2018 Honda Odyssey 10-Speed Automatic

2018 Honda Odyssey

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.

Fleet-Footed Freighter

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.

This Odyssey Elite also sprinted to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds—really quick for a minivan and quicker than many three-row crossovers. The Chrysler Pacifica, clearly the Odyssey’s biggest rival, claims a 7-hp advantage over the Honda but managed only a 7.3-second time in the same test. Whether putzing around town or merging into heavy freeway traffic, the Odyssey never feels as if it wants for power. Get on the throttle and the V-6 emits a sonorous tone that wouldn’t sound out of place in—you guessed it—an SUV.

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.

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