Honda Odyssey: A step into the future

Observer writer

Friday, February 09, 2018

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The 2018 Honda Odyssey boasts all that the brand is famous for: drivability, comfort and practicality.

From the outside, there's no hiding that the Odyssey is a large vehicle. There's a sleek futuristic vibe to it. The small chrome accents provide the perfect contrast to the slightly curved dark glass that takes up the top half of its flanks. In white and on the optional 20-inch wheels filling its wheel arches, the Odyssey looks like a spaceship.

And that it may as well be, since it can swallow up an inordinate amount of cargo — human or otherwise — as on the inside, the exterior dimensions aren't wasted. Pull back the sunshade for the standard sunroof and the cabin lights up to expose its further expanse. It comes complete with its own in-vehicle communications and monitoring system. Press and hold the key fob and both side doors can be made to power open upon approach.

With three rows, all can travel in comfort. Honda's ingenuity means that even if passenger numbers appear daunting, they can be made to fit. Up front, it's first class all the way with leather-powered captain's chairs and Honda's eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system among the many amenities.

Bluetooth? Got it! USB, HDMI, AUX? Got it! Near Field Communication — it's there. Unless one still uses an abacus, there's a way to connect to the vehicle.

Rear passengers aren't left out and might actually draw some jealous looks from the front seat. Second-row passengers are treated to their own captain's chairs, climate controls, sun shades, multiple cupholders, and connections for the roof-mounted 10.2-inch TV screen, which is fed by a dashboard mounted Blu-Ray/DVD player.

It doesn't stop there. The second-row is completely configurable. With the small middle seat gone, the others can be removed as well or slid around. The third row folds flat into the trunk floor unleashing even more cargo space, enough to slide a 4 x 8 foot sheet of plywood; — a task made easy with the height-adjustable power tailgate, hands free on the Elite trim. The Elite trim also includes a trunk-installed vacuum cleaner for any mess cargo might cause.

If all the cargo is human and young, then drivers need not worry since the Odyssey is packed with safety and practicality features. Airbags and a long list of electronic aids are standard. Otherwise, drivers can monitor rear passengers via an old-fashioned wide-angle mirror. The infotainment-based CabinTalk feature means drivers can issue verbal instructions through the various in-vehicle audio sources without fear of not being heard. The Elite trim goes higher-tech with Cabinwatch pairing infrared LEDs and a ceiling- mounted rear-facing camera to provide a live video feed of the second and third rows.

The spaceship theme continues from the driver's seat. One doesn't just drive an Odyssey; they pilot it, pressing buttons and flipping switches for everything. Fire up the engine with the START/STOP button and 280hp 3.5-litre V6 is creamy smooth. Rear doors open and close with a quick press, as does the windows. The handbrake is electronic with an auto hold function — a boon in stop/go traffic. Release it and the next move is another set of buttons. The 10-speed CVT is controlled by a space- age arrangement of toggle switches in the lower portion of the dashboard. Once in drive, one can go manual with a pair of steering- mounted paddle shifters.

On the go, the Odyssey hides its dimensions well. The drivetrain is smooth and responsive, as is the suspension which wafts away rough roads. Traffic warnings are relayed by the parking sensors and Honda's Crosslane system, which operates a camera on the opposite side of the vehicle and works manually or automatically — all help to further shrink down the size

and keep driver's informed and worry-free.

The 2018 Honda Odyssey is now available from ATL Automotive's Honda division at an introductory price of $9.25 million.

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