By on July 18, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey - Image: © Timothy CainYou buy an iPhone 6 assuming you will like it more en-han you liked your old iPhone 5. You were excited to read Tender Is The Night because The Great Gatsby was a worthy tale. You had high hopes for The Godfather Part II on your Christmas holidays in 1974, having waited more than two years since The Godfather permanently altered cinema.

Expectations are everything, and my expectations for the  2018 Honda Odyssey Elite, a 280-horsepower, $47,610, eight-seater were high precisely because our garage houses a 2015 Honda Odyssey EX. My van isn’t perfect, but I’d happily buy another. And seven years after the fourth-generation Odyssey went into production, expectations for the fifth-generation model have grown significantly.

It’s 2017, not 2011. We expect quieter cabins, more powerful and more efficient engines, better interior materials, more standard features, and novel equipment.

In almost every facet, the fifth-gen 2018 Honda Odyssey is multiple steps beyond the fourth-gen Odyssey I own. But not every step forward is a step in the right direction. (Read More…)

By on July 17, 2017

2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S paddle shifter - Image: Mercedes-BenzMany new automatic transmissions are capable of shifting with a level of enthusiasm foreign to owners of cars that are only moderately old. Like, say, from 2009.

Many new automatic transmissions also shift faster and more intelligently and more consistently than you or I could ever hope to with a manual transmission.

And with manual transmissions dropping like flies, the quality of a these intelligent, consistent, rapid-fire automatic transmissions’ shifts should theoretically matter more than ever. Yet automakers are increasingly turning to paddle shifters as a means of giving control back to the driver. According to Edmunds, 186-percent more new vehicles feature paddle shifters in 2017 than in 2007.

Despite the fact that drivers don’t want the control. (Read More…)

By on July 14, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey Touring – Image: © Timothy CainThis is not a review. The 2018 Honda Odyssey Touring will be reviewed, by me, at some point in the near future.

But this part couldn’t wait. This is breaking news. This is an alert. This deserves a chyron.

The 2018 Honda Odyssey Touring’s 10-speed automatic transmission does not suck. (Read More…)

By on July 11, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey Silver Driver Front quarter

Who knew the well-equipped 2018 Honda Odyssey was so… titillating? An unsuspecting journalist over at Forbes saw a few more — let’s call them entertainment options — than she expected while browsing through the video selection offered via her Odyssey tester’s rear media screen.

At that point, things became a little hot under the collar at Honda.

(Read More…)

By on June 16, 2017

2017 Honda Keep The Peace Odyssey Commercial screenshot - Image: Honda YouTubeThey’re monsters, fighting over a squeezable toy bus before the journey has even begun. They’re inattentive rascals, wearing headphones and tuning out their parents before Mom is even in the van. They’re instigators and agitators, wholly dependent upon parents to keep the peace.

Or are they? Are children really so bad that Honda’s very first marketing campaign for the fifth-generation 2018 Odyssey has to present a negative slant on the life of a parent?

Maybe not. But in an age in which conflict is fostered during live news coverage all day long, in which children are perpetually entertained so they don’t need to entertain themselves, in which there’s not enough time before Zoey’s pottery class and Aiden’s play date to source a conventional resolution, Honda’s Magic Slide seats produce a brilliantly eye-catching commercial, with a little help from animation.

Of course, my kids would never tussle like this. (Read More…)

By on June 14, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey - Image: HondaThe 2018 Honda Odyssey went on sale three weeks ago. The Chrysler Pacifica has only been on the market for a year. The Toyota Sienna will enjoy another refresh for the 2018 model year.

If ever there was a time in which America’s minivan segment needs to shine, the second-half of 2017 is it.

Minivan sales tumbled 14 percent, year-over-year, through the first five months of 2017. Only 3 percent of the auto industry’s volume is now minivan-derived. Year-over-year volume decreased in nine consecutive months between August 2016 and April 2017.

There are far fewer competitors now than there were a decade ago. Therefore, the minivan market doesn’t need to produce the sort of volume it did a decade ago. However, minivan sales can’t continue to plummet, month after month after month.

