Battle Wagon: The 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite
The 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite.
About that headline...

For all the talk about how the hottest segment of the market is in small crossovers (which is true), the tightest battle in the biz is between minivans.  Only a few thousand copies a year separate the Chrysler Pacifica, Toyota Sienna and the Honda Odyssey.  The Pacifica being the newest design and an excellent interpretation of what a contemporary minivan should be, it's gained a slight advantage over the Sienna and Odyssey, which haven't seen a re-design since 2011.

Until now, that is.  The Sienna is still awaiting an update...but the new Odyssey is here now.  And it's more than ready for battle.

Rear 3/4 view of 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite
2018 Honda Odyssey Elite.
The new Odyssey is three-tenths of an inch longer than last year's, one tenth of an inch lower, considerably better-looking to our eyes and more powerful by 32 horses...now possessing nine-and-ten-speed automatic transmissions in place of the previous five and six.  It's faster, smoother and quieter, but no more fuel-efficient than the old one...Honda having chosen to use the extra gears to offset what would have been a loss in fuel economy with the extra 32 horsepower.  So the EPA estimate stays at 19 city/28 highway.   Given that the non-hybrid model of the Pacifica is 18/28, there's no disadvantage to Honda's strategy.

Interior view of 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite
2018 Honda Odyssey Elite interior.
The interior is a much nicer, more contemporary place to be, as well.  A lot has happened in terms of infotainment and consumer preferences since 2011, and Honda has responded brilliantly.  There's a Display Audio command center that is light-years ahead of the old audio and nav controls.  Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are baked into it.   In the top-of-the-line Elite, an in-car 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot comes standard.  And there's more.

Rear seat entertainment screen in 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite
2018 Honda Odyssey Elite rear seat entertainment screen.

Sure, there's a flip-down widescreen for the second-and-third row passengers, but it's now enabled for streaming audio and video.  iHeartRadio, Spotify, Blu-Ray discs...and streaming movies are all part of the package for the folks in back.

2018 Honda Odyssey Elite CabinWatch
2018 Honda Odyssey Elite CabinWatch.

About those folks.  Wondering if Aiden's right that Emma won't stop staring at him?  Want to see if the latest round of "slug bug" is turning into a mixed martial arts exhibition?  No problem.  You have CabinWatch, which allows you to monitor the little darlings with cameras built into the headliner that, at the touch of a button, you can view on the Display Audio monitor.

Need to intervene?  On the screen, there's a button called "CabinTalk".  It allows you to interrupt whatever's in their headsets and tell them to not make you:

a) Come back there
b) Turn this car around
c) Totally and completely lose your s...

Some things never change.

Honda CabinControl App
Honda CabinControl app.
And some things do.  Also new this year is Honda's CabinControl app.  Download it to your smartphone and use it to control the rear entertainment system, rear cabin heat and air conditioning, and send destinations to the embedded nav system.  This lets the front-seat passenger worry about those things, freeing the driver up to, you know, drive.  It also lets well-behaved and trusted rear seat passengers (don't worry, moms and dads, that day does come) control those things or look up where Dad or Mom need to be heading and forward it to navigation.  Very slick.

Rear 3/4 view of 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite
2018 Honda Odyssey Elite.
The price has gone up.  Last year's model was $44,450, the '18 is $46,670.  But the upgrades in the all-new Odyssey are certainly worth $2,220...and frankly, a lot more than that.  Expect the new Odyssey to keep Chrysler on its toes improving the Pacifica and look for Toyota and Kia to sweat the details on the next Sienna and Sedona.