By on November 25, 2015

2015 Honda Odyssey vs 2016 Honda Pilot

They say the grass is greener on the other side. I say, just give me more grass on my side; any color will do.

I’m blessed with a job that enables me to work from home and drive a whole bunch of new cars. Strangely, even with a new vehicle delivered to my driveway each and every week, my desire to own a multitude of vehicles of different types – Miata and Wrangler, Mustang and Raptor, Suburban and M5, Volt and 911, Macan and GTI – only seems to increase. In other words, I’m not operating under the assumption that I’d find vehicular happiness if only I could have that vehicle. Rather, I’m under the belief that I’ll source vehicular happiness only if I own so many vehicles that I can always be able to exit my nonexistent garage/barn in the right vehicle for the right moment. This would require a Miata for sudden Friday night trips to the grocery store for children’s Tylenol, a Suburban for the holidays when all the family visits and wants to go out on our nonexistent boat, a Wrangler for those pointless off-road jaunts one takes when one owns a Wrangler, a Raptor for those pointless off-road jaunts one takes when one owns a Raptor and needs to pick up lumber on the way home, a Volt for the commuting I don’t do, a GTI for when we have a babysitter, a Macan for winter weekends away, and an M5 and 911 because, well, why not?

Alas, it is not to be. So we drive a 2015 Honda Odyssey.

We’ve gone through the decision-making process already, but in case it isn’t obvious: The Odyssey’s ability to fulfill so many different missions makes a minivan our automotive Swiss Army knife. Sure, it comes up very short in some areas. (Particularly off-roading.) But four months in, we continue to be impressed by our Odyssey’s best-in-class on-road behavior, its overarching sense of quality, its ability to ferry six people in total comfort and eight in some measure of comfort, and most of all, the fuel economy.

Consider a recent visit from the in-laws, when, over the course of a few days, we drove in and around and out of the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, with only a handful of miles completed on the highway. With winter tires newly fitted, approximately 700 pounds aboard plus a Thule hitch-mounted bike rack on the back, we averaged 27 miles per gallon on a mix of low-speed rural roads and city streets.

The EPA pegs the Odyssey at 19 mpg in the city; 28 on the highway.

Strictly from an miles-per-gallon standpoint, the Odyssey is an effective tool. Rivals such as the Toyota Sienna (18/25), Dodge Grand Caravan (17/25), and Kia Sedona (18/25) are simply not as efficient. But all minivans, particularly the Odyssey, excel to a far greater degree when we consider Pmpg — or People miles per gallon.

The Odyssey seats eight, and assuming for the sake of simplicity that the Odyssey’s fuel economy isn’t degraded by the weight of eight occupants, its 28 mpg highway rating translates to 224 Pmpg, just one Pmpg shy of the 2015 Honda Accord Hybrid’s five-aboard rating of 225 Pmpg and 146 Pmpg better than Honda’s two-seat CR-Z.

A Toyota Prius with five occupants? 240 Pmpg.

A Chevrolet Suburban 4×4 with nine occupants? 198 Pmpg.

We’ve certainly seen no significant decrease in our Odyssey’s mileage when burdened with the weight of extra humans, although we haven’t filled our van with NFL offensive linemen, to be sure. Once the Odyssey slips into undetectable Eco mode by shutting down cylinders on the highway, consumption is dramatically decreased, according to the onboard computer.

Moreover, the exceptional fuel economy we’ve measured of late occurred since we had winter tires fitted, the installation of which did not go according to plan. After checking on prices at a few tire stores, we eventually discovered that our local Honda dealer would do the job of removing winter tires from our steel rims, removing all-season tires from our alloys, and installing winter tires on the alloys for $5.00 less than any other outlet. Shocked as I was, I triple-checked with the appointment coordinator only to get a bill after the job was done for nearly double the quoted price.

But what could have been a bad experience turned out nicely. Portland Street Honda in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, corrected their mistake – the original $74.95 quote shouldn’t have been confirmed – and refunded the difference after a quick phone call.

Other than this almost-poor-service issue, we haven’t yet encountered any meaningful difficulty with our Odyssey, aside from a sunglasses holder that’s too small, the dearth of a built-in maid who can clean up after children, and transmission logic that’s improving but hasn’t yet fully found its groove.

The same can’t be said for the all-new, third-gen 2016 Honda Pilot with which we recently compared our own Odyssey. Apparent electronic gremlins prevented the Pilot from starting up one morning, frequently disallowed any inputs through the touchscreen or steering wheel mounted buttons, and occasionally transmitted dreadful background noise through the audio system regardless of audio source.

Truthfully, we were worried that the Pilot would cause us to wonder if we should have waited a few months longer and spent more money. And the Pilot is the better vehicle when it comes to structural rigidity and handling; its 9-speed automatic transmission worked seamlessly, as well. But the Pilot’s superiority in some areas, when mated to obvious reliability concerns and the significant price differential, weren’t enough to overcome one glaring Pilot defect.

