By on February 10, 2010

Is it me or has the new Odyssey Concept, which is supposed to preview the styling of the next-gen model, taken a few too many protein pills? Let’s hope that the production version (arriving this fall) will capture a little more of the original Odyssey’s clean, stripped-down look. Remember, if we’ve learned anything from the Nissan Quest, it’s that minivans can easily be overstyled into irrelevance.

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67 Comments on “Honda’s Space Oddity...”

  • avatar

    The butt is a little droopy but otherwise it’s one of the better designs Honda has given us (and way better than the piggly thing they currently sell.)

    I was disappointed the original MOMA Quest didn’t catch on- it was the most original design since the 90’s Chrysler trio.

  • avatar

    I really dislike the treatment of that very last window, between the c and d pillars…Dammit, all the windows should be the same size so they look like one long elegant window…The hyundai coupe has this same design flaw.

    On the other hand, I applaud honda for not putting headlights the size of manhole covers on the front.

    • 0 avatar

      Here at least the dip serves a function–kids will be able to see out better, while also having a stylishly raked beltline. It works for me. Best-looking Odyssey yet. Though I am confused by the Venza nose.

      The real question, though: can you stand up limo-style through a second-row sunroof like you can in the new Sienna?

    • 0 avatar

      Though I am confused by the Venza nose.

      It’s supposed to look a bit like the Crosstour, though a little less aggressive.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with you lilpoindexter, this window treatment repulses me. The pointy ends, the swoopy top, the too-fat chrome strip (Bob Lutz would be envious).

      As for some other details, I don’t need huge, ride-killing, gas-sucking wheels, thank you. “Me Ain’t Gotta Pimp My Ride, Homey.” Keep the rake of the windshield and side windows more vertical for interior spaciousness, I’m not a sardine.

      I much prefer the current Honda minivan style. It looks cleanly purposeful, not punk-pretender, trying to hone in on the endless sea of CUVs.

    • 0 avatar

      The window line looks like an upside down Mazda CX-7, that seems dumb.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    I like (mostly). And that’s the new first Honda I’ve said about for a while.

  • avatar

    I assume the slopping top helps with aerodynamics. Looks good to me.

    What is meant by “overstyled”?

  • avatar

    I like it. The little droop at the beltline is a unique styling cue. Is this supposed to be smaller than the current Oddy? Or does the styling just make it appear so? The lowered rear roof mayb be great for style and gas mileage, but it will hurt the vehicle’s utility.
    But that said, it is the best looking design from Honda that I have seen in quite awhile.

    • 0 avatar

      the press release says it is longer lower and wider plus has more headroom and legroom expecially in the 3rd row.
      It looks like it would be more cramped back there but there will actually more room than the current model.
      Also I suspect that dip in the beltline give the driver and 3rd row passenger more visibility

  • avatar

    i actually don’t mind it

    it’s not too adventurous, a bit too bland, a bit too bloated

    the window kink is contrived and probably not good since kids won’t like looking OVER that bump to peer out (kids love looking at crap outside)

  • avatar

    I’m going to join the list of ‘I don’t mind it’ people. Honda have designed and built a whole host of UGLY of late, and this is the first vehicle in a while which doesn’t actually look like it’s got a giant nose or a massive fat ass. It just looks plump. And plump is ok.

  • avatar

    Given their recent missteps, this is “almost” fairly clean. Not too bad…much better than the Crosstour (WTF??) and the redesign of the simplistic (at first) Fit.

  • avatar

    A nice change from the awkward looking models they’ve offered lately. The lines are clean and I like the arch of the roofline.
    The doors are very well done, not looking at all like the usual Mini-van sliding barn door.

  • avatar

    I don’t care what anyone says, i love it. Love the disjointed beltline. love the area below the C and D pillar. Love the silouette. Love the shape of the windows. Love the joined door handles.

    This will replace my 2001 Ody. No doubt.

  • avatar

    I am a father of two (6 and 3) and know in my heart that a minivan is in my future. Don’t get me wrong, I love minivans. My mom bought the first year (1985) Plymouth Voyager (a.k.a. Dodge Caravan). Although that thing turned out to be a turd after a couple of years’ usage, I appreciated the utility of it. Other family members borrowed it when they needed to haul more than 3 other people, and when I started driving it was fun to pile my friends in it and go somewhere.
    Fast forward 25 years and I’m seeing Toyota’s new SE version with firm sport suspension and quicker steering ratio. Honda’s Oddyssey has always been a fav, but even more so with this one.
    It’s good to know that these two companies have not forgotten that car nuts are parents too.

