The Honda Odyssey was born in a time of need during Japan’s economic crisis in the 1990s. As such, the first-generation model was much smaller than the model that we know today. That model lasted just long enough for Honda to build a U.S.-based production facility and the Odyssey has been getting better ever since. Each generation of Honda’s resident minivan has been short lived, with the longest being the current and fourth-generation which will run through the 2017 model year. For 2018, Honda is introducing the fifth-generation model and, while there’s still a while to wait before it hits dealers, the Japanese brand has already released a rather intriguing rendering to go with the announcement that it will be officially unveiled at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show. Little is known about the next-gen model thus far, but the rendering depicts a sleek and sexy minivan that could very well put the competition on their knees.
I know; that’s a pretty bold statement for a segment that has models like the Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Pacifica fighting to be the best, but you should keep in mind that Honda has made huge strides to turn itself around these past few years. The new Civic, for instance, is the most wild-looking model yet, and need we even mention the new Acura NSX? We can only see the rear and side view of the new Odyssey in the official rendering, and even then, lots of cues are still hidden away for the official debut, but just imagine a minivan with the styling of the Civic and NSX, a decent powertrain, and the ability to haul a large family with two weeks of groceries.
Either way, we’re going to see a completely redesigned Odyssey that will feature new powertrain technology and a “new suite of innovative features.” And, for what it’s worth, the new Odyssey will probably be kid approved, considering that children of those on the development team even put crayon to paper to make their own “scribbles” of what the new Odyssey should look like. Now that’s fun. With that said, let’s dive on in, talk about this official rendering and more about what we can expect in Detroit.
At this point, we can’t make out the front at all, but the side profile and rear end shown here hints that the new Odyssey might just take the title of the sexiest minivan on earth. Granted, there will be some additions like side view mirrors and door handles, but I have a feeling that Honda will try to stick with the seamless glass look with little trim around the edges. It’s also likely that the seams between the doors and body will also have a very tight clearance, giving the odyssey a smooth look. As you can see, Honda will probably stick with that weird jagged waistline, but if this rendering is any indication, it should be more toned down compared to the current model. There will be a very sharp body line running from the front wheel arch to the middle window, then slightly angled downward to run parallel with the taillight lenses. There will also be a sporty and curved body line down on the doors to give the minivan a sense of width and elegance. Of particular note are the rearmost pillars that stop just above the waistline. Surely, the pillars are complete behind the curtains, but on the outside, it looks like the rear quarter glass wraps all the way around to the rear. It’s a very nice and unique look for this segment.
Honda Teases 2018 Odyssey Ahead of Detroit Auto Show Debut
At this point, we can’t make out the front at all, but the side profile and rear end shown here hints that the new Odyssey might just take the title of the sexiest minivan on earth.
The minivan is poised to ride on larger wheels – probably 18-inch wheels as stock and 19-inches being available as an option. Honda will most likely offer up a whole new lineup of exterior colors. The one downside that might really hamper the new Odyssey’s success is the contour to the front end. From the view we have, it vaguely reminds me of the eight-gen Civic, and we all know how ugly that model was in the front. It definitely gave “you look better from behind” a whole new meaning, so hopefully, Honda avoids making that mistake again. I suspect the front end will end up having a shorter hood, but hopefully will carry some design elements from the new Civic, Accord, or the Acura MDX. It should feature sleek, LED headlamps, LED fog lamps, and a fairly aggressive front fascia.
Around back, we have a pretty clear idea of what we’ll see. Notice how the taillights are actually quite similar to those found on the Acura NSX? That goes to show what caliber of style we’ll be seeing when the Odyssey debuts. The layout isn’t quite as sharp or wide as those on the NSX, but they have the same “C” layout with a 3D effect. The should be linked together by a glossy trim insert that will clearly support the classic Honda emblem. The rear hatch will feature a small overhang on top but will hopefully maintain a near-seamless integration with the rear quarters. Down below, we aren’t privy to the design of the rear fascia, but the rendering points to a very sharp line that runs the full width to go with slight extensions on the side. Honda could even go all out with this design and have a mind diffuser back there, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one. It never hurts to hope, though.
