By on January 15, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey

When Honda unveiled the new Odyssey minivan, it highlighted its boosted engine output, added gears, enhanced interior functionality, and the ability to spy on your entire family via its unique in-car surveillance system. One thing that wasn’t mentioned, however, was all-wheel drive.

Despite Toyota’s Sienna offering optional AWD and Chrysler admitting that it’s considering a future incarnation of the Pacifica platform with all-wheel drive, Honda decided to keep the Odyssey a purely two-wheel affair. That’s an odd choice considering sport utility traits are currently en vogue and it rides on the same platform as the AWD Ridgeline, MDX, and Pilot. So why didn’t the engineers at Honda just toss on a transfer case and call it a day?

Because that would spoil everything that made the Odyssey a great minivan.  (Read More…)

By on January 11, 2017

Child with mother in 2018 Honda Odyssey, Image: American Honda

Here’s a free lesson in life that you can use everywhere you go: corporate “morality” is almost always both flexible and highly subject to local gravitational influences. How else to explain the red-white-and-blue-painted previous-generation Camry, festooned with traditionally American imagery, that greeted visitors to the Detroit show on Monday? Maybe Toyota had two of them ready to go after the election, the way that T-shirt manufacturers prepare for both Super Bowl winners. Presumably the other Camry was a triple livery; the first third would have been a rainbow flag that called to mind both #LoveWins and #JeffGordonDivorce, the middle third would have been totally Islammed-out with the star and crescent just like my old Pakistan Express race car, and the trunk area would have paid tribute to the #ShoutYourAbortion movement while also tipping its fedora to written consent in triplicate for all sexual encounters.

Ah, but if wishes were fishes they would have served cruelty-free salmon at the meeting of the Electoral College. So the various pampered-but-oh-so-woke “journalists” attending the NAIAS were forced to taste the salt of their own bitter tears streaming down their cheeks as every manufacturer with even a token presence in the United States waved the red (imperialist), white (racist), and blue (sexist) flag in their press conferences.

Naturally, Honda sent one of the strongest messages; it’s arguably the most American automaker on the God Emperor’s green earth and the bulk of the cars it sells here were designed, engineered, and built in the USA.

The new Odyssey doesn’t buck this trend; to the contrary, it embraces it, right down to the new U.S.-sourced 10-speed transmission. But it’s also at the very vanguard (pardon the pun) of another, equally important, aspect of the zeitgeist. Let’s call it The Era Of The Imperial Child.

(Read More…)

By on January 11, 2017

Acura MDX Honda Pilot Odyssey Ridgeline – Images: American Honda

Throughout much of the third-generation Honda Pilot’s tenure, U.S. sales have not measured up to the success of the previous-generation model, though not for lack of demand.

In a market gone mad for SUVs and crossovers, three other vehicles have constrained production of the Pilot in Lincoln, Alabama. In addition to the Pilot, American Honda builds the Honda Odyssey in Lincoln, along with the Acura MDX. The second-generation Ridgeline started rolling off the Alabama line in May 2016.

As a result, Honda dealers have had a difficult time getting their hands on enough Pilots to sate the predictably high level of interest in a respected three-row crossover nameplate. Heading into December, for instance, Honda only had 36 days of Pilot supply according to Automotive News, about half the current industry average.

But with an all-new 2018 Odyssey about to pick up steam and the Ridgeline reaching a second-gen high of 4,085 sales in December, the Pilot needs room to breathe.  (Read More…)

By on January 9, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey white front quarter

Honda unveiled the production 2018 Odyssey today at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show, revealing a thoroughly redesigned but wholly familiar family hauling box. New features include second row seats that slide side-to-side, as well as an interior camera to monitor mischievous rear-seat occupants.

Mechanical innovations include an optional, all-new 10-speed automatic transmission built at Honda’s Georgia transmission plant, and an upgraded 3.5 liter V6 that now produces 280 horsepower.

(Read More…)

By on December 19, 2016

2018 Honda Odyssey Teaser Scribble

Honda released a teaser of its awe-inspiring and boldly redesigned Odyssey today — a vehicle that will make its official appearance at this year’s North American International Auto Show. I know that I really shouldn’t weigh in until after the Detroit debut, but this has to be one of the most impressive imaginings of an automobile I’ve seen in my lifetime. The overall impact of the model’s new design language must be acknowledged.

The fifth-generation Odyssey has been completely redone, gaining a new powertrain, updated technology, advanced driver’s features, and this uncommonly sophisticated styling. (Read More…)

By on September 27, 2016

2015 Honda Odyssey speedometer

“How do I name drop, how do I name drop, how do I name drop?”

I couldn’t find the words.

Last Tuesday, I was driving GCBC’s long-term 2015 Honda Odyssey across Halifax, Nova Scotia, (where my best friend Ken is a police officer) to a very expensive dental appointment.

As soon as I noticed flashing lights in my rearview mirror, the first image that flashed into my mind was of Ken’s hairless dome and bearded face.

“Maybe they know each other,” I thought. Maybe this cop and good ol’ Ken had their seatbacks kicked by the same juvenile delinquent. Maybe they share boxes of Tim Hortons donuts while parked side by side in a mall parking lot waiting for crime to happen on cold winter nights.

