2011 Honda Odyssey

Honda's all-new 2011 Odyssey minivan has been the recipient of considerable praise lately – and the latest comes in the form of a five-star crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The five-star rating comes under the NHTSA's recently-updated crash testing requirements, which are more stringent, forcing vehicles to perform strongly in three separate categories. Perfect marks in all three categories – frontal impact, rollover, and side impact – lead to an aggregate five-star score, which has proven difficult for many manufacturers to achieve. Better yet, Honda was able to achieve five stars in each seating position for each category, something the automaker says had only been achieved by one other vehicle to date.

According to Honda, much of the reason behind the Odyssey's crash test success can be attributed to its Advanced Compatibility Engineering, or ACE, body structure. Honda says that the newly-developed body structure "uses a network of connected structural elements to distribute crash energy more evenly throughout the front of the vehicle," thus reducing the impact force felt by occupants. Undoubtedly, the Odyssey's strong crash test rating is also bolstered by its other safety features, including standard stability and traction control, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, and side curtain airbags for all three seating rows.

The Odyssey has also fared well in crash tests carried out by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, which awarded the Odyssey its top mark of "Good" in front, side, and rear-impact crashes. If the Odyssey attains the same rating in the IIHS's roof strength test, it will be given the coveted – and unusual – "Top Pick" designation.

The Odyssey is only the twelfth vehicle tested under the NHTSA's updated testing procedures to achieve overall five-star ratings, joining the Acura MDX, BMW 5-Series, Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, GMC Sierra, Hyundai Sonata, Volvo XC60 and Honda's own 2011 Accord. Released in September, the 2011 Odyssey has proven to be yet another successful generation in the Odyssey family, showing a 52 percent year-over-year sales improvement in its first full month on the market.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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