By on December 12, 2008

Although I am a long-time critic of long-term tests of hideously over-equipped press cars, raising as they do the questions about Motor Trend’s objectivity, I can see the value of knowing how well a vehicle performs over the long-haul. So, as TTAC’s refocusing its efforts on those four-wheeled thingamabobs known as “cars,” I thought I’d weigh-in with a little encapsulated commentary on the family Honda Odyssey. Before I do so, I want to take this opportunity to tell the world that I have hatred in my heart for Honda’s Majesterial Rhode Island dealer. Suffice it to say, I have sworn off the entire brand because of the treatment received. Ahem. Michelin PAX tires. They blow.

In ’06, I opted for the top-spec LX Touring, which comes with run-flats. Big mistake. The tires are hard-riding, hard to find, hideously expensive, a direct and ongoing challenge the tire-pressure monitoring system and wear-out faster than– just step away from the similes Farago. Why would Honda equip their most expensive minivan with the world’s worstest tires? They ride so hard they make the van rattle. I’m ditching the plastic-filled donuts after the changeover to winter shoes, at a cost of $1500 or so. Breathe. OK, otherwise, the Odyssey is a peach. Especially the engine. The 244hp 3.5-liter six and five-speed autobox combo work as smoothly as Brooke Thomas and Dahlia Grey. There’s plenty of poke as and whenever, and the [fully-laden] highway mileage (with ECO) at 70ish mph is on the wrong side of the mid-20’s.

Handling? Yes, the brakes work well. The real test for the minivanistas amongst you (both of them): schleppage. In this the Odyssey excels. The second row captain’s chairs [almost] manage to separate squabbling sisters, and the third row is adult friendly, with space for their luggage and enough cupholders to satisfy your favorite cliché. The American-assembled box can carry seven adults in no-complaints comfort. With gen-u-ine fold flat seats in the way back, the Odyssey also serves yeoman-like duty as a pickup truck sedan. On the downside, the Odyssey is a petrochemical porcine. Seventeen miles EPA? Not on my watch. Truth be told, I get a secret thrill from refueling at the same rate as mondo-SUVs without any of the political blowback. The biggest downer: no MP3 jack (the new model is so equipped). High praise indeed.

[Real world photos coming…]

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51 Comments on “Capsule Review: Honda Odyssey...”


  • avatar
    austinseven

    Wait until you start changing ignition coils (one per cylinder). Gonna cost you more than your winter tires.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    Does the anti-noise audio thing actually work? You know, where the radio emits anti-noise… I think.

  • avatar

    romanjetfighter :

    It’s like the suspension buttons on a Cayenne. You THINK it’s doing something, but you never really KNOW.

  • avatar
    Old Guy Ben

    We jumped on the “new” Oddysey back in 99, and paid for it with transmission repairs. I understand they may have that issue corrected (the 99 was the first large vehicle Honda made, IIRC) but when it was time to ditch it (before having to pay for another tranny rebuild) we picked up our 2004 Toyota Sienna.

    Sorry about those tires, they sound horrid.

    Our next vehicle will be a car instead of a minivan, I’m pretty sure, unless we can play The Price is Right with a dealer and get one at a low cost. We just don’t use the space like we used to when the kids were still in their car seats.

  • avatar
    CSJohnston

    RF,

    Would you be willing to accept capsule reviews of other products owned or leased?

    CJ

  • avatar

    CSJohnston :

    Depending on the writer and the review, yes.

    PS Is that a trick question?

  • avatar
    John R

    Wow, swearing off Honda? I’m curious to know, when you’re done with this guy will you replace it? And with what?

  • avatar
    dolo54

    $1500 for tires? What kind of tires are those? Racing slicks?

  • avatar
    Turbo G

    I bought my wife a 100 series Land Cruiser instead of a mini-van. I don’t care about any SUV stigma (they are bargains now anyways) and I swear the gas mileage is similar (poor).

  • avatar

    MasterCraft Sensys 01 265/60R17T tires

    We’re looking at a pre-loved Lexus LX470, when the price REALLY craters.

    Either that or screw it an S55. Or Audi A8.

  • avatar

    I heard on the radio today that Bank Of America is letting go of 35,000 employees pending the Merrill Lynch acquisition. Ouch.

