When everybody else starts to look alike, it’s time to break away from the crowd. And that’s precisely what Honda’s done with its all-new 2011 Honda Odyssey. And perhaps--even after all the wonderful features this car has--that will be the most important thing they could have done for this latest version of their minivan. The new Odyssey clearly looks sportier and sleeker than any of its competitors, new or old. It uses a “lightning-bolt" beltline that gives it an appearance unlike any other, and it assures that third row passengers won‘t be looking out of teeny tiny windows as they ride along. The new Odyssey is about 1.6 inches lower, about 1.4 inches wider, and the result is a wider, sportier, more aggressive Odyssey. Power for the new Odyssey comes from a 3.5 liter I-VTEC V-6 with three mode variable cylinder management--a system which shuts down some of the cylinders while the car is in operation and doesn’t need extra power and acceleration. The preliminary estimated fuel economy is 19/28 for the Odyssey Touring Elite. The Touring Elite is a new top of the line model, and boy, is it well equipped. Take a look: AM/FM/XM/CD Premium Audio System with 12 Speakers Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System™ with Voice Activation Ultra-Wide Rear Entertainment System (RES) with split-screen capability External HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) input 150-watt AC power outlet Media tray with integrated beverage holder Removable 1st row center console with hidden storage New cool box in lower center stack (keeps items cool when vehicle is running) Leather-trimmed seating with heated front seats Memory-linked 10-way power driver's seat LATCH child seat anchors in five seating positions, including three positions in the second row to accommodate three child seats simultaneously Two captain's chairs in the second row provide adult comfort with center seat folded down One-strap stowable 3rd Row Magic Seat® Second- and third-row passenger window sunshades 15 beverage holders Trash bag ring We’ll have more on the all-new Odyssey soon. CR-Z The other new member of the class of 2011 for Honda is the CR-Z, a fun-to-drivbe, snappy looking little coupe. While the CR-Z isn’t particularly fast, it sure is peppy enough to provide plenty of driving fun, and the handling is one of its strongest features. It’s the first of its kind in several ways. First it’s got a hybrid power train, consisting of a 1.5 liter I-VTEC four cylinder engine with Honda’s 10- Kilowatt Integrated Motor Assist electric technology. Altogether it’s a 122 horsepower system, with fuel economy estimates of 35/39/434 with the CVT automatic ,with paddle shifters.. Or, if you prefer the six speed manual, the rating is 31’37/34 miles per gallon. Secondly, the CR-Z is unique because it serves notice on the automotive world that, hybrid cars don’t have to be slow, boring, mediocre handling, homely autos, and that’s enough reason right there to celebrate as we all hunker down for much tighter fuel regulations that will undeniably bring more hybrid powered cars the market. And third, it’s the only car of its kind on the market. Can you think of any other two seat hybrid sports coupes on the market? Neither can we. So Honda apparently is opening up a whole new market here. Honda’s marketing the CR-Z to those who are between 25 and 35, single, college educated and above, with incomes between $40,000 and $60,000, whom Honda described as “forward thinking enthusiasts who desire the freedom to be responsibly indulgent.” We think that’s just about the right segment of the market at which to aim, though we think that the car’s modest horsepower rating will likely disappoint hard core sports car enthusiasts. On the other hand, the CR-Z has tremendous potential with the “tuner” youth crowd; Honda would be wise to offer a wide variety of powertrain modification packages, body bits and pieces, and lots of individualized appearance packages, wheels, interior upgrades and other things to appeal to both tuners and those who like to personalize their car ala the Mini Cooper. The CR-Z comes with a three mode drive system: sport mode for quicker, stronger response and more aggressive handling and steering, a normal mode for everyday driving that balances sportiness with fuel economy, and an econ mode to achieve the best possible fuel economy. All are easily accessible through buttons on the dash. We suspect that the biggest challege econmy minded car enthusiasts are going to have with the CR-Z will be the sport mode. It’s simply too much fun to punch that baby in and feel the show begin. There’s quite a bit of difference in ride feel, handling and acceleration here. Yep, we admit it–our mileage figure reflected our enthusiasm–still great, but not nearly as much as you’ll get if you curb your enthusiasm just a bit. Speaking of the dash, a gamer will feel right at home in the CR-Z. It has a lot of the futuristic flavor that is found on Honda’s Civic. Ambient lighting, and an interesting three dimensional effect to the gauges and controls add to the fun. It may be just a bit too novel, though; we found some of the controls to be counter-intuitive. The seats are roomy and comfortable and provide plenty of support for cornering, and there’s an unusual, eye catching metal trim used on the doors and arm pulls. In fact, we think a hidden market for the CR-Z will be tall folk looking for a car just for themselves. It’s the roominess of the front seats that may seal the deal. A 16 year old six footer who tried it out said it was the first compact he’d gotten into in which he was really comfortable. Of course, this wouldn’t be a Honda if there wasn’t some flexibility designed into the CR-Z and it delivers on this count, too. There’s a cool fold down rear console area which has some hidden compartments underneath. With it folded down, there is 25.1 cubic feet of cargo capacity, compared to 9.8 cubic feet with the rear console folded up. You’ll be able to get two golf bags or a couple of small suitcases on board with ease. There’s also a three mode cargo cover with a normal mode to hide your belongs, a utility mode for bigger luggage and packages, and a secret mode to keep small valuables in place. Apparently you won’t have to worry much about safety–the car has four star ratings for frontal and side impact as well as rollovers, and Honda’s “Ace” body structure construction. is part of the CR-Z, with collapsible hood hinges, impact absorbing hood, impact absorbing bumper and fender to protect pedestrians… Driving the CR-Z is a hoot, with aggressive handling and a firm ride that some people are likely to think is too rough. But we thought it was just about right for our sporting tastes. Honda Accord Things are getting tougher every day in the hotly competitive family car segment, so Honda’s making sure its popular Accord is ready to do battle with all comers. Now on sale, the 2011 Honda Accord Sedan and