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Review of the 2011 Honda Odyssey

Photo courtesy of Honda
Photo courtesy of Honda

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Friday, November 5, 2010; 10:17 AM

Washington Post Staff Writer

Minivan style is an oxymoron. But with the 2011 Honda Odyssey, it is appropriate, which is not a universally pleasing thing.

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Some people hate the design. The front end slopes rakishly. The rear end, an appendage seemingly designed by a rap star, breaks away from the rest of the vehicle, a poetic riff in metal. It makes a statement of luxury and sport, declaring loudly that it is not your mother's minivan.

And many mothers, based on phone calls and e-mails I've received, resent that.

"It's awful," one woman said. "I looked at it and bought [a more conservatively styled] 2010 Odyssey instead."

Others asked in a collective refrain: "Why did Honda do this?"

My answer is that Honda knows what anyone who has ever watched TV or trolled the Internet knows: Not all mothers are the same.

You have your "Ozzie and Harriet" moms, a Main Street crowd whose values and lifestyles resemble those of the Nelson family in the 1952-66 ABC-TV comedy. You have ABC's modern take on domestic life -"Desperate Housewives." And if the latter group isn't spicy enough for you, there are the "real housewives" of various cities and "reality" TV situations and, of course, there is the Internet.

On the latter point, I'll say no more except that Honda has apparently discovered what the television networks and the Internet have long known: Sex sells.

Here's betting that, despite some vociferous opposition, Honda will take that discovery to the bank. Based on empirical observation, the number of men and women who love the new Odyssey exceeds those who hate it.

In the 2011 Odyssey, especially in the loaded Touring and Touring Elite versions, Honda has done what was once thought impossible. It has turned out a hot minivan. And that's "hot" with specific tangibles:

l Exterior styling is polarizing. (When have you ever heard that about a minivan?) But it's so different the new Odyssey is guaranteed not to be lost in a parking lot.


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