Would you rather ride around in a Carnival or a Sedona? While a Carnival sounds like a lot more fun, it may depend on where you’re driving, as many Arizona residents might want their chosen city to be displayed on their vehicle.
This said, Kia Sedona owners may not have a choice if they choose to trade up to the brand’s fourth-generation minivan when it arrives later this year as a 2022 model, or so claims a VIN decoder published by the Sedona Forum, which sourced its information from the NHTSA.
The mid-size three-row van, set to debut with an entirely new look that says goodbye to the current model’s comparatively conservative front fascia and more fluid lines all-round, and hello to a much more angled, distinctive and upscale design, may be adopting the Carnival nameplate in order to maintain global continuity, which helps a brand make the most of advertising market bleed and more.
Someone watching an NBA basketball game in Asia, for instance (a regular occurrence in some countries), might not realize that the Kia Sedona shown on the HD scoreboard is in fact their market’s Carnival, or alternatively that the Carnival seen by North American F1 fans on electronic billboards around the upcoming Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at the new Jeddah Street Circuit is actually their Sedona (not that any of these marketing campaigns actually exist). Kia did something similar years ago by aligning the name of their Canadian-market Magentis mid-size sedan (the basis for the Sedona, incidentally) with the U.S.-specific Optima, and more recently rebadged this car the K5 in both markets in order to align with the newly redesigned model’s global marketing push.
The van debuted last June in Kia’s home market of South Korea, showing off its sharp new styling and a completely redesigned, more luxurious interior to go along with it. The ultra-plush Hi Limousine variant, boasting business class-seating and premium level refinement, won’t likely enter our market, but the current Sedona raised the bar significantly in the North American minivan segment when it arrived for the 2015 model year, and has steadily been improved since, so we can expect to be impressed with its top-line trims when they arrive.
Initial photos show available twin-screen digital displays that join a configurable gauge cluster and multi-information display up with an extremely large centre-mounted infotainment touchscreen, similarly in concept to Mercedes-Benz with its MBUX system, while the model incorporates a knurled metal-edged rotating gear selector on the lower console, similar to Hyundai and Genesis (and Kia K5) models, putting an end to the traditional gear lever that’s still being used in today’s Sedona.
This will continue to control an eight-speed automatic transmission, connecting through to a 3.5-litre V6 engine making 294 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque, which is a significant bump up from the current model’s 276 hp and 248 lb-ft. Other markets will also have the option of a 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline-powered model, and a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel, the latter good for 202 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque, but no one should expect that mill here.
Kia doesn’t offer an all-wheel drive Sedona variant at this time, and it looks as if this will be the case for the Carnival as well, based on information from the aforementioned NHTSA documents and an update by South Korean auto portal Autocast, which also reports that no gasoline-electric hybrid version will be offered either. This will be seen as a negative by environmentally-focused buyers, especially considering Toyota’s new Sienna is only offered with a hybrid power unit that includes standard all-wheel drive. Additionally, Chrysler has long offered a plug-in hybrid Pacifica with real EV driving capability, not to mention an AWD powertrain in its conventionally-powered model.
We can expect details about the Canadian-spec 2022 Carnival to surface sometime this spring, at which point we’ll know more about how this intriguing new entry will stack up against the recently redesigned Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey, plus the always strong-selling Stellantis group—FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) and Peugeot—vans, now including a Chrysler rebranded, entry-level version of the pricier Pacifica minivan dubbed Grand Caravan in order to gain some name recognition advantage from one of Canada’s best-selling nameplates (this model is called Voyageur in the U.S., which ironically pays no heed to the market-bleed concern noted earlier).
The minivan is a strange beast. After the segment’s first foray into the market during the early ‘80s to mid-‘90s, when the various Chrysler group vans took their rightful place atop the heap thanks to creation of the category itself, and follow up models that continued to deliver what consumers wanted better than competitors that merely modified existing Japanese vans for differing North American tastes, each automaker continued to augment their offerings to better appeal to what were essentially their most practical buyers.
Honda was actually a full decade late to the party, having arrived in 1994. The first-generation Odyssey certainly looked the part and even boasted second-row access from both sides, something Chrysler wouldn’t adopt until the following year, but the Japanese van’s rear side doors were hinged like those from the Accord it was based on, and therefore it lacked the ease-of-use provided by all competitors’ passenger-side sliding door, limiting its popularity.
Fortunately for Honda, its imported competitors weren’t all that much more appealing, Toyota’s original Van a truck-based body-on-frame rear- and four-wheel drive alternative that nevertheless found a reasonable following, this replaced by the ovoid spaceship-styled Previa that stowed its engine on its side under the driver’s seat, and finally the more conventional front-drive Sienna for the 1998 model year; and Nissan’s first Van similar to Toyota’s yet nowhere near as successful, things getting better when the FWD Quest was launched in 1992; whereas Mazda’s 1989-2006 MPV was probably the most capable Japanese-sourced Chrysler competitor.
Chrysler group vans aside, the domestics did better than they probably should have thanks to the brand strength of Ford and GM at that time, the blue-oval Aerostar and Chevy/GMC Astro/Safari RWD and AWD truck-based models finding reasonably strong sales ahead of the General’s plastic-bodied 1990-1996 APV/“Dustbuster” atrocities that didn’t catch on very well despite Chili Palmer’s (John Travolta) Cadillac of minivans plug in Get Shorty (1995), whereas Ford’s 1995-2003 Windstar actually had fairly strong success.
Ford only suffered through one more minivan name-change when it redubbed its stellar offering Freestar before saying goodbye to the non-commercial minivan segment altogether in 2007, but I could fill volumes with GM minivan names before it decided to say goodbye to its final Buick Terraza, Chevrolet Uplander, Pontiac Montana SV6, and Saturn Relay foursome in 2009. And don’t worry I won’t comment on all the others, or for that matter the various brands not yet mentioned that tried their hardest to build the ultimate family hauler, because now there are only a handful of competitors in this once hotly contested sector.
