2001 Honda Odyssey -- Introduction

The Honda Odyssey sets new standards in performance, safety, versatility, utility, quality and value in the minivan market.

The Odyssey features a wide range of product, safety and environmental innovations, including:

  • First minivan with head restraints at all seating positions
  • First minivan to offer 3-point seat belts at all seating positions
  • Dual sliding doors (power on EX)
  • Most powerful V-6 engine in its class
  • Meets Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) standards for light trucks
  • Widest front and rear track in its class
  • Only minivan to feature fold-down "magic" seat
  • "Convertible" second-row bucket seats

With An overall length of more than 200 inches and a height of more than 68 inches, the Odyssey is as big as any competitor and the largest vehicle Honda has ever made.

Available in LX and EX models, the Odyssey boasts many standard features that are extra-cost options on other minivans. It is powered by a 24-valve V-6 engine with 210 horsepower (premium unleaded fuel) and is equipped with a 4-speed automatic transmission, anti-lock brakes, an Electronic Brake Distribution system (EBD) and Traction Control System (on EX models).

Sixteen-inch wheels (alloy on EX models) and tires are standard and the Odyssey also has the widest track in its class (nearly two inches wider than its closest competitor).

The interior of the Odyssey sets new standards for comfort and safety and includes a host of power and convenience features, including power door locks, power mirrors and power windows, front and rear air conditioning, AM/FM stereo cassette (CD on EX models) and power rear quarter-windows. Six indi-vidual map lights and individually adjustable rear-cabin air-conditioning vents are standard.

Numerous examples of Honda's innovative thinking can be found throughout the Odyssey: Dual sliding doors are standard and EX models feature dual power sliding doors. The power doors can be opened or closed individually or simultaneously, using a dashboard control, keyless remote, or by pulling on the door handle. The doors also have a touch-sensitive safety rebound feature should they encounter resistance while opening or closing. Both doors also will operate manually in the event of a power failure.

In addition to offering one of the largest interiors in the class, the Odyssey is designed to provide the utmost in comfort, utility, versatility and practicality. There are nine fully usable beverage holders. Numerous storage spaces are conveniently located throughout the vehicle, including a large-capacity glove compartment and additional storage bin for the driver and front-seat passenger.

A retractable center tray table with beverage holders folds down to provide a walk-through to the rear seats. The second-row bucket seats can be quickly and easily converted into a two-passenger bench seat.

The Odyssey can also be quickly reconfigured to haul cargo. Its dual sliding doors, large rear hatch opening and low floor height make loading and unload-ing of bulky items easy. The convertible second-row bucket seats can be removed and the third-row "magic" seat folds into the floor, leaving a large cargo compartment capable of carrying 4' x 8' sheets of plywood flat on the floor. Or the seatbacks of the second- and third-row seatbacks can be quickly folded so that 4' x 8' sheets of plywood can be stacked on top of them.

The Odyssey will be built on a new assembly line currently under construction at Honda of Canada Manufacturing in Alliston, Ontario, near Toronto. First-year production will be about 60,000 units, with production gradually increasing to a plant capacity of 120,000 a year. The new line will add about 1,200 employees.

A 3.5-liter, 210-hp (premium unleaded gasoline), 24-valve V-6 engine is standard on the Odyssey. The 60-degree V-6 is based on the Accord V-6 engine, specially modified for minivan driving requirements. The additional 500 cc of displacement helps the engine produce an impressive 229 lb.-ft of torque, with 208 lb.-ft. available at 2000 rpm, providing the Odyssey with excellent low-end performance and pulling power.

This engine is the first in a Honda to be equipped with a knock sensor, which allows for the use of either premium unleaded gasoline or regular unleaded, at only a slight loss of performance (205-hp with regular).

A special two-rocker arm version of Honda's patented VTEC system (Variable valve Timing Electronic Control), along with an air-assist fuel injection system and electrically controlled exhaust-gas recirculation, helps the Odyssey achieve Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) status for light trucks, without sacrificing perfor-mance or fuel economy.

The Odyssey body, chassis and drivetrain have been engineered to minimize various sources of noise and vibration. Its smooth-running V-6 engine is mounted in a rubber-isolated subframe. A special liquid-filled engine mount and an elec-tronically controlled engine mount absorb vibration, while a large-capacity exhaust system quiets exhaust noise.

The Odyssey's highly rigid body and chassis structure is designed to minimize vibration, and the extensive use of sound- and vibration-absorbing materials throughout the body helps to minimize road noise.