When we talk about the inside, there’s absolutely no indication of what we’ll expect. But, if the rendering of the exterior is any indication, the interior will get a pretty extensive redesign as well. First off, the dash should be redesigned to include a more aggressive and sharper image while the instrument cluster will get a larger TFT screen in the middle, and could even go all digital on higher trim levels. I’m on the fence about the two screens. I like the way they both look in the current model, as do a lot of others, so Honda may keep a similar layout, albeit with larger screens and fewer buttons. Then again, We’ve seen Toyota stumble into the big-screen design language, so Honda could have the idea of swapping out two smaller screens for one massive 15- or 16-inch, vertically oriented screen as we saw in the new Prius or in Tesla Models.
Honda could have the idea of swapping out two smaller screens for one massive 15- or 16-inch, vertically oriented screen as we saw in the new Prius or in Tesla Models.
Given the nature of minivan’s I wouldn’t expect to see a full center console, however, I think Honda will move the gear shifter to make it easier for the driver to access, and the central storage unit should get a complete redesign. There will naturally be at least two USB ports, several 12-volt accessory sockets, an auxiliary port, Bluetooth connectivity, navigation, and a handful of driver assistance features like those found in the Accord. Of course, lower trim levels won’t get quite as much as the higher trim levels and will likely have cloth interior as opposed to leather, but the higher trims should get a decent leather wrapping to go with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. I would also expect to see the built-in vacuum cleaner carry over as well as a power inverter that will offer a couple of 120-volt outlets for those who need to power accessories that need more juice on the go.
I have a feeling that headroom may drop a little based on the rendering, but the rest of the interior dimensions should increase marginally (maybe 0.5-inches) all the way around. The second and third-row seats should have the capability to fold flush into the floor to provide an insane amount of cargo room, if needed. Based on the outgoing model, expect the Odyssey to offer seating for at least seven, with the possibility of eight if you have enough little people in tow. Expect other features like keyless entry and a decent sound system to be standard, while a premium sound system, push-button start, and advanced navigation should be available as options or standard on higher trim levels. Finally, the side doors and rear hatch should be fully electric, and I suspect the rear hatch will have some kind of gesture control for automatic opening without using the key fob. A rear entertainment system for the kiddos should be optional across the line and standard for the range-topping model.
When Honda released the official teaser, it concisely said that the Odyssey would feature new powertrain technology. But, what that really means, we just don’t know. Honda could have developed an all-new engine with more power, torque, and better fuel economy, or it could have just improved the engine available in the current model.
Honda Odyssey Touring Elite – Driven
As you can see from the image above, the out-going Odyssey is only available with a 3.5-liter that produces 248 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. It’s not a bad engine and is fairly reliable, but considering the fact that Honda says it has developed new powertrain technology, I have a feeling that we’ll see a smaller, turbocharged, engine like we saw happen with the new CR-V. Regardless of how cool it might look, we’re not talking about a vehicle that you’ll be wanting to take to the track or any street races, so don’t expect any news in the way of power updates really. Even if Honda has developed an all-new engine, it will probably carry a similar output rating. Be that as it may, 260 ponies and 270 pound-feet isn’t exactly out of the question – just don’t expect much more than that. After all, you don’t need to get the little ones to school at the speed of sounds anyway, right?
As far as technology goes, the powertrain in the new Odyssey will likely use a lot of the same technology. Things like drive-by-wire throttle system, variable cylinder management, and eco assist system, and an active engine mount system should all be updated but carried over to the new model. I suspect that Honda will update from its multi-point injection system to a high-pressure injection system, but that’s kind of a reach considering we have little information to go on. On the transmission front, the six-speed automatic will likely be updated, but Honda could use an updated version in lower trims and offer a double-clutch unit for the higher trim levels – assuming Honda went all out on this “new powertrain technology.” It would be refreshing to see all-wheel drive, but we’ll have to see what happens on that one. The current model manages to achieve 19 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg combined. With new, advanced powertrain technology, I suspect those numbers should grow considerably to even as much as 23 mpg in the city, 29 on the highway, and 24 or 25 combined. Anyone up for a road trip?
On a side note, Chrysler recently introduced the Pacifica Hybrid, a model marketed as America’s first hybrid minivan, so it’s quite possible that Honda will bring hybridization to the new Odyssey – not that will make it much more fuel efficient and would certainly make any price increase worth it in the long run.
Suspension and Safety
Honda isn’t going to step backward and give the new Odyssey a body-on-frame layout, so the unibody structure will carry over. We should see updated MacPherson struts up front to go with a multi-link, double-wishbone system in the rear. Honda will likely update but carry over the electric power steering system. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see an active suspension system available on higher trim levels, but entry models will have to stick with the standard take-what-you-get system.