The only brand not yet noted that’s still making a minivan is Kia, which launched the Sedona in 2002. Hyundai briefly tried to cash in with its oddly named 2006-2009 Entourage, but that one-stint-wonder leaves the Sedona amongst just two Kias not duplicated by a namesake version from its parent brand (the other being the Soul subcompact crossover, whereas Hyundai is alone in offering a three-door sports coupe in the Veloster).
The Sedona is the minivan segment’s least popular offering, mostly due to the strength of Kia’s brand rather than any specific product shortcoming, having found just 5,286 Canadian buyers in 2017 and 4,478 over the first three quarters of 2018. Comparatively, Chrysler’s much pricier Pacifica raised its game to 6,185 unit sales last year and 5,327 over the first nine months of this year, while the Odyssey is the first of this quintet to break five figures thanks to 11,232 deliveries in 2017 and 9,036 as of September 30, 2018. Having built up a minivan following for ten more years than Honda, it’s only fair the Sienna sells in greater numbers, the Toyota van finding 15,470 buyers last year and 11,231 registered by the end of this year’s third quarter, while the minivan that started everything off way back in 1984 remains number one by a long shot, Dodge having sold 46,933 Grand Caravans in 2017 and 27,466 year-to-date as of Q3 2018.
I’ve driven most every van mentioned plus a dozen or so more, and some that looked sportiest were the least capable off the line and around curves, whereas others were sleepers. My short-wheelbase 1996 Caravan was actually pretty decent when the road started to wind, but its 3.0-litre Mitsubishi-sourced V6 and four-speed automatic combination wasn’t anywhere near as capable as today’s V6 powerplants. The latest Grand Caravan gets a 283 horsepower 3.6-litre V6 with 260 lb-ft of torque, but that engine is the only sophisticated bit of kit in the aging workhorse. It stacks up pretty well when compared to the Odyssey’s 3.5-litre V6 that makes 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, but that’s where the driveline similarities end. Specifically, Honda’s “Earth Dreams” branded V6 incorporates Variable Cylinder Management cylinder-deactivation that cuts half the pistons under light loads where Chrysler never adapted its comparative MDS system to the Pentastar V6, while Honda’s new nine- and 10-speed automatics are the cream of the minivan crop, the latter gearbox included in my Touring trim tester.
Competitive transmissions include a six-speed automatic from Dodge, eight-speed units from Kia and Toyota, and a nine-speed from the conventionally powered Chrysler with a CVT used for its plug-in hybrid variant, that latter model providing the segment’s best fuel economy at 7.3 L/100km city, 7.2 highway and 7.3 combined (or 2.6, 3.0 and 2.8 Le/100km if you plug-in all the time and don’t drive very far between charges), albeit for a substantive initial hit to its bottom line (it starts at $51,745 and rubs up against $65k when fully loaded), while the Odyssey and its considerably more affordable rivals offer up city/highway/combined estimates of 13.7/9.4/11.8 for the Grand Caravan (the segment’s worst city and combined ratings), 12.9/8.4/10.9 for the base Pacifica and 12.4/8.4/10.6 for the same drivetrain with engine start/stop, 12.7/10.0/11.5 for the Sedona (the worst highway rating), 12.5/8.9/10.8 for the Sienna (or 13.4/9.6/11.7 for the Sienna AWD), and finally 12.6/8.4/10.7 (tied-for-best highway rating) for the base Odyssey with its nine-speed, or alternatively the best-in-class city, second-best highway and tied-for-best combined ratings of 12.2/8.5/10.6 for the as-tested top-line Odyssey with its 10-speed automatic.
On top of this technical advantage, the Odyssey continues forward as the best minivan choice for those wanting a large dose of performance added to their ample helping of practicality. Clarifying this sporting image are paddle shifters behind each steering wheel spoke in every trim level, this from a utilitarian class that usually makes you feel lucky to receive any shifter control at all. Why this minivan-first inclusion of paddles? Take a look at the centre stack and everything becomes clear, with Honda’s pushbutton gear selector replacing the old lever that previously offered a regular push-and-pull manual mode. Now driver engagement takes place without the need to remove hands from the thick and sporty leather-wrapped steering wheel rim, the nicely contoured driver’s seat providing the other key ingredient for comfort and control.
The driving position is excellent, and thanks to 12-way power-adjustment including four-way powered lumbar support on EX trims and above the driver’s seat should be just as comfortable for those measuring four-foot-eight to six-foot-eight as it was for my five-foot-eight frame. Its many adjustments combined nicely with the tilt and telescopic steering column’s ample reach, allowing me to ideally saddle up my sometimes-awkward long-legged, short-torso build.
The gear selector is basically the same as used in the Pilot mid-size crossover SUV, a design that works flawlessly once you get used to it. It does take some practice, however, so if you’re going on a test drive at your local dealer give yourself enough time to get familiarized or you may be frustrated, especially if you have to back up quickly in the middle of the road during a U-turn, where all of a sudden you’ll need to think about pulling a rocker switch rearward for Reverse before pushing another button to select Drive.
When you push the Drive button twice it goes into Sport mode, and this is the best way to make use of those aforementioned paddles. The 10-speed autobox really does snap through the gears quickly, which is kind of rare for transmissions with so many speeds. Normally they’re laggards, set up to maximize fuel economy at all costs, but as long as you haven’t pressed the ECON mode button, which does a good job of minimizing fuel usage, or the Snow mode designed to maximize traction in slippery situations, this one is really fun to drive, making the most of all the power on tap. Combined with the Odyssey’s nicely balanced fully independent front strut and rear multi-link suspension, it’s easily the class leader for performance.
