Page 1: Bigger & Better?
Faced with increased pressure from import and domestic automakers in the minivan segment, Honda is on the verge of announcing a new, larger and more sophisticated 2005 Honda Odyssey.Specifically, the remade Odyssey will, Honda executives hope, provide an answer to the Sienna -- which has given minivan customers a strong alternative to the older and less available 2004 Odyssey. In addition to the Sienna, Honda has seen the emergence of a stylishly redesigned Nissan Quest, the improved Ford Freestar, and DaimlerChrysler's innovative Stow 'n Go cargo and seating configuration - the first of what promises to be several upgrades to minivan interior flexibility.
So surely, the Honda answer will be something special. But wait --- before you go down to your local Honda dealership and place an order, the Odyssey is not quite ready. Due out in August or September, Honda executives are mum about features on the new version. This much, however, is known: the new Odyssey will be larger, and will offer significant interior upgrades. No word on styling, but if the redesigned minivan is similar to its Japanese counterpart, it will be upgraded - yet still conservative. Unconfirmed reports on 2005 Odyssey features include:
Page 2: Feature Peek
· Rollover sensors, for side curtain airbag deployment, and a stability assist feature that uses braking and throttle to control the vehicle.· An advanced body structure which reduces the concentrated force on impacts by absorbing and dispersing energy via a front frame structure.
· Variable Cylinder Management, which utilizes only the cylinders needed. While accelerating, the Odyssey will use all six cylinders, and at other times will use only three. Reports indicate that Honda engineers have increased the Odyssey's sound dampening while three cylinders are in use. This feature will probably result in a notable increase in gas mileage efficiency.
· The Honda Accord's voice navigation system will be available on the 2005 Honda Odyssey.
· A Honda version of the Chrysler Stow 'n Go configuration, which utilizes floor space as cargo, among other benefits, including one-handed operation and a flip-around rear seat.
· Lots and lots of cupholders.
· Honda will resolve the availability problems that plagued the most recent edition. If so, that will be good news to shoppers and Honda dealers.
More will come later, to be sure, including the official word from Honda. But if what we've heard is accurate so far, Honda has answered its competitors call to action with action of its own - and the result may well be another step up the evolution ladder for minivans, and an increase in the surging popularity of a segment many thought long left for the carmaker's boneyard.
When will the new Odyssey be available?
Later this year. Look for the first reviews of the Odyssey next month, or September.
What will be the biggest improvement?
Initial rumors tend to focus on a larger, improved interior.
Who is the biggest competitor to the Odyssey?
The Toyota Sienna, and the Ford Freestar.
The 2004 Honda Odyssey is a 4-door, 7-passenger mini van, available in 6 trims, ranging from the LX 5-spd AT to the EX 5-spd AT w/ Leather and Nav System. The 2004 Honda Odyssey's competitors include the Chevrolet Astro Passenger Van, the Ford Freestar Wagon, and the Toyota Sienna. Upon introduction, both trims are equipped with a standard 3.5-liter, V6, 240-horsepower engine that achieves 18-mpg in the city and 25-mpg on the highway. A 5-speed automatic transmission with overdrive is standard. The 2004 Honda Odyssey is a carryover from 2003.