Honda Reveals All-New 2011 Odyssey Minivan
By Chris Haak
At this year’s Chicago Auto Show, Honda previewed its 2011 Odyssey minivan concept. True to Honda’s recent practice, the so-called “concept” was nothing but a very strong hint as to what the production vehicle would look like. Honda did the same thing with the most recent versions of the Accord coupe, Pilot, Insight, and CR-Z as well.
Honda has now revealed the production 2011 Odyssey, set to go toe-to-toe against its arch-rival, the also all-new 2011 Toyota Sienna. Though both new vans carry the same 2011 model-year designation, the Sienna got a several-month head start on the new Odyssey by hitting the market this past spring; the Odyssey, instead, will appear at dealers this fall, around the time that the new model year vehicles would typically appear.
Just as the Sienna raised the bar in many ways in the previously-moribund minivan segment, adding features such as a double-wide LCD display, six-speed automatic, standard four-cylinder power, second-row lounge seating, pushbutton start, and Bluetooth streaming audio, the Odyssey is doing some innovating of its own. New-to-the-segment available features include an HDMI video connection point, extremely configurable seating, and even a trash bag ring (trust me, this has to be superior to piling dirty tissues and napkins in a cup holder, then emptying them at every destination). Taking advantage of the extra width, the second-row captain’s chairs can be moved to the far-outboard seating positions to allow safe installation of three child seats side-by-side in the second row; that is not possible in many vehicles.
The 2011 Odyssey takes the former Odyssey’s attractive, yet conservative shape and throws it away. In its place is a van that on the whole is fairly attractive (as far as minivans go) with nice proportions (including a lower roofline and a wider stance), but an oddball “lightning bolt” beltline that suddenly zags downward past the C-pillar, after traveling completely straight past the front two-thirds of the van’s profile. The result is somewhat shocking to see, at least initially. I’m sure it will eventually become a common sight around Target, day care, and soccer games (or at least Honda hopes it does). After the initial shock of the lightning bolt wore off, my second thought was “origami.” The Odyssey is, after all, more or less a Japanese vehicle. But the lightning bolt has the unfortunate effect, to my eyes, of making the rear third of the van look like it was grafted onto an otherwise-cohesive front two-thirds as an afterthought, or from another vehicle entirely.
Though Honda’s press release (reproduced below) – which focuses on the top-of-the-line Odyssey Touring Elite – doesn’t specify whether the Odyssey also grows another gear in its transaxle (the current Odyssey, like the 2010 Sienna, only has a five-speed automatic), it seems plausible that at least the top-end Odyssey must have some sort of serious trick up its sleeve. Why? Because Honda projects that the Odyssey Touring Elite with a 3.5 liter V6 and variable cylinder management (cylinder deactivation) will be rated at 19 mpg city and a staggering 28 mpg highway. If these numbers pan out (and Honda wouldn’t dare release preliminary fuel economy numbers that turn out to be worse than the final numbers), the Odyssey V6 will match the Sienna four cylinder in city economy and top the Sienna four-banger in highway economy by a dramatic four miles per gallon, or 17 percent. It would also top the Sienna V6 by the same margin on the highway (28 vs. 24) and by one mpg in the city (19 vs. 18).
Without sitting in, much less driving, the new Odyssey, it’s hard to tell how well it will hold up in daily use and whether its family-friendly features are bona-fide nice-to-haves in this vehicle class. It’s also impossible to tell how interior materials will feel, and whether they’ve been improved over the previous Odyssey (which had a solidly-assembled, functional interior with quality parts and not a lot of glitz) or whether it took a turn down Toyota’s path, of more glitz and lots more hard plastic. Hopefully it stuck with the formula that made the Odyssey a favorite of soccer moms (and dads).
On paper, Honda seems to have done a nice job re-doing its family hauler for the next several years of kid-shuttling duties. We look forward to getting our hands on one to put it through its paces (including the ultimate torture tests that the 2011 Sienna survived – a road trip with two preschoolers and critiques from my wife, a happy 2008 Sienna owner).
Press Release: 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite Fact Sheet
The all-new 2011 Honda Odyssey seeks to redefine the concept of the minivan with its aggressive stance and sporty “lightning-bolt” beltline. The lightning bolt not only provides an exclusive appearance, but also adds increased visibility for third-row passengers. New interior features add more convenience for families, while available entertainment technology introduces high-definition connectivity and split-screen viewing. Currently the best-selling minivan in the U.S., the all-new 2011 Honda Odyssey is set to go on sale this fall. Compared to the current Odyssey, the 2011 model’s lower roofline (-1.6 inches versus 2010 Odyssey EX) and wider track (+1.4 inches) contribute to a sleeker, stronger and more dynamic presence with improved aerodynamics that help increase fuel economy and also translate into more interior width.
- 3.5-liter i-VTEC™ V-6 engine with three-mode Variable Cylinder Management™
- Preliminary estimated fuel economy, Odyssey Touring Elite (City/Highway): 19/28 miles per gallon*
* Preliminary EPA mileage estimates determined by Honda. Final EPA mileage estimates not available at the time of printing. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models before 2008. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.
Features of the 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite model as shown in the June 17, 2010, reveal video:
- AM/FM/XM/CD Premium Audio System with 12 Speakers
- Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System™ with Voice Activation
- Ultra-Wide Rear Entertainment System (RES) with split-screen capability
- External HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) input
- 150-watt AC power outlet
- Media tray with integrated beverage holder
- Removable 1st row center console with hidden storage
- New cool box in lower center stack (keeps items cool when vehicle is running)
- Leather-trimmed seating with heated front seats
- Memory-linked 10-way power driver’s seat
- LATCH child seat anchors in five seating positions, including three positions in the second row to accommodate three child seats simultaneously
- Two captain’s chairs in the second row provide adult comfort with center seat folded down
- One-strap stowable 3rd Row Magic Seat®
- Second- and third-row passenger window sunshades
- 15 beverage holders
- Trash bag ring
- HID front headlights
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- 12.6-inch ventilated front disc brakes
- Power side mirrors with integrated turn indicators
- Power tailgate