Refinement is a bit more difficult to quantify, whether talking about ride quality or interior fit, finish and materials quality. I have no complaints about either with the Odyssey, finding its ride pleasant enough whether running errands around town or cruising on the open freeway, despite its taut handling characteristics. As for cabin refinement, Honda finishes both the upper and mid-level instrument panel in a leather-like soft-touch synthetic that’s plenty upscale for the mainstream volume sector, this continuing rearward across the tops of each door panel, plus the inserts and armrests of course. Additionally, a pewter-look medium-grey metal-like inlay spans the dash, while piano black lacquer accents can be found most everywhere else, Touring trim notably lacking much interior chrome resulting in a sportier theme, but Honda using dark brown for much of the softer surfacing of the dash and door panels too, matching the perforated leather seat upholstery for a rich, classy look.
Just the same this is the most modern van on the market. In fact, most of the primary gauge cluster is digital, a first for the class. It’s controllable via a well-designed array of steering wheel switchgear, which also includes a button for the heatable steering wheel rim, pulled up from EX-L Res trim. You’ll need to look over on the centre stack to turn on the heat or blow cool air through the front seats’ ventilated perforations, the former standard and latter exclusive to Touring trim.
Before delving into everything that comes standard with Touring trim, I’ve just got to say how impressed I was with the Odyssey’s infotainment system. It starts with a fixed tablet-style design that sits above the centre stack like some premium brands do in their much higher priced models, and almost seamlessly melds the aforementioned piano black plastic surrounding trim with a black glass-like finish from edge to glossy edgy, its digital innards bright, colourful, with deep, rich contrasts, and it’s wonderfully easy to use thanks to a tile-style setup, not to mention tap, pinch and swipe gesture controls depending on the feature being used, navigation mapping being one that uses all. I was a bit surprised not to find a 360-surround parking monitor in top-line trim, but Honda’s excellent multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines comes standard, as does Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. I tried the latter and it was simple to set up and use, while route guidance was a no-brainer and totally accurate whether using Google’s phone-sourced directions or Honda’s proprietary system, my personal preference being the latter.
All controls are touch-sensitive except for a handy rotating knob for power/volume, while Honda includes its usual array of well thought out steering wheel switchgear. USB and aux ports can be found under a sliding door in the lower console, while device connectivity is via Bluetooth or near field communication (NFC), the latter reportedly a quicker, easier process for those with compatible smartphones.
Along with the upgraded 10-speed automatic transmission already noted, additional Touring trim exclusives include idle start/stop for reducing fuel consumption and emissions, unique 19-inch alloy wheels on 235/55 all-seasons, full LED high/low beam headlamps, upgraded LED fog lamps, power-folding side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, ambient lighting on the instrument panel, within the front door handle cutouts and in the footwells, acoustic front and rear door glass, Honda’s new CabinWatch rear seat monitor, wireless device charging, HondaLink Subscription Services, an AT&T Wi-Fi Hotspot, a “How much Farther?” app, great sounding 550-watt audio with 11 speakers including a subwoofer, third-row sunshades, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic assist, a hands-free gesture-controlled power tailgate, and more.
The previously noted navigation system gets pulled up from EX-L Navi trim, while the EX-L Res trim doesn’t include navigation yet offers families a rear entertainment system with a 10.2-inch high-resolution WSVGA flip-down centre monitor, a Blu-ray DVD player and embedded streaming media apps, while both EX-L trims provide the aforementioned heatable steering wheel, driver’s seat memory plus memory-linked side mirrors with reverse gear tilt-down, front and rear parking sensors, satellite and HD radio, an acoustic windshield, a 12-volt power outlet for the third row, and more.
There are EX and EX Res trims too, the only difference with the latter being rear entertainment plus another USB port, a household-style 115-volt power outlet, and Honda’s industry-first CabinTalk in-car PA system (the latter two features not included with the EX-L Navi), while both include unique two-tone 18-inch alloys, upgraded LED daytime running lights, fog lamps, integrated turn signal indicators within the side mirror housings, auto-up/down powered windows all-round, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a HomeLink garage door opener, a powered moonroof, tri-zone automatic climate control, previously noted NFC, Honda’s superb LaneWatch blind spot display that unfortunately gets nixed from Touring trim due to its exclusive blind spot monitoring system, the 12-way powered driver’s seat mentioned earlier, power-sliding second-row doors, second-row armrests and sunshades, the brilliant HondaVAC in-car vacuum (the only way I’ve ever been able to get my son to use a vacuum without force), and more.
In case you were wondering what you get with the Odyssey’s previously noted base price, standard equipment includes 18-inch alloys on 235/60 all-season tires, auto on/off projector-beam halogen headlamps with auto high beams, active grille shutters, a windshield wiper de-icer, variable intermittent wipers, body-coloured heated power door mirrors, chrome door handles, front splash guards, LED taillights, a rear window wiper/washer, a capless fueling system, remote engine start, proximity-sensing keyless entry and pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake with automatic brake hold, filtered dual-zone automatic climate control, the previously noted multi-angle rearview camera, a 150-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA audio system with seven speakers including a subwoofer, Bluetooth streaming audio, Wi-Fi tethering, Siri Eyes Free, HondaLink, the CabinControl app, two USB charge ports, 15 cupholders, centre console storage with a utility tray, a conversation mirror integrated within the overhead sunglasses holder, illuminated vanity mirrors, an eight-way power driver’s seat, a four-way powered front passenger’s seat, heated front seats, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), tire pressure monitoring with tire fill assist, and more.
All of the Odyssey’s advanced driver assistance systems technology, as well as its many additional active and passive safety features, plus its Next-Generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, allow for a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS when including its optional headlights, the only other minivan to achieve this coveted rating being Chrysler’s Pacifica, so kudos to Honda for putting safety first in this family-oriented class.