    • 0 avatar

      same here. I have 3 kids and grew up drawing cars. There’s no shame in owning a good minivan like the Ody. Design wise the minivan is the simplest most efficient possible concept for moving people and gear.

      In my world efficiency and smart design trumps chest thumping, ego and marketing driven taste in autos.

      I consider it the thinking man’s SUV. Better mileage, styling, utility, etc.

    • 0 avatar

      Which is why the Ford SMax has been a success in Europe. The rear sloping roof of this concept looks inspired by the SMax to me.

      But more to the point when will minivan become more mini? The Mazda 5 is great although a little small and only seats 6 in US config. Perhaps that’s why the Dodge Journey is sell well (don’t be fooled by the CUV pretends – it’s a minivan!)

  • avatar

    I think the rear view, seen here actually looks pretty good.

  • avatar

    I like it. But let’s analyze the beltline issue…

    The kink is there because the beltline is rising. It lets kids see out of the rearmost window and it prevents the rear of the car from being too slab-slided, as is the case on the Toyota Matrix and 2nd-gen Mazda3. Those are both good things. I think it also effectively gives texture to what would otherwise be a boring profile. Those who don’t like it could argue that a character line or flame surfacing could achieve the same. I would counter that a lightning bolt shape does a better job at imparting a sense of forward movement to the vehicle. The best looking cars are the ones that look like they’re moving while standing still – moving forward, that is. Some look the same going backwards or forwards and that’s not cool.

    So is the rising beltline a good idea? The downsides are that it hurts visibility out of the 2nd row and it necessitates the kink further back. Some people also have trouble parking straight in cars with rising beltlines. On the plus side, it adds sportiness to the design. More “sense of forward movement” stuff.

    Would a flat beltline look better? Would it looks best high up (small windows), or low down (big, dorky windows like on the 1st-gen Fit)? Small windows look sporty but you’d want a kink in the back for the kids to see out of. Low down would make the minivan look like previous Odysseys. But wait… the low roof is helping the sporty look too. If they could combine that with a flat beltline, the result would be the JDM Odyssey. That one looks pretty good, but still more van-like than this concept.

    • 0 avatar

      I totally agree with your analysis.

      I’ll add that I really like the body contours above the lower rail that mimics the shape of the disjoint on the belt-line.
      It does contribute to the whole moving while standing still thing but it also gives the whole van ‘flow’ for lack of a better term.

      This angle shows what I mean. looking at the van head on about 40 degrees off center really show the lines.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree, excellent take on the beltline. I also noticed that if you can imagine the door slid all the way back, the kink keeps there from being a big corner of the end of the door stickinig out the back, rather the corner of the sliding door is beveled to match the rear of the van.

  • avatar

    I have two concerns:

    First are the crossover-grade wheels. One of the reasons the (current) Sienna makes so much more sense than the Venza is the nice, small, 16″ wheels. They’re cheap to replace, ride well and are a lot lighter than the massive 18-22 inchers typical of crossovers. From what I recall, they allow the Sienna to feel lighter and more agile than the Venza, too.

    The body of this van wouldn’t suit 16-17″ rims: either you’d have a massive wheel well gap, or if you shrink the wells, the body ends up slab-sided.

    Second, but less of an issue, is the sloping roofline. It’ll cut into headroom, or force rear passengers to eat their knees if the cushions are lowered to compensate. If I were pick a fault of most current vans, it’s that the floor could be lower. It doesn’t look like this will improve much, partly because it’s cheaper to keep the same floor as crossovers. That roofline exacerbates the floor height problem.

    • 0 avatar

      i read somewhere that this model has more leg and headroom than the current model.

    • 0 avatar

      Not to mention the cost of the tires too.

    • 0 avatar

      Keep in mind this is supposed to be a “Concept.” The production model will surely have more rational sized wheels and tires.

    • 0 avatar

      The production model will surely have more rational sized wheels and tires.

      I’d hope so, but the legions of be-dub’ed crossovers gives me pause.

    • 0 avatar

      This is a concept so the wheels / lower profile tires may not make it or if they do it will be on the top of the line models and not the bread and butter LX model (should get normal sized minivan shoes).

      The lower roof line is allowed b/c the van is lower overall giving it more of the rakish styling. Of course until you can sit in it to confirm this it is all Internet speculation.

      I actually find this a good looking minivan. Akin to how Honda did the Civic and made it look like a nice car. Out of 10 designs Honda does occasionally have a design that looks good (so long as the Acura guys stay away from it).