    Me thinks we need more reporting on perceptions and realities of used vehicles that people buy during recessions. Might make for a good wake up call. I wasn’t expecting RF’s comments on the Odyssey, that’s for sure.

  • avatar
    Rollmo

    I did several stints at an Acura Dealership as a service manager and cant for the life of me understand how Honda’s horrible automatic transmissions don’t seem to stick to them. We were slapping transmissions in TLs, RLs/Legends and MDXs faster than we could order them. Often 2 or 3 in the same vehicle over its life. Just pathetic engineering, yet you seldom hear anything about it. Honda even upped the warranty to 7 years on these things….and still the mindless bought them. God help you if you were out of warranty, as Honda would not sell a retail remain, it was piece by piece (lots of them) and straight time labour for you.

    I must admit that in 6 years I only saw the inside of maybe 2 motors, but could not count the number of transmissions.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I looked at this and the Sienna, and quite frankly I think the Sienna is a better minivan for most people. The Odyssey drives better and feels more entertaining, but it’s also noisier, thirstier (by a lot), rougher-riding and, oddly, feels much larger and less controllable.

    I can see what enthusiasts like about the Oddy, but I question whether it’s a virtue in a minivan, or if they might be better-served by a Mazda5.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    The two times I have been in the market for a minivan over the last decade, the Odyssey was either not practically available or not competitively priced. It appears that circumstances have changed. There are discounts, rebates and cash incentives to dealers now.

  • avatar

    Just curious… did I read that right? $1,500 US for four tires?!?! For a minivan? Just last year I replaced all four tires on my car for not much more than the cost of one tire at that rate. Even the 4 Michelin truck tires for my Econoline set me back less than $500. Or, is the $1,500 for four winter tires AND four summer tires? Even so, we’re not talking a full seat of meats for a Ferrari, it’s a minivan! Why the four-digit damage?

    On the mileage… 17 MPG! That’s fake wood-sided, big block, four-barrel 70’s family wagon territory! Yikes! I had to chuckle at the comment about going under the radar of SUV haters. Remember, folks, perception is not about actual efficiency, it’s about the suit… if you made a Prius look like a Hummer, people would hate all over it.

    FWIW, I have two friends with Odysseys and they’ve both been treated very well. One even uses hers to tow a fairly substantial tent trailer several times a year, no transmission problems or other maladies thus far.

  • avatar
    dadude53

    Interresting info about the run flats.Sometimes it pays off to not go for the model with all the gimmicks respectively understand what one realy needs or not.
    Sounds like less means actually more.
    I looked up the web on that info and it is full of people complaining about the crappy PAX system as of ’06.

  • avatar
    1996MEdition

    Nice, real, usable review….this is what got me to TTAC way back. Two words….Tire Barn….dirt cheap.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    The ’99-03 TL/CL especially were known for blowing transmissions like nobody’s business. Honda/Acura never really did catch any flack for it though. It’s funny, Honda has such a rep for “bulletproof” reliability that things like multiple transmission failures just seem to slide right off.

    They should take a cue from Maserati and Jag and just buy them from ZF. That would also give them a 6-speed, and drag them into the 21st century.

  • avatar
    kkleinwi

    Regarding the mileage, RF must have a real lead foot because I’ve been very pleased with the mileage in my ’08. Compared to my old 3.3l Dodge, the Ody is a miser.

    What I’m surprised about is the poor ergonomics — Niggling things that tend to grate after awhile.
    – Heated seats that don’t turn themselves off when you get out of the car. (Why is my ass on fire!!)
    – Instrument panel like a christmas tree – do I really need that ECO light flashing in my face all the time?
    – IP lighting that won’t adapt intelligently. Just ’cause I turn my headlights on doesn’t mean it’s dark outside, dufus.
    – Completely obtuse power door lock button design
    – Power doors that protest if you try to work them manually (Chrysler gets this one right)

    The driving experience, however, blows away the old Mopar, so I’m happy.

  • avatar
    mrog71

    I’ve got the 03 Odyssey EX-L. So far, about 80K absolutely trouble-free miles. I agree that if you have to have a mini-van (4 kids here) it’s a great choice. I’ve driven it in every kind of driving from city, to cross-country, to mildly off-road for camping. So far, no hint of the tranny problems that plague my generation of Ody’s. The recall was done on the tranny at around 10K or so.

