For a long time, the Honda Odyssey has been the minivan gold standard. It’s been a go-to choice for families who need a lot of room for both passengers and cargo for decades. With the minivan competition heating up in recent years, we wanted to find out if the 2018 Honda Odyssey is still the ultimate in practical family transportation.
To test out the Honda Odyssey, which is all-new for 2018, we went with the top-of-the-line Elite model which carries a base price of $47,610. That’s a hefty premium over the Odyssey’s base price of $29,990.
We wanted to get a loaded model to find out if all of the extra kit that comes with the Elite trim is really worth it. Some of those premium features include leather seats, which are heated and ventilated in the front, a heated steering wheel, a back-seat entertainment system, the Honda Sensing safety tech suite, a vacuum cleaner in the back and much more. A couple of other notable tech features we liked is the CabinTalk and CabinWatch systems which allow you to see what your passengers are up to in the back and talk to them via intercom rather than yelling.
Road Trip Excellence
Not surprisingly, this Odyssey is a long-distance road trip champion. It glides down the road comfortably for everyone inside, although we were surprised by the amount of wind noise on the highway. Despite being such a big vehicle, we thought it handled like a much more compact car, which is something we’ve also noticed about Honda minivans of the past.
The performance from the V6, which is the only engine option in the Odyssey, won’t blow you away, but it’s more than potent enough for highway passes and even occasional towing. We were impressed with the fuel economy averaging in the mid-20s on long road trips exceeding its EPA estimated combined miles per gallon rating of 22. Just turn on the adaptive cruise control that Honda Sensing provides, and your Odyssey will get you where you’re going comfortably and efficiently.
Another thing that makes the Odyssey a fantastic road trip machine is the available back-seat entertainment system. Many of our staffers’ kids enjoyed hours of watching their favorite movies on Blu-ray or utilizing the entertainment apps like PBS Kids.
Our editor Brian found himself using this minivan like a truck. By utilizing the fold-flat third row of seats and after easily removing the second-row seats, he was hauling a barn door kit home from Home Depot that he thought he would need a pickup truck to haul. He also found that the tool-free removal and installation of the second-row seats was a breeze with the instructional videos from Honda being a big help.
However, we were surprised that even on the high-end Elite trim, there’s no option for power-folding third-row seats like there is in the Chrysler Pacifica. Manually folding the seats is easy enough, but at this price point, it would be nice if it could be done with the push of a button.
Speaking of the Pacifica, another feature that the Chrysler offers that the Honda doesn’t is Stow ‘n Go seating. Stow ‘n Go allows you to fold flat both the second- and third-row seats without having to mess around with removing any seats to maximize cargo space. As easy as second-row seat removal was in the Odyssey, it can’t beat the convenience of Stow ‘n Go. In fairness to Honda, the second-row seats in the Odyssey are larger and more comfortable than the fold-into-the-floor seats in the Pacifica.
SUVs might have “utility” in their name, but we’re impressed with the real-world utility that this minivan offers.
The Ultimate Family Vehicle
At the end of the day, there’s simply no better way to transport up to eight people on the road than in a minivan. You could go with a full-size SUV with a lot of seats, but those are more expensive, less efficient and might not have as many family-friendly features like power sliding doors. You could get a 3-row crossover, but there’s no such crossover on the market that comes close to a minivan in terms of third-row comfort.
Whether or not the Honda Odyssey is still the best minivan you can buy is debatable with the Chrysler Pacifica being as good as it is, but the Honda certainly has a lot to offer. Add in resale value and we think the Honda may edge out the Pacifica in the end. Even with a price tag in the high-$40k range, the 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite almost feels like a bargain. Find a Honda Odyssey for sale
Check out our 2018 Honda Odyssey New Car Review