Long-term Update: Four Months in the 2015 Honda Odyssey EX

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
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long term update four months in the 2015 honda odyssey ex

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.

8.7 L/100km (27 mpg U.S.) in suburban driving w/ 700 lbs. aboard, on winter tires, in our LT Odyssey last wknd. pic.twitter.com/fWQIC4mOPG

— GoodCarBadCar (@GoodCarBadCar) October 28, 2015

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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10 of 38 comments
  • VW4motion VW4motion on Nov 25, 2015

    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.

    • See 4 previous
    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Nov 25, 2015

      @rpn453 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.

  • Suto Suto on Nov 25, 2015

    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"

  • Lorenzo A union in itself doesn't mean failure, collective bargaining would mean failure.
  • Ajla Why did pedestrian fatalities hit their nadir in 2009 and overall road fatalities hit their lowest since 1949 in 2011? Sedans were more popular back then but a lot of 300hp trucks and SUVs were on the road starting around 2000. And the sedans weren't getting smaller and slower either. The correlation between the the size and power of the fleet with more road deaths seems to be a more recent occurrence.
  • Jeff_M It's either a three on the tree OR it's an automatic. It ain't both.
  • Lorenzo I'm all in favor of using software and automation to BUILD cars, but keep that junk off my instrument panel, especially the software enabled interactive junk. Just give me the knobs and switches so I can control the vehicle, with no interconnectivity of any kind.
  • MaintenanceCosts Modern cars detach people from their speed too much. The combination of tall ride height, super-effective sound insulation, massive power, and electronic aids makes people quite unaware of just how much kinetic energy is nominally under their control while they watch a movie on their phone with one hand and eat a Quarter Pounder with the other. I think that is the primary reason we are seeing an uptick in speed-related fatalities, especially among people NOT in cars.With that said, I don't think Americans have proven responsible enough to have unlimited speed in cars. Although I'd hate it, I still would support limiters that kick in at 10 over in the city and 20 over on the freeway, because I think they would save more than enough lives to be worth the pain.