CARS.COM — For the 2018 model year, Honda presents a new Odyssey with updated styling, a more powerful engine, a slick new seating system and a host of new electronics inside to keep everyone entertained.
From a styling standpoint, Honda decided to tweak the existing look, adopting the latest front end from the Pilot SUV and Ridgeline truck. It also refined the odd lightning-bolt look down the minivan's beltline. The newly sculpted body sides look good, however, with a much more cohesive look to the entire van.
The new floating roofline with a blacked-out rear pillar is starting to get a little cliche (this styling element appears on a number of cars from the Lexus RX to the new Jeep Compass), but it looks good here. If nothing else, it provides a different look for the Odyssey compared to the Chrysler Pacifica, which has more of an SUV style to it.
Inside, the interior is typical Honda. The gauges have the new look that we first saw on the latest Civic. They may be the interior's weak point because they look oddly low-budget in an overall-upscale interior. The dash and plastic quality is well done, modern and appealing, but the push-button transmission in the minivan I sat in may cause us the same fits that it has in the Pilot and Acura MDX.
The seating configuration is versatile, as expected, and the new sliding second-row seats are handy. They shift to the left or right, can be slid forward for easy reach, and tilt out of the way for easy ingress to the third row, even with a child-safety seat still installed (take the child out first, however).
What the seats do not do is stow into the floor like they do in a Chrysler Pacifica. They're more comfortable than the Pacifica's seats, however, as the Chrysler Stow 'n Go system still results in seats that are a little too small and too low to the floor. The third row folds and tumbles into the compartment in the rear without issue.
The electronics have been upgraded as well, with Honda's new Display Audio system finally joining the 21st century and becoming fully competitive with systems like Chrysler Uconnect and Chevrolet MyLink. It's reconfigurable and features an icon-based operation that's clear and easy to use.
For keeping kids pacified, there are a host of new features, such as CabinWatch, which uses a camera to monitor the other passengers — day or night — and displays the image on the 8-inch dash screen; CabinTalk, which allows the driver to talk to the second- and third-row passengers through the Odyssey's speakers or headphones; and CabinControl, a smartphone app that lets users control everything from the Odyssey's rear climate settings to joining a shared virtual jukebox to download playlists and songs to play in the van.
Overall, the new Odyssey is a solid update on the old one, and while it doesn't quite match the Pacifica in terms of seating versatility or children's entertainment options, it does promise refinement, space and reliability that should keep it a popular option.