On the safety front, Honda will update its stability and traction control systems, ABS and EBD system, and rearview camera system. All of these systems will be available as standard across the entire range, however, EX-L, Touring, and Touring-Elite trims will come with a multi-angle rearview camera as standard equipment. I’m hoping that Honda’s lane watch system will be included in all trim levels (current entry and range-topping models don’t get it) while the blind spot information system should be included in more than just the range-topping model. I also expect Honda to offer more driver assist systems that include active cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and maybe even an automatic parking assist feature. Honda needs to keep up with the competition, and all of these systems are well within its reach – including the automatic parking assist.
When it comes to pricing Honda has a very wide range that makes the current Odyssey available for those in the lower middle class and those in the higher middle class – all of which are based on technology and material amenities. The current model starts out at $29,840 for a decently equipped, entry-level LX model. But, as you move up the line, you could find yourself signing off on a $45,000 car note or more if you decided to pluck out the few options available for the Touring Elite model. Of Course, the Touring Elite model has enough quality and features (including a 650-Watt audio system and Ultrawide rear entertainment system) to actually make it a contender for some of the smaller, more luxurious SUVs from luxury brands like BMW, Mercedes, and even Infiniti. I wouldn’t be surprised to see pricing increase across the board by $1,500 at most.
Chrysler redesigned the Pacifica for the 2017 model year and effectively fired the first shot in the war that will eventually rewrite everything we know about minivans. With a new, sleek, and sexy look, the Pacifica came to the party early, and it did so very well armed to compete with anything the competition had to offer. It looks so good, in fact, that we’ve even envisioned the possibility of a Hellcat Pacifica – you know, for those dad’s that need to haul the fam but doesn’t want to give up the fun. With loads of technology inside to go with a fresh and pleasing interior design, the new Pacifica is also an amazing place to spend a lot of time, so it’s not bad for road trips at all. Under the hood, you’ll find Chrysler’s familiar 3.6-liter, Pentastar, V-6 carried over from the last-gen model, but upgraded to produce a best-in-class (for now) 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. The addition of FCA’s TorqueFlite nine-speed automatic the new Pacifica can achieve 18 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. And, there are rumors of an all-wheel drive variant being available in the future, so keep your eyes open for that.
The Toyota Sienna is currently in its third generation and was mildly updated for the 2015 model year, but Toyota should debut a new model within the next year or two if it really wants to remain a contender in the minivan segment. After all, it’s carried on the third generation since 2011, so it’s starting to get a little long in the tooth. It does have a fairly sporty exterior to go with muscular front fenders, but the side profile is somewhat bland. In the rear, it doesn’t have a decent taillight layout, and there is a sporty overhang on the rear hatch. The dashboard on the inside has a really dated look, reminding me of something seen in old Transit vans or modern cargo vans, but Toyota does offer a pretty unique feature with second-row reclining captains chairs – a nod to the conversion vans of the past. Under the hood, you’ll find Toyota’s 3.5-liter V-6 with 266 horsepower and 245 pound-feet. It’s not bad and is on par with other offerings in this segment. Fuel economy, on the other hand, isn’t all that great, with figures like 18 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway, and 21 mpg combined. If equipped with a frame-mounted received, the Sienna is rated to pull up to 3,500 pounds, though, so there’s that if you’re someone who occasionally hauls a small trailer. As of the time of this writing, the Sienna is available in five trim levels with pricing ranging from $29,750 all the way up to $42,800. With that said, if you really want to have a Toyota, you might want to wait until the next-gen model makes its debut so that you get technology, features, and economy comparable to that of the Pacifica and Odyssey.
Honda Teases 2018 Odyssey Ahead of Detroit Auto Show Debut
At this point, we’ve speculated a lot considering the only information we have is a little bit of PR talk, an official rendering, and a handful of scribbles from the children of the Odyssey’s development team. But, Honda finally seems to know what the masses want yet again, and I have a feeling it isn’t going to disappoint with the new Odyssey. I’ve never been a fan of minivans, I just don’t like them, but if the Odyssey turns out like the rest of Honda’s new lineup, it’s going to be hard to say no to it if there is a necessity to own a people hauler. Honda should offer up a unique look with decent performance and technology that will rival anything Chrysler, Toyota or anyone else can really offer. We’ll be at the Detroit Auto Show to see it when it debuts, so check back in mid-January to see official shots of the new minivan and learn all about what it will offer come 2018.
- All-new design
- New powertrain technology
- Could be a Pacifica Killer
- Can be pricing in range-topping form