Family friendly 2018 Honda Odyssey VTi-L packs plenty of comfort, improved refinement and technology but lacks storage space and performance.
The Honda Odyssey is a good thing. It’s comfortable, refined, easy to drive and relatively good looking by people mover standards. The ideal family bus and Honda has given the Odyssey range a mild make over for 2018.
The range topping 2018 Honda Odyssey VTi-L as tested here gets Honda’s new “Honda Sensing” suite of driver assistance technologies, which includes adaptive cruise, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist and blind spot monitoring.
There’s also improved refinement levels, a new instrument cluster, new headrests for the centre row – they’re soft and plush, allowing passengers to luxuriate even further – new front and rear bumpers and two tone 17 inch alloy wheels.
So the 2018 Honda Odyssey VTi-L is smarter and more handsome. Excellent. However, there are a few things that carry over from the old model that are crying out for an overhaul. Firstly, there’s the lack of oddment storage. Unlike its Toyota Tarago and Kia Carnival contemporaries that have enormous centre consoles – the one in the Tarago in particular, and it slides, too – the Odyssey does without a centre console completely. Instead, you get a meagre small shelf which raises up from the centre shelf.
The lack of storage can become frustrating as the Odyssey seems to be good at carrying people, with its seven very comfortable seats and flexible seating arrangements, but there just doesn’t seem to be enough storage for their knick knacks.
Next up on our hit list is the infotainment system. It’s finicky and difficult to operate on the move and doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility unlike new models in the Honda range such as the Civic and CR-V. The graphics are dated and the satellite navigation can be cumbersome to use. There are buttons on the steering wheel and the sound quality from the stereo is decent, though.
Weirdly, you can’t get parking sensors on the Honda Odyssey, not even on the VTi-L which is a little perplexing, seeing as though most Odysseys will be frequenting school and shopping centre carparks. Furthermore, we were a little disappointed by the absence of a power tailgate, especially as the tailgate is large and cumbersome to open and close.
The rear sliding doors are electrically operated, however, and can be opened and closed via buttons on the dash or keyfob. So that’s handy.
Under the bonnet the 2.4 litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine remains, and still produces 129kW @ 6200rpm and 225Nm @ 4000rpm. The engine is mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that sends power to the front wheels.
While the 2.4 litre engine is generally smooth and refined, we’re not convinced that it’s suitable for the Odyssey. It seems that both the engine and transmission struggle with the Odyssey’s weight which can make performance lethargic, swift overtaking difficult and as the engine has to work overly hard at times, taking the edge off the Odyssey’s otherwise luxurious driving experience.
We’d suggest a small diesel or perhaps a petrol V6 may be more effective in this application.
Fuel economy was decent during test. Honda claims and official combined fuel consumption figure of 7.8 litres per 100km/h we averaged around 9 litres and this was aided by the use of the Economy mode and Auto Stop technology.
Sale or No Sale?
The 2018 Honda Odyssey has made a decent thing a little better and fits the luxury people mover bill well. It’s definitely worth a look, however, performance and dated technology in some instances disappoint.