  • avatar
    IC Turbo

    I’d imagine that $1500 cost for tires includes wheels. Michelin’s PAX tires used some odd metric wheel size (or maybe its 16.5″) that is almost impossible to find tires for in the US.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    My 05 Odyssey turned out to be a lemon, having broken on the first day of ownership, in the driveway, with 26 miles on the odometer. That began 20 months of horrid ownership nightmares, including 5 failed attempts to fix the power sliding door that broke on Day One. The six other problems with it “only” took a few months to fix, including the failed turn signals which broke on Day Two.

    The dealer even performed some body damage free of charge during one of the non-fixes, after which they performed some body repair free of charge, too. My demands for a total refund were rewarded with a free extended warranty.

    The lemon law firm managed to win me a small check for my troubles, and I promptly unloaded that hateful car for a cheap, reliable 98 Dodge Caravan.

    It will be a very, very long time until I own another Honda.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    The 2nd gen Sienna hasn’t been trouble free, either – it was recalled just after launch after the gas tank leaked following an IIHS crash test.

    Ours had its share of TSB’s/recall notices in its 4+ years. Fortunately, they’re minimally bothersome (for us): recall on a seat belt bezel, reprogram transmission shifts, protective tape on the bottom of the doors, and warranty extensions on door welds + liftgate struts. The latter is just now threatening to bonk us on our heads. The CD player broke under warranty and spared us a couple of weeks of Sesame Street tunes. We got the LE trim, so fancy stuff is lacking other than the bench seat. Yeah, would replace it with the same vehicle if we had to.

    We also have the Mazda5, but it’s a bit trickier to fit the 5 of us with booster/car seats and luggage.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I think the transmission troubles really only applied to a few years, and only to V6 cars (no Civics, CRVs or 4-cyl Accords), much like Toyota’s sludge issue was only two engines. I let my CR subscription expire, but it’s very clear (by the solid black dots in a sea of red) as to what model years are effected. The new Oddy is certainly not affected.

    That said, Honda’s automatics are “funny”. Someone who knows more than I can probably comment, but as I understand they’re not at all similar to a typical AT.

  • avatar

    I have never understood the whole concept of run-flat tires. Why compromise the whole purpose of an item SPECIFICALLY to compensate for failure, theoretically .00001% of it’s useful lifetime?

    Is changing a wheel on the side of the road THAT hard??

    Sorry folks, it isn’t. If it is too hard for you then join AAA.

    Part of the apprenticeship of every driver-in-training should be changing wheels. I made my teenage son do it several times before I would allow him to test for his license. Once even while on a family road trip in rural Oregon, with a trunk full of luggage and a car full of wife & kids: “Guess what, we just experienced a flat tire, and you are alone. Pull over and change it. Yes this is a drill, but practice makes perfect.”

    Have we forgotten the basics of existence already? Have we cocooned ourselves into sat-naved, cup-holdered, DVD-drop-down screened comfort that much?

    I’m embarrassed by my species.

    –chuck

  • avatar

    beater : Just curious… did I read that right? $1,500 US for four tires?!?! For a minivan?

    AND…for Mastercrap tires? I’ve had two sets of Mastercrafts on used cars I purchased, they were noisy, lousy in any condition, and one set (all four) had tread separation a la Ford Explorer.

    Granted the other problems here (by RF and our B&B) tell me more than I knew about the Odyssey, but there’s a special place in hell for anyone who sells Mastercraft Tires at that price.

  • avatar
    SpacemanSpiff

    A friend with an Odyssey asked me about the Pax tires a while back when he had sticker shock from replacing them. I did a little research at the time and was amazed that I hadn’t heard of them and that more people were not complaining about them.
    It’s not just a tire, it’s a whole “system” with proprietary wheels and a plastic “ring” inside the tire to support the car’s weight if the tire loses air instead of thick sideawalls as on a normal run-flat. It even takes special equipment to mount the tires!

    Looks like Michelin has given up on them:

  • avatar
    cjdumm

    Our neighbors’ driveways usually contain a quorum of the local HOOA (Honda Odyssey Owners Association) membership, but I’ve heard almost no complaints from the Ordinary Average Guys on my street.

