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Auto blogTue, 26 Mar 2013
Much of the minivan segment's volume has been sucked up by the industry's ever-increasing appetite for crossovers, but a few major players are hanging in there, eager to serve as beasts of burden for America's families. Chief among those players is Honda, which is showing its revamped 2014 Odyssey at this week's New York Auto Show with a potential game-changing feature - an in-car vacuum.
Co-developed with Shop-Vac, the HondaVAC system will come standard on the range-topping Touring Elite model. The system includes a replaceable filter and canister bag, along with a range of attachments located in the cargo hold. Honda says this first-ever feature includes a hose that is long enough to clean the entire interior. Better still, the vacuum will run for up to eight minutes after the vehicle is turned off, so you can get every last Cheerio out of the seat cushions, and it never needs plugging in or recharging, as it runs off of the vehicle's electrical system.
In other news, the 2014 Odyssey gets a new aluminum hood and fenders to pair with its revamped grille and lower fascia. Headlamps get a more sinister look thanks to darker surrounds, and there are new LED taillamps out back, as well as revamped side mirrors on the doors. Underneath the skin, Honda says the 2014 Odyssey has received structural changes to help it ace the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety's new small-overlap frontal crash test, and it's also added active safety features like lane departure warning and forward collision warning to the optional features list.
Every year in the fast-paced automotive industry brings new models, but it also spells the end for some that have been less successful. This year will be no exception.
Japan's automakers make up the bulk of the list of discontinued models for the 2015 model year: Acura is replacing the TL and TSX with the new TLX sedan, Honda is bidding farewell to the Fit EV as the new Fit hatchback takes its place, and Nissan is saying goodbye to both the Cube and Murano CrossCabriolet. Both the Nissan Maxima and Mazda2 exit stage left before their upcoming replacements arrive, while Toyota is terminating the RAV4 EV and FJ Cruiser as well as the Scion xD, and Lexus IS C and IS F that are being effectively replaced by the new RC. Meanwhile Infiniti is finally discontinuing the G37 that was already replaced by the newer Q50.
From our own domestic automakers, Cadillac discontinues the CTS-V sedan and wagon as the new CTS rolls in, Chevy is canceling the mild-hybrid Eco versions of the Malibu and Impala sedans, and Chrysler is killing off the 200 convertible as the new 200 sedan arrives.
As many as 391,000 vehicles from Infiniti and Honda may eventually need to be recalled as a result of two, separately announced Preliminary Evaluations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to ascertain the scope of the potential safety hazards.
The larger investigation has NHTSA looking into the 2013 Honda Accord because of 24 reports from drivers alleging total loss of power steering or a sudden increase in necessary effort to turn the vehicle. In four cases, the problem is reportedly linked to crashes, with all of them occurring at less than 30 miles per hour. According to the claims, 13 people also reported seeing a warning message during the failure. Turning off the car and restarting it would fix the issue in some cases. If a recall is necessary, it could affect an estimated 374,000 Accords.
The second investigation is much smaller in scope. The safety agency is investigating the 2008 Infiniti EX35 after two complaints of the steering wheel shaft separating, and the vehicle losing the ability to steer. Both reports allege that the steering became loose when driving and then completely failed once the vehicle was stopped. A recall for the problem would affect an estimated 17,000 vehicles. Scroll down to read NHTSA's reports on both Preliminary Evaluations.