“I’ll never drive a minivan!” A quote any one that has considered having children has heard or said more than once. The stigmas are all readily available, just ask any teenage boy, you won’t have to wonder too long what the youth thinks and feels about most minivans. Suffice it to say, it isn’t good. That being said however, as stoically committed one man or woman can be to the convictions of their youth, once that first, second, third or fourth child comes along (plus a dog or two), suddenly, the idea of having copious amounts of space and entertaining distractions for the little ones sounds more like an offering of more peace of mind than castration. So, without committing to anything per say, perhaps exploring your options, just in case, might not be the worst idea. And, for the record, one look at the 2018 Honda Odyssey and you’ll probably realize that the art of the minivan has come a long, long way from the days of the first mid-80’s Dodge Caravan.
It may not be a surprise that the newest edition of the Odyssey looks less like a traditional minivan, and something more akin to whatever you’d like to classify a Toyota Venza as. It could be a station wagon, it could be a small SUV, it could be a jacked up sedan with a big backseat, or it could be none of the above. However you choose to look at it, the Odyssey tightens up its exterior, with a more sculpted look, with more curved edges that give it more character and depth compared to the outgoing model. LED head and taillights add a nice modern touch to the overall look of the Odyssey at night, while the front end looks a bit more aggressive at the same time as the new redone rear actually looks a little softer than before. It is still undoubtedly a Honda, but it’s got more personality than before.
Inside is where all the magic happens for 2018. The Odyssey looks like it was made for kids, in a good way, that is. Bright colors from the 8-inch LCD touchscreen, buttons galore – including the push-button transmission as well as push button starter, and even the driver’s dash is a colorful array of informative snippets. Only the temp and fuel gauges remain in traditional analog form.
Tech takes a Big Brother-like turn though with “features” such as CabinTalk and CabinWatch. The former is essentially a airline style intercom system that allows the driver/captain to address all passengers through both speakers and headset jacks, so there is no where to run for junior when he’s trying to ignore mom. CabinWatch is just a second set of eyes to see what the back row is doing at any given time. Necessity is questionable, but it is certainly safer than turning around in your seat on the turnpike to make sure the kids are still back there. Tech takes a less suspicious turn with the requisite 4G LTE WiFi hotspot for all things internet, and even has an HDMI cable output for the big screen in back.
Beyond the flashing lights, there is plenty of moveable parts in and around the cabin. A built in vacuum will prove nigh-priceless in only a few short family trips, as will the wide-angle back seat screen for those long, boring jaunts down the interstate. Magic Slide seats help packing up the toddlers much easier than in days gone by. It is possible to strap the little one in on the outside seat and then slide him into the middle seat with minimal effort. Seats do not collapse into the floor as with some of the competition to the Odyssey, but there should not be too many instances were that would be necessary thanks to Magic Slide.
The 3.5-liter aluminum V6 does a sufficient job of hauling the family with its 280-horspower and 262 lb-ft of torque mated to either a 9- or 10-speed automatic transmission. Power is only routed to the front wheels, a feature (or lack thereof) that we expect to change in the future to an AWD option, for obvious safety reasons. Fuel mileage is reasonable considering the size of the Odyssey — 19/28/22 city/highway/combined mpg. Price starts at just under 30k, but climbs faster than a five year old up a slide the wrong way once the options start being tacked on, all the way up to a possible 50 grand.
So while we are sure that the “I’ll never drive a minivan” crowd have not changed their mind yet, all we can say is that if … if, that day were to ever come, there are some options out there that may make the concession much more comfortable than you may have ever dreamed of. And consider this: What is peace of mind really worth?