Coupe have been refreshed with better fuel economy, enhanced exterior and interior styling and the addition of a new leather-equipped Special Edition (SE) trim level. Available as either a sedan or a coupe in 4-cylinder and V-6 variations, the Accord has maintained its popularity in part because it maintains its “Honda-ness” well, that is, sporty driving and handling, and vault tight quality. Honda officials say that the better fuel economy is a result of improvements to vehicle aerodynamics, engine friction and transmission gear ratios. The EPA fuel-economy ratings for Accord 4-cylinder sedan models equipped with an automatic transmission improve by 2 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 3 mpg on the highway, for a city/highway rating of 23/34 mpg. Honda’s been taking it on the chin a bit about the Accord’s styling, so some changes have been made for 2011, particularly the sedan. There’s a new front grille, front bumper and rear deck lid, along with a new wheel design. Meanwhile, the sleek Accord Coupe gets its own improvements with a bolder front grille design, new front bumper shape, enhanced brakelight appearance and a new wheel design for V-6 models. The Accord SE Sedan offers the additional features from the popular Accord LX-P with the added luxury of leather-trimmed seating, heated seats, driver's power-lumbar support and a leather-trimmed steering wheel. New features on certain models include steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters on the Accord EX-L V-6 Coupe, a USB Audio Interface on all coupe models and Accord EX and EX-L Sedans, and a rear view camera on sedans equipped with the available Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System. Additionally, Accord EX-L V-6 models receive a two-position memory system for the driver's seat. Additional interior updates on all models include new seat fabrics on models with cloth seats, an updated instrument panel design and more-refined accent points throughout the interior. Interior styling on all models provides attainable luxury with generous standard equipment, world-class ergonomics and intuitive vehicle controls. The front seats are designed to provide generous lateral support and to complement the Accord's sporty side. The fold-down, rear seatback offers cargo-carrying versatility and also includes a lockable pass-through for long items like snow skis. New for 2011, the most frequently used climate-control buttons are now positioned on the left side of the control stack, closer to the driver for ease-of-use, and less-frequently used buttons are now positioned on the right side. Vehicle clock adjustment is also made easier by more prominent control lettering. A 190-horsepower, 2.4-liter, 16-valve DOHC i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine is standard in the Accord EX and EX-L Sedans and Accord LX-S, EX and EX-L Coupes. The 2.4-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder engine in the Accord LX, LX-P and SE Sedans produces 177 horsepower. The available 3.5-liter, 24-valve SOHC i-VTEC® V-6 engine produces 271-horsepower and takes advantage of Variable Cylinder Managemen (VCM) technology that can deactivate up to half of the cylinders while cruising to improve fuel economy. Preliminary EPA fuel-economy ratings3 for the 2011 Accord V-6 Sedan are 19 city/30 highway mpg, an improvement of 1 mpg in highway driving. The performance-oriented Accord EX-L V-6 Coupe with the 6-speed manual transmission has a unique 3.5-liter V-6 VTEC engine (without VCM) that provides a performance-tuned valvetrain, intake and exhaust system to broaden the torque curve in the low- to mid-rpm range for enthusiast-level performance. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard on 4-cylinder models and a 5-speed automatic is available. A 5-speed automatic transmission is standard on V-6-powered models. A 6-speed manual transmission is available exclusively on the Accord EX-L V-6 Coupe. For safety, the Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) is an exclusive body design that enhances occupant protection and crash compatibility in frontal crashes. The design utilizes a network of connected structural elements to distribute crash energy more evenly throughout the front of the vehicle. This enhanced frontal crash energy management helps to reduce the forces transferred to the passenger compartment. The double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension inspire confident handling performance while also providing a comfortable ride. The 2011 Accord Sedan comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels with wheel covers, or 16- or 17-inch alloy wheels depending on the model. Honda Pilot New for 2011, the availability of the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System™ expands to the Pilot EX-L model, a feature previously exclusive to the top-level Pilot Touring model. Pilots are powered by a 250-horsepower V-6 engine with Variable Cylinder Management™, a technology that can deactivate up to three of the engine's six cylinders to save fuel when cruising or lightly accelerating. All models are equipped with a standard towing hitch receiver and a maximum tow rating of 4,500 pounds on 4WD models and 3,500 pounds on 2WD models1. The interior has 152.7 cu-ft. of passenger space within three rows of seats. Adjustable storage compartments in the center console can accommodate items large and small from handbags to mobile phones. The instrument panel's wide center stack groups similar controls for the audio system, climate controls and the available navigation system and Honda DVD Entertainment System (if equipped). All models provide an auxiliary audio input jack for digital music players, and navigation-equipped models also include Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® and a USB audio interface. The first row provides a commanding view of the road for the driver and the passenger. Honda says that the 18.0 cu-ft of cargo space behind the third row matches or exceeds the trunk space of a typical large sedan and can accommodate items as large as a mid-size cooler or a folded stroller. The cargo area has a hidden storage well that provides 2.8 cu-ft. of space and can combine with the above floor storage area by securing the hinged cover against the seatback. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated city/highway/combined fuel economy of 17/23/19 miles per gallon on two-wheel-drive models and 16/22/18 miles per gallon on four-wheel-drive models. A 21-gallon fuel tank can comfortably provide a driving range of more than 400 miles on the highway. The 5-speed automatic transmission features Grade Logic Control to help maintain the most appropriate gear when going uphill or downhill, to avoid gear "hunting.“ The Pilot is available in four model choices (LX, EX, EX-L and Touring); each offered in either a two-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive configuration.