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by Tim Beissmann

It’s called the Honda Odyssey Concept, but this latest offering at the Chicago Auto Show gives a very real indication of the production version of the fourth-generation US-spec Honda Odyssey.

Following what is already a sleek people-mover design, Honda said it wanted the new Odyssey to appear lower and more grounded. As a consequence the minivan sits on the same 3m wheelbase but is 3.6cm wider and incorporates tighter bodywork and uncomplicated lines.

While the huge alloys and discs of the show car are unlikely to make it to production, the “lightning bolt” beltline – designed to increase third-row comfort and visibility – will be a showroom feature of the new Odyssey.

Mums and dads in the front will also be happy to know that the production version is expected to have seatbacks, despite the interior design sketches released at the show.

Honda is yet to confirm specific drivetrain data but expects fuel consumption to drop from 14.7 litres/100km in the city and 10.2 litres/100km on the highway to 12.4 and 8.4 respectively.

Honda also hinted at an eco model with “enhanced aerodynamics” and “advanced powertrain technologies” that would improve economy and emissions figures even further.

The Honda Odyssey Concept was designed and engineered in the US and will be produced in Alabama for a likely 2011 debut.