Your clan in mind, the Odyssey gets eight-occupant seating standard as well, and I must say its second and third row seats are some of the most comfortable in the segment. The former row can’t be had with captain’s chairs as offered with some others, yet each side slides back and forth individually and the centre position can be folded forward, exposing a console-style combination of cupholders and tray. The outside positions slide forward and out of the way for easy third-row access too.
This said they’re not as flexible for cargo as the second-row in the Pacifica or Grand Caravan that tumble completely under the floor, the Odyssey’s difficult to unlatch for removal and burdensome to carry, much like others in the category. The third row is split 60/40 and drops into the floor with one smooth motion per side, however, its stowing system one of the best in the business. By the numbers the base Odyssey provides 929 litres (32.8 cubic feet) of cargo space behind the third row, 2,526 litres (89.2 cu ft) behind the second row and 4,103 litres (144.9 cu ft) behind the first row, if you remove the middle row of seats.
By comparison the Sedona delivers 960 litres (33.9 cu ft) of gear-toting space behind its third row, 2,220 litres (78.4 cu ft) behind its second row and 4,022 litres (142.0 cu ft) with the second row removed, whereas the Sienna offers 1,107 litres (39.1 cu ft) of luggage space in its rearmost compartment and 2,466 litres (87.1 cu ft) aft of its second row, the brand being honest about the challenge of second-row seat removal by not including a total volume figure behind the first row.
How about those FCA vans? The Pacifica includes 915 litres (32.3 cu ft) behind its third row, 2,478 litres (87.5 cu ft) behind its second row and 3,979 litres (140.5 cu ft) of easily accessible cargo space behind its first row, while the Grand Caravan provides 934 litres (33.0 cu ft) behind its third row, 2,359 litres (88.3 cu ft) behind its second row and 4,072 litres (143.8 cu ft) when its Stow ‘n Go seats are easily folded below its floorboard panels. To save you a little time with a calculator, suffice to say the Odyssey sits middle of the pack for stowage behind its rearmost seats, but it leads all behind its second row, and, well, let’s leave ultimate cargo hauling to the FCA vans for now.
How about towing? The Odyssey is good for 1,360 kilos (3,000 lbs) of trailer weight in all trims but the top-line Touring, my tester being capable of 1,587 kilograms (3,500 lbs) with its available towing package. That’s slightly lower than the best Grand Caravan and Pacifica trailering results of 1,633 kg (3,600 lbs), and identical to the Sienna and Sedona’s rating.
I don’t usually comment much about minivan styling, but my tester’s Crystal Black Pearl paint gave it a hearse-like presence that would’ve been brilliant during Halloween yet wasn’t much to my personal taste. I’d prefer it in something less ominous like White Diamond Pearl, a $300 option yet well worth it. Honda offers a bevy of alternative metallic and pearl colours, all surprisingly standard, while only dealer-added accessories can be added to this Touring model, albeit plenty of them.
This brings about the question of price, my 2019 Odyssey Touring starting and finishing at $50,690, plus freight and fees of course. Top-line versions of its non-hybrid competitors start at $46,245 for the Grand Caravan GT, $47,865 for the Sedona SXL+, $51,220 for the Sienna SE, and $53,745 for the Pacifica Limited, leaving the top-tier Odyssey looking like a pretty smart choice right in the middle.
Of course, value isn’t just about a vehicle’s price even when comparing it purely on financials, because we need to include resale values when it comes time to trade-in or sell. Japanese brands in this class tend to do best on the used market, with domestics performing worst, while base prices start at $24,597 for the Grand Caravan’s rather stark Canada Value Package, $28,495 for the entry Sedona, $34,690 for the Sienna, $34,745 for the Pacifica, and $35,290 for the Odyssey. I used the various manufacturer retail websites as well as CarCostCanada to verify each model’s pricing, the latter an even more useful resource thanks to available rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands.
After living with the new Odyssey for a week it was easier than ever to appreciate why it’s become such a popular minivan, and if I were using it more for hauling people than cargo it would be my number one choice. Even with its less flexible second row the Odyssey’s many other advantages, from performance to electronic interfaces, might push it into the lead. I certainly can recommend it.
A key selling point amongst family buyers is safety, and there’s no safer minivan than the new Honda Odyssey. This point was made clear after the latest Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)…
A key selling point amongst family buyers is safety, and there’s no safer minivan than the new Honda Odyssey.
This point was made clear after the latest Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash test results were tallied up and the Honda Odyssey earned highest marks for the critical passenger-side small-overlap front test.
To be clear, the Odyssey achieved best-possible “Good” scores for all Crashworthiness categories, also including the driver-side small-overlap front test, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, plus head restraints and seats, while the ease of use of its child seat anchors (LATCH) was rated Good + thanks to extra latch locations.
Also impressive, under the Crash Avoidance and Mitigation category the Odyssey achieved a best-possible “Superior” rating for front crash prevention when outfitted with optional equipment.
The Odyssey’s only area of weakness is minor, its headlights having earned a second-best “Acceptable” score with “only certain trims/options.”
Only the Kia Sedona achieved a higher headlight rating, with the Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Pacifica also managed Acceptable scores for headlights. This said the Sedona showed “not rated” for the passenger-side small-overlap front category, which is probably better than the Pacifica’s Acceptable grade and the Sienna’s second-from-bottom “Marginal” rating.
To clarify what this means, the Pacifica and Sienna didn’t achieve as high a rating because the structure around their front passenger compartment collapsed inward during the crash test, resulting in parts of the body structure entering the passenger area. According to the IIHS report, the structural deformation with the Pacifica didn’t intrude inward enough to harm the front passenger, which allowed for its Acceptable rating, but the Sienna’s body structure intruded far enough into the front passenger compartment to potentially injure legs and feet, resulting in the below standard Marginal ranking (check the video below for actual footage of the crash tests to see how each van fares).
