NAIAS 2017: 2018 Honda Odyssey is a Nanny Cam With Wheels

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn

Honda unveiled the production 2018 Odyssey today at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show, revealing a thoroughly redesigned but wholly familiar family hauling box. New features include second row seats that slide side-to-side, as well as an interior camera to monitor mischievous rear-seat occupants.

Mechanical innovations include an optional, all-new 10-speed automatic transmission built at Honda’s Georgia transmission plant, and an upgraded 3.5 liter V6 that now produces 280 horsepower.

The cabin is where it’s at in a minivan, however, and Honda has piled on plenty of new features to satisfy drivers and passengers alike. The new Magic Slide second row seat will slide side to side to allow for multiple seating and rear-seat access configurations, as well as the usual fore and aft adjustment. Removing the center seat allows the outboard captains chairs to slide together for easier third row access, or the chairs can remain apart to minimize sibling conflicts.

When the kids are getting rowdy, parents up front can easily be distracted by the need for discipline — dad’s threat of, “I’ll turn this car around right now” is familiar to anyone who’s taken a long road trip.

To ease the burden, the Odyssey offers Cabin Watch — a night vision-enhanced camera, mounted on the ceiling, that allows front seat occupants to monitor the rear rows for horseplay, or to check the status of a sleeping baby. When that doesn’t work, the driver can easily speak rearward with Cabin Talk, which broadcasts either through the vehicle speakers or through the rear-seat entertainment system’s wireless headphones.

Because everything these days must have an app, Honda has one that allows passengers to control the rear-seat entertainment system, heating and cooling. The screens for the system are larger than previous models at 10.2 inches (diagonally), and can now stream video via an integrated 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, public Wi-Fi, or tethered through an existing cellphone data plan.

In recent years, the excellent Honda Sensing suite of driver assistance and safety systems have been expensive add-ons, keeping these features out of reach of some shoppers. Now, on trims EX and above — which Honda states makes up approximately 95 percent of all Odysseys — the minivan will have Lane Keeping Assist, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Road Departure Mitigation systems as standard equipment.

Sadly, the styling doesn’t reflect the spy drawings we spotted last month — the “lightning bolt” profile to the rear quarter window remains, echoed in a pair of body-side slashes. The tracks for the sliding side doors are now integrated into the bottom of that quarter window, rather than separate.

The 2018 Honda Odyssey will be in showrooms in fall 2017. Pricing will be announced later.

[Images: © 2017 Chris Tonn/The Truth About Cars; Honda]

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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  • C. Alan C. Alan on Jan 10, 2017

    As a father of 6, I am glad they have not abandon the 8 seat configuration. This was the prime reason we picked up a 2012 a few years ago. However, we have now out grown it, and my wife's ride is now a 2016 Transit 350 wagon.

  • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on Jan 11, 2017

    Just don't get the popularity of these. Not only is the refresh ugly but the interior looks like it was designed by iRobot and the dash looks like a tacky childish mess. Ditto the overdone Nike swoosh on the sides and all the weird angles and triangles. I wonder if Honda finally sees fit to put a timing chain in this engine and also wonder if the lower trims 9 speed is going to be that same mess as used by Chrysler and Acura. Compared to other Honda models this also has more problems like the rear suspension and some with the power doors not working right, to complaints of wind noise, jumpy transmission and throttle response and still other complaints regarding the navigation and infotainment system. And the biggest complaint I keep hearing. Having to remove the seats and not being able To store them in the floor aka Chrysler style. The seat issue alone would keep me away since we are always moving and transporting things around and I sure wouldn't want to be struggling with seats no matter how magic they are supposed to be.

  • 28-Cars-Later Seriously, $85. GM Delta I is burning hot garbage to the point where the 1990 Saturn Z-body is leagues better. My mother inherited an '07 Ion with 30Kish otc which was destroyed in 2014 by a tipsy driver with a suspended license (driver's license enforcement is a joke in Pennsyltucky). Insurance paid out $6,400 when it was only worth about $5,800 IIRC, but sure 10 year later the "hipo" Delta I can fetch how much?
  • Buickman styling does not overcome powertrain, follow the money. labor/materials.
  • VoGhost It's funny, until CDK raises their prices to cover the cost. And then the stealerships do even more stealing because they're certainly not taking the hit - why do you think they make all those political donations? So who pays in the end?
  • VoGhost I was talking today to a guy who pulled up in an '86 Camry. Said it ran like a top, got 30 mpg, the AC was ice cold and everywhere he goes, people ask to buy it. He seemed happy.
  • VoGhost TL:DL. Younger people less racist.