Honda has confirmed that it will show the next generation of its Odyssey minivan at the Chicago Auto Show on February 10.
The current Honda Odyssey has been mostly unchanged since its last major redesign for 2005. For its entire model run, it's impressed TheCarConnection.com for its strong performance and good refinement from the 244-horsepower, 3.5-liter VTEC V-6 engine and five-speed automatic transmission. The Odyssey is the most nimble-feeling of the large minivans and doesn't feel completely out of place on a curvy road. On the downside, we point out in our Bottom Line on the 2010 Honda Odyssey, the instrument panel design is a little too cluttered, the second-row seats don't easily fold out of the way for large cargo items, and some features that are standard on rival models are optional on the Odyssey.
Another common criticism of the current Odyssey is that it's so heavy (at more than 4,600 pounds for a top-of-the-line Odyssey Touring), that even the cylinder deactivation system included in upscale Odysseys doesn't help overcome mediocre fuel economy (just 16 mpg city, 21 highway for the Touring).
Toyota just unveiled an all-new Sienna minivan at the Los Angeles show in December, emphasizing that it's sportier and more carlike than ever, and offering a new, slightly more fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine as well as the traditional V-6. The new 2011 Toyota Sienna is set to arrive at dealerships very soon, and our own Marty Padgett drove it just last month.
Five years ago some were predicting that minivans were a dying breed; GM and Ford dropped their minivans altogether, replacing them with crossover utility models that matched up in terms of ride and handling but didn't always have the vast, reconfigurable interiors that minivan owners had grown to love. According to Automotive News data, the minivan segment did drop, from more than a million sales a year in 2005 to the vicinity of 400,000 in 2009, but it's expected by some to be on the upswing back to 500,000 sales by 2012.
Honda sells two different vehicles as the Odyssey. A considerably smaller model, also called the Odyssey—but more of a tall wagon than a minivan—is sold in Japan, Australia, and some other markets.
We're eager to see what Honda has in store for our next-generation 2011 Odyssey. Will it gain an even better seat arrangement? Better fuel economy? Stay tuned; we'll be there to bring you all the details from Chicago.