Thursday, December 9, 2010

Honda minivan tops in fuel economy

The Associated Press Wednesday, December 8, 2010; 12:43 PM

-- The redesigned-for-2011 Honda Odyssey is longer and wider than other major minivans, but it's still tops in fuel economy.

With sleeker styling and lighter weight than its predecessor, the roomy, V-6-powered 2011 Odyssey with six-speed automatic transmission is rated at 19 miles per gallon in city driving and 28 mpg on the highway by the federal government.

For 2011, Variable Cylinder Management, which can automatically deactivate engine cylinders when they're not needed, such as when the van is coasting, is standard on all Odysseys. It previously was reserved for the top Odyssey models.

Best of all, perhaps, for everyone riding long distances in this van, the Odyssey has voice recognition commands for navigation and song selection as well as a 16.2-inch, ultrawide, split-screen-capable display that folds down from the ceiling aft of the front seats for good viewing by second- and third-row passengers.

The system has HDMI technology, too, and because of its wide, rectangular shape, this screen does not block a driver's view out the back of the vehicle. This rear entertainment system is on certain Odyssey models.

But all Odysseys still have the one-hand, fold-and-flip down, split rear seats that fit smoothly into a recessed cavity to make way for a flat cargo load floor.

Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, for the 2011 Odyssey is $28,580.

The test model, a top-of-the-line Odyssey Touring Elite with all available factory features already on it, was priced at $44,030.

All Odysseys come with a 248-horsepower V-6 and automatic transmission.
Competitors include the 2011 Toyota Sienna, which has a starting retail price of $27,270 with 187-horsepower four cylinder and $29,910 with 266-horsepower V-6.

Another top-selling van is the Dodge Grand Caravan with a starting MSRP, including destination charge, of $25,830 for a passenger van.

Minivans, as they're still called, waned in popularity in the last 10 years as families moved to sport utility vehicles, which have become increasingly car-like in ride and amenities.

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