Speaking of Marginal scores, the Pacifica got the “M” word for the ease of use of its child seat anchors, whereas the Sienna improved on the Pacifica by getting an Acceptable ranking for child seat anchors yet only managed to eke out an Acceptable score for the driver-side small-overlap front test.
That equals six Good, one Good +, and one Acceptable rating for the Honda Odyssey; six Good and one Acceptable ranking for the Kia Sorento; five Good marks, two Acceptable and one Marginal for the Chrysler Pacifica; and lastly four Good scores, three Acceptable, and one Marginal for the Toyota Sienna.
The system the IIHS uses for tallying up its totals resulted in a second-best possible Top Safety Pick rating for all minivans except for the Toyota Sienna, which didn’t earn any special accommodation.
Thanks to IIHS crash tests, it’s clear to see which minivan delivers the best possible safety for you and your family. With some minor improvements to its standard headlights, we can be certain the Honda Odyssey would easily attain revered Top Safety Pick + status, and in the process become the only minivan to do so.
Before you go make sure to watch this excellent video put out by the IIHS, showing the actual crash tests of the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Pacifica minivans:
New crash tests and LATCH ratings for minivans – IIHS News (6:32):
Just in case you missed the July issue of Parents Magazine and a concurrent posting in Edmunds.com, the conjoined publications recently named the 2018 Honda Accord and Odyssey to their “10 Best Family…
Just in case you missed the July issue of Parents Magazine and a concurrent posting in Edmunds.com, the conjoined publications recently named the 2018 Honda Accord and Odyssey to their “10 Best Family Cars 2018” list.
The Accord and Odyssey, both redesigned for the 2018 model year, were chosen from 300 new vehicles after taking into account “safety ratings, car seat installation and other family-friendly features,” stated a press release from Honda.
Along with its family-oriented attributes, the 10th-generation Accord offers today’s consumer a much more modern and more premium take on the mid-size sedan, while providing a thoroughly reimagined interior with greater spaciousness, comfort and refinement, not to mention much more advanced infotainment.
The previously base 2.4-litre four-cylinder and upmarket 3.5-litre V6 engines are now gone, replaced by a duo of turbocharged and direct-injected fours displacing 1.5 and 2.0 litres. The smaller engine makes 192 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque, while the new 2.0-litre four produces 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission can still be found mated to the base engine in lower trims, but most customers will opt for the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that is available across the line and comes standard in upper trims, whereas the new top-tier 2.0-litre features an all-new 10-speed automatic that Honda says is a first for front-wheel drive cars.
With ever-rising gasoline prices affecting budgets, families will be especially happy with improvements made to the Accord’s fuel efficiency, thanks to the base engine rated at 8.9 L/100km in the city, 6.7 on the highway and 7.9 combined when mated to the manual transmission, or 7.9 city, 6.3 highway and 7.2 combined when the same engine gets matched to the CVT. This compares to 10.4 L/100km city, 7.4 highway and 9.0 combined for last year’s four-cylinder and manual combination, whereas the outgoing CVT-equipped 2017 Accord was claimed to achieve 9.2 city, 6.9 highway and 8.2 combined.
Compared to last year’s V6 that was Transport Canada rated at 11.4 city, 7.2 highway and 9.5 combined with its sole six-speed automatic, the new 2018 Accord’s 2.0-litre engine makes impressive gains thanks to a claimed rating of 10.7 city, 7.3 highway and 9.2 combined with the manual (standard in Sport trim), or 10.4 city, 7.4 highway and 9.1 combined with the new 10-speed auto.
Additionally, the all-new Honda Accord Hybrid gets a highly advanced two-motor hybrid-electric powertrain capable of a claimed 5.0 L/100km in the city, 5.1 on the highway and 5.1 combined, making it one of the most economical large family vehicles available today.
Also important to families, standard Honda Sensing advanced driver assistance systems include adaptive cruise control (with low-speed follow when upgraded to the CVT), forward collision warning, autonomous emergency mitigating braking, lane departure warning, and road departure mitigation, while additional standard safety features include full LED headlights for better nighttime visibility, a multi-angle backup camera with dynamic guidelines, traffic sign recognition, a driver attention monitor to warn of possible fatigue, hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring, front knee airbags (an Accord first), the HondaLink Assist automatic emergency response system, and more.
Also notable, Honda’s exclusive LaneWatch blindspot display system comes standard with Sport and EX-L trims, but this gets replaced by blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert in Touring trim.
The fifth-generation Odyssey is also new for 2018, and like its predecessors it’s raised the minivan bar when it comes to performance, interior quietness, family-friendly cabin space, comfort, and in-car connectivity.
While it’s built in vacuum remains a popular option, CabinWatch is the auto industry’s first in-vehicle rear seat camera, while the aforementioned Honda Sensing suite of active safety and driver assist systems is optional. Also notably innovative, the Odyssey’s exclusive multi-configurable Magic Slide second-row seats offer an entirely new level of cabin flexibility to the minivan sector.
The 2018 Odyssey’s bevy of intelligent family-first features were named as reasons for it winning a 2018 ALG Residual Value award, which means Odyssey customers have a much better chance of retaining more of their investment over three years of ownership than buyers of competitive minivans. Just as notable the 2018 Accord won its class as well, with the subcompact 2018 Fit hatchback taking home the ALG honours amongst small cars.
The Accord also won North American Car of the Year and the Automobile Journalist Association of Canada’s annual Canadian Car of the Year award, so placing first is nothing new for the popular mid-size sedan.