Maybe, on the merits of Ken’s good name, I’ll be allowed to go free. (Read More…)

By on September 15, 2016

2017 minivans Quest Sedona Caravan Pacifica Odyssey SiennaA long ways from the 1.1 million minivans sold in 2005, U.S. sales of sliding-door people carriers are on track to rise to a nine-year high of more than 600,000 units in calendar year 2016.

Through the first eight months of 2016, year-over-year minivan volume is up 19 percent in the United States, though an industry-wide slowdown stalled the minivan sector’s expansion in August.

More than a year after a plant shutdown in Windsor, Ontario, enabled retooling for a new generation of Chrysler MPV product — and severely cut into fleet sales — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles currently owns 45 percent of the American minivan market, up from 33 percent in the first eight months of 2015.

A portion of the credit for FCA’s resurgence belongs to the all-new Chrysler Pacifica, a direct Town & Country replacement that we’re testing this week. After forming only 25 percent of Chrysler brand sales at this stage of 2015, minivans are suddenly responsible for half of all volume at the fading Pentastar brand. (Read More…)

By on September 14, 2016

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited

In keeping with my current life stage, a bunch of my friends own minivans. Three of my four siblings have each owned multiple minivans. I own a minivan.

And this week, the test vehicle at GCBC Towers is this FCA Canada-supplied 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited, with a not-at-all limited array of options. As-tested, U.S. market pricing for this Pacifica climbs just beyond the $50K marker to $50,270.

Honda Odysseys top out below $46,000; Toyota Siennas below $49,000. FCA, however, wants the new Pacifica — which adopts the name of a failed crossover that died eight years ago — to be perceived as the automaker’s premium player. Buyers who want a value-oriented FCA van continue to have the Dodge Grand Caravan as an option, at least for the time being.

But we wonder if it’s a tenable position in the long-term; if, when FCA’s Windsor, Ontario assembly plant finishes its Grand Caravan run, the Chrysler brand can maintain the automaker’s longstanding dominance in the minivan sector. (Read More…)

By on September 6, 2016

1996 Isuzu Oasis in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

One of the best things about haunting high-inventory-turnover self-service junkyards is finding really rare vehicles. Sometimes those ultra-rare machines are ancient European cars nobody remembers, sometimes they are commonplace cars with options nobody ordered, and sometimes they are obscure imported minivans that disappeared without a trace.

Today’s Junkyard Find is the third type, with a bewildering badge-engineering subplot that made sense to about a half-dozen suits in Japan. (Read More…)

By on August 31, 2016

2015 Honda Odyssey EX front

Update: Added statement from Honda Canada 

Surely part of the reasoning behind a minivan buyer’s decision to end up with a Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna relates to reliability reputations. For most buyers in most trade-in situations, a similarly equipped Dodge Grand Caravan will cost a lot less. But the belief that the Odyssey or Sienna will be more reliable over a longer period of time supports the idea of spending more on the Honda or Toyota.

In our relatively short-term leasing case, reliability wasn’t a top concern, and we weren’t spending extra to acquire reliability anyway. (Because of trade-in issues, local Chrysler dealers wouldn’t play ball, not that we were desperate for them to do so.) And truthfully, there are other reasons a minivan buyer may choose an Odyssey or Sienna over a Grand Caravan: an eighth seat, greater space, more comfortable seats, exterior styling, unique feature content, or any number of things.

For our long-termer, we wanted a minivan that drove more like an Accord than a minivan. There was one option. 14 months later, our 2015 Honda Odyssey EX has spent three unscheduled days at the dealer and has by no means been a picture of reliability.

Stranded on the side of the road? No, not yet. But the front struts failed at 11,000 miles. (Read More…)

By on July 26, 2016

2015 Honda Odyssey EX potato field, Image: © 2016 Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

Ten days ago, we were reaching the final stages of a basement semi-renovation that would see GoodCarBadCar’s headquarters moved from the top floor of GCBC Towers to the basement. The new office would make room for a new miniature inhabitant upstairs, create easier outside access for the dog, and carve out greater work/life balance. Ikea is more than a year from opening in our locale, however, so it fell to Mrs. Cain and me to install new shelving. We needed lumber. Lots of it.

Naturally, this calls for a pickup truck. That’s how it works, right? That’s what the marketers tell us. That’s what many of us tell ourselves. That’s what society has led us to believe.

We took our Honda Odyssey instead.

Thus began a 1,000-mile nine-day span in which our long-term 2015 Honda Odyssey would once again prove that minivans make the most sense most of the time. (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2016

2015 Honda Odyssey EX

365 days ago, we drove away from the Honda dealer in a brand-new 2015 Honda Odyssey EX.

While minivan ownership was never an aspiration of mine, neither was I ever of the mindset that minivan ownership made it obvious that I was a parent. I figure the first boy we brought home from the IWK Health Centre had already made that apparent enough; my wife’s womb swollen with another boy serves as further evidence.

Children, a 70-pound Boxer/Ibizan Hound mix, periodic child care responsibilities, an ever-present InStep bike trailer, frequent grandparent visits, and a home renovation that’s not quite two-thirds complete don’t mandate minivan ownership.

But minivan ownership sure does make life easier.

One year into this four-year Honda Odyssey experiment, there are no regrets. (Read More…)

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