2018 Honda Odyssey: First Drive

2018 Honda Odyssey Touring

2018 Honda Odyssey Touring

Last week when the sales staff was introduced to the all-new 2018 Odyssey  what stood out was raft of clever and common sense convenience features and the astounding level of electronic connectivity. All of that is great and we hope to roll out those for you over the next few weeks but you may be wondering, what is it like to drive?

I set out to answer that question this morning with a brief test drive in our Touring demo, decked out in Obsidian Blue Pearl paint and grey leather. Interestingly, the interior colours available on 2018 Odysseys include brown, grey and beige. Black is often the default interior colour on many vehicles, including most Hondas, but combine that with the typical minivan greenhouse and things could heat up very quickly inside. So, these lighter colours make sense.

On to the drive. As expected, the heavily revised 3.5 litre V6 now has direct injection, for improved fuel economy and throttle response. Direct injection engines characteristically produce a mild clicking noise especially when cold. None of that was audible from the inside. It was one of those "Is this thing on?" scenarios. That amazing quiet remain relatively undisturbed throughout the drive regardless of road surface or speed. Even aggressive acceleration produced only a muted distant roar.

Hard acceleration didn't produce an eyes back in your sockets sort of push. This is a minivan after all! But the Odyssey picks up speed very quickly and smoothly. I was particularly interested in how the new 10-speed automatic transmission would perform. (All non Touring trims are equipped with a 9-speed auto.) Some modern multi-speed transmissions can be prone to constantly hunting for the right gear along with accompanying and annoying surges and hesitation. Not the case with the new Odyssey. In fact, try as might, I couldn't detect when the transmission was shifting. It was that seamless.

That level of refinement was exhibited in the ride quality as well. I took the Odyssey over rail road tracks and a badly cratered and buckled road. It sailed over those potentially nasty bits gracefully with a mild rumbling and none of the wallow that is sometimes partnered with a smooth ride.

That comfortable ride doesn't appear to have come at the expense of handling either. I noticed little lean in corners and the steering was light and direct. Though a smooth ride and athletic handling are often seen as opposing goals I think if a vehicle is not so easily disturbed by road imperfections it is more likely to remain planted and on course. The Odyssey's admirable ride/handling balance can be attributed in part to its fully independent multi-link rear suspension. In contrast, the Toyota Sienna makes do with less sophisticated torsion beam suspension at the rear.

I didn't have the opportunity to really challenge the brakes but they had good initial bite without being touchy, and stopping power seem to build in a linear fashion.

So, in terms of the driving experience itself the overriding impression that I came away with is one of refinement.  If you need space and flexibility of a minivan it's hard to imagine a more tranquil and polished example. More than ever before, the Odyssey embodies pace, space, and grace.

Do you have automotive questions that need answering? Or even just a driving related experience you’d like to share? Drop as a line at info@tandthonda.ca. We look forward to hearing from you!