After taking home the award for Best Large Car in the Automobile Journalist Association of Canada’s annual Car and Truck of the Year program in January, beating the refreshed Mazda6 and thoroughly redesigned…
After taking home the award for Best Large Car in the Automobile Journalist Association of Canada’s annual Car and Truck of the Year program in January, beating the refreshed Mazda6 and thoroughly redesigned Toyota Camry in the process, the Accord has now been named 2018 Canadian Car of the Year.
Likewise, after besting the entirely new Honda Odyssey and Kia Sedona minivans the all-new 2018 Chrysler Pacifica has earned Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year.
“We’re thrilled to declare the Honda Accord to be the Canadian Car of the Year for 2018, and the Chrysler Pacifica to be the Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year,” said AJAC President Mark Richardson. “They’ve both been decided through the most vigorous system of testing possible by AJAC’s automotive professionals. They’re both deserving of being considered the very best vehicles you can buy in 2018.”
The latter award might be the more important of the two, being that trucks, SUVs and vans now make up the majority of new vehicle sales in Canada. Of note, the Canadian-made Pacifica not only beat out its “Best Minivan” category competitors to earn the coveted award, but also scored higher than other category winners.
These include the Mazda CX-5, which beat the new Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue for “Best Small Utility Vehicle,” as well as the Mazda CX-9 that overcame the challenge of Chevrolet’s Traverse and Toyota’s Highlander for “Best Large Utility Vehicle,” plus the Range Rover Velar that earned “Best Small Premium Utility Vehicle” over the Porsche Macan and Volvo XC60, the Acura MDX that earned “Best Large Premium Utility Vehicle” over the Land Rover Discovery and Volvo XC90, and finally the Ram 1500 that won “Best Pickup Truck” over the new Honda Ridgeline and refreshed Toyota Tacoma.
“There’s an extra air of significance when one of our homegrown products wins a domestic award,” said Reid Bigland, President and CEO, FCA Canada. “Chrysler Pacifica’s recognition as 2018’s Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year reinforces its position as the most awarded minivan of the last two years, and provides important third-party validation for the exclusive suite of versatility, style, safety and technology that it brings to Canadians.”
The redesigned Accord also had its share of challengers, including the Volkswagen e-Golf that achieved “Best City Car” over the Hyundai Ioniq Electric and Nissan Micra, Mazda3 that earned “Best Small Car” over the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid/Electric Plus, Jaguar XE that took “Best Small Premium Car” honours over the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Infiniti Q60, Volvo S90/V90 that overcame the Genesis G80 and Lexus LC to win the “Best Large Premium Car” title, Volkswagen Golf R that won “Best Sports/Performance Car” over the Honda Civic Si and Honda Civic Type R, Jaguar F-Type that achieved “Best Premium Sports/Performance Car” over the Porsche 718 and Porsche 911, and finally the Mercedes-Benz SL that won “Best Convertible” over the Mazda MX-5 and Porsche 718 Boxster.
“We’re honoured and humbled to receive this recognition from a group of respected automotive journalists in Canada,” said Jean Marc Leclerc, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Honda Canada. “We’re both proud and thankful for all of our associates who supported the production and development of this vehicle and for our passionate customers who have supported the Accord for the past forty years.”
To qualify for entry a vehicle must be entirely new or significantly updated, and the winners were not only up against the challengers noted, but other offerings that didn’t make the “finalists” cut in December.
I remember when this third-generation 2011 Sienna was brand new, and in sporty SE trim it was the coolest minivan to ever hit the road. I was on the press launch and specifically chose to focus on the…
I remember when this third-generation 2011 Sienna was brand new, and in sporty SE trim it was the coolest minivan to ever hit the road.
I was on the press launch and specifically chose to focus on the SE after driving the majority of trims during the national launch program in early 2010, and soon after I tested a four-cylinder LE model at home (that engine since discontinued in the Sienna), another four-cylinder the following year in 2012 trim while visiting my daughter at her university in Sackville, New Brunswick (a comfortable and economical trip from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Moncton, where I stayed), and after that a well-equipped 2012 XLE model at home, a 2013 LE V6 likewise, a 2014 XLE Limited, the mid-cycle updated 2015 in LE AWD guise, and finally an XLE AWD version of the same vintage, so it feels good to get back in the Sienna saddle once again, this time in an XLE AWD with the Limited package (we’ll just call it the Limited AWD).
You may have noticed something about that list, of all the trims tested and reviewed I’ve only ever covered the top-line Limited model once before. Strange as that may be, it’s good to enjoy this van with all of its many splendoured features, especially now that it’s no longer the newest minivan parked on Canada’s suburban cul-de-sac.
Seven years is a long time for any vehicle to remain fundamentally unchanged, even one that was as good as the Sienna when introduced. Certainly its extensive 2015 update helped breathe new life into the old gal, but compared to the new Chrysler Pacifica, introduced for 2017 to replace the aging Town and Country, the almost as impressive Kia Sedona that was updated for 2015, and the now available all-new 2018 Honda Odyssey, the Sienna is starting to show its age. Ok, it’s not aging as noticeably as the Dodge Grand Caravan (the launch of which I attended in the fall of 2007), but that model sells so cheaply and is so conveniently equipped with second-row seats that fold completely into the floor that it hardly matters how old it is.
Before delving into this top-line Limited AWD model, the 2017 Sienna comes standard with a 3.5-litre V6, and can be had in either front-wheel or optional all-wheel drivetrains. In fact the Sienna is the only minivan offered with AWD, making it a favourite for cold Canadian winters.
The engine, which made a healthy 266 horsepower and 245 lb-ft of torque last year, gets bumped to 296 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque for 2017 thanks to a new D4-S direct-injection and port injection combination, not to mention a new lean-burn Atkinson cycle design that aids fuel efficiency. What’s more, Toyota added two gears to the standard automatic for a total of eight, which improves both performance and fuel economy.
