Honda doesn't redefine the minivan, they strive to perfect it 2011 Honda Odyssey – Click above for high-res image gallery Honda did something silly during the launch of its all-new 2011 Odyssey minivan. The automaker built a large autocross-type "track" in the parking lot of San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium and invited journalists to take its latest eight-passenger family hauler for hot laps. It was an interesting "fish out of water" introduction to Honda's fourth-generation people mover. Designed, developed and manufactured in the United States, Honda considers the 2011 model an "American Odyssey." The domestic development team, owners of 46 Odysseys between them, labored to deliver a minivan with distinctive style, greater interior versatility and improved fuel economy. Did Honda build itself a worthy successor and how did it fare on the autocross? Continue reading... %Gallery-101751% Photos copyright ©2010 Michael Harley / AOL Sharing its platform architecture with the Honda Ridgeline and Pilot, the all-new 2011 Odyssey is wider and lower than the model it replaces. The automaker's California design team penned a much more stylish and distinctive edge to the new model, unlike its arguably bland predecessors. It's a look we first scoped in concept form at the 2010 Chicago Auto Show. Most striking is its unique "lightning-bolt" beltline. The "bolt" is functional, as it improves outward visibility from the third row, but the placement is arguably less than attractive at first glance. It's as though the trailing edge of the sliding door cuts the minivan in two pieces – like the back half had been surgically grafted to the front. Making things even more awkward, the optical illusion is reinforced as the sliding door channel abruptly ends in the same spot. The interior, on the other hand, is far from controversial. It features an expensive and upscale Acura-like look and feel. Pleasantly traditional in layout, and very friendly to the eye, the center stack is much improved over last year's model with the audio and HVAC controls now occupying the same general real estate, and human-friendly round knobs replacing toggle switches for temperature adjustments. The analog tachometer and speedometer, now the same size, join analog coolant temperature and fuel level gauges on each side. To avoid confusion going forward, it's best to outline the model hierarchy. Anyone familiar with this automaker, or current Odyssey owners, will realize it follows Honda's existing 2010 trim levels. The entry-level model is badged the LX, followed by the EX, EX-L, EX-L RES (rear entertainment) and EX-L NAV (navigation). The flagship models are the Touring and (new for 2011) Touring Elite. Pricing starts at $27,800 (plus $780 destination) for the LX model. Odysseys with leather upholstery, such as the EX-L, start at $34,450 (plus destination). Lastly, we have the Touring ($40,755 plus destination) and the new-for-2011 range-topping Touring Elite ($43,250 plus destination). While all models share the same basic primary instrumentation, the multi-information display centered on the top of the dashboard varies by model. The standard model (LX trim) has a one-line segment …
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