Honda has fully embraced the booming crossover segment but hasn’t forgotten about its minivan, the awesome Odyssey. An Automobile All-Star in 2011, the family mover hasn’t changed much until now. To give us the rundown about what’s new, we sat down with Derek Adelman, electrical project leader for Odyssey, on the floor of the 2017 Detroit auto show.
1. Why a sliding middle row? Rear-facing child seats. Sure the all-new Odyssey’s skating second row makes it easier to get into the third row, but Honda developed it more for the parents who struggle with cumbersome rear-facing child seats.
2. The second-row seats are nearly unchanged from the outgoing Odyssey’s. The big change is underneath the seats, where the plastic sliding bracket is.
3. Rear-facing child seats were also the impetus for the CabinWatch system. While the 2018 Odyssey still has the flip-down “conversation” mirror, the automaker wanted to develop a system so parents could easily see their little ones if they were faced away from them in the back row.
4. You can pan and zoom and save your preferences with CabinWatch. If you have an infant in the third row, you can save the system settings so that you can always see your newborn. Even at night, thanks to infrared.
5. Airplane PA systems inspired Honda to develop CabinTalk. The system pauses the rear-seat entertainment system and projects voice through wireless headphones (and the third-row speakers on Elite models), using the hands-free microphone located near the rearview mirror.
6. The front center console is no longer removable. Honda decided it would rather have two fixed USB outlets for second-row use.
7. Switching to an electric shifter allowed for a larger front pass-through. It also helped make the center console skinnier, which gives front passenger’s improved knee clearance.
8. Honda developed the infotainment’s operating system in house. It’s a modified Android system with Odyssey-specific apps and customizable submenus.
9. Owners will be able to update firmware wirelessly. No need to go to the dealer if you want to have the most up-to-date OS in your car.
10. “We knew we had a hit when we first showed the sales team.” When engineers previewed the Odyssey and its new features to Honda’s sales and marketing teams, their extremely positive reaction made them feel confident this new minivan would once again be a success in the market. We’ll have to see.