2014 Honda Odyssey
2014 Honda Odyssey
2014 Honda Odyssey. Click image to enlarge

Preview by Justin Pritchard, photos by Jonathan Yarkony and courtesy Honda

Honda’s family-minded engineers have been busily tweaking away at their Odyssey minivan ahead of a 2014 model year refresh – and the resulting machine was teased to sensible, family-minded shoppers at the New York International Auto Show last month.

Building on the success of the popular Japanese family hauler, which is already a Top Safety Pick and winner of numerous awards for value, owner satisfaction, residual value and all things important to moms and dads, the focus of the 2014 updates is more on styling, safety improvements and feature content. The latter includes an in-car vacuum cleaner system. No, seriously.

The top-line Odyssey Touring Elite model was presented at the NYIAS, and demonstrates trademark Honda innovation while showing off what the automaker calls the ‘ultimate family vehicle’ standard in the market segment. When it hits the market, the updated Odyssey will compete with the sales smash-hit Dodge Grand Caravan, Toyota Sienna, Nissan Quest and a bevy of crossover competitors with which minivans are often cross-shopped.

“The Odyssey is already the leader in its segment, and for 2014, Honda has made the modern family hauler even better,” said Michael Accavitti, vice president of marketing operations at American Honda. “Honda is once again showcasing its reputation for innovation with HondaVAC, and its ability to provide true value to our customers.”

2014 Honda Odyssey2014 Honda Odyssey2014 Honda Odyssey
2014 Honda Odyssey. Click image to enlarge

HondaVac? Yes indeed. It only took a few decades for an automaker to realize that a built-in vacuum cleaner might be a good idea in a minivan – but alas, here it is. Available exclusively on the Odyssey’s top-line trim level, HondaVac was developed with the industry leader in sucking stuff up: Shop Vac. The HondaVac system resides in its own cubby on the driver side of the rear cargo area. It consists, not surprisingly, of a hose, nozzle attachments, and a removable canister in which sand, pet-hair and discarded Cheerios are collected.

Honda officials claim the system can run continuously when the Odyssey’s engine is running, and for up to eight minutes after it’s turned off. So, forget about firing your hard-earned loonies into a busted gas-station coin-vac that’s got a baffed motor and is probably plugged with filthy chip bags and long-lost socks, anyways.
There’s more than a slick new on-board cleaning system at work here, too. Designers and engineers teamed up to make structural upgrades that’ll help Odyssey (hopefully) earn top marks in the IIHS’s new ‘small-overlap’ frontal crash test – which is required to earn the safety authority’s new top score of “Top Safety Pick +”.

The small-overlap test involves running the vehicle in question into a rigid barrier that only engages a small part of its frontal profile – simulating the result of texty-driving your minivan into a hydro pole, for instance. Key to success in this test, says IIHS, is the vehicle’s front-end structural performance.

The refreshed Odyssey Touring Elite will also come equipped with an advanced range of Honda driver assistive and visibility technologies, including the Expanded View Driver’s Mirror, Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW). All of these pre-emptive safety systems are intended to help drivers to keep current with goings-on in the world around them.

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