Not that you’d ever be able to convince today’s crossover-crazy buyers, but three-row SUVs continue to move substantially in the minivan direction, with decreased ground clearance and towing capacity; front-wheel-drive architectures; and spacious, family-friendly cabins.
As these segments converge, it begs the question: What makes a minivan a minivan? Sliding doors? Removable seats? The lines have been blurred, particularly in the case of the all-new Honda Odyssey, which shares a platform with the company’s three-row crossover, the Pilot.
Pop the Odyssey’s hood and you’ll find the same 280-hp 3.5-liter V-6 that hustled our long-term Pilot from zero to 60 mph in just 6.0 seconds. The Pilot’s optional nine-speed automatic is standard on the Odyssey, but opt for the Touring or Elite trim levels—the latter is tested here—and you get Honda’s 10-speed automatic, the first slushbox from the maker to use planetary gearsets. The new transmission shifts imperceptibly under moderate throttle, is well matched to the V-6 engine, and is always in the right gear.
It’s fuel efficient, too, particularly on long highway slogs. The combo of V-6 and 10-speed returned 30 mpg on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test, beating the EPA highway rating by 2 mpg.
Larger bumps transmit into the cabin more harshly than in the Pacifica, likely due to our test vehicle’s 19-inch wheels and low-profile tires. Otherwise, the Odyssey’s ride quality is agreeable; it balances composed cruising with competent cornering, which isn’t reflected in the unimpressive, 0.75-g skidpad result. But it changes direction nimbly and drives like a much smaller vehicle. Steering effort is light, but the electrically assisted system is accurate and direct.