  • avatar

    I like it a lot. That’s more than I say for most contemporary cars. And I like Carlisimo’s analysis.

  • avatar

    Someone once said the designers of women’s clothes must secretly hate women. I suspect the designers of this minivan secretly hate minivans. Otherwise, why the fastback coupe look? Stylists should be forced to write “form follows function” on the blackboard 1,000 times.

  • avatar

    For someone who says he’d wouldn’t be caught dead owning a minivan, I like it. The door handle detail is nicely done, as is the quasi-venturi styling on the sides. I don’t see the lower roofline as decreasing usable space, and think it’s a good tradeoff if it results in better fuel economy.

  • avatar

    Judging by the posts; this one should be called an ‘oddity’ because it looks better than your average Honda.

  • avatar

    Every other photo I’ve seen looked a lot better than this one…overall I like the design, though. I’m not much a fan of the Chinese Buick minivan window dip, but it’s not a deal breaker. I like vans, and when people mock minivans, I assume they wouldn’t know what to do with a Swiss Army knife either, since both are as functional and handy if you know what to do with them. But what do I know? I like the Quest. If you want to talk overstyling bombs, I don’t think Quest, I think Uplander.

  • avatar

    Minivans are all about convenience, cargo space, and a feeling of interior roominess. This version, which seems to have caught Crosstouritis, appears to have less of all three. Will Honda blunder yet again? Maybe – the company seems to be relying on a group of elitist designers locked in a windowless building somewhere in Neverneverland.

    • 0 avatar

      actually the release says it has more cargo space and interior roominess.
      it caught my eye that it has more head and legroom in the 3rd row. Surprising since it has the illusion of tapering down toward the rear.

      “elite designers”? Sounds like a Palinism.

    • 0 avatar

      3rd seat head room? Still a question. All I could find in the press release is,”Forthcoming improvements to the production Odyssey’s interior are designed to further enhance the current model’s accommodating space for people and cargo.” Does not mean more or less room. Just some non specific words. Width is increased to 0.6 inches less than a Suburban. Width specifications often excludes mirrors. Tighter garage parking.

      The cliche of windows tapering small at the rear could restrict view to the rear much more than the old Odyssey. It certainly worsened rear-side vision in the newer CRV and MDX compared to the old. Will wait until the car is available before making too much of the publicity.

  • avatar

    Between this and the new Sienna SE, I would actually be excited to get a (not so) minivan.

    They are both pretty cool, in my opinion, and I don’t even have kids. If you want a land yacht, slap-it-in-drive-and-cruise-mobile, these are spot on.

    I couldn’t give up owning a sports car for one (famous last words, I know), but I would be delighted to have one as a second car.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Not nearly as ugly as the Crosstour or any recent Acura. From a utilitarian viewpoint, I do not like the down sloping rear roof line.

  • avatar

    I actually like it. A lot. Which surprises the hell out of me, because when I think “minivan,” the term “stylish” doesn’t automatically come to mind. But there it is. It’s infinitely better looking than that porky thing they call the Crosstour. The only other minivans I can think of that looked this good back in their day were the 1996 Chrysler minivans.

  • avatar

    Sweet and clean – If I were in the market, I’d take one in blue (w/18″ wheels, thank you).

  • avatar

    I like it better than the current model…especially the rear view. I’m less enamored by the bigger grill. It looks too much like everyone’s new grill treatment where the philosophy seems to be the bigger and chromier the better. The lastest Honda grills look a bit too much like the Toyota Venza’s…which looks like the Ford Fusion…etc.

  • avatar

    I would still rather have a 1st gen Odyssey. With two little kids now and another in the planning stages I would like to have a 6-seater but I’m not ready to give up on fun-to-drive. I just don’t understand where the “mini” went in current minivans.
    The Mazda 5 is awesome too although I know it plays in a different sandbox than the Odyssey.

    • 0 avatar

      A ’97 Odyssey is the only vehicle I ever regretted not buying. We bought a ’96 Volvo 850 Wagon instead, which was gone in a sea or repair bills in 6 years.

      Almost certainly would have gotten over 10 years out of the Odyssey.

  • avatar

    Awesome! Suicide doors!

    Oh rats.

  • avatar

    I like the looks, but I hope it’s more reliable than my 05 Odyssey lemon was. Man, I hated that car.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    Honda management recently acknowledged that its stylists have gone too far. So hopefully the Odyssey is the last in the pipeline of Honda’s baroque phase. If not, I’ll be holding on to my early-90s Hondas.