    I’m surprised that RF’s mileage is so unimpressive; my wife’s best friend routinely gets almost 30 mpg when she loads up the kids and drives from Portland to So.Cal. It has more movie screens than the gigaplex theater down the street, and more speakers than a Queensryche concert.

    From my own perspective, I know that it hauls a lot more and drives a hell of a lot better than our CR-V, but slurps more gas around town. My wife never wanted a minivan (bless her) but if she had it would have been an Odyssey. Maybe I’m twice lucky…

  • avatar
    mrog71

    On the mileage issue, my 03 Ody greats great mileage. On the cross country drive when I moved to AZ, with the van filled with family, pets, and hoards of crap, I was getting north of 25 mpg if I kept it under 65 (which I had to since the moving van we were escorting was going kind of slow).

  • avatar

    We also have an ’06 Odyssey.

    We have the EX-L with Nav, DVD entertainment, and sport package (fog lights and cross-bars on the luggage rack). I believe RF has an “EX-L Touring” because the LX is the low end model (hubs and V6 without Variable Cylinder Mgt – VCM). We decided against the Touring model because we wanted the 8th seat and the normal tires. So the only option that the Touring gets that we would have wanted was the drivers seat memory.

    100% love the van. Great vehicle. Powerful V6, quiet at 65 – 70 mph, reliable, efficient, HUGE and COMFORTABLE.

    I hate to break this to you RF, but we have 68,000 miles on our normal tires and they still have significant life left. I can’t believe it myself, but we just had a checkup and my Acura guys said the tires still look great. I forget how many mm they have left, but they’re not even close to needing to be replaced. And their quiet.

    On road trips at 65 – 70 mph, we get 26 mpg, with two toddlers, my wife, 100 lb yellow lab, all their shit, and my big ass. While commuting around Boston, my wife gets 22 or 23 mpg.

    Coming up on 3 years, 70,000 miles, and nothing but oil and filters.

    We occasionally get a whining noise from the power steering pump, but it is very inconsistent and no change in driving dynamics.

    Maybe I’m crazy, but I think Acura would make a killing if they could somehow market a “cool, classy van”. I know Honda tries, and they are arguably succeeding, but I for one would upgrade to an Acura van. Whilting brand or not.

    In summary: Thank you Honda.

  • avatar
    Old Guy Ben

    For the record, our 99 Ody had about 140K miles on it when we sold it after six years. Most of those miles were trouble free, but when the transmission trouble started it was a royal PITA because of the time involved with it in the shop and not having a good backup vehicle for a family of 5.

    I don’t remember mileage numbers, but gas was 95 cents a gallon for much of that time (Pre-Katrina) so it probably didn’t seem too excessive. Certainly better mileage than an Explorer or Expedition and easier to get kid seats in and out due to the huge doors.

    Our Sienna has 55,000 miles now, and mechanically has been good, but cosmetically has issues – weather stripping falling apart, plastic trim fluttering when driving on the highway, squeaks and cracked plastic bits inside that should never have failed this quickly. Of course our Platinum Bumper to Bumper Warranty doesn’t cover “trim.”

  • avatar
    Airhen

    I have never understood run flat tires? When my tires start to look questionable, I replace them, and well I’ve never had a blown tire!

  • avatar
    dean

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but run-flat tires started out in high performance cars where packaging (or weight reduction goals) prevented the carrying of a full-size spare.

    I see zero reason for them on a minivan.

  • avatar
    seabrjim

    mgoBLUE, change that power steering fluid every 50,000 miles or so. Cheap insurance. All fluids wear out and get dirty, not just engine oil. I am amazed every time I do it as my steering is easier and much less noisy. Best of all, my mechanic does it for $39. I’m sure the GM dealer would be triple that.

  • avatar
    geeber

    I like this version of the Odyssey, but the previous generation model was Honda’s Windstar – in more ways than one.

    Fortunately, Honda has fixed the transmission problems that plagued these vehicles (along with the Acura CL and TL and V-6 Accords from about 1999 to 2003).

    I’m always amazed that the Toyota engine-sludge issue is the one that domestic fans dredge up in any discussion regarding vehicle quality. The Honda/Acura transmission failures were much more widespread. And I say that as a Honda fan.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    @dean: the Sienna AWD’s driveshaft runs through the space where the Sienna FWD’s spare tire is mounted. You can get a full sized spare that takes up most of the rear storage well.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I have never understood the whole concept of run-flat tires. Why compromise the whole purpose of an item SPECIFICALLY to compensate for failure, theoretically .00001% of it’s useful lifetime?

