Honda’s Hybrid Minivan to Break New Ground for Families
The minivan is not what it was to families in the 1990s since SUVs and crossovers have captured a good chunk of that market. For the most part, the latter offers much more in the way of style and prestige than the former, which is part of the reason why soccer moms defected to SUVs in droves over the past decade.
Still, minivans remain with us, and for good reason. Sliding side doors make for convenient access to multi-row seats that typically accommodate plenty of kids. Minivans by nature offer a slew of family-friendly features and that’s a powerful attraction as well. Why, then, haven’t automakers grown the segment by offering minivans with super-efficient hybrid power in the U.S.? That one’s a real mystery.
Honda is about to change that. The automaker has plans to add a hybrid minivan to its lineup in 2011, answering the need that families have had for truly efficient transport for quite some time. However, it won’t be an electrified version of the automaker’s popular Odyssey, but rather the new Freed minivan that’s based on the small car Fit platform. This makes sense since Honda is also working on bringing a hybrid Fit to market.
Since the Fit is a pretty small car, this begs an obvious question: Will a hybrid minivan based on the Fit small car platform meet the needs of American families that typically like the spaciousness of a mid- to full-size crossover, SUV, or minivan? It remains to be seen, even if Honda has aggressively addressed the styling issue with a vehicle that soccer moms may well find attractive. Bottom line: The Freed hybrid is a step in the right direction and will likely prompt other automakers to bring hybrid minivans to American highways as well.
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