We don't yet know if car-wash and gas-station vacuums are in trouble, or if the idea will expand to other cars.

I

n what's sure to be a boon for parents everywhere, Honda is going to offer an in-car vacuum in the top-trim level of its 2014 Odyssey minivan.

Called the HondaVAC (perhaps the least creative name ever), the vacuum will be standard on Touring Elite trim Odysseys and will run for up to eight minutes after the engine is shut off.

HondaVAC HondaVAC

Honda developed the vacuum with Shop-Vac, and touts it as the first-ever in-car vacuum. The vacuum, its nozzle accessories, a canister bag, and a replaceable filter will reside in a built-in space on the driver's side bulkhead when not in use.

We don't yet know if car-wash and gas-station vacuums are in trouble, or if the idea will expand to other cars (particularly family-friendly minivans and crossovers) but we like the idea. Now harried parents no longer have to carry around change and hunt for one of those bulky car-wash vacuums that always shut off too soon.

The bigger picture here is that even though (or maybe because) crossovers have stolen buyers away from minivans, those automakers still building minivans find themselves in a competitive class, and it will take family-friendly innovations to help them stand out. Honda has thrown the gauntlet down. Now we have to ask: How will Toyota, Nissan, and others respond?