2018 Honda Odyssey

The Honda Odyssey remains one of the best minivans on the market, trailing only the 10Best Trucks and SUVs–winning Chrysler Pacifica in terms of ease of use, features, and practicality, and just edging past the Chrysler in driving pleasure. Since our last update, more logbook admiration has come in for the Honda’s superb forward visibility (although it’s not as superb as the Pacifica’s), approachable handling, and comfortable seats.

We’ve installed a set of Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 winter tires so that we don’t end up sliding into a ditch somewhere during our snow-filled winter months. They’ve provided sure grip and impressive braking performance in the ice and snow but do tend to mute steering response and cause our Honda to wander on dry pavement, particularly at highway speeds. They also produce a pronounced hum in those circumstances. These minor complaints are not the van’s fault and are unsurprising given the tires’ focus on slush-and-ice traction.

The glitchy infotainment system, for one, but more on that below. At this halfway point in our test, our logbook is filling up with more negative than positive comments as staffers pick nits and try to avoid scribbling the same phrases over and over.

There has been some commentary that the large screen in the gauge cluster seems underutilized—no big nav or full-audio displays—as we become used to setups such as Audi’s Virtual Cockpit that mirror huge swaths of the infotainment screen in front of the driver. We also remain frustrated by an adaptive cruise-control system that seems too eager to brake and far too slow to regain speed when the road ahead clears—and also the fact that the system can’t operate at speeds below about 20 mph.

Our Odyssey continues to be plagued by infotainment glitches, freezes, and outright refusals to turn on (the last most often after using the standard factory remote-start feature), even after a field technician visited the van at our office and replaced the infotainment head unit under warranty at 12,800 miles. Add this to the difficulty of nailing the many teensy onscreen buttons, and we’re not particularly thrilled with the system.

One driver noted a booming tone when travelling at speeds between 30 and 50 mph and traced the source to the front speakers, positing that it may be a faulty algorithm in the noise-cancellation system adding noise rather than subtracting it. We will have that issue investigated during our next dealer visit.

At the 16,818-mile mark, we had our second routine-maintenance stop to change the oil, rotate the tires, and have a more involved set of inspections performed; this brought our running service total to $228. Shortly thereafter, our local dealer replaced the left and right rear-window switches under a “product update campaign” initiated by Honda, which says the switches’ internal software may enter “an unstable condition and cannot recover,” rendering the windows inoperable. With them fixed, our dogs (and probably our children) retain their ability to send their drool flying onto trailing cars.

WHERE WE WENT : In addition to serving as a kid-hauling and group-outing shuttle all over metro Detroit, our Odyssey has ventured farther afield than ever before, making two trips to Florida, the first to the Panhandle for a vacation on the so-called Redneck Riviera and the second to Gainesville for a family visit.

The Odyssey continues to impress with its refinement and ability to soak up hundreds of highway miles with ease. That doesn’t change with lots of people and stuff aboard, as assistant Buyer’s Guide editor Annie White proved, stuffing the van with six people, six suitcases, six sleeping bags, a cooler, and several grocery bags of comestibles on a trip to northern Michigan. She and her travel companions remained comfortable and connected—as has our staff on other journeys—thanks to the van’s heated and ventilated front seats, spacious second- and third-row accommodations, multiple USB ports, and onboard Wi-Fi.

Other drivers have praised the hushed cabin, which is even quieter due to our Elite trim’s extra sound-deadening material compared with lesser Odysseys. The Elite gets acoustically treated window glass in each of the vehicle’s four doors, as well as thicker carpet and additional lining in the wheel wells.