Minivan sales need to rise. If they can’t do so now, then when? And if the segment can’t do it with fresh product from Chrysler, Honda, and Toyota, then who can supply the growth? (Read More…)

By on June 6, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey Silver Driver Front quarter

Can frugal transportation and family transportation coexist in a single package?

Lead Honda R&D engineer Tom Sladek indicated to Wards Auto at the Hawaiian launch of the all-new, fifth-generation, 2018 Honda Odyssey that Honda’s minivan could receive a hybrid powertrain in the future.

Presently, hybrid powertrains are available in a numerous three-row crossovers. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is presently launching a plug-in hybrid version of the new-last-year Chrysler Pacifica, as well.

“The electrification initiative is definitely coming, but on which products and which timing is not 100% clear yet,” Honda’s Sladek told Wards. If one such product is the Odyssey, we would expect to see improvements both in the Odyssey’s fuel economy and its performance.

And all-wheel drive?

(Read More…)

By on May 16, 2017

#HondaFamilyOdyssey

Ripples on a pond. Waves on the ocean. On the surface, they’re innocuous. But make enough waves and you know’ll you’re either doing the right or wrong thing, taking the right or wrong action, getting the right or wrong result.

In this particular case, the waves were building in the form of private messages and an email from a public relations representative from an OEM. It read:

From: <OEM PR flack>
To: <Mark Stevenson>
Subject: Seriously?

Honda…

That was it.

Even with only two words, the email was a no-brainer. The flack was talking about the Honda Odyssey launch.

Just weeks before that email, some members of TTAC had an at-length discussion on our participation in the event as TTAC’s invite to the program sat unanswered in my inbox.

(Read More…)

By on May 15, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey Silver Front Quarter

“Remember, you are in a minivan,” my better half commanded as I tapped the left-hand gearshift paddle, grabbing a lower gear to power out of the improbably banked corner on a mountain two-lane. The 19-inch Bridgestones squealed in protest as I pushed it a bit wide, just as the kid squealed from the third row over a funny movie.

What was I to do? It’s not like the roads Honda chose for this drive are the typical minivan haunts — namely suburban surface streets or long interstate slabs. There are no real suburbs on the big island of Hawai’i, and interstate drives would get quite wet after a couple of hours in any direction. So I pressed on, trailbraking as if I were hustling a much smaller car around an autocross course.

It’s indeed a minivan, but the new 2018 Honda Odyssey is surprisingly rewarding to drive. While the majority of miles racked up by any minivan undoubtedly result from a commute, either on city streets or the interstate, taking the long way home in this Odyssey won’t feel like punishment.

(Read More…)

By on March 28, 2017

2015 Honda Odyssey EX PEI - Image: © Timothy Cain

I’m an idiot.

Thursday night, I filled up a car with gas. That was clearly in the background of my mind when on Friday, we loaded up our 2015 Honda Odyssey for a long-weekend trip to Prince Edward Island. Luggage, children, dog, stroller, front door locked, back door locked, side entrance locked, patio door locked, heat turned down, and finally, departure.

I hadn’t driven our Odyssey in a couple of weeks, having focused my attention on the Toyota Corolla iM and Hyundai Ioniq discussed on these pages already. Distracted by a thousand tasks, and presumably still conscious of a trip to the fuel pumps the night before (in the Ioniq, it turns out), I ignored the signs at the approach to the Cobequid Pass that warn of a lack of services for the next 27 miles.

We drove up the Cobequid Pass toward the tolls when I finally noticed we had no fuel. Estimated range? 0 km. Fuel gauge? Well below the Empty line.

Fortunately, from that point of realization until the Ultramar in Thomson Station 16 miles later, our 2015 Honda Odyssey travelled at a rate of 35 miles per gallon. (Read More…)

By on March 9, 2017

2017 Toyota Corolla LE - Image: Toyota

Which car models need to die immediately, TTAC asked two days ago.

What if they all died, all of them except one? Which one, individual, solitary new vehicle should be left behind to cater to the demands of every new car buyer in the world?