  • avatar

    Re: greenhouses, beltlines, DLOs…Chrysler really nailed it with the 3rd gen Minivan design. They forced the visual seam where the DLO starts and the sliding door’s track ends to be the same point. The result was a clean bodyside, something other minivan makers still don’t understand.

    Which is a shame: Honda, how hard is it to integrate those elements?

  • avatar

    Clean, and not bulky like the current Odyssey. I like it, which is odd because I’m 22 and shouldn’t like vans.

    • 0 avatar

      Dude, I liked vans at 22 also. My argument to my friends was was that it was the perfect road trip vehicle. We used to drive 2 hours to go surfing every week.

      Strip away the marketing hype and the van is the perfect vehicle for 95% of people. It’s only marketing that has created the perception that they are soccer mom vehicles.

      We should see way more vans on the road with surf/bike roof racks and various manly bumper stickers.

      It’s like the Mazda Miata (MX5). Somehow it is perceived as a chick car when in reality it is the perfect reincarnation of the classic roadster. Since it doesn’t have a V8 and actually handles somehow it was perceived as not mans car.

      people love putting labels on things.

      ok, stepping off my soap box now.

  • avatar

    Seriously? It should have design elements from Chryslers or 1990’s Hondas?

    This is arguably the best looking van/mini-van ever. It doesn’t need any design cues from any Dodge or Chryslers. It’s an order of magnitude better than the 1990’s Honda’s.

    It’s longer, lower, wider, has more head and legroom. It’s perfectly proportioned.
    It’s a beautiful car.

    But them I actually like the Crosstour and ZDX as well as the rest of the Acura line.
    I appreciate modern risky design. There’s nothing worse than “me too” design.

    • 0 avatar

      michaelb1: so you like exposed door runners? Seriously, even Toyota did it right with the 2011 Sienna. Honda has no excuse, especially if Chrysler did it 13 years ago.

      This is an easy design element to integrate, if you don’t have a saggy DLO and an SUV beltline.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      I’m not sure why some companies opted for exposed vs. hidden sliding door runners – perhaps it has something to do with suppliers, or not having to do additional engineering work.

      One odd example is Mazda going from hidden to exposed rails with the MPV 2nd -> 3rd (JDM) generation.

      I have the 2nd gen Sienna with hidden tracks, and Mazda5 with exposed tracks, it doesn’t make much difference to me.

    • 0 avatar

      i don’t mind ‘exposed’ door runners. On this design it is folded into a body crease. I like it

      The non-exposed door runners are still ‘exposed’ to me. To my eye it stands out even more when they try to hide it in the base of the window. I eye goes right to it.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis


    Hid. E. Ous.

  • avatar

    All in all I like this design. I think it’s far cleaner and more attractive than the current version. I don’t like the beltline kick, it make the van appear to be going backwards. My kids usually ride in the 2nd row as the oldest is 5 and so all need parental assistance buckling up. They only move back to row 3 when we’re carrying company also, so I don’t give a crap about 3rd row visibility but would prefer the 2nd row visibility improved.

    Like Sajeev, I really like seeing the door track “hidden” with the other styling elements. I can’t comprehend why it would be designed another way as it seems it would require a flimsy cover/closeout body panel to close the gap between the unibody stamping and the window. When the track is integrated in the window opening the body stamping is intact and the glass closes out the other side – fewer class-A finish parts.

    As far as wheels, it’s a concept. I read in the press release that Honda strove for an “aggressive” wheel gap, but it didn’t say what size wheels are on the concept. More than 17 is ridiculous for a minivan. With a sufficiently aggressive gap design I’d prefer 16s like my 00 Ody has.

    I’m not sure what you guys are referring to as “first-gen” Odyssey, the 99-04 or the pre-98 tall Accord wagon (no sliders). I own (inherited) a 2000 Odyssey, my parents own an 03 and previously owned a 99. The 99 was borderline lemon due to the power slider issues. I’ve had (and my grandmother before me) problems with sliders on the 00 but nowhere near the 99’s. The 03 seems sorted out. While this gen Ody looks cleanest/best (at least until this concept), the interior ergonomics are horrid. Unsupportive seats all around and I cannot find a comfortable position in either front seat. The driver’s seat I can tolerate, but I refuse to ride more than 30 mins in the front passenger seat. I hate having a glovebox door tickle my shins from ankle to knee and the floor there isn’t flat enough to find room for two feet together on the same plane. The current gen looks fat and bloated and gets beat in the looks department hands-down by the Routan. At least the current-gen Ody has the 3rd seat in the 2nd row.