    With some vehicles, it’s because they don’t come with a spare. There’s all sorts of reasons, from AWD running gear (Sienna) to no trunk space (Solstice, Mini) to the tires being just too damn big (most supercars).

    You get run-flats and/or a can of sealant in lieu. If I lived in the city still, I wouldn’t care. In the sticks? I’ve waited hours for roadside assistance. I’ll take the tires made from cast iron and/or the can of glue.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    Argh, Run Flats! My father in-law has those on his Corvette and they take the fun out of driving that. Not sure why Honda went with those. Otherwise they have hands down a class leading vehicle. My brother drives minivans as company vehicles and having several variations from GM, Ford and now Chrysler, not a one can come close to matching the quality of the Oddy. Even on fuel economy, the old Ford Freestar and his current Caravan are fuel pigs compared to the Oddy. Providing you don’t have a terrible head or cross wind the Odyssey can do close to 30mpg’s on the highway, unless you drive like a NASCAR race. Around town is sucks, but MPG per seat mile beats most mid-sized cars. I don’t even have any kids and have considered the Odyssey for the best mix of utility and passenger hauling. They make way more sense than your average SUV and I don’t make near enough Home Depot runs to justify a pickup.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    200k-min:
    Not sure why Honda went with those. [run flat tires]

    Seats fold flat into the floor. Honda wanted to clear out the space that the spare tire would occupy underneath the car.

  • avatar
    holydonut

    Are you sure those are 265 wide? A stock M3 with 18 inch wheels has P265/40/18 on the rear. A 911 Carrera S has P235/35/19 up front.

    I believe RF bought the minivan tires that are filled with cocaine. Die Polizei will never suspect the trafficking in the bulgy tires.

  • avatar
    noreserve

    chuckgoolsbee and dean:

    Regarding run-flats… They could save your life.

    The loss of control from a blowout is rare, but still possible with normal tires. The PAX system, unlike most other run-flats, still has the inner ring to ride on if the tire is shredded and comes off.

    The second way they could save you is avoiding changing a tire on a highway like I-75/85 inside the “Perimeter” here in Atlanta. They did away with what used to be emergency lanes to make more lanes prior to the Olympics. People have been killed as they tried to change a tire. We even have H.E.R.O (Highway Emergency Response Operators) trucks that will come to your aid and provide some blocking. But you can’t count on them. If you break down in the wrong spot, there is also the chance of being run into if your vehicle is immobile.

    And of course there’s always the third way you could meet your demise – having a flat in the “wrong” part of town. I’ve lived in DC and here in Atlanta I would not want my wife to be stuck in certain parts of either place.

    The PAX allow you to avoid having to stop for any of these events. Just keep driving. There is a peace of mind there that is hard to put a price on.

    I have had two Corvettes with run-flats. I have also had an 06 Odyssey Touring as described above. The Goodyear run-flats on the Corvettes were noisy and wore poorly. I still valued the peace of mind of not having to worry about changing a tire on the above-mentioned I75/85 on my way into work each day. My wife and I only had the Odyssey for a few months before she wanted something less “soccer mom”. Anyhow, I liked the fact that the Touring had the run-flats with her driving the kids by herself. Even when someone knows how to change a tire, it’s difficult to pull off if it’s night, raining, the lug nuts are on too tight, etc.

    I didn’t spend enough time with the PAX system to know whether the noise or wear characteristics were sub-par. I imagine that they are. Hell, just a quick check on Wikipedia’s Odyssey entry shows some negative stuff. They were lower profile than the other Odyssey (EX) we test drove, so I expected a bit rougher ride, but crisper steering and handling. That was the case. We did have a PAX tire replaced under warranty that failed early. That was when I learned about the fact that they are a wheel/tire combo.

    I really liked the Touring edition with all of its bells and whistles. XM, navigation, backup camera, power tailgate, DVD with fold-down screens and wireless headphones for the kids, split rear “magic” seat, windows in the rear that actually went down, secret compartments, great-for-a-Honda sound system, and on and on. I’m definitely a gadget person, so this was one hell of a nice minivan as they go. I never looked at the Sienna – just can’t stomach that Toyota styling or appliance ride/handling.

