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Odyssey makes clean sweep

| Friday, April 5, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

Stray Cheerios beware. The new Honda Odyssey minivan is here — and it has a built-in vacuum cleaner.

Honda Motor Co. showed off its updated Odyssey minivan at the New York International Auto Show. The 2014 Odyssey — which was last redesigned in 2011 — has a richer, more chiseled look, chrome-trimmed fog lights and other premium features.

But HondaVAC, the hand-held vacuum integrated into the cargo area, will likely be its most talked-about feature. Honda says it's the first to offer this family-friendly tool, which it developed with heavy-duty vacuum maker Shop-Vac. Honda's system includes nozzle accessories and a hose that can reach every corner of the vehicle. It doesn't need an outlet for recharging, and can work continuously when the motor is running — or for up to eight minutes when the van is turned off.

Minivan sales could use a jolt. They peaked at 1.4 million in 2000, but have fallen rapidly since as buyers shifted to popular crossover wagons like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. U.S. minivan sales totaled 540,188 last year.

Still, sales outpaced the industry average last year, and should grow even more this year when Ford Motor Co. rolls out its first minivan since 2006, the Transit Connect Wagon. And if Generation Y buyers in their late 20s and early 30s choose a minivan as they start families, business could boom.

Honda is eager to be part of the action. So far this year, the Odyssey is the third-best-selling minivan behind the Toyota Sienna and Dodge Caravan.

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