The long-reigning queen of the minivan segment, the Honda Odyssey has been the go-to choice for both consumers and critics when it came to moving seven to eight people around. While the Odyssey has mostly remained unchanged during the early 2010s as the focus shifted to the crossover SUV segment, the recent years have seen something of a revival on the minivan scene, with Honda aptly releasing its new fully-redesigned 2018 Honda Odyssey right on time to take advantage of it.
Incorporating many of the lessons learned from consumer interest in crossovers, the new Odyssey has a stronger engine and more agile handling, all without compromising the car’s comfortable ride. The redesign is easily positioned to keep Honda as the market leader in the minivan segment for years to come.
The new 2018 Honda Odyssey comes in five major trim levels, which for the most part offer straightforward and linear upgrades that cover everything from a relatively simple entry-level car to the luxury Elite range-topping model.
Compare the 2018 Odyssey LX vs EX Trims. What is the difference?
Like most Hondas, the Odyssey trim line start with the relatively modest LX model. Even as the entry-level Odyssey, it has a slightly above-average set of standard features, which helps offset having one of the highest starting prices among minivans.
The LX standard equipment includes front power seats, Bluetooth, automatic climate control, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a multi-angle rearview camera, on top of the standard basics like power doors, keyless entry and cruise control. It also comes with the same powertrain as the other Odyssey models: a 3.5-liter V-6 linked to a nine-speed automatic transmission.
While the LX model offers some nice features on top of the expected basics, the EX covers the areas that were missing in the base LX equipment. It replaces the 5-inch audio display with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, as well as HondaLink. There is also a remote starter, three-zone automatic climate control, and a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross traffic alert.
In addition to those safety features, there is also the Honda Sensing suite of active safety equipment that includes adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, lane keep assist, and road departure mitigation. The EX also comes with a Magic Slide second row that makes getting into the third row seats easier. Like the LX, the EX does not come with additional options.
If you are buying a Honda Odyssey in order to transport your family around, then the added safety features of the EX make it practically a must-buy. Similarly, the smartphone integration is a must-have for many modern drivers that rely heavily on their smartphones. Honda’s upgraded infotainment system on the EX actually makes it easy for passengers to connect their phones with the system as well, making it easy to create collaborative playlists or control the air conditioning system remotely.
Compare the 2018 Honda Odyssey EX vs EX-L Trim Levels. What is the difference?
As is the Honda tradition, every EX model is followed by an EX-L model which adds leather upholstery to the EX equipment set. The 2018 Odyssey is no different, and the EX-L is the lowest grade of the minivan that comes with factory-installed leather seating. That is not the only feature of the EX-L, however. It also comes with a power liftgate with a programmable height setting, as well as a power moonroof. The driver’s side seat and the side mirrors also get a memory function, as well as auto-tilt when reversing.
The EX-L is also one of the few Odyssey models that comes with optional equipment or packages. An in-car CabinTalk PA system can be added, as can a household-style power outlet. The two features are part of a larger Navigation and Rear Seat Entertainment package that bundles those two features together with the eponymous navigation and rear seat entertainment systems.The EX-L offers a strong collection of comfort and convenience equipment for a pretty reasonable premium over the EX. While the moonroof or the power liftgate alone are probably not worth the upgrade, the added leather definitely is. The EX-L is also the first model with an optional rear-seat entertainment system, which can be an important feature if you are planning to use the car for road trips with younger children. However, for drivers who don’t find those features important, there is no major equipment that demands an upgrade over the regular EX.
Compare the Odyssey EX-L vs Touring Trims. What is the difference?
With most of the key features covered by the EX-L and its optional package, the Touring focuses more on adding more convenience technologies to the Odyssey. It includes all of the optional features from the EX-L, as well as the EX-L’s standard features. It also adds hands-free functionality to the rear liftgate, together with front and rear parking sensors.
Other added features are LED headlights and fog lights, a Wi-Fi hotspot through a HondaLink data subscription, a built-in vacuum cleaner, and a CabinWatch camera system that lets you keep an eye on the two rear rows using a ceiling-mounted camera. The Touring also upgrades the Odyssey to a 10-speed automatic transmission that is a little bit more responsive and fuel efficient.
The feature list of the Touring feels more like a showcase of new innovations from Honda engineers than a practical family minivan. That is not to say that the features it offers are not desirable, just that they are experimental. We encourage you to try them out first to see if they are something that you are interested in having before committing to getting a Touring over an EX-L.
Compare the Odyssey Touring vs Elite Trim Levels. What is the difference?
At the top of the trim hierarchy, the Honda Odyssey Elite turns the minivan into a very upscale people transporter. It includes all of the useful Touring equipment, but it also adds a few extra touches to make the Odyssey feel like a more luxurious vehicle.
The front seats get both heating and ventilation on this model, and the appearance is enhanced by premium 19-inch wheels and blue ambient interior lighting. It also comes with a wireless device charger, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and an 11-speaker audio system with multi-zone audio. The multi-zone functionality allows the driver to select between playing audio for only the driver, front seats only, rear seats only, or the whole vehicle. The function is especially useful in conjunction with the rear seat entertainment system, as it allows the rear passengers to hear the soundtrack to whatever they are watching or playing, while the front passengers can listen to their own music, with neither getting in the way of the other.
With its excellent luxury features, the Odyssey Elite is about as upscale as minivans get. For that particular niche, there is practically no other option available. It does come at an appropriately high price point however, with the Elite MSRP of over $45,000. That is higher than the most expensive model of all but one other minivan on the market.
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Which Trim Level to Choose?
Based on Honda’s projections and production numbers, they expect to see the EX and EX-L trim levels of the Odyssey as being the best sellers, and we are inclined to agree. While the LX entry-level model has some nice features, the EX feature set is strong across the board, including nice safety features, good convenience options, and modern connectivity technology.
The EX-L offers much the same, though with a leather interior and an option for navigation and rear seat entertainment. The Touring and Elite trims offer some interesting new options and features, but they come at too high of a price point to readily recommend. If you try their features and like what they add to your driving experience, they can be good selections as well, but are likely not worth the price for most. You are unlikely to go wrong by starting with the EX model and working your way up to the features you want on your new Odyssey.
• Why buy a 2018 Honda Odyssey? w/ pros vs cons