It will have to be a vehicle that perfectly balances an immensely broad range of requirements. This universal car has to be affordable, but let’s not pretend the Dacia Logan is up to the standards of Beverly Hills, let alone Dubai. It will have to be sufficiently environmentally sensitive to get past regulations in green-conscious markets, but can a Toyota Prius Prime fill the void left by a Mercedes-AMG GLS63? A two-seater surely won’t do, but a nine-seat Chevrolet Suburban is probably too large if every Amsterdammer trades in their bicycle. And if we don’t demand more than 250 horsepower, do enthusiasts get to have input?

If you could have just one car, and if your neighbor and all their neighbors and every global citizen had access to the very same vehicle, what should The Universal Car be? (Read More…)

By on March 7, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey - Image: American Honda

Got $43,695?

Honda spoke excitedly about the inclusion of an all-new, Honda-designed 10-speed automatic in the 2018 Honda Odyssey lineup when the van debuted at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit two months ago. Along with a higher-powered 3.5-liter V6 and a standard 10-speed automatic from the Pilot, Honda made clear that the 10-speed would be reserved for “upper grades.”

Now we know precisely how high up the Odyssey food chain you must climb to obtain the minivan world’s first-ever 10-speed.

And it’s quite high. (Read More…)

By on January 18, 2017

2016 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that — all things considered — might just be the best choice for that particular model. Here’s a candidate.

Wait, wait, wait! Yes, this is a minivan … but before you scroll past this post to revel in Steph’s news reports or one of Jack’s adventures, consider this: when was the last time you bought something which truly made your life easier? Because that’s what minivans are all about.

(Read More…)

By on January 15, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey

When Honda unveiled the new Odyssey minivan, it highlighted its boosted engine output, added gears, enhanced interior functionality, and the ability to spy on your entire family via its unique in-car surveillance system. One thing that wasn’t mentioned, however, was all-wheel drive.

Despite Toyota’s Sienna offering optional AWD and Chrysler admitting that it’s considering a future incarnation of the Pacifica platform with all-wheel drive, Honda decided to keep the Odyssey a purely two-wheel affair. That’s an odd choice considering sport utility traits are currently en vogue and it rides on the same platform as the AWD Ridgeline, MDX, and Pilot. So why didn’t the engineers at Honda just toss on a transfer case and call it a day?

Because that would spoil everything that made the Odyssey a great minivan.  (Read More…)

By on January 11, 2017

Child with mother in 2018 Honda Odyssey, Image: American Honda

Here’s a free lesson in life that you can use everywhere you go: corporate “morality” is almost always both flexible and highly subject to local gravitational influences. How else to explain the red-white-and-blue-painted previous-generation Camry, festooned with traditionally American imagery, that greeted visitors to the Detroit show on Monday? Maybe Toyota had two of them ready to go after the election, the way that T-shirt manufacturers prepare for both Super Bowl winners. Presumably the other Camry was a triple livery; the first third would have been a rainbow flag that called to mind both #LoveWins and #JeffGordonDivorce, the middle third would have been totally Islammed-out with the star and crescent just like my old Pakistan Express race car, and the trunk area would have paid tribute to the #ShoutYourAbortion movement while also tipping its fedora to written consent in triplicate for all sexual encounters.

Ah, but if wishes were fishes they would have served cruelty-free salmon at the meeting of the Electoral College. So the various pampered-but-oh-so-woke “journalists” attending the NAIAS were forced to taste the salt of their own bitter tears streaming down their cheeks as every manufacturer with even a token presence in the United States waved the red (imperialist), white (racist), and blue (sexist) flag in their press conferences.

Naturally, Honda sent one of the strongest messages; it’s arguably the most American automaker on the God Emperor’s green earth and the bulk of the cars it sells here were designed, engineered, and built in the USA.

The new Odyssey doesn’t buck this trend; to the contrary, it embraces it, right down to the new U.S.-sourced 10-speed transmission. But it’s also at the very vanguard (pardon the pun) of another, equally important, aspect of the zeitgeist. Let’s call it The Era Of The Imperial Child.

(Read More…)

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