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Honda embarks upon new Odyssey

Honda finally reveals the new 2011 Odyssey minivan, and it looks as if it borrows a few cues from the competition.

2011 Honda Odyssey
Honda's new Odyssey is here to try to steal some of the Toyota Sienna's swagger. Honda

We got our first peek Honda's concept for its future minivan at the 2010 Chicago Auto Show. Today, Honda is showing off its first official photos of the 2011 Honda Odyssey. With the new Odyssey model, you can clearly see that Honda gave it lessons at the Crosstour School of Beauty. However, if you can look beyond the awkward styling, you will find a few truly innovative features, including what may be the world's first HDMI input port for in-vehicle video.

Starting with its exterior, the new Odyssey inherits Honda's corporate grill and angular headlamps, which punctuate a nose that is more blunt  and upright than the previous generation's were. However, the most glaring styling cue is what Honda is calling the "lightning bolt belt line," which is a slight downward kink in the bottom edge of the side windows at the C-pillar. According to the automaker,  this feature increases visibility for third seat passengers and creates an exclusive appearance. If by "exclusive" Honda means "oddly proportioned," then we get it.

Inside the Odyssey, Honda updated its cabin tech package to include an optional rear-seat-entertainment system that looks suspiciously similar to the Toyota Sienna's ultrawideview monitor. Like the Toyota's monitor, Honda's monitor can display video in an almost Cinemascope extra widescreen format or display two video sources side-by-side. However, perhaps in a bid to not seem like a total copycat, Honda has upped the ante by adding an HDMI video input for connecting digital video sources to the entertainment system. Most vehicles only analog have composite video inputs, so this is a huge leap in input quality and--if we're not mistaken--a first in the automotive industry.

Honda also tweaked the Odyssey's cabin features to include a hard drive-based navigation system with an undisclosed amount of space for storing audio files ripped from a CD, a beverage cooler located at the base of the center stack, fold flat third row seating, available second row reclining captain's chairs, and makes room for a  whopping 15 cup holders.

The Odyssey's engine room is home to a 3.5-liter i-VTEC V-6 engine with three-mode Variable Cylinder Management, presumably it's -he same 250-horsepower engine that motivates the current-generation Honda Pilot. Honda estimates that the Odyssey will get about 19 city and 28 highway miles per gallon, but the EPA hasn't yet confirmed that estimate.

The new 2011 Honda Odyssey is set to go on sale this fall.