The honest review: 2018 Honda OdysseyOctober 18, 2017
Since becoming a parent, my criteria for finding a family car has changed. Much like choosing a holiday destination, now it’s all about the kids, but not at the expense of our own enjoyment. For hotels, it’s about ease, entertainment, and safety – and when searching for a new car, it’s much the same.
On my search for a new car we test drove the new 2018 Honda Odyssey for 24 hours, taking it on the school run, to the supermarket, my usual cruise down Beach Road to get a child to sleep, and a meeting where the narrow spaces stress me out every time. Here’s how we got on…
While the 24-year-old me, who drove a battered 1999 Pajero, would be somewhat shocked to see me driving a minivan– the vehicle of choice for soccer moms the world over – there are some features that she would be mighty impressed by too. This is no ordinary minivan.
The new model comes loaded with tech and tricks that are a DREAM for parents too. My favourites include…
- CabinWatch: there’s a small camera in the ceiling, and on the 8-inch front centre screen on the dashboard you’ll see what’s happening behind you, on the second and third rows. This means you can keep an eye on the kids, while keeping your eyes forward. It even works at night, with an infrared light.
- CabinTalk: the new Odyssey has a fantastic entertainment system, with a drop down TV screen, and wireless headphones, but what if you want to get their attention? The CabinTalk feature allows you to speak to passengers via a microphone that amplifies through speakers, or through the headphones. So they can’t ever ignore you…
- Magic Slide seats: this car accommodates eight people, and the middle seat of the middle row is removable, so you can configure the seating plan to best suit your needs. The remaining seats in the row can be pushed together or apart, creating more space on either side, or an aisle up the middle of the car.
- Remote start: in hot climates, remote start is a huge convenience – you can start the car and have it running for up to ten minutes before you get in, making it nice and cool, even at the height of a UAE summer. So no more sweaty kids, or hot car seats. Oh, and the seats are ventilated. Bliss!!
- Parking sensors: Reverse parking is seriously easy, with a colour-coded guide displayed on the screen, and multiple rear cameras. My spatial awareness is poor at best, and I was able to park this loooong car with no problems at all.
- Lane assistance and stopping distance function: Dubai drivers NEED this. All of them. On the front of the new Odyssey there is a camera and a radar, which work together. This means when you switch into Assisted Cruise Control, the car will keep you in your lane, and even slow down should the car in front of you brake. Unreal.
- The TV screen: while I was reluctant to use the screen for short journeys, as I really enjoy chatting with Phoebe when we drive, it was fun to show her the ‘are we there yet’ feature on it, which plots the journey so kids can understand the car’s progress. There’s also a choice of landscapes and backdrops. And you can hook it up to watch their favourite shows too. Phoebe called this The Peppa Pig Car…
- One-touch doors and the hands-free boot sensor: there are sliding doors on both sides, but you can press the key fob to open them remotely and fully with one click. I also loved the boot door, which opens by waving your foot under the rear bumper – essential when weighed down with kids or bags. You can also set the height that the boot will open to, so you can reach it, and avoid hitting your head.
- The boot space: I expected this to be tiny, given the number of seats, but the boot is deep and fitted our stroller, with loads of room to spare. The rear seats also fold down to the size of a double bed, so you could camp in style. There are even power points in the back. I’d be tempted to live in it.
- Comfort-factor: It’s a seriously smooth drive, and there are fantastic little touches like drivers having their own profile, which means when you get in you select Driver 1 or 2, and the car will adjust the seat and mirrors exactly how you like them. Clever.
- The power: I won’t go into the spec, because it’s another language to me, but let’s just say that with a 3.5 litre engine, this car can MOVE. Fast.
Need to know
- The size: As you’d expect, a car that can comfortably fit eight people is big. More accurately, it’s long, which does take some getting used to, and some parking bays might come up a little short. Thankfully parking it isn’t an issue because of the technology.
- A bit too much tech: There are a lot of features on this car, and the screen and displays can be a little confusing. Because I was only driving it for a short time, I didn’t mess around too much with this, but there is the option to remove choices on the screen that you won’t use often in order to customise the car to your needs.
- Quality of calls: I use time in the car to catch up on calls, and found that calls sometimes cut out. This might be because my phone wasn’t properly synced up to the car, however.
- So futuristic: While I loved the fact there’s a wireless phone charger (you just place your phone on the pad between the front seats), it’s a shame that it’s only compatible with the latest iPhone. You can still charge using a USB cable, though.
I think you’d struggle to find a better family car, especially if you have three or more children, as the flexibility of seating allows for multiple car seats (and you can even move quarrelling kids further apart!).
The safety features make this is a fantastic option for the Dubai roads, and you don’t compromise on comfort or state-of-the-art features. I can’t tell you how impressed I was by the CabinWatch function, and road trips will be a breeze for all the family in the new Odyssey.
The best compliment I can give? Phoebe didn’t want to get out of it, and I didn’t want to give it back…
For more information and to book test drive visit www.honda.ae/cars/new-