrain, lighter body and aerodynamic-enhancing active grille shutters, Honda executives expect the Odyssey to deliver best-in-class fuel economy, ditto for refinement. It should be the quietest and smoothest minivan on the market as well when it goes on sale next spring.
Jeff Conrad, senior vice president and general manager of the Honda Division said, “We’ve put a lot of work into that [NVH].” According to him, the new Pilot is the quietest Honda ever and the 2018 Odyssey is even more serene than that.
On the amenities front, there’s lots to talk about. One of this family hauler’s neatest parlor tricks is its Magic Slide second-row seats, which tumble and fold like teenage gymnasts. Aside from all of this, they also move along on lateral tracks so when the middle section is removed they can be pushed toward the center of the vehicle to provide easier access to the third row.
When asked why they didn’t opt to include something like Chrysler’s ingenious Stow ‘n Go system, where the second-row seats fold completely into the floor with the pull of a strap, Conrad said they focused on “comfort and convenience for the family,” providing cushier accommodations for passengers, which is what minivans are overwhelmingly used to carry, rather than sacrificing comfort for greater cargo-hauling versatility.
Appeasing today’s technophiles is a new Display Audio touchscreen infotainment system running a Honda-developed OS. It’s splashed across an eight-inch high-definition (720P) screen mounted on the dashboard. In addition to this, customers can also get 4G LTE service for on-the-go connectivity.
CabinTalk and CabinWatch are two new features found in the 2018 Odyssey. The former consists of a microphone and speaker system that allows the driver to more easily converse with rear-seat riders, the latter allows them to keep an eye on passengers, something that’s ideal when transporting infants or young children in car seats.
Safety is as important as ever, and Honda’s latest minivan won’t disappoint. It’s expected to ace the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s rigorous testing and drive off with a five-star score from NCAP.
Helping achieve these impressive ratings is plenty of sound engineering, but electronics also play a role. Honda Sensing, the firm’s suite of advanced driver-assistance technology will be offered on EX and higher trims, which are expected to account for 95 percent of sales. It includes features like collision mitigation braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, road-departure prevention and more.
You can look for the all-new 2018 Honda Odyssey at dealerships in the spring. Not surprisingly, pricing, and fuel-economy information should be released closer to its on-sale date, but stay tuned to AutoGuide.com for the latest news about this important family vehicle.
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Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for AutoGuide.com. When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).
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