LOS ANGELES – American Honda Motor Co. Inc. stages the debut of youth-oriented concept cars here at the auto show.

The Honda Remix, a small, 2-seat sport concept, is homegrown, penned at Honda R&D Americas Inc.’s Southern California Advanced Design Studio.

Built on a front-wheel-drive platform and powered by a 4-cyl. engine mated to a 6-speed manual, prominent design cues include a wraparound canopy for a fighter jet appearance, chrome-like paint and dramatic wheel well flares.

“The Remix blends familiar Honda themes into a new, fresh design,” says Ben Davidson, head designer for the vehicle, who notes work on the design began last March.

The second concept is the boxy, 5-passenger Step Bus, related to Honda Motor Co. Ltd.’s popular Japanese-market Step Wagon.

Although essentially a microvan, the Step Bus’ sliding doors provide easy ingress and egress, and the interior boasts room for band instruments or furniture, John Mendel, senior vice president-automobile operations for American Honda, says.

Built on a mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive platform, quirky interior features include picture hangers and a bulletin board.

The Step Bus concept was crafted at Honda R&D Co. Ltd.’s Wako design center in Saitama prefecture, Japan. Although the auto maker makes many people haulers for its domestic market, Honda has been reluctant to enter the multipurpose segment in the U.S.

“You can’t say we don’t want to enter it; you can’t say we will enter it,” Mendel says. He does admit, however, the Step Bus and Remix do foreshadow next-generation Honda products.

Mendel also reiterates plans to market a Honda hydrogen fuel-cell car in the U.S. and Japan in 2008 that is “remarkably close” to the auto maker’s FCX concept car.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com