Japan-Market Minivan Cool: New Honda Step WGN


Besides having one of our favorite Japanese-market car names, Honda’s latest Step WGN minivan is interesting for two other reasons: It debuts the brand’s 1.5-liter VTEC turbo four-cylinder, and it sports an intriguing “Waku Waku” tailgate.

The latest version of Honda’s seven-seat minivan sees the brand’s first use of the new, 1.5-liter VTEC turbocharged four, which we expect will come to the U.S. market, probably in the 2016 Civic. In the Step WGN, it’s rated at 148 horsepower and 150 lb-ft. Paired with a CVT, it drives either the front wheels or all four.


Compared with our Honda Odyssey, the Step WGN appears much taller, narrower, and boxier. What’s most interesting, however, is its unique tailgate arrangement. Called the “Waku Waku Gate” (waku waku means “exciting” in Japanese), the large vertical tailgate opens like a hatch, hinged at the top. Alternately, however, the left half can open like a conventional door, with the tailgate hinged in the middle. Shades of Ford’s Magic Doorgate from 1966!

Unfortunately, the Step WGN isn’t coming to the U.S. market, but we’d love to see that cool tailgate on our next Odyssey. We’re ready for a little waku, waku in our minivans.


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