In keeping with their goal of making the Odyssey the best riding and handling minivan, Honda engineers equipped it with a unique 4-wheel independent suspension featuring a strut-type front suspension and double wishbone rear suspension. Low-rate front and rear springs and 16-inch wheels and tires contribute to the Odyssey's smooth ride. The suspension geometry has been designed for optimum stability and control when braking and cornering.

The rear double wishbone suspension is a new configuration designed to maxi-mize the Odyssey's interior room by not intruding into the cargo area.

The Odyssey chassis is equipped with several systems designed to enhance stability and maintain traction under varying conditions. A 4-wheel anti-lock braking system with a special Electronic Brake Distribution system (EBD) automatically adjusts braking force under various passenger and cargo load conditions. Odyssey EX models also feature a traction-control system that optimizes traction on slippery surfaces, such as ice and snow, by eliminating wheel spin and tire slippage.

The Odyssey's body and frame structure have been extensively reinforced to help protect its passengers in a variety of impacts, including full-frontal and offset-frontal impacts, side impacts, rear impacts and rollovers.

Dual airbags are standard. Three-point seat belts (adjustable in the first- and second-row seating positions) and adjustable head restraints are standard at all seating positions, including the middle position of the rear seat.


During the past 15 years, the minivan market has steadily grown from its starting point in 1983 to projected annual sales of about 1.3 million by the year 2000. Honda's first foray into this expanding market came in 1995 with the introduc-tion of the Odyssey. Changing consumer demands for increasingly car-like mini-vans, and Honda's evolution beyond a maker of small cars, paved the way for the company's first entry into the segment.

The first Odyssey was also the first minivan to offer an independent suspension and brought car-like ride, handling and performance to the minivan segment. It was designed for a cross-section of buyers around the world and also to provide Honda product planners, designers and engineers with an opportunity to further study the needs and uses of minivans in different markets. As a result, soon after the first Odysseys arrived in U.S. dealerships, Honda product planners were asking buyers how the Odyssey could be improved, along with studying other minivan owners and how they used their vehicles.

Who minivan users are is fairly well-known -- they are essentially families: Ninety percent of minivan owners are married, with two to three children. The median age is 43 years old and annual income averages around $70,000.

To find out how minivan owners used their vans, Honda product planners visited various parts of the U.S., including Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. There they observed minivan owners out on the highway, in large and small cities, in the parking lots of malls and home repair stores, at schools, athletic events, theme parks, national parks and campsites. Ultimately the Honda researchers compiled an extensive back-ground on how minivans are used.

Honda product planners also conducted focus groups around the country. In these focus groups, they asked minivan owners and intenders numerous questions about how they used their minivans, what they liked or disliked about them and what they wanted in a minivan. From their travels and research, the product planners and engineers came to some interesting conclusions.

For example, minivan owners use their vehicles in more diverse ways than owners of other types of vehicles. As a result, they are more opinionated about the design, engineering and features of their vehicles. Essentially, they see their minivan as a tool whose value lies in its convenience and versatility.

Minivan owners also understand that in order for a minivan to carry out such diverse roles as commuter, touring car and transport for people, equipment, groceries and building materials, its design must stress versatility. For example, as a family transport, safety and roominess are important attributes. Roominess is also important when the minivan is pressed into service as a cargo hauler; however, much of a minivan's appeal also lies in its smaller exterior size and weight. Compared to a full-sized, truck-based van, a minivan is easier to drive, easier to park, fits in a garage and gets better fuel economy.

Minivan owners also understand that their vehicle carries with it a certain "family" image, which they are proud of; however, they don't want to give up on style completely. They still want it to look good, but there's no need to go to extremes and make it look like something other than a minivan. In the words of a Honda designer: "Don't make it look weird."

Finally, Honda engineers and product planners studied how the minivan, as a concept, had evolved over the years. What they found was that the state-of-the-art minivan is large, but still "garagable," has a compact, yet powerful front-wheel drivetrain -- V-6 power has become the norm -- seats up to seven passen-gers in a three-row seating configuration, has an open interior layout that one can walk through, and features dual sliding doors.

So the new Odyssey would have these features. However, if it was to set a new standard in the class, as Honda engineers intended, it would have to incorpo-rate additional Honda thinking and innovation. It would have the performance, fuel economy, emissions, handling and ride of a car, not just be car-like. It would incorporate a new level of safety features, be extremely versatile and provide a great deal of individual comfort and convenience for its passengers. And as a Honda, the new Odyssey would also set new standard

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