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Can a minivan be cool? Honda’s 2018 Odyssey will try to pull it off

Selling a new minivan isn’t an easy job.

Never the coolest vehicles on the road, minivans have lost ground to increasingly popular SUVs, which provide some utility without that soccer mom vibe. But minivans are still the more sensible option for owners who simply need to move lots of people, something Honda is likely to emphasize when it unveils the redesigned 2018 Odyssey at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show next month.

In recent years, Honda and its competitors have tried to jazz up their minivans with more expressive styling, and it looks like that trend will continue with the 2018 Odyssey. Honda’s teaser image hints at a sleeker-looking minivan, retaining the unusual angled “lightning bolt” window line from the current Odyssey. We’ll have to wait until the Detroit Auto Show to see if this design is a beauty or a beast, though.

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Under the skin, the Odyssey will likely share a platform with the current Pilot SUV, and may share that model’s 3.5-liter V6, as well as its six- and nine-speed automatic transmissions. The 2018 Odyssey will be the fifth generation of Honda’s minivan for the United States, and replaces a model that first went on sale in 2011. That’s a long time between redesigns by industry standards, although the current-generation Odyssey has gotten some updates over the years.

Technology features added to other recent Honda models, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and the Honda Sensing suite of safety features, will likely be available on the 2018 Odyssey as well. Honda will probably also keep the HondaVAC built-in vacuum cleaner, a sensible feature in a vehicle that will likely spend most of its time shuttling kids around.

Will a sleeker design and updated features be enough to keep this minivan relevant in this SUV-crazy age? We’ll find out January 9, when the 2018 Honda Odyssey debuts at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show.