Although the new 2011 Honda Odyssey won't arrive at dealers until this fall, the automaker provided an early look at what we can expect in the form of the Honda Odyssey Concept it presented in Chicago. Designed and engineered in the U.S, this fairly dramatic departure from the existing Odyssey reflects what one insider told is "about 90 percent" of the production exterior treatment. Complementing the new level of visual cool in this poplar people mover will be a mechanical package that Honda claims raises the Odyssey's already high benchmarks in the critical minivan areas of practicality and fuel efficiency -- not to mention making it even more fun-to-drive.

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Riding on the same 118.1-inch wheelbase as the current production Odyssey, the Concept's combination of a 1.0-inch lower roofline and 1.4-inches of additional width give it a more dynamic overall stance. This is further emphasized by steeply raked front and rear pillars, more aggressive wheel-to-body proportioning, bolder fender flaring and lighting treatments and what Honda refers to as its "lightning bolt" beltline kink. Beyond adding a measure of visual interest to the Odyssey Concept and its volume-build offspring, this design flourish also provides occupants in the third row seats a better view of the outside world. Story continues beneath the video.

Like many showcars, the Odyssey Concept lacked a finished interior. However design sketches indicate that the cabin revamp on the 2011 Honda Odyssey will embrace a similar level of innovative design thinking while retaining -- and expanding on -- the kind of people and cargo management capabilities that have long been its strong suit. Expect the existing 3.5-liter i-VTECV6 engine with available Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) to return as the 2011 Honda Odyssey's prime motivator, although the automaker says that enhancements to the vehicle's aerodynamics and powertrain technologies will net better overall EPA figures. The most fuel efficient version of the 2011 Honda Odyssey is projected to carry 19 mpg/28 mpg city/highway numbers, compared to the 17/25 mpg stats of the 2010 Odyssey with a VCM V6.

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