The Honda Odyssey has been getting families – and possibly a friend and pet or two – from A to B since 1994, and the fifth generation of the minivan is making it easier for those up front keep tabs on and keep in touch with passengers down back, be they in the second or third rows. The 2018 Odyssey also gets a new Magic Slide second-row seat that can be configured in a variety of different layouts.
With three rows of seating, it can be hard for a driver to keep an eye on any mischief in the back seats while maintaining focus on the road ahead. The new Odyssey provides an extra set of eyes and ears through Honda's new CabinWatch and CabinTalk systems.
The former lets the driver and front passenger keep a watch on rear passengers via a camera relaying images to the displays up front – be it the driver's 7-in, full-color TFT or the 8-in 720p Display Audio touchscreen interface located in the center of the dash that is available on EX trims and above (which Honda expects to account for 95 percent of model sales). The camera also has an infrared mode, so parents can have eyes on the littlies day or night.
Meanwhile, CabinTalk lets the driver tell rear passengers to "settle down or I'm turning this car around" or answer any "are we there yet" queries via speakers in the second and third rows, or through the rear headphones if the passengers are enjoying some viewing on the 10.2-in WSVGA rear entertainment system mounted in the ceiling. This system can connect online via the optional in-vehicle 4G LTE Wi-Fi, public Wi-Fi, or someone's mobile data plan.
Youngsters in the back can also stay in control of their domain without bothering those up front by using the CabinControl app on their mobile device. The app gives control of the rear entertainment system, rear cabin air conditioning, and allows music from various family members to be compiled in a "social playlist." Destinations can also be forwarded to the vehicle's navigation system via the app. Another "How Much Farther?" app that tracks the vehicle's progress can let the kids answer the question of "are we there yet?" by themselves.
Once things have quietened down inside, Honda says exterior noise is kept at bay with triple door seals, optional front and side acoustic glass, more sound-deadening materials under the floor, under the fenders and in the engine compartment, and Active Sound Control technology fitted as standard.
Increasing cabin layout flexibility is the Magic Slide second-row seat, which slides between four different modes. Easy Access mode sees the center seat removed so the two seats either side can slide into five different positions. The center seat can then be slid forward, putting youngsters within reach of those in the front. Super mode sets the driver's side seat as forward as possible with the seatback tilted to allow walk-in access to the third row. Wide mode removes the center seat and places the two side seats as far from each other as possible, while Buddy mode does the opposite, putting the two seats up against one another in the center of the cabin.
Honda hasn't announced a hybrid model to compete with the Pacifica Hybrid. Instead, under the hood is a 3.5-liter, direct-injected i-TVEC V-6 engine with Variable Cylinder Management putting out 280 SAE net horsepower, which can be paired with one of two new transmissions: a 9-speed automatic or a first-of-its-kind for a minivan 10-speed automatic. Honda expects these powertrains, coupled with a more rigid (up 44 percent from the outgoing model) and lightweight (down 96 lb (44 kg) depending on trim) body, and new aerodynamic design to impress on EPA fuel economy ratings, which are yet to be announced.
In terms of safety, the 2018 Odyssey in EX trim and above will come with the Honda Sensing suite of technologies, which includes Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Active Shutter Grille, and advanced airbags, including new driver and front passenger knee airbags.
No pricing details have been announced, but the 2018 Honda Odyssey is due to enter showrooms in the (Northern Hemisphere) spring.