The numbers you’re likely looking for are 12.5 L/100km city and 8.9 highway for the FWD model, or 13.4 L/100km city and 9.6 highway for the as-tested AWD version, making it the minivan segment’s most efficient non-hybrid competitor (the plug-in Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid gets a difficult to compare rating of 2.6 Le/100km combined city/highway), and I should also add it’s most powerful.
Where the modifications under the hood modernize the powertrain, the changes for 2015 gave the Sienna a more upscale cabin with much better materials quality, especially in top-tier trims, with an additional focus on enhancing its infotainment systems to surpass the best in the class for the time. Now, three years later, its newer rivals are starting to outclass the Sienna in most every respect, powertrain aside.
Still, at just $33,690 plus freight and fees in base no-name trim, the Sienna sits directly in the middle of the minivan pricing hierarchy (the Sedona and Grand Caravan still sell for less), which, along with its great reputation for reliability and high resale value (along with Toyota’s overall reputation), gives it a major selling advantage.
Even that base model comes stocked with a higher level of standard features than most rivals, including heated power-adjustable side mirrors, tri-zone auto climate control, high-resolution colour touchscreen infotainment, a backup camera, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, multiple USB ports, Siri Eyes-Free, second-row captain’s chairs, and no shortage of active and passive safety equipment.
The base model can manage seven occupants, although you can optimize the second-rung LE or the sportier SE with a second-row bench seat if you need room for eight, while that LE model gets 17-inch alloy wheels, a larger infotainment display, satellite radio, eight-way powered heatable front seats, power sliding side doors, and more.
Toyota will have to loan me an SE in order to get me to spend too much time going over its details (that’s a snub their way in hopes of snagging an SE tester, because it’s been way too long since they’ve put one on the fleet and it’s still amongst my favourite minivans), but suffice to say it features sporty 19-inch alloys, a specially tuned sport suspension (that’s a bit firmer), recalibrated (read sharper) steering, a really attractive aero body kit, a unique primary gauge package, and plenty more.
Of note, like the base model the $40,505 SE can only be had with FWD, AWD reserved for the LE and XLE alone. This is where it gets confusing, as Toyota refers to the Limited FWD model without any mention of XLE trim, but the top-line model I’m driving is actually an XLE with a Limited package, with Limited not officially included in the name. It seems to be a lot of nothing, but needs mentioning if you plan to build it on Toyota’s website.
The EXL AWD without the Limited package, priced at $44,400, includes sound a unique silver painted grille, LED daytime running lamps, fog lamps, chrome door handles, deadening acoustic glass for the windshield, powered flip-out rear side windows, proximity-sensing keyless access with pushbutton ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 4.2-inch colour multi-information display, chrome interior door handles, woodgrain inlays on the dash, doors and centre console, voice activation, SMS- and email-to-speech, navigation with detailed mapping, leather upholstery, a powered moonroof, a powered rear liftgate, rear parking sensors, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and an anti-theft system.
The $7,315 Limited package, which pushes the Sienna’s price up to $51,715 before freight and fees, adds HID headlamps with auto high beams, heatable, power-folding, auto-dimming side mirrors with integrated turn signals, puddle lamps, and reverse tilt, a heatable steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, driver’s seat memory, a larger 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, a wide-angle backup camera, a 10-speaker JBL Synthesis audio system, a large 16.4-inch widescreen Blu-Ray rear entertainment system, household-style 120-volt power outlets, upgraded premium leather upholstery, and a dual powered panoramic moonroof.
While this sounds like a ton of gear, the Sienna is missing some high-tech safety equipment like autonomous front braking, dynamic cruise control, lane keep assist, etcetera that would allow for a better IIHS rating. As it is only the Pacifica achieves Top Safety Pick Plus status, whereas the Sedona gets a Top Safety Pick rating.
It sounds like I’m knocking what is an excellent van made even better for 2017, but that’s far from how I felt while at the wheel. To get my full review including a critique on the new engine and transmission, the user-friendliness of other upgrades, just how well the suspension compares to newer designs, how convenient the Sienna is to live with next to other minivans, and much more, check out these pages regularly…
In the mainstream volume auto sector only Daimler’s Smart brand has fewer models than FCA’s Chrysler. Chrysler has three. And next year it’ll be down to two. Just how FCA allowed this to happen…
In the mainstream volume auto sector only Daimler’s Smart brand has fewer models than FCA’s Chrysler. Chrysler has three. And next year it’ll be down to two. Just how FCA allowed this to happen is anyone’s guess outside of Auburn Hills, but at least the two models that will carry the Pentastar flag into 2018 are very good at what they do.
Case in point, the 300 luxury sedan is the perennial Canadian bestseller in both the mainstream full-size luxury sedan class and the mid-size luxury class. They’re obviously doing something right. The Pacifica currently in our garage hasn’t been so fortunate thus far, and this new plug-in Pacifica Hybrid even less so, but to Chrysler’s credit sales have been rising after a new entry-level model was recently introduced and prices concurrently came down.
Even more importantly it’s the best minivan in its segment, at least in this auto journo’s opinion. I’ll tell you exactly why in an upcoming review, plus give you a few reasons why I believe it’s not selling as well as it could. In the meantime, here are a few details about the model we’ve been living with this week:
Our $56,495 Pacifica Hybrid Platinum includes most everything offered in base $52,495 Hybrid Premium trim, such as a 7.0-inch full-colour configurable in-cluster multi-info display, tri-zone auto climate control, 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment, a 360-degree parking camera, heatable front seats, satellite radio, dynamic cruise control with low speed follow plus stop and go functionality, forward collision warning with autonomous braking, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning with active lane keep assist, and much more.
