2018 Honda Odyssey embraces vintage tech [video review]

Well, my husband is at it again. He won a bid for a small 1956 console stereo that we certainly don’t need, but will look perfect in our mid-century home. So, we’re in the redesigned 2018 Honda Odyssey driving to Grand Rapids, Michigan to pick it up. Turns out, the Odyssey is just about the perfect ride, whether picking up a vintage stereo or conjuring modern technology and comfort.

I’m actually writing this story from the front passenger seat. My laptop is plugged into the household power outlet in the console and I’m zapping photos from Honda’s media site with on-board Wi-Fi. My daughter is in the back seat watching The Secret Life of Pets for the zillionth time on the flip down screen. She looks too cute on the CabinWatch rear seat monitor, and I can even speak through her headphones with the CabinTalk voice amplifier. Maybe when she’s finished, I’ll use Bluetooth to stream music and make a couple of calls – provided the wireless phone charger does its job.

It’s a pretty sexy minivan with space for your entire posse. Designers went to town on the exterior, dressing it with flowing lines that keep the Z windowline from the previous generation and adding a broken rear pillar for flair. Up front, a wide string of LED headlamps and foglamps accentuate the streamlined nose. Moving rearward, 19” alloys and LED taillights ritz it up.

Back inside, seven passengers fit comfortably. Heated and cooled front leather thrones plus heated outboard seats in the rear keep undersides at one’s desired temp. The heated leather-wrapped steering wheel will soothe winter hands. Tri-zone climate control, power moonroof, power sliding doors, and power hatch add convenience.

It’s a much nicer place to travel. Stitched dash coverings look and feel nice. At night, blue light seeps from dash crevices – which looks beautiful underlining the flat screen instrument display. Praise all things holy, Honda’s decrepit twin-screen infotainment system was deep-sixed in exchanged for a much simpler single unit. It even has a proper volume knob, though a tuning knob would also be appreciated. Until then, the swipescreen works well enough to flip through stations and music lists.

Moving deeper into the van’s technology, navigation plotted a direct course to meet the stereo’s previous owner while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto made connecting smart devices intuitive. Odyssey stamps its safety card with adaptive cruise, forward collision warning with auto braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, parking sensors, and even a road departure mitigation system that shakes the steering wheel and nudges the van back into its lane.

Honda keeps it simple under the Odyssey’s nose. Producing enough juice to squirch the front tires and accelerate effortlessly onto the freeway is a 280 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine that connects through a new 10-speed automatic transmission. Auto stop/start enables 19/28-MPG city/highway – relatively frugal numbers for a large three-row conveyance.

With work complete, I take the wheel for the return drive home. Hondas always seem like a team of engineers who are passionate about driving had their say. Even the Odyssey feels sporty and composed, with tight steering and expert build quality, over virtually any road. Traveling through mountains would be enjoyable for passengers and driver alike. On straight open highways, the van just settled in and delighted this tired boy.

I’m hoping my husband quits collecting vintage stereos because our little vintage house is running out of space, but if he goes at it again on eBay, I hope another Odyssey is sitting in the driveway. A base price of $29,990, or $47,610 as-tested, makes it a good value for all it offers. Competitors include the Chrysler Pacifica, Toyota Sienna, and Kia Sedona.

Storm Forward!

Watch Casey’s video review of the Honda Odyssey above, then follow him on YouTube and Twitter: @AutoCasey.

2018 Honda Odyssey Elite
Seven-passenger, FWD Mini-van
Powertrain: 280hp 3.5-liter V6, 10-speed auto transmission
Suspension f/r: Ind/Trailing arm
Wheels f/r: 19”/19” alloy
Brakes f/r: disc/disc
Must-have features: Style, Handling
Fuel economy: 19/28 mpg city/hwy
Assembly: Lincoln, AL
Base/as-tested price: $29,990/47,610