Impressions on the about-to-be-replaced 2017 Odyssey
You’ve decided the 2017 Honda Odyssey is the minivan for you and breathe a sigh of relief … until you find out the car is being replaced by a completely new model for 2018. Should you back away from the older Odyssey and choose the 2018 Odyssey arriving this spring? When your car search has moved beyond our Big Test–winning Kia Sedona and the excellent Chrysler Pacifica, you might wonder if the 2018 Odyssey is worth the wait. We recently spent time in a loaded 2017 Odyssey Elite (but haven’t yet driven the 2018 model), so keep reading to discover why you might want to get the 2017 Odyssey or why you might want to wait a few months for the new 2018 model—that is, if you have that luxury.
Get the 2017 Odyssey: Selection and Incentives
Incentives and selection can vary widely from region to region, but you can bet Honda will offer something as the automaker transitions from the outgoing 2017 model to the new 2018 minivan. Plus, you’re more likely to have a decent selection (again, depending on where you are) than with the 2018 Odyssey that might prove very popular, at least for the first few months. Going with the older model might just mean you can get an EX-L instead of an EX, a Touring instead of an EX-L, or simply put the money you save into a child’s college fund.
Get the 2017 Odyssey: So Much Passenger Space!
Minivans maximize interior space for people and cargo, and the Odyssey is one of the best in this regard. I’m well over 6 feet tall and was very impressed by the space in the third-row seats. The outgoing Odyssey placed second of five minivans in a 2014–2015 Big Test comparison, and it had more third-row legroom than every other competitor. As for access, the 2017 Odyssey’s second-row seats are easy enough to move forward and out of the way, though the 2018 Odyssey has a new and flexible system one Motor Trendeditor said was easy to use “even with kid-sized hands.”
Get the 2017 Odyssey: Moving-Day Ready
Not surprisingly, the 2017 Odyssey is also one of the most spacious minivans available for cargo, and that’s a vehicle trait that just doesn’t change with age. Like the 2018 Odyssey, the 2017 model has a deep cargo area that can swallow 38.4 cubic feet of stuff behind the third-row seats and 93.1 cubic feet when you fold down those third-row seats. We don’t yet have full specs on the 2018 Odyssey, but you should still consider that when it comes to cargo space, the Odyssey is already at the top of its class.
Get the 2017 Odyssey: Suck it Up
Our 2017 Odyssey Elite tester carries an MSRP of $46,265, and on the extensive standard features list is the HondaVAC. The only other 2017 Odyssey trim to feature the in-car vacuum is the more reasonably priced SE. Either way, the feature can prove helpful on a road trip if a somewhat sudden stop topples the fast-food to-go bag and leaves salty french fries on the floor. And yes, the vacuum, which is housed on the side of the rear cargo area, can be extended to reach the front seats. The HondaVAC returns for 2018, but you don’t need to wait to get that helpful feature, a version of which is also offered by the Chrysler Pacifica.
If you can wait for the 2018 Odyssey and don’t mind forgoing any end-of-the-line 2017 Odyssey incentives, there are plenty of reasons to consider the new model.
Wait for the 2018 Odyssey: Active Safety Tech
The 2018 Odyssey will make active safety tech standard on almost every trim (EX and up). Especially for a vehicle as family-focused as a minivan, this is a great addition. (The Toyota Sienna makes similar tech standard on every trim.) Honda’s active safety tech package includes a collision-mitigation braking system, a lane keeping assist system, and adaptive cruise control—the first two are features I’ve really appreciated on other Hondas. The 2017 Odyssey is still a safe car, but the 2018 Odyssey will be better at helping you avoid an accident. Even so, the 2017 Odyssey has a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA and is an IIHS Top Safety Pick. It does, however, have a Basic rating for front crash prevention, whereas the new 2018 Odyssey will likely earn the top rating of Superior.
Wait for the 2018 Odyssey: No Minivan Needs a 140-MPH Speedometer
The 2018 Honda Odyssey’s screens make the minivan feel far more modern than the outgoing model, and you don’t need to get a trim with a rear entertainment system to notice. The 2018 Odyssey now offers an instrument cluster with a big 7.0-inch display in the center. The 2017 Honda’s functional-but-dated gauges (including that 140-mph speedometer) and small display worked, but the new layout is a step forward.
The same is true for the 2018 Odyssey’s available 8.0-inch touchscreen display, which replaces a two-screen layout on the outgoing minivan. I actually like the two-screen center stack layout of other Hondas, but on the 2017 Odyssey the lower screen simply doesn’t display enough of the song title to be useful. The new infotainment system has an improved navigation system, and even if you don’t pay for an Odyssey with integrated navigation, the 8.0-inch screen is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. That means you’ll have nav anywhere your smartphone has reception. One minor plus of the 2017 model is its two rotating knobs for controlling air temperature, compared to the new model’s two up/down switches.
Wait for the 2018 Odyssey: More Power
What, was power not at the top of your list of priorities for a new minivan? The 2017 Odyssey I drove was powered by a 248-hp 3.5-liter V-6. Mated to a six-speed automatic, the car felt adequate in most situations, but that improved if I hit the D4 button on the gear stalk to wake up the transmission. The 2018 Odyssey’s 3.5-liter V-6 is good for 280 hp, and we’re hoping the steering ratio is a little quicker at low speeds to help make it more maneuverable in parking lots. The 2018 Odyssey will use a nine-speed auto and new 10-speed auto on higher trims—we hope Odyssey owners have better luck with the transmissions than we did with our long-term 2016 Pilot’s nine-speed.
Wait for the 2018 Odyssey: The Acura of Minivans?
Along with a more modern interior, the 2018 Odyssey adds more available features that will help Honda better compete with the luxurious options offered by Kia, Toyota, and Chrysler. The Kia and Chrysler have some enticing premium packages when you don’t mind spending nearly $50,000 on a minivan, and the new Odyssey takes a step closer here. Available features include a heated steering wheel, a foot-activated power liftgate, three 2.5-amp USB outlets (compared to the 2017 Odyssey’s one 2.5-amp USB outlet, which doesn’t charge quickly), ventilated front seats, auto brake hold (helpful at long red lights), a camera to see what the kids in the rear seats are up to (CabinWatch), and a CabinTalk system that allows the driver to talk to rear passengers through the speakers and entertainment system’s headphones. If impressing the neighbors is part of the picture, the Sedona’s two-tone Nappa leather interior and 19-inch wheels or the Pacifica’s 20-inch wheels and Nappa leather might be a better fit.
So … Wait for the 2018 Model?
If you were set on a Honda minivan despite some solid alternatives (including the Chrysler Pacifica and Kia Sedona), waiting for the new model doesn’t make much sense if you were thinking about a practical and budget-conscious base model. If you want the latest and greatest tech and features, however, and wouldn’t think twice about a $50,000 minivan, consider waiting. Between those two extremes, your budget and the importance of active safety tech will determine whether it makes sense to wait. Either way, buyers set on a minivan instead of a less practical crossover will get a more functional car. If you were in the market for a minivan, would you consider the outgoing and still very spacious 2017 Odyssey despite its faults (and age) or wait for the 2018 Odyssey?