    Mileage is a LOT better than most SUVs. We went from the Touring to an 06 Land Rover LR3 (don’t ask). That tank gets 12.8 MPG mixed, 18 on the highway. The Odyssey trumped that without trying. It was a very comfortable minivan. The seats were great, the second row seats adjusted for travel for and aft. The third row seating had usable legroom for a six-footer. That thing was simply cavernous with the seats down. Yes, a 4×8 sheet of plywood fits. As do two couples and all of their gear for a week-long getaway without using the luggage rack. I know it also holds a kegerator (don’t ask).

    The current-gen Odyssey is worlds improved over the previous-gen. My ex-wife and I had a 2000 EX that I really did not like. It was noisy on the highway to the point where a road trip to New Orleans was a bitch session from my buddies about the shitty noisy box of a minivan. Aren’t all Hondas noisy you ask? Well, yes, to a point. But the empty box of a previous-gen Odyssey amplified what might have been tolerable in an Accord of the same time. Trust me, the improvement with the new one is like night and day. The 06 was very easy to drive, pretty quiet for a Honda, and had everything I wanted in that kind of vehicle. It just didn’t look as cool as the Land Rover, of course. Now I wish we’d kept it. There is no beating the practicality, ease of loading, and mile-gobbling characteristics of this thing. And it looks a hell of a lot better than the Sienna or anything else in its league, IMO.

  • avatar
    marshall

    I own a 2000 Odyssey w/110K miles on it.

    The only trouble we’ve had was with the (surprise) tranny, and that worked out fine. When it started leaking fluid (at 65K miles), I took it to the dealer. They attempted to fix it (no charge), and failed. I pointed out that they had a service bulletin on the transmissions, which authorized replacement. The dealer said the service bulletin covered “internal damage” and a fluid leak was “external”.

    I pointed out that I could wait until all the fluid drained out and the transmission seized up, and then the damage would be “internal”.

    Three days later I had a new transmission. Haven’t had a lick of trouble with the van since then. We don’t drive the van that much any more, since the kids are older, but I don’t see any reason to get rid of it.

  • avatar
    rodster205

    That’s interesting to hear about Majestic. I found them online years ago and love that they put all the part diagrams online, and offer great price discounts on parts. I have ordered parts from them several times and get them in a day or two for 1-15% less than my dealer even after S&H fees.

    Glad I will never have to set foot in there…

  • avatar
    obbop

    If recession becomes depression car/truck/van reviews with a nod towards the living-within-the-conveyance capabilities may become a popular feature.

    If the worst happens to you, with creativity even a tiny 1975 Honda Civic can be altered slightly within to allow one adult to live inside the contraption, albeit in a “roughing it” manner.

  • avatar
    allen5h

    I drive a 4cyl Accord with the slick shifting 5 spd. I tell everybody HONDA is a good brand IF you stick to a manual. I would never consider a HONDA auto, new or used, for the reasons cited here.

    Thank you for getting the word out to the masses.

  • avatar
    B.C.

    That said, Honda’s automatics are “funny”. Someone who knows more than I can probably comment, but as I understand they’re not at all similar to a typical AT.

    I vaguely recall some story about patents and Honda not wanting to pay royalties, so they developed their own automatic transmissions when they first started out.

  • avatar
    blautens

    My brother loves minivans. Loves them. He’s had Chryslers, Fords, and now Hondas. Last year he bought a pair of Odysseys – a new 2007 Odyssey LX for his wife, and while he was at it, a used 2003 Odyssey EX for himself. Shockingly, the 2003’s tranny seized (wouldn’t really shift) about a month after he bought it.

    Fortunately, he bought an extended warranty on the 2003, as 10 minutes on Google will tell you – it’s not a matter of IF, but WHEN your tranny will go on that particular model.

    But he still loves them both. After doing a road trip in them, I have to agree – superior people movers (although the 2003 is a bit noisy, some of which is attributable to the previous owners Pep Boy tire choice with a tread pattern aped from a vintage, hand grooved, F1 rain tire). Very comfortable long distance cruisers. Vastly better seats than any Chrysler van I’ve been in.

