Why Didn't Honda Give the 2018 Odyssey All-Wheel Drive?

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
why didn t honda give the 2018 odyssey all wheel drive

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.

“We looked at it, and one of the things we know is in order to put in all-wheel drive, we’re going to have to raise the vehicle and we’re going to compromise the interior,” John Mendel, executive vice president of Honda, told Automotive News. “We really don’t want to do that.”

Honda claims it was fixated on establishing a versatile and functional interior — and that adding AWD would have stymied its efforts. After all, the cabin space is where minivans typically shine the brightest and Honda’s “Magic Slide” second-row seats are something company seems particularly proud of. They might not have been possible with a prop shaft running down the vehicle’s center.

There is also a highly dedicated consumer group that prefers the flexibility and low load heights. Raising the Odyssey would only serve to alienate them and sabotage its role as a family-hauler. Besides, ground-clearance and AWD-obsessed families aren’t going to want a lifted minivan anyway.

“For that customer we have the Pilot,” Mendel said.

[Image: Honda]

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  • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Jan 17, 2017

    I think Honda's doing their customers a favor by not trying to push that half-assed "real time" AWD on them. That, or they simply have more respect for the intelligence of their minivan buyers than their CUV buyers.

  • Conslaw Conslaw on Jan 17, 2017

    In the 21st century, for non off-road vehicles AWD is best accomplished with electric motors in the rear rather than a driveshaft. The "D" models of the Tesla model S, with all-wheel drive are heavier and faster but get more miles on the same charge because of efficiency in putting power down and picking it up again. Even on an otherwise non-electric vehicle, the AWD version of the Toyota Rav-4 brings power to the rear wheels with an electric motor. This preserves space in the compact vehicle and maximizes fuel economy.

    • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Jan 18, 2017

      It does seem like the logical way to do it. I expect to see more of that layout.

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  • Michael500 Good thing Obama used $50 billion of taxpayer money to bail them out and give unions a big stake. GM is headed to BK again with their Hail Mary hope of EVs. Hopefully a Republican in office will let them go BK the next time, and it's coming. The US economy is not related/dependent on GM and their Chinese made Buicks.
  • MaintenanceCosts "Rural areas hardly noticed COVID at all."I very much doubt that is true in places like the Navajo Nation or the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, some of which lost 2% or more of their population to COVID.No city had a death rate in the same order of magnitude.Low-density living is a very modern invention. Before cars, people, even in agricultural areas, needed to live densely to survive.
  • Wjtinfwb Always liked these MN12 cars and the subsequent Lincoln variant. But Ford, apparently strapped for resources or cash, introduced these half-baked. Very sophisticated chassis and styling, let down but antiquated old pushrod engines and cheap interiors. The 4.6L Modular V8 helped a bit, no faster than the 5.0 but extremely smooth and quiet. The interior came next, nicer wrap-around dash, airbags instead of the mouse belts and refined exterior styling. The Supercharged 3.8L V6 was potent, but kind of crude and had an appetite for head gaskets early on. Most were bolted to the AOD automatic, a sturdy but slow shifting gearbox made much better with electronic controls in the later days. Nice cars that in the right color, evoked the 6 series BMW, at least the Thunderbird did. Could have been great cars and maybe should have been a swoopy CLS style sedan. Pretty hard to find a decent one these days.
  • Inside Looking Out You should care. With GM will die America. All signs are there. How about the Arsenal of Democracy? Toyota?