With so many sporty CUVs and powerful, all-purpose, designed-for-every-purse SUVs in the marketplace today, does anyone still buy minivans? The answer is assuredly, yes. And the reasons are totally understandable. Some families want the kind of passenger and cargo-carrying capability, comfort, convenience, and entertainment options galore that only a minivan can deliver. One of the biggest players in this field is the 2011 Honda Odyssey, now completely redesigned for 2011.
While the 2010 Odyssey lineup consisted of four models (LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring), with starting manufacturer’s suggested retail prices ranging from $26,805 (LX) to $40,755 (Touring), for 2011, Honda adds an even more luxurious model, the top-of-the-line Touring Elite.
You want the ultimate in Odyssey experience? Touring Elite may be for you. Expect a sticker price close to $44,000 (MSRP plus $780 destination charge). Add in a few dealer extras--roof luggage racks, splash guards, and so on--and you’ll find yourself in the price category of some luxury CUVs like the redesigned mid-size Mercedes-Benz R-Class crossover (starting MSRP of $50,240).
What do you get in Touring Elite that’s worth the extra cash? Let’s take a look.
The Basics: New Styling Inside and Out
Not all the information is available yet on the 2011 Honda Odyssey, but what we do know is pretty impressive. And although it’s not unique to Touring Elite, no discussion of the all-new 2011 Honda Odyssey would be complete without acknowledging the stunning styling inside and out. Stunning styling--minivan? Hey, you can’t argue with the clean lines, more aerodynamic profile, and overall good looks. I mean, it’s a minivan with pizzazz.
A Peek at Touring Elite’s Goodies
With seating for up to eight passengers, Touring Elite also provides 10-way power adjustable heated leather-trimmed front seating.
Speaking of seating, families need versatility in second and third rows. Touring Elite, like all Odyssey models, delivers, thanks to second- and third-row seating configurations--and third-row Magic Seat operation.
Oh, and, of course, power sliding door and liftgate.
About those entertainment options families love about minivans? Touring Elite has a standard 16.2-inch ultrawide DVD rear entertainment system with HDMI technology. There’s also split-screen viewing capability (via a separate source device). Children and other rear-seat passengers can use portable devices via the two auxiliary inputs.
How about a 12-speaker 650-watt premium surround sound audio system to keep the tunes flowing nicely during long family road trips?
And you won’t get stuck in traffic with the navigation system, which now includes FM Traffic--to alert drivers to upcoming congestion and suggests alternate routes.
Touring Elite also features auto-leveling HID headlights.
Will American consumers embrace a $50,000 minivan--from Honda?
The overarching question, as some reporters have hinted, may be whether U.S. consumers are really ready for a minivan from Honda that costs nearly as much as compelling minivan alternatives from luxury automakers.
When it comes to reputation, reliability, value, and brand awareness, Honda has that all solidly in its corner. Arguably, you could say that any affordable vehicle can be optioned up to be cost-prohibitive to the majority of buyers, minivans included.
Honda’s 2011 Odyssey Touring Elite may thus appeal to a different sort of buyer. Maybe one that’s well-heeled but doesn’t want to flaunt it? I’m just asking.
Give us your opinion. In the meantime, we’ll stay tuned to learn further details from Honda about their all-new 2011 Odyssey. It sure is a good-looking minivan.