Honda Odyssey Sales Were Falling, We Got An Odyssey, Now Odyssey Sales Are Rising

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
honda odyssey sales were falling we got an odyssey now odyssey sales are rising

We’re kidding. Yes, Odyssey sales were falling. Then we used our own money to pay for a new 2015 Honda Odyssey. Forthwith, Odyssey sales increased.

You know better than to connect the two, of course. Post hoc ergo propter hoc, and all that. But I can dream about the power of and the sway of a single Jalopnik-recommended article on our Kinja page.

In July and August, 26,274 Americans registered new Odysseys, 12 percent more than in the same period one year ago. This is a strong end-of-lifecycle follow-up to the Odyssey’s 14 percent plunge in the 2014 calendar year and a 1 percent drop in the first half of 2015. Yet even to the sales-stats-obsessed founder of GCBC, the U.S. sales story is secondary, if only in this instance.

As of June 2015, we have a minivan, and I’m too busy loading ten-foot-long 2x4s in the back of my people carrier to care about the Odyssey’s best-selling status or the reasons for the uptick.

Recognizing, therefore, that LeBron James can’t even have an impact on Kia K900 sales, it’s safe to say that my position as a Honda Odyssey driver most assuredly does not propel consumers toward Honda stores. In fact, the one set of friends who were inspired by our new Odyssey to consider moving up their minivan purchase didn’t get an Odyssey. They bought a Toyota Sienna for their six-year-old twin boys and two-year-old girl.

Speaking of the Sienna, it seems that the people curious about our Odyssey decision don’t want more information about our actual van, but rather wish to know the reasons we didn’t choose a different vehicle. Let me answer those questions.

First, why didn’t we go with a different minivan? Grand Caravans should be way less expensive than an Odyssey, but Chrysler/Dodge dealers were completely unwilling to play ball with our Kia Sorento trade-in. Plus, between the two of us, my wife and I had four siblings with Grand Caravans. Stow ’N Go sounds great, but in two months I’ve yet to encounter a circumstance in which the Odyssey’s two outboard second-row seats needed to be removed. And it’s not as though they can’t be removed, if need be. Besides, the Grand Caravan drives like a van. I didn’t want a van that drives like a van.

Updated 2015 Siennas are very nice, as my review of an AWD XLE attests. Unfortunately, even with upgraded handling, Sienna SEs still feel relatively vast in action — Odysseys seem to shrink when driven hastily. And again, Toyota dealers couldn’t compete on price when the trade was taken into account.

The Kia Sedona is handsome, but it doesn’t seem like Kia quite finished the job in terms of ride and handling and rearward accommodations. Mazda 5? Too small, too noisy. Nissan Quest? This is no laughing matter.

If not a different minivan, why not a three-row SUV/crossover? The notion that a Honda Odyssey announces one’s child-rearing status and a Honda Pilot or any other family-friendly crossover doesn’t is, frankly, laughable. More laughable is the crisis of confidence afflicting legions of car buyers who can’t drive the best vehicle for themselves, regardless of what that vehicle may be. My neighbours don’t determine what I wear or where I work or when I eat. I’m not going to let them determine what I should drive. Although it helps that I periodically spend whole weeks with vehicles like the Audi S4, a 6.2L V8-powered GMC Sierra, and the Ford Mustang.

This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have been happy with a Chevrolet Suburban or Dodge Durango or Ford Flex, all of which impress me, if the vehicles weren’t too expensive, too expensive, and too unavailable and too expensive, respectively. But far too many three-row vehicles offer no space behind the third row, something we routinely require.

Why not a proper six-seater crew cab pickup truck? Odysseys seat eight, but six would have been enough. Unfortunately, a shedding 70-pound dog isn’t welcome in the passenger compartment, and the passenger compartment is the only place for her in a pickup truck.

