Honda For 1999
By Carey Russ
Although the second-generation Odyssey minivan is the big news for Honda's 50th anniversary year, there are enhancements throughout the lineup. The Civic's styling has been freshened, and both the Prelude sports coupe and CR-V sport-utility have more power.
The original Honda Odyssey was a different sort of minivan. With its four hinged doors and low roofline, it was almost a cross between an Accord wagon and a minivan, and much smaller than the average minivan. The second-generation 1999 Odyssey is considerably larger, and a very mainstream minivan in its design. It is the largest Honda ever made.
The new Odyssey is an all-new vehicle made in an all-new plant near Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Its unassuming minivan exterior packs plenty of surprises inside. There is easy room for seven. A unique second-row seat converts from bucket to bench style, and is easily removable. The folding, disappearing third-row "magic seat" of the original Odyssey returns, making the new version a very versatile vehicle. Its all-new 3.5-liter V6 makes a class-leading 210 horsepower while meeting California Low Emission Vehicle standards.
Two trim levels, LX and EX, are offered. Antilock brakes, dual sliding doors, three-point safety belts and head restraints for all seven seating positions, and front and rear air conditioning with plenty of vents are just some of the features found on both. The EX adds power sliding doors, traction control, and trim differences.
The popular Civic line of sedans, coupes, and hatchbacks enters 1999 with a new look thanks to front and rear restyling. There are interior upgrades as well, with new heater and air conditioner controls and amber illumination at night for better visibility. Many different trim levels are offered in all body styles.
The Prelude has all of the right sports coupe credentials, with a 2.2-liter, dual-overhead-cam engine with Honda's patented VTEC variable valve timing system and fully-independent double wishbone suspension. For 1999, an additional five horsepower has been added, bringing Preludes equipped with the five-speed manual transmission up to 200 bhp and those with the four-speed automatic to 195. Even the automatic is sports-oriented, with "Sequential SportShift" manual shifting.
The Prelude continues to be offered in regular and Type SH trim. Both have a number of interior refinements this year.
Honda's small sport-utility may look the same as it did last year, but there are some changes under the hood. An additional 20 horsepower has been found in its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, for a total of 146. There are also new interior features this year.
The CR-V is available in two trim levels, with a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive and five-speed manual or four- speed automatic transmissions. The removable folding picnic table, which fits unobtrusively under the cargo compartment floor, continues as standard equipment.
The latest version of the Accord was new last year, but that hasn't kept Honda from adding improvements for 1999. All Accord sedans have new seat fabric. Uplevel LX and EX sedans and all coupes now have foldaway rear-view mirrors.
The current version of Honda's big sport-utility was new last year. There are no major changes for 1999.