Honda's Radically Redesigned Odyssey Will Take Your Breath Away

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
hondas radically redesigned odyssey will take your breath away

Honda released a teaser of its awe-inspiring and boldly redesigned Odyssey today — a vehicle that will make its official appearance at this year’s North American International Auto Show. I know that I really shouldn’t weigh in until after the Detroit debut, but this has to be one of the most impressive imaginings of an automobile I’ve seen in my lifetime. The overall impact of the model’s new design language must be acknowledged.

The fifth-generation Odyssey has been completely redone, gaining a new powertrain, updated technology, advanced driver’s features, and this uncommonly sophisticated styling.

In addition to the teaser sketch (shown above), Honda also released four “teaser scribbles” from children of its Ohio-based Odyssey Development Team. While not quite as accurate or photo-realistic as the official teaser sketch (above, still), they may provide us with additional insight. These are, after all, images created from the memories of children who have actually seen the new Odyssey in numerous stages of its evolution.

“We wanted to have a bit of fun by sharing some of the drawings from children of the Odyssey team members, since they were inspirational in shaping the family-friendly direction of the all-new Odyssey,” said Chad Harrison, chief engineer at Honda R&D America and the development leader of the new Odyssey.

Unfortunately for Chad, I’m not here for fun and enlisted Timothy Cain — TTAC’s resident minivan aficionado, Honda Odyssey owner, and parent — to weigh in on some of the children’s drawings. My theory is that, as a father, Tim might somehow possess the ability to infer additional information from the younger’s drawings that I might miss as a man devoid of a child’s love.

Updated with an expansive greenhouse, this rendering could indicate that the next Odyssey may see a reduction in proportions. It appears to have kept the traditional minivan shape, but proportions roughly even to a roadside construction barrel. Considering Mr. Cain’s assessment, however, this might indicate that the miniature scale may just be to save weight.

“With blacked-out trim and a hint of British Racing Green as evidence, it’s clear that some kids have motorsports in their blood,” he said. “Soichiro would be proud, particularly if we improve the aero at the front and de-emphasize the off-road-ready breakover angle.”

Reminiscent of Volkswagen’s 1996 Golf Harlequin, this incarnation of Honda’s Odyssey shows why it has remained the most popular minivan with under-35 buyers since 2010. The classic teardrop shape, dog dish hubcaps, and four-row seating may not appear on the production model, however. This version also seems to be over fifteen feet tall and is therefore impractical for most garages and carports.

“The major styling change, if a teaser is anything to go by, is the removal of the sliding door tracks, or rather the disappearance of the tracks into the windowline. On that front, Honda appears to have come to terms with the times,” said Cain.

Actually, it looks as if the child that did this drawing neglected the doors entirely — a reoccurring theme among the teaser scribbles.

Tim also noted the continued evolution of the Odyssey’s wedge-shaped design while expressing concerns that the driving line above the rear wheel arch might cause the van to “appear droopy.” However, he asserted that “the 26-inch wheels look great, and I’m sure it’ll be easy to find affordable winter tires for them.”

Unrealistic as they may be, Cain’s dig about the oversized tires seemed a little harsh. I’m sure the little boy or girl that made this illustration put forth their very best effort and should be credited for their rudimentary capturing of the Honda’s much-anticipated floating D-pillar. Personally, I thought this one was adorable in a Hot Wheels sort of way.

This ovoid jellybean bodywork is endearing and, just as before, doesn’t provide a clear point of ingress or egress. The short wheelbase and body-over-frame design would not lend itself to stability. While charming in its naiveté, this sort of design would actually be incredibly dangerous to drive.

Which leads us back to the official teaser (pictured at the top of the page) and, again, Honda has outdone itself. From the center-mounted doorhandles to the aggressively sagging rear roof, this style is absolutely fearless. Honda may have to round off and lower the nose for pedestrian safety, but it shouldn’t do much to harm the overall experience of seeing what will unquestionably be the most memorable vehicle in recent memory.

Even though American car buyers have purchased almost 2.5 million Honda minivans since 1994, Odyssey sales today aren’t quite what they were just a decade ago. The pivotal role that this ravishing new styling is destined to play in history will assuredly turn that tide — perhaps even returning the minivan to its former glory.

Bravo, Honda.

The all-new 2018 Honda Odyssey minivan will make its global debut at the 2017 North American International Auto Show on January 9th.

[Images: Honda]

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2 of 39 comments
  • Chiefmonkey Chiefmonkey on Dec 20, 2016

    Chief of Design, Honda: "How dare you say to me that we should design a good-looking car!" Assistant designer: "I can resign if you'd like, sir."

  • DeadWeight DeadWeight on Dec 20, 2016

    HONDA HAS FALLEN THE MOST IN CR'S RELIABILITY INDEX - - from in the top 3, to now just average, and I believe down to 15 or so. This is remarkable, shocking and #Sad .

  • Cprescott I remember when Fords were affordable.
  • Cprescott As a once very LOYAL FORD buyer, I had to replace my 22 year old Ford (bought new in 1997) once it finally started to have problems at 180k miles. I would have gladly purchased something like this from Ford but they abandoned me as a car buyer. Oddly, Hyundai still builds cars in a variety of flavors so I became a customer of theirs and am very happy. Likely will consider another once this one gets up in mileage.
  • SCE to AUX A friend once struck a mounted tire that was laying flat in the middle of her lane on the PA Turnpike. She was in a low late-90s Grand Prix, and the impact destroyed the facia, core support, radiators, oil pan, transmission, subframe, and suspension. They fixed it all.
  • Dukeisduke Lol, it's not exactly a Chevrolet SS with Holden badging.
  • Dukeisduke Years ago, I was driving southbound along North Central Expressway (south of Mockingbird Lane, for locals), and watched a tire and wheel fall out of the bed of a pickup (no tailgate), bounce along, then centerpunch the front end of a Honda Accord. It wasn't pretty.