We’re privileged to be driving manufacturer-supplied press cars every week, so our own vehicle is reserved for more abusive scenarios. Bikes, dogs, muddy stroller wheels, muddy bike trailer wheels, sandy towels, lumber. While much of that content works perfectly with a pickup truck, demanding that occupants share space with a wet dog is far from ideal. Moreover, affordable crew cab 4×4 pickup trucks are only just sufficiently equipped. The trucks also quickly become unaffordable when vital accessories are added to the MSRP.

I want a truck. My wife wants a truck. We will have a truck. But we will not have a truck this year.

In the end, our decision was made easier by friends who own the Centennial Honda store in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. The deal-making procedure, including the trade-in assessment, was completed exclusively by email and the vehicle was picked up during a visit at the grandparents. We ended up leasing, as the residuals on Odysseys are so strong (and the rates so low) that the sum total of our lease payments plus the buy-out is less than the cost of financing the van. Leasing isn’t for everyone, nor is it for every vehicle, but we only complete half of our mileage in our own car and the Honda’s ability to hang on to its value marries the right buyer with the right vehicle for ideal leasing.

A surprisingly driver-focused chassis, hugely impressive fuel economy, and near limitless flexibility combine with the affordability factor to make the Odyssey, at least in this particular instance, the best new car value I can currently think of. Put it all together, and we didn’t find ourselves like so many of our siblings and friends who said with regret, “We need a minivan.” We realized, with pleasure, that we wanted an Odyssey.

As for the Honda’s faults, they are few in number but important to note.

The dual-screen Honda infotainment unit is not intuitive. Yet I have found that HondaLink convinces me that an automotive reviewer’s time with a vehicle — even when I spend a full week with new cars — isn’t sufficient to render a verdict on the infotainment unit. I’ve criticized this system in multiple Acuras and Hondas, yet now there’s nothing about the system that truly bothers me. Getting to know the ins and outs took longer, which isn’t ideal, but I no longer give it a second thought.

The styling of the rear side window and sliding door cut line is awful. The transmission is coming into its own but was predictably clunky and confused early on, as I’ve often found in competing vans. Honda isn’t overly generous with features. Our Canadian-spec EX has power doors with built-in sunshades but no power tailgate and no sunshades in the third row. Quicker steering, not at all in keeping with the demands of most minivan buyers, would shorten my wishlist. And while power is more than acceptable, why is the Odyssey forced to soldier on with the 3.5-liter V6’s 248-horsepower output when the Accord, for example, produces 278?

More please.

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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2 of 24 comments
  • Bob65688581 Small by American standards, this car is just right for Europe, and probably China, although I don't really know, there. Upscale small cars don't exist in the US because Americans associate size and luxury, so it will have a tough time in the States... but again Europe is used to such cars. Audi has been making "small, upscale" since forever. As usual, Americans will miss an opportunity. I'll buy one, though!Contrary to your text, the EX30 has nothing whatsoever to do with the XC40 or C40, being built on a dedicated chassis.
  • Tassos Chinese owned Vollvo-Geely must have the best PR department of all automakers. A TINY maker with only 0.5-0.8% market share in the US, it is in the news every day.I have lost count how many different models Volvo has, and it is shocking how FEW of each miserable one it sells in the US market.Approximately, it sells as many units (TOTAL) as is the total number of loser models it offers.
  • ToolGuy Seems pretty reasonable to me. (Sorry)
  • Luke42 When I moved from Virginia to Illinois, the lack of vehicle safety inspections was a big deal to me. I thought it would be a big change.However, nobody drives around in an unsafe car when they have the money to get their car fixed and driving safely.Also, Virginia's inspection regimine only meant that a car was safe to drive one day a year.Having lived with and without automotive safety inspections, my confusion is that they don't really matter that much.What does matter is preventing poverty in your state, and Illinois' generally pro-union political climate does more for automotive safety (by ensuring fair wages for tradespeople) than ticketing poor people for not having enough money to maintain their cars.
  • ToolGuy When you are pulled over for speeding, whether you are given a ticket or not should depend on how attractive you are.Source: My sister 😉