  • avatar
    steveua

    My 05 has been great; in fact it was in a horrible accident a week after purchase, where the rear end was destroyed. Got fixed to almost-perfect condition, and hasn’t given us a lick of trouble; The power steering does whine when cold, but the Honda techs told us that is particular to this model, it’s inherent in the hydraulics and there is nothing you can feasibly do – there is no effect on driving or safety – just annoying. EX-L model, mpg is around 24 on hwy driving like a BOH, better when driven like reasonable person and around 18-19 around town.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Run-flats are another one of those ideas that sounds good in theory but isn’t so hot in execution.

    Likewise, the Honda transmission problems are reason enough to go with the Sienna as the sole choice for a larger, reliable ‘mini’-van.

    As to any other alternatives, after Ford finally got around to putting a larger engine/transmission in the Mazda MPV, it had nearly everything most families needed for an all-purpose people/cargo mover. It’s worth noting that when the Odyssey was introduced with the revolutionary magic, disappearing third row seat back in 1999, Mazda’s MPV had it, too (along with the industry first of roll-down, sliding door side windows). It’s unfortunate that the US MPV eventually got dumped in lieu of the smaller Mazda5.

  • avatar
    wardenr

    Mr. Farago:

    As you are likely aware, many of the Odyssey, the Pilot, and the (Acura)MDX are built in Lincoln, Alabama (my home state). No doubt, the production volume they push in that plant must (regrettably)compromise some quality. Despite my long, fierce loyalty to their products, Honda can and MUST do a better job!

    The 4-speed auto trannys are notoriously failure prone, particularly in the V6-equipped models. Reason: 2nd-gear clutch pack gets inadequate lubrication and the differential bearings are substandard. The five-speed auto trannys (’03 and up) fare about the same. Honda Motor claims a 2 percent failure rate; 6 to 8 percent is probably closer to the truth. Honda also maintains they corrected these problems in 2002.

    These particular auto trannys were (purportedly) a joint-venture development between Honda and GM. (May God Forbid!) Honda subcontracted building to a Japanese supplier. But per what my local dealer says, Honda has since resumed designing and manufacturing its own automatic transmissions for its USDM vehicles.

    Honda Motor has a class-action suit against them involving their automatic trannys. However, if you have some “political suasion” with your dealer, and contact HMC directly (via the Honda Owners’ Association)AND are nice to them, they will probably help you out with parts and labor.

    I recently acquired a 2002 Accord Coupe LX V6. No tranny issues thus far. But to play it really SAFE, I am adding a CompTech tranny cooler…and changing the fluid at least once per year, regardless of mileage driven. And while Honda’s fluid is likely okay, I am inclined to switch to AmsOil or Redline. Helluva lot cheaper than a $4,000 tranny replacement, since my car is excluded from Honda’s 96-month/100,000-mile extended warranty…

    The Odyssey and Pilot/MDX can be equipped with an optional transmission cooler (for a towing package)available from your Honda dealer. Seems to me cheap insurance…and a smart investment.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Likewise, the Honda transmission problems are reason enough to go with the Sienna as the sole choice for a larger, reliable ‘mini’-van.

    To be fair, the transmission problem is no longer extant. Like the Toyota sludging issue (which gets brought up endlessly, evem though we’re approaching ten years since the affected components went out of manufacture), we’re talking about something that affected only the first few years of the lifespan of the second-gen Oddy, and the third-gen isn’t affected at all.

    The Sienna is a good van, and I personally prefer it, but it’s not mechanically perfect–but then, when your competition is bad (Hyundai/Kia; their vans are their weakest products) and abysmal (Chrysler), you can’t help but shine. If you’re in this market, it’s really going to come down to brand and model preference.

    The Odyssey and Pilot/MDX can be equipped with an optional transmission cooler (for a towing package)available from your Honda dealer. Seems to me cheap insurance…and a smart investment.

    This is a good point, even if you don’t tow. These are big, heavy vehicles with fairly powerful engines: the transmission will get hot, and it will suffer for it. A towing package and/or transmission cooler is a very good idea.

    I worry deeply about automatic transmissions in modern cars, especially as we reach six, seven and eight speeds and certainly in big power+big mass vehicles. That’s a lot of mechanical complexity and associated stress. If something goes wrong, god help you. I have real bias towards CVTs if for no other reason than that they seem much, much simpler.

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