By Chris Haak
The 2011 model year is definitely shaping up to be the year of the minivan, with the all-new Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey duking it out, a significantly upgraded 2011 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan hitting dealers this fall, and an all-new 2011 Nissan Quest returning from the dead to do battle in the family-friendly kid hauler segment. In spite of their makers’ best marketing efforts, minivans really aren’t likely to be seen as “cool” anytime soon, but the current crop is truly the best that there’s ever been available.
Honda first showed its all-new 2011 Odyssey a few months ago, and after first-time observers (us at Autosavant included) picked our jaws off the floor and asked what the heck Honda did with the rear-quarter styling of their bread-and-butter family hauler, we began to realize just how good the fundamentals of this van were. The million dollar question is, does the Odyssey’s “lightning bolt” and prominent door track take too much away from what’s really a very good vehicle, or is the underlying van so good that design details are truly just superfluous conversation starters among people who wouldn’t actually buy a van?