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  • 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite

    Posted on August 9th, 2017 ninarussin

    Best-selling minivan appeals to growing families

    By Nina Russin

    2018 Honda Odyssey

    2018 Honda Odyssey

    For years, the Honda Odyssey has been a dependable choice for growing families. Although the segment has decreased in size, minivans remain still an important player in the automotive universe due to their unique capabilities for this group of buyers. Honda’s newest Odyssey should continue the model’s leadership role, thanks to a more powerful engine, ten-speed automatic transmission boosting fuel economy and advanced active safety technology.

    The Odyssey has grown significantly in size over the years: once built on the Accord platform and now sharing underpinnings with the Pilot crossover. But the newest model is as easy-to-drive, maneuver, load and unload as its predecessors. Twenty-two mile-per-gallon fuel economy helps parents stay within their budget, so the summer road trip remains part of the mix.

    2018 Honda Odyssey

    2018 Honda Odyssey

    Power for the newest model comes from a 3.5-liter VTEC V-6 engine and ten-speed automatic transmission for the premium front-wheel drive grades. Variable cylinder management automatically shuts off fuel to half the engine cylinders when power demands are low to extend the car’s range.

    Base price for the Elite model tested is $46,670, excluding the $940 delivery charge. Honda loads the car up with all the safety, comfort and convenience features buyers are looking for so they don’t have to wade through a laundry list of option packages. Final MSRP is $47,610.

    Test drive in Phoenix, Arizona

    2018 Honda Odyssey

    2018 Honda Odyssey

    Over the past week I drove the Odyssey through Phoenix, Arizona’s east valley as well as sections of the Gila River Indian Community to the southeast. The Odyssey proved a willing and appealing partner: a tall order at the peak of the Southwestern summer heat.

    Even with the Eco setting engaged, the climate control system cooled the vehicle down within ten minutes. Car interiors reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit or more here in the summer, so the ability to make a large interior comfortable that quickly is no small feat.

    Honda uses a push-button transmission to eliminate the shift lever, freeing up space in the center console for additional storage. In this case, a large bin can easily hold a tablet, backpack or large purse. A tray in front of the center console is big enough for a bag of carry-out, preventing it from rolling around on the floor.

    2018 Honda Odyssey

    2018 Honda Odyssey

    The standard rearview camera displays a wide-angle view to the back when the driver shifts into reverse, eliminating blind spots beneath the rear glass and around the D-pillars. Blind spot monitoring illuminates LED signals when vehicles in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots. The Honda system works quite well, with no false signals when vehicles in adjacent lanes signal to turn at a stoplight.

    The 3.5-liter engine adds 32-horsepower over the outgoing model, giving drivers plenty of power for passing slower vehicles on the highway. Direct injection improves throttle response for good acceleration off the line and in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging into high-speed traffic.

    Engineers used ultra-high strength steel to make the car body more rigid. Since minivans are basically a giant box, torsional rigidity makes a noticeable difference in how the car handles, especially when turning. A new electric power steering system makes the Odyssey more maneuverable at low speeds. On-center response on the highway is also quite solid.

    2018 Honda Odyssey

    2018 Honda Odyssey

    Both front and rear suspensions are attached to subframes with rubber mounting points to reduce road chatter, so occupants enjoy a smoother, more comfortable ride. Honda uses a strut-type suspension up front and new compact trailing-arm rear suspension to minimize intrusion to the cargo area and rear seating areas. Stabilizer bars on both axles keep the chassis flat in the corners.

    Visibility around the perimeter is good. As with most new cars, the Odyssey has a high beltline and narrower greenhouse, but I had no problems with over-the-shoulder visibility.

    Engineers did an excellent job minimizing noise intrusion to the interior, so three rows of occupants can converse or enjoy the audio system.

    Family-friendly interior

    2018 Honda Odyssey

    2018 Honda Odyssey

    Honda’s new second-row magic seats slight laterally into five different positions in addition to fore and aft, so parents can configure the interior to meet their specific needs. The new seats also improve access and egress to the third row.

    The Elite model comes with leather upholstery and trim: not necessarily the most practical surface for families with small kids, but attractive and upscale. An eleven-speaker audio system comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite and HD radio. A USB interface allows users to load-in their own soundtracks.

    Programming the audio system isn’t particularly intuitive. I like knobs and buttons for simple functions such as channel selection, since they are easier to access on the go than multiple clicks on a touchscreen.

    2018 Honda Odyssey

    2018 Honda Odyssey

    A 115-volt power outlet enables kids to plug in games on long road trips. Tri-zone climate control keeps all three rows of passengers comfortable in temperature extremes while second and third-row sunshades prevent the back of the vehicle from getting too hot during the summer.

    Third-row seats fold flat in a 60/40 pattern, making the Odyssey bicycle friendly. The arrangement enables owners to keep one third-row seat in place for a seventh passenger, even with large cargo loaded in back. A hands-free power liftgate, standard on the Elite model, makes it easier to load up the cargo bay.

    Standard safety

    The Honda Odyssey comes with eight airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, daytime running lamps and tire pressure monitoring. Standard safety features on the Elite model include automatic on/off LED headlamps, LED tail lamps and LED fog lamps, rain-sensing wipers, rearview camera with cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, walk-away auto lock, lane departure warning and mitigation, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and mitigation.

    Honda builds the Odyssey at its Lincoln, Alabama assembly plant.

    Like: A stylish, versatile minivan with advanced active safety features, a peppy engine, good ride and handling and good fuel economy.

    Dislike: Audio system is difficult to program.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Honda
    Model: Odyssey Elite
    Year: 2018
    Base price: $46,670
    As tested: $47,620
    Horsepower: 280 HP @ 6000 rpm
    Torque: 262 lbs.-ft. @ 4700 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 19/28 mpg city/highway

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