LINCOLN, Ala. -- Following seven consecutive years ranking as the most popular minivan in America, the all-new lower, more extensive, and sleeker 2018 Honda Odyssey compact-class minivan pops off an assembly line at Honda's large Alabama manufacturing plant in a fresh design geared for comfort and loaded with new tech features.
With an all-new vehicle architecture underpinning the 2018 models which comprise a fifth generation for the minivan, Odyssey dresses in a swept-back and trim body kit with edgy panel ripples and character lines that draw and delight the eye. The prow houses a nosey chrome-tipped flying wing grille and flanking corner lamp clusters with LED running lamps and optional LED headlights. The flanks reveal an encore of Odyssey's signature lightning-bolt beltline (but thankfully no sign of a typical minivan's unsightly sliding slab door tracks), while the squarish rump holds a broad and tall top-hinged liftgate (it operates with a convenient hands-free opening) and distinctive C-shaped taillamps pinned on back corners.
Odyssey's new platform and unibody structure employ ultra-high-strength steel, aluminum, and magnesium to forge a lighter-weight yet more rigid package. Honda reports the minivan's torsional body rigidity increases by 44 percent over the 2017 Odyssey body as overall weight decreases by as much as 96 pounds.
New motion mechanisms include a dual-pinion electric power steering system promising quick responses and easy maneuverability, and an independent suspension system with revised rear suspension trailing arm and stabilizer bar to improve ride quality and handling.
Honda constructs the 2018 Odyssey in six trim grades. All editions carry a powerful new V6 engine plus an extensive list of standard gear for safety.
Odyssey's aluminum 3.5-liter V6 engine with direct injection, VCM (variable cylinder management) and Honda's i-VTEC (variable valve timing and lift electronic control) valvetrain produce 280 hp -- a boost of 32 hp over the previous Odyssey V6.
The new V6 links to a 9-speed or 10-speed electronic automatic transaxle. Honda's all-new 10-speed -- world's first 10-speed automatic for front-wheel-drive vehicles -- comes from Honda's Precision Parts Georgia (HPPG) plant in Tallapoosa, Georgia. Initially, the 10-speed will appear in top trim tiers of Odyssey before working into all editions.
All versions of the 2018 Odyssey come with two front-hinged front-seat doors, two rear-sliding rear-seat slab doors, and one top-hinged cargo-bay liftgate.
Odyssey's expansive passenger compartment contains three rows of seats.
The first row consists of two high captain's chairs with full seats to fit a variety of American body sizes.
Seats on the second row move around to several positions for flexibility in hauling people and cargo -- Honda dubs it the Magic Slide Seat. The majority of the trim grades on Odyssey '18 add a jump seat on the second tier to forge a 3-person bench and achieve the minivan's 8-person capacity. Three child seats will fit on second-row positions, as the middle section slides forward for easy reach from the front-row. And all second-row seats fold, tip, slide or pop out easily -- as controlled by a single lever.
Seats on the third row manually fold into the floor to make more room for gear.
Behind the third tier is adequate storage space, although with the flexible seat system there are dozens of configurations for people and cargo.
Honda loads the 2018 Odyssey with comfort and convenience features. Depending on trim level, the Odyssey provides favored luxe items such as heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, wireless device charging and the HondaVAC built-in vacuum cleaner, which stows in the left wall of the rear cargo bay.
Regarding tech appointments, Odyssey '18 offers the Honda Sensing package of advanced safety and driver-assist electronic controls like a Multi-Angle Rear-View Camera, Collision Mitigation Braking System, and Adaptive Cruise Control. CabinWatch and CabinTalk devices enable Odyssey's driver to check on rear-seat riders via the 8-inch Display Audio screen and rear-cabin speakers plus wireless entertainment system headphones.
We estimate Honda's MSRP figures for the all-new 2018 Odyssey minivan will extend from $29,990 to $46,670.