On top of these items the Platinum adds more chrome exterior trim, unique 18-inch alloy wheels, proximity-sensing hands-free dual power sliding doors and liftgate, pushbutton ignition, a more upscale interior with contrast stitching in key areas, a two-tone heated leather and genuine metal trimmed steering wheel, navigation with mapping, perforated Nappa leather upholstery with ventilation up front, rear entertainment with dual flip-up 10-inch touchscreens, and the list goes on.
Both Pacifica Hybrid trims get a 32A socket on the left front fender for recharging its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery, which allows about 50 kilometers of EV driving after which it automatically transforms into a regular gasoline-electric hybrid with the majority of its fuel savings in town as well as a reasonable advantage on the highway. It’s safe to say its estimated 2.6 Le/100km combined city/highway fuel economy (when factoring in EV driving) is best in class, as is its total possible range of 911 km, which makes it the ideal choice for family road trips (we took a load of friends to a local tulip festival and will have their backseat feedback included in the review).
It takes about two hours to recharge the battery with a Level 2 240-volt charger, these available for your home from your FCA dealer or via aftermarket sources, or you can find them (for free most of the time) in front of shopping malls, government buildings, hotels, some retail stores like Walmart and Ikea, or curbside in most urban centres. Alternatively you can plug it into a regular 120-volt socket at home or work, at which point you’ll need about eight hours to top it up from empty.
A big charge indicator on top of the dash lets you know that all systems are working by showing one to five blue lights, these large and bright enough to be seen from a distance. Once unplugged these disappear so as not to distract while driving. This is the best charge indicator I’ve used, so kudos to Chrysler for getting this right.
That’s about all I’m going to say about living with the Pacifica Hybrid for now, leaving the most important details for a full review scheduled later this month (including the positives and negatives of Chrysler’s innovative electrically variable transmission that utilizes twin electric motors for turning the drive wheels).
I’ll let you know now that choosing the Hybrid over the conventionally powered Pacifica brings significant drawbacks, so it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. I’ll point out each of these later, along with the various features missing from this pricier Hybrid Platinum that were included in my previous gasoline-only powered Pacifica Limited, some of which made the conventionally powered van look and feel a lot more premium.
In the meantime let’s give Chrysler a big cheer for diving right into the deep end by not only introducing the world’s first hybrid minivan, but also making it a plug-in right off the bat. That takes a lot of courage, especially for such a niche brand. Come back soon for more…
How I love minivans! Well, maybe the love is about what I can get done when I’ve got a minivan at my beck and call, than actually loving minivans. Still, I think most will agree the Sedona goes about…
How I love minivans! Well, maybe the love is about what I can get done when I’ve got a minivan at my beck and call, than actually loving minivans. Still, I think most will agree the Sedona goes about its practical business with a lot more style than most.
It helps that Kia gave me a luxury-lined SXL+ model, which is outfitted about as nicely as anything in the class comes. OK, it’s not as tarted up as a full load Pacifica, but its as-tested $46,895 window sticker doesn’t shock the senses as much as the $58,480 2017 Pacifica Limited I put through its paces recently. I believe the Pacifica is worth the extra money, but this Sedona is also worth every penny and more.
Kia’s minivan enters the 2017 model year with no new additions and one notable subtraction, the elimination of the SX trim line. Fortunately the new model doesn’t suffer from any lack of options, its available trims still including L, LX, LX+, SX+, SXL, and the SXL+ model currently in the garage.
It’s an attractive van no matter the money spent, the Sedona’s long nose, bold grille, sporty fascia detailing, low profile, and wide, solid stance making it look more like a seven-passenger crossover SUV than anything van-like. Of course, the side sliders give away its pragmatic roots, but that’s about it.
All of its trim lines featuring nice chromed exterior detailing, auto on/off projector headlamps, heatable body-coloured side mirrors with integrated turn signals, a rear rooftop spoiler, and more, while features like a tilt and telescopic multifunction steering wheel, powered front and second-row windows, display audio with satellite radio, a backup camera, Bluetooth, illuminated vanity mirrors, seating for seven, “Slide-n-Stow” second-row seats, and more come standard for just $27,995.
A 276 horsepower direct-injection 3.3-litre V6 with 248 lb-ft of torque comes standard too, mated to a six-speed automatic with a Sportmatic sequential shifter, while optional Drive Mode Select offers Comfort, Eco and Normal modes. Base models get 17-inch rims, but my SXL received chrome-finished 19-inch alloys for a nicer look and better road holding, but like usual I’ll leave comments about driving dynamics to my upcoming review.
Instead, some notable features that come with mid-range trims include HID headlights with auto-leveling and adaptive cornering, power-folding side mirrors, proximity access, pushbutton ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather upholstery, eight-way powered front seats, driver’s seat memory, three-way heatable and cooled front seats, heatable second-row captain’s chairs, tri-zone auto HVAC, 8.0-inch infotainment with Android Auto, a 360-degree parking camera, navigation, front and rear parking sensors, second- and third-row sunshades, a hands-free powered liftgate, blindspot monitoring and more.
The SXL includes stainless steel door scuff plates, an enhanced LCD/TFT Supervision primary instrument cluster, a dual-panel panoramic sunroof, dual 110-volt household-style power inverters in the console and cargo area, supple perforated Nappa leather upholstery, three-way ventilated front seats, second-row luxury captain’s chairs that slide back and forth as well as side-to-side (with kick-out extendable leg rests no less), plus front parking sensors, lane departure warning, and much more.
Special SXL+ features include a larger 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with navigation, a 360-degree-surround parking camera, Infinity eight-speaker audio with an external amp and sub, auto high beams, adaptive cruise control, and autonomous emergency braking.
There are additional features that set the top-line Sedona apart from its peers, but I’ll delve into these when I pen my review. Until then, watch this page for our detailed review and massive photo gallery, as this high-value minivan might just be your next family hauler…