The Pilot doesn’t have sliding doors.

Come to think of it, neither does the aforementioned Porsche 911.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, 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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38 Comments on “Long-term Update: Four Months in the 2015 Honda Odyssey EX...”


  • avatar
    cgjeep

    If that’s an aftermarket hitch you may have voided the powertrain warranty for your transmission. At least that was the case for our 2010 Odyssey. Honda required a trans cooler to be installed with hitch. Even if only using it for bike rack (as we did( cause they won’t know that you didn’t actually tow anything with it.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      cgjeep, Honda still voids the powertrain warranty for the transmission if you install an aftermarket hitch. My son bought a new 2013 Odyssey for his wife and had an aftermarket hitch for a cargo carrier installed, without cutting into the electrical wiring. IOW, no towing, just cargo carrier on hitch.

      He tried to get the dealer to install a factory hitch but they told him that the Odyssey was not designed for towing. They also told him where to get an adjustable hitch (Hitchworld @ U-Haul, made by Reese).

      IMO, the Odyssey should easily be able to tow a 3500 pound trailer, but if anything should go wrong with the transmission, it is my understanding that you’re on your own. Cost to swap a Vo-Tech rebuilt Odyssey tranny in 2005 was/ is ~ $3500, all in.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      This is a Honda accessory installed by the dealer as part of the deal, along with Honda floor trays and seat covers.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      http://automobiles.honda.com/odyssey/accessories.aspx

      • Haul loads weighing up to 3,500 lbs (350-lb tongue weight) with the Trailer Hitch and Trailer Hitch Ball.
      • Class II Trailer Hitch mounts directly to the frame for optimum performance, strength and security.
      • Includes draw bar, retaining pin, and retaining clip.
      • 2-in receiver design supports a variety of trailer coupler designs.
      • Required Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) cooler helps prevent transmission wear while towing.

      MSRP $936

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        $936?!?!?!

        Do they kiss you while you’re bent over?

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Richard Chen, thanks for enlightening us. Especially the “• Class II Trailer Hitch” — that’s the difference.

        My son wanted a Class IV hitch (so as to be able to share attachments/cargo carrier/bike rack between vehicles since his truck already had a Class IV hitch receiver.

  • avatar
    xtoyota

    Now if it only wasn’t so ugly

  • avatar
    jmo

    “Apparent electronic gremlins prevented the Pilot from starting up one morning, frequently disallowed any inputs through the touchscreen or steering wheel mounted buttons, and occasionally transmitted dreadful background noise through the audio system regardless of audio source.”

    No surprise I guess that Audi now beats Honda in terms of reliability.

  • avatar
    Ltd1983

    “I’m under the belief that I’ll source vehicular happiness only if I own so many vehicles that I can always be able to exit my nonexistent garage/barn in the right vehicle for the right moment”

    It’s not as fun as you’d think. I currently have 4 “drivers” and at times, it’s a damn nightmare. Keeping 4 batteries charged, keeping track of 4 different maintenance schedules, etc.

    More and more I’m thinking of cutting it down, but I keep coming up with sentimental reasons to keep one or another. More and more I think I’d be happier if I just bought one “do it all” vehicle like an Outback or similar.

    • 0 avatar
      turf3

      Something must have gotten garbled in the writing. It would be nuts to remove snow tires from perfectly good steel rims and mount them on alloy rims, then reverse in spring, repeat every year. Why on earth wouldn’t you just change the wheels and drive all winter with the steel wheels? My guess is that it’s something like the tires were the right size but the steel wheels were from some other vehicle, or something like that.

      Every year around Thanksgiving I swap the aluminum wheel/standard time combo to the steel wheel/snow tire combo, then reverse sometime in the spring. Takes me about an hour in the driveway. No need to pay someone. I always make sure to apply plenty of anti-seize, and I torque the lug nuts to an appropriate tightness, unlike the overtightening the shops always do (I have bent a factory lug wrench while using a 5′ cheater bar to get lug nuts off a wheel tightened by a tire store).

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Yep, I agree with this. I now own 3 cars, the most I’ve ever owned in my life. I can’t imagine owning more — trying to keep all of them happy would spiral out of control.

      • 0 avatar
        tsoden

        I wonder how Jay Leno does it… oh wait… doesn’t his garage employ a full time mechanic?

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          tsoden, actually you don’t need a full time mechanic.

          Many years ago I bought an old manual tire-mounting setup and a separate balancing rig (complete with clip-on and stick-on lead weights) at an estate sale. Dirt cheap!

          Used it for decades for my own vehicles and those of others, until I sold all my tools and equipment in Jan 2015 when I quit working and wanted to turn my stuff into cash.

          Even old tools bring in a lot of cash and my manual tire mounting rig and static balancer saved me a ton of money over the decades.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    >>we eventually discovered that our local Honda dealer would do the job of removing winter tires from our steel rims, removing all-season tires from our alloys, and installing winter tires on the alloys <<

    ??? Were the winter tires from another vehicle?

