"We are looking at it for the entire vehicle line," John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda, told Edmunds in a recent interview.
Mendel said the 2017 Odyssey will arrive at Honda dealerships in the second half of 2016. However, he did not say how close the automaker is to making a decision about all-wheel drive.
"We get the question all the time. People say, 'why not an all-wheel-drive Odyssey?' " said Mendel.
All-wheel drive is gaining wide acceptance as the market shifts to SUVs. Few non-luxury sedans offer the feature, but many car shoppers view all-wheel drive as an added safety feature for driving on snow-covered roads. All-wheel drive is available on two of the three sedans sold by Honda's Acura luxury division.
The 2015 Toyota Sienna is the only minivan sold in North America available with all-wheel drive.
The system is available on some but not all Sienna models. Depending on equipment included with the all-wheel-drive package, the feature can add approximately $2,000 to the Sienna's sticker price. The all-wheel-drive system reduces the Sienna's seating capacity to seven, compared with eight for the front-drive models.
The redesigned 2017 Chrysler Town & Country minivan arrives next year but the automaker has not said if all-wheel drive will be offered. Industry insiders expect all-wheel drive will be an option. That vehicle is expected to be unveiled in January at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show.
Mendel said if Honda decides to build an all-wheel-drive Odyssey, there will be trade-offs. The Odyssey's floor height will need to be raised 2 or 3 inches to accommodate the all-wheel-drive system, for example.
With the current Odyssey, "one of the things buyers love is the ingress/egress," he said.
That opinion might change if the floor height is higher. In addition, the extra weight would have a slight impact on fuel economy and the vehicle's sticker price with that option would cost buyers possibly a couple thousand dollars.
In other Honda product news, Mendel also said the redesigned 2017 Honda Ridgeline pickup will debut in the first half of 2016 and the redesigned fuel-cell powered 2017 FCX Clarity will debut some time next year. The refreshed 2016 Accord will hit dealer lots in August and the redesigned 2016 Civic goes on sale in October. Honda has not said if the new Civic will offer all-wheel drive.
Edmunds says: Future Honda Odyssey buyers may be able to check the box for all-wheel drive.