In North America, they released it as the Honda Odyssey, but to the Japanese markets, they released it as the Honda Lagreat. In the wake of Japan's economic crisis of the 1990s, the Japanese designed the idea of the Lagreat, and it is a minivan that has been produced since 1994. Because of the economic crisis of the 90s, there were severe constraints placed on the concept and size of the overall vehicle. They wanted to manufacture the minivan in an existing facility using minimal modification. The result? They created a smaller minivan for the compact MPV-class.
While the Japanese market loved the concept of the Honda Lagreat, it did not originally do well in the North American market. For that reason, they marketed the Odyssey as a Shuttle in the European market. In later generations, the company manufactured larger models, and Honda has since created a larger Lagreat for the large MPV-class.
The original Honda Lagreat featured a four-cylinder engine, anti-lock brakes and all-wishbone suspension. The four-speed automatic transmission helped to make this vehicle more popular. In the original design, we saw a unibody with dual airbags and dual glove boxes. The first generation Lagreat could be bought in two trim levels. It accommodated six passengers, had a roof rack, alloy wheels, power sunroof and a power driver's seat.
Kunimichi Odagaki, the chief engineer at Honda's research and development center, engineered the first Honda Lagreat with a staff of 20 members. Because of Japan's recession and the possibility of facing a 25 percent tariff for minivans that they imported to the United States as light trucks, how the Japanese designed and developed the Odyssey became paramount to its success. They wanted to place minimal investment in it and still succeed. Because of that, they decided to market the Honda Lagreat as a minivan to overcome the hurdles.