What is it? This mild freshening of Honda’s popular minivan delivers some significant upgrades, including some beneath the skin. Honda updated the ACE front crash structure to ace the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s new small-offset crash test, a toug measure of occupant protection in front crashes that hit only the outside edge of a car. The front fenders are now aluminum to offset the additional weight caused by the strengthening. Other improvements include LED taillights, a push-button ignition, HondaLink infotainment with dual front screens and Aha radio integration, as well as available forward collision and lane-departure warnings.
What’s new or notable? Undoubtedly the most attention-grabbing feature is the new vacuum cleaner built into the cargo space in Odyssey Touring Elite models, designed to clean up inevitable messes from the Odyssey’s almost inevitable young rear-seat passengers. Built in partnership with Shop Vac, the Honda Vac hose uncoils from a compartment in the side wall and includes its own removable filter, bag, and container. It can be run whenever the engine is running, or, with the ignition in accessory mode, it can run for up to eight minutes before shutting down to save the battery for restarting the car. Flat and angle nozzles are included, and the hose stretches to allow the entire cabin be cleaned.
CR’s take: We tried the vac. It picked up a scattering of Fruit Loops with more power than a Dust Buster, but something short of household vacuum suction. Admittedly, the car’s battery was pretty low from all the demonstrations by the time we had a chance.
When will it be available? Summer 2013.