2018 Honda Odyssey

A Sports Car Minivan!

Hello Again. This month’s article is the second part to the question “What type of vehicle works best for camping?” For those readers who missed the first article in August 2017 (2017 Kia Sorento Crossover), my goal is to look at three different types of vehicles and how they stack up to a camping adventure, and highlight the pros and cons of each vehicle category along with my personal camping experiences. 

Our second vehicle category is the minivan and, in particular, the 2018 Honda Odyssey. These days it’s almost unfair to call the current “minivans” mini. When the first minivan arrived in 1984 in the form of the Chrysler minivan, it was only 175.9-inches long compared to a full-size Dodge van stretching 212-inches. The 2018 Honda Odyssey is 203.2-inches long, which is almost as large as what was considered a “full-size” van.

People may also be thinking, “Take a minivan camping? Its purpose is to take the family to school sporting events.” I can personally tell you a minivan can be that perfect camping vehicle. You have two wide doors to get people and things in and out. There is plenty of storage for your camping gear in the back, especially if you lower the third row of seats flat like the Honda Odyssey allows. The overall height is lower than an SUV or truck, so the lifting is a little easier as well.The 2018 Honda Odyssey’s cargo room ranges from 32.8 cu ft. (behind the 3rd row seat), 88.8 cu ft. (behind the 2nd row seat), 144.9 cu ft. (behind the 1st row seat), and 172.6 cu ft. of passenger volume. That’s a lot of room!

For 2018, the Honda Odyssey is completely redesigned. The Odyssey has been the best-selling minivan in America for the past seven years. This fifth-generation Odyssey raises the bar for performance, cabin quietness, family-friendly interior space, comfort and connectivity in the minivan segment. It is available in the following trim levels: LX ($29,900), EX ($33,860), EX-L ($37,360), Touring ($44,510), and the Elite ($46,670).

Offering customers greater value than ever before, the 2018 Honda Odyssey development team substantially increased comfort and convenience features such as standard Honda Sensing® technology, new Display Audio system with Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™, and new Magic Slide 2nd-row seats™ in EX and above trims, for example. The line-topping Odyssey Touring and Elite models round out the Odyssey lineup with a long list of available new premium features and technologies, including CabinWatch™ day/night video monitor, CabinTalk™ in-car PA system, 4G LTE in-car Wi-Fi, new Rear Entertainment System (RES) with Blu-ray and streaming video, hands-free power tailgate, heated steering wheel, LED accent lighting, and more.

The 3.5-liter engine is new and packs 280 horses under the hood. Now here’s the real kicker: all models except for the Touring and Elite mate the 3.5-liter to a 9-speed automatic transmission with Paddle shifters. If that wasn’t enough, the Touring and Elite both include a 10-speed auto transmission with Paddle shifters! And if you were wondering, yes it accelerates like a performance vehicle, while mastering corners with exhilaration.The styling on the Odyssey feels more like an SUV than a minivan from many angles. The front end is an intentional clone of the brand’s Pilot crossover and Civic with active grille shutters to improve aerodynamic efficiency on the highway. The hood and sides are carved with deep sporty swoops and “lightning bolt” chrome belt lines.

Inside, Honda has added many soft-touch materials creating a more expensive look and feel. In the center of the dash is a large screen that is the main control center. All of the side windows had shade screens helping to keep the sun out and the shade in. Honda worked hard to make the cabin as outside, noise-free as possible – maybe too quiet as I didn’t hear the ambulance until it was about 30-feet away. The only caveat is that the second row of seats does not fold flat or tilt forward. In fact, you must remove them if you want a fully-flat rear cargo area and they weigh around 70 lbs. each. 

My Elite trim included the new CabinWatch and CabinTalk features that allow you to watch the kids in the back two rows and speak to them through the rear speakers or headphones if they are listening to the DVD entertainment system. Other cool interior features include: built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Smartphone-inspired infotainment system, CabinControl App, built-in vacuum cleaner, wireless smart phone charger and digital gauge cluster.

The cargo area is well-suited to carry your camping gear including: a tent, three large plastic totes, a medium size cooler, fishing poles, three folding chairs, two medium-sized bags of clothes, a box of wood, three sleeping bags, three pillows, small cooler and a bag of sheets and blankets and other small items. In the front center console was a 110-volt power plug.

Cool Features:

  • CabinWatch and CabinTalk
  • Standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you can access popular smartphone features including: maps, text messages and music
  • 110-volt power inverter plug
  • Rear Blue Ray DVD entertainment system with wireless headphones and remote
  • Built-in Vacuum cleaner
  • Wireless Smart phone charger
  • Built-in WiFi system

The 2018 Honda Odyssey is loaded with safety features including the following: Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) Body Structure, Dual-Stage, Multiple-Threshold Front Airbags (SRS), Front Side Airbags, Three-Row Side Curtain Airbags with Rollover Sensor, Driver’s and Front Passenger’s Knee Airbags, Lane Keeping Assist System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Information System, Smart Entry with Walk-Away Auto Lock and more. Some of these items are optional safety features for purchase.

In Summary – The 2018 Honda Odyssey is a premier minivan at a premier price. The Honda team managed to equip the Touring and Elite models with almost every new high-tech feature available. If they could change the second-row seats to fold in half and flip up, the vehicle would be almost perfect. The power and performance was sports car-like. The new styling is fun and racy. As for camping, I have found that minivans are the most convenient way to comfortably load up passengers and your cargo. My suggestion is to head over to a Honda dealer if your family is looking for the multi-person people-mover that almost has it all.

Stay tuned for the 4-11 as I am in search of a Pickup to complete our final comparison!


Specifications

2018 Honda Odyssey Elite 
Base price:                  $46,670 as driven: $47,610(including destination & optional
                                    features)

Engine:                       3.5-liter V6

Horsepower:             280 hp

Torque:                       262 lb.-ft.

Transmission:            10-speed automatic

Drive:                          FWD-Wheel Drive

Seating:                       8-passenger
Turning radius:         39.64feet

Cargo space:              32.8 to 155.7 cubic feet

Curb weight:              4,593 pounds

EPA mileage:             City 19/Hwy 28/Comb 22 MPG

Wheel Base:                118.1inches

Warranty:                   3 years/36,000-miles

Also consider:            Chrysler Town & Country, Ford Transit Connect, Kia

                                      Sedona, Toyota Sienna