  • avatar

    Nice, a soberly designed front end. No HDMI port like the Pilot nor any sign of the affliction that hit Acura’s design team.

  • avatar

    The ubiquitous Michaelb1 writes above: “’elite designers’? Sounds like a Palinism.”


  • avatar

    +1 to Honda for not making this into another creasemobile! In fact, make that +2 for making the rearmost side windows larger, counter to the industrywide trend. I like visibility.

    As to the shape: I guess bulbous front ends are now a legal requirement, so I’ll do my best to get over it. The streamlined body is attractive, but if it compromises interior space it’s a nonstarter for me. (I know they say it doesn’t, but I ain’t buying it until I stuff four MTB’s in the back.)

    I do agree with the power door and excessive wheel size comments above. Even after 10 years, Honda’s power doors continue to be a joke compared to Toyota and – OMG – Mopar. (Imagine a control system that freezes up the doors for 10 seconds if it receives multiple ‘open’ requests. Now imagine it in a thunderstorm.) One other thing I’m sure Gen II Ody owners will second: hope this thing comes with a real tranny!

  • avatar

    The world does not need “longer, lower and wider” minivans. They’re already too big. Also, think about that claim the third row has more headroom. The roof is lower, but the floor can’t get lower without scraping high spots on the road. So how do they increase the distance from the seat cushion to the headliner? If you said “very low seat cushions” you get a prize.

    Sajeev is right about the late 90’s Chrysler minivans. Beautiful examples of translating two-box function into clean, elegant form. What a shame they were made by quality-impaired Chrysler.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know about what the world needs but I need a “longer, lower and wider” minivan.

      I wouldn’t assume the floor can’t get lower.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      The JDM Odyssey has gotten lower with succeeding generations, that’s supposed to be a selling point in cramped parking garages.

      As for the proper size of a US market minivan, the market has already spoken. Smaller minivans are a niche not unlike station wagons, Honda sells as many Odysseys in 3 months as Mazda5’s sell in a year, and the latter is almost 50% fleet.

  • avatar

    I am going to side with those who like it. I too think that it is the nicest of the new Honda designs. The window kink seems much more resolved than that on the Genesis Coupe, for example, which does not do anything for me. On this larger vehicle, there is more room to work with, so it does not come off as being too busy. It seems to me that it makes the vehicle look smaller and more wagon like, which to me is a good thing. Of course, in a way, my thoughts on this vehicle’s design mean little, as I am not really of the demographic that is going to buy a mini-van.

  • avatar

    Design is nice, but the 2011 SE Sienna is the best looker of the minivans today. Hopefully Honda will do away with the “Lightning Bolt” beltline that detracts here just as it does on Lincoln’s MkT.
    The interior of the Honda looks very promising. 3 real sized seats for the second row vs. the laughable ‘wedge’ in the previous Gen. and now in the new 11 Sienna; useless except to sound good in a brochure.
    Our 2005 Sienna XLE has 8 real seats and a very confident not overstated exterior. When Toyota changed to the smiley faced Grill and revised front, they lost it. Same for the previous Chryslers; very poised and nice soft touch interior feel. New 11 Sienna unfortunately has sadly upped the Hard Plastic Surfaces Quotient.
    So as a previous 99′ Mercury Villager, 02′ Honda Odyssey, and current 05 Sienna (ready for new!) owner, I sum the current offerings up like this. Exterior leader, 11 Sienna SE, (actually sporty looking), Interior leader, should be Odyssey as Press release speaks of being able to put 3 child seats in 2nd row. Bottom line for us, is 8 life size passenger ability and acceptable looks and 28 MPG for the new Ody, looks like van #4 will be an Odyssey. (I’ll just fabricate a small body panel to correct and eliminate the Honda/Lincoln ‘Lightning Bolt’ to ‘correct’ the kinked bodyline to a nicely executed, uninterupted beltline. cheers

  • avatar

    As the owner of an ’06 Odyssey with 117k miles I really like the updated and integrated looks of this version. Hopefully, the smoother design cues will make it into production. A good portion of my miles have been between southern california and western colorado and the road manners of the current version are excellent. Whether it’s empty or loaded to the gunwales, traveling is a delight on those trips. If they can keep that and add these good looks, then I’m a goner again.
    It might even make up for the last 3 versions of the Accord.

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