In the minivan segment, there are actually two vehicle categories. The first includes the Dodge Grand Caravan, for those whose budget is under $35,000, and the other includes all other minivan models, such as the Toyota Sienna, Kia Sedona, Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Odyssey. The latter was in dire need of an update, as its last makeover took place in 2011.
You can hardly tell at first glance, but the Odyssey’s style has completely changed, even though its silhouette is very similar to that of the old generation. Several welcome changes have modernized the passenger cabin. A large eight-inch screen now sits on top of the dashboard and displays information such as fuel consumption and navigation directions.
The dash also features a large infotainment screen that houses Honda’s new operating system. Compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the interface is modern and provides various connectivity options. In some trims, rear passengers are treated to an entertainment screen, used mainly for watching movies. While we’re on the subject, the second and third rows are so roomy that adults can comfortably occupy them.
Minivans are often victims of their size and weight. And more often than not, they’re boring to drive. That’s why manufacturers usually aim to make them as comfortable as possible, as it’s the key to a more enjoyable minivan experience. So when Honda announced that they had improved the ride and handling to create a sporty minivan, we were justifiably sceptical.
By sporty, they mean new, sports-like steering and architecture, along with a reinforced suspension and chassis. Unfortunately, this just isn’t enough. The suspension is a bit too firm, to the point that the vehicle gets tossed around on bad roads. In turns, it’s very rigid, but the vehicle’s true nature shines through just the same.
The vehicle comes with a new 3.5-litre V6 that delivers 280 horsepower. It’s paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission, but the Touring version gets a new and much better Honda-designed ten-speed gearbox, which should eventually be available for all versions. Note that fuel consumption is basically the same with both transmissions. The primary difference is that the ten-speed automatic is much smoother and more predictable.
The 2018 Honda Odyssey starts at $34,890 before shipping and preparation, with the fully equipped version going for $50,290. This makes it a little less pricy than the Pacifica. However, the botched attempt at making this minivan sporty means that it’s much less refined than the Pacifica. Nonetheless, the Odyssey remains a good choice with a reputation for reliability and, more importantly, for maintaining good resale value.