LOS ANGELES -- The redesigned Honda Odyssey minivan, scheduled to arrive in dealerships this fall, is lower, wider, roomier and more aerodynamic than its predecessor.
It also will have more standard features and will be priced about the same as the current model.
Exterior design never has been a big factor with minivans. Honda will retain the concept version's lightning-bolt signature at the base of the side window glass. But, says Art St. Cyr, Odyssey chief engineer: "Functionality is still the main reason people buy minivans."
Honda aims to improve the list of features on the Odyssey, which has led segment sales the past two years. Standard or optional features include front-door puddle lights, high-intensity headlights, power lumbar adjustment for the driver's seat and a "media tray" to hold and hide cell phones and MP3 players. A "coolbox" can hold six 12-ounce or four 20-ounce cans. The center console cubby can fit a purse. Fifteen cupholders will handle anything from a skinny Red Bull can to a wide Big Gulp cup.
The second row has an entertainment system with a 16.2-inch screen. The second row's middle seat has six inches of fore-aft travel.
Honda says the third-row seats will hold three adults comfortably because the sliding-door motor was repositioned below shoulder height. Third-row seats still collapse and fold away with a gentle tug on a strap. With all seats down, the Odyssey can fit a 4-by-8-foot sheet of plywood.
To power all manner of consumer electronics gear, there are two 110-watt accessory outlets in the front row, a 150-watt AC outlet in the third row and another 110-watt outlet in the cargo area.
Under the hood, the Odyssey will have a re-engineered version of its 3.5-liter V-6 engine, with variable cylinder management and estimated fuel economy of 19 city/28 highway. All-wheel drive will not be offered.
The 2011 model will be about one inch longer than the outgoing model. Greater use of high-strength steel means the vehicle weighs less, although Honda did not give the exact weight.
Prices have not been announced, but Honda predicts not much change from the current edition, which starts at $27,585, including shipping.