    Usually winter tires are specified as more narrow and taller sidewall/smaller wheel for better winter traction and handling. Plus having dedicated wheels saves the tires from mounting/dismounting wear issues.

    As for the Pilot, its AWD seems to be superior to competitive models as per “2016 Honda Pilot vs Toyota Highlander take on Gold Mine Hill Off-Road Review”

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Is the AWD system sufficiently superior to get it up Gold Mine Hill if the engine won’t start?

      “Apparent electronic gremlins prevented the Pilot from starting up one morning, frequently disallowed any inputs through the touchscreen or steering wheel mounted buttons, and occasionally transmitted dreadful background noise through the audio system regardless of audio source.”

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        lol

        I’d suspect the flatbed with the weight of the Pilot on the back wouldn’t do so bad.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        >>Is the AWD system sufficiently superior to get it up Gold Mine Hill if the engine won’t start?<<

        It's a Honda, that's an anomaly. This is the surprise:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pso3Comik0Q

        Driven & Reviewed: Top 5 Best Off-Roady Worthy New Crossovers

  • avatar
    BC

    Will some car manufacturer please come out with a crossover with an optional sliding door? Just hide it in the window seam and make it look like a regular door. You’re welcome america and anywhere else with inappropriately small parking spaces.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      You hit upon one of many reasons I’m going to rent a minivan when we travel for Christmas 2016 (wife’s family likes to rotate Christmases). My wife is one of those classic minivan avoiders but damned if I’m not going to say I tried everything to show her how useful they are. Especially since it will be a minimum of 4 adults and a child in a car seat to ferry around.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      http://www.autoblog.com/2007/04/10/why-fords-flex-dropped-the-sliding-doors/

      • 0 avatar
        Conslaw

        The cost excuse that Ford gave for losing the sliding doors on the Flex seems like a retcon. Chrysler sells a lot of minivans at $21-23,000 with two sliding doors. The Flex has never been a big seller for Ford. They probably would have dropped it years ago if it wasn’t possible for the Flex to share an assembly line with the Explorer.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    With Honda still having tranny issues. Yes, coworker has 2012 with 88,000 or so miles just spent $3300 on transmission work. No wonder Honda is trying anyway possible to get out of transmission warranty work by voiding warranty with aftermarket hitch.
    His inlaws are diehard Toyota owners and have been ragging on him for buying a Honda. Then it actually broke. He is currently looking for a awd Sienna.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      ” He is currently looking for a awd Sienna.” My other son bought a 2014 AWD Sienna for his wife. Very happy with it.

      Second Sienna in ten years. First Sienna was FWD. May go for a Highlander or 4Runner for her once their kids get old enough to drive themselves. Probably ~ MY 2019.

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        I see many awd Sienna’s in Salt Lake City. They seem to be more durable over the Odyssey.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Both are good. We have both in our family, the sons own one each. Both on their second of each.

          The AWD Sienna does very well on beach sand, river sand, muddy and gravel roads, snow covered ski resorts, where the Odyssey often balks when the front wheels lose their grip.

          But they’re both kid-haulers and once the kids are old enough, mom and dad may look to a Pilot or a Highlander, or even a 4Runner.

          At least that is the forecast, for now. My bet would be an AWD CUV in both cases, not a sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      It seems reasonable to require an ATF cooler to be installed when the vehicle will be used for towing.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        It doesn’t cost that much to install a receiver-hitch and auxiliary ATF cooler. Certainly not $900+! Adjustable Class IV Receiver Hitches sell for $129 at Wal-Mart, and you bolt them on.

        Also, there are different ways to install an ATF cooler, like in series with the radiator ATF cooler, or parallel to it.

        And that’s before the question is asked if the auxiliary ATF cooler should have its own cooling fans, or not.

        For instance, several of my Traveling Elks brethren who tow huge travel trailers usually have their auxiliary coolers in series with the factory-original internal-radiator cooler.

        They mount the auxiliary cooler behind the grille, in front of the AC condenser and radiator, and put two additional high-velocity electric fans in front of the auxiliary cooler.

        I did that with my 2006 F150 5.4 SuperCab and it made a hell of a difference when towing a loaded trailer approaching max GVWR, going up US82 into the mountains.

        And the whole setup at that time cost me less than $100 for the Lockheed ATF cooler and ~ $150 for the two frame-mounted electric fans. JC Whitney or Warshawski’s in Chicago also sold them, but I got mine out of a Trailer Supply House in Albuquerque.

        But no one would expect an Odyssey to tow that much, not even through Death Valley at High Noon. So a less-expensive solution is appropriate.

  • avatar

    I find the current Quest upsetting, since the first gen was the best looking minivan at the time, in my opinion.

    For ‘fun’, google image search “1993 minivan”

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