2011 Honda Odyssey: Just Like At The Drive-In?

September 13, 2010
As the summer fades, so do your chances of making it out to some of our nation's great drive-in theaters. But crawl into the backseat of an increasing number of minivans and crossover vehicles—like the 2011 Honda Odyssey—and you can find a pretty awesome movie experience, anywhere you happen to be parked. Or, if you have kids riding in the back, it could be quite the babysitter.

In the Odyssey, which is new for 2011, the viewing experience has again been upgraded. So much for the low-resolution monitor and VHS tapes or skippy DVD performance of past van systems; Honda has brought the setup up to date with what it claims is the industry's first HDMI connection, as well as the standard RCA inputs, so you can get an especially crisp picture from portable media players or laptops.

It's all displayed on a 16.2-inch wide screen. You can toggle back and forth between DVD, RCA, and HDMI sources, and you can even view multiple sources simultaneously, with half the screen to each, with no sacrifice in quality.

And it offers a Rear Theater Mode, which quiets the front speakers but focuses the 5.1 surround sound for rear passengers. Trust us, Avatar sounded (and looked) great—better than any drive-in movie.

Also new with the top-of-the-line audio system in the Odyssey Touring Elite is a hard drive system that allows 15 gigabytes for audio storage, with USB inputs, iPod control, and auxiliary jacks, along with voice control of music that's on the hard drive or on media players. It will also display album cover art either from uploaded folders or from an iPod that's hooked up.

The audio controls themselves were just as straightforward as those of Ford's Sync system, and Honda claims to have restructured the system so that you now can skip right to a navigation command while you're on the phone, or give an audio command while you're getting route guidance—examples that weren't allowed with the former unit's strict menu structure.

New on the 2011 Honda Odyssey is an upgraded hard-drive-based navigation system that includes free lifetime subscription traffic, with an FM-based RDS system rather than a subscription-based satellite-radio service. The rearview system includes two different camera views to help spot both people and lower obstacles. And for those rare times you're not using the screen for something, the system allows you to set your own pictures as wallpaper,

As we reported last week in our First Drive, the 2011 Honda Odyssey is even quieter and more refined than ever inside, and a new seating arrangement allows both spacious seating for six adults or individual seats for up to eight—plus a class-leading five LATCH child-seat positions.

Check out the video below to have Aaron Ambrose, of Honda R&D Americas, show you through some of these features.

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