While many families have turned to three-row SUVs and crossovers, there's still a dedicated group of people who prefer the flexibility and low load heights of minivans. For those folks, they'll have an all-new 2018 Honda Odyssey to consider, which makes its world debut at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
With families in mind, Honda set about improving Odyssey's cabin by making it quieter, more flexible and piling in plenty of practical and entertainment technology. According to Honda, the new van boasts the quietest cabin in the class thanks to triple door seals, increased sound deadening, a standard noise cancellation system and available acoustic front and side glass.
A quieter cabin lets passengers clearly listen to tunes over a new display audio system featuring an 8-inch touchscreen with a traditional volume knob (hooray!), as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities. For the kiddies in the second and third rows, there's a rear entertainment system capable of streaming video through an optional 4G LTE Wi-Fi connection, or through another Wi-Fi source such as a phone.
Honda's new CabinControl app is another trick feature that lets occupants use a phone to control the rear entertainment system, adjust rear climate, send destinations to the van's navigation system and upload music to the audio system.
To help parents keep a watchful eye on potential troublemakers in the back, an available CabinWatch system uses a camera that works both in day and night projecting a real-time image of what's happening in the back two rows on the Display Audio system's front screen. If things get out of hand, parents can use the CabinTalk system to give kids out back a stern talking to through the rear speakers and entertainment system headphones so their message is heard loud and clear.
Interior updates don't end with the tech, though. A new Magic Slide second-row seat system brings four different seating configurations to meet people-moving, cargo-hauling and accessibility needs. Separation mode has the center seat out and the captain's seats in the outer positions. Buddy mode has the center seat out and the captain's seats pushed together in the center. Easy Access mode has the seat behind the driver moved to the center and forward so front passengers can be within close reach of a child, and Super mode is Easy Access but with the seatback tilted forward for wide-open access to the third-row.
On the safety front, the new Odyssey will offer automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, land departure warning, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and parking sensors.
Powering the family hauler will be a more powerful version of the 3.5-liter, direct-injected V6 engine with cylinder deactivation. For 2018, power increases by 32 to 280 horsepower, and will work with a nine-speed automatic transmission, or a new 10-speed unit on higher grade models.
Not only will the new Odyssey be quicker, but it will handle better thanks to a chassis and body structure built from more high-strength steel, aluminum and magnesium. Curb weight drops by up to 96 pounds depending on model, while body rigidity increases by 44 percent compared to the current model. A more response power steering system and re-engineered rear suspension also help sharpen reflexes.
Look for the 2018 Odyssey to arrive this spring ready to take on the likes of the recently redone Chrysler Pacifica, Toyota Sienna and Kia Sedona. Base pricing for the new Odyssey isn't available yet, but it shouldn't be far off from the current van, which starts at $29,850.