2015 Honda Odyssey Long-Term Test: Eight Months in With Few Complaints

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
2015 honda odyssey long term test eight months in with few complaints

With 6,402 miles under its belt, it’s safe to say our 2015 Honda Odyssey is in its prime; fresh enough to feel new, broken in enough to make the most of its 3.5-liter V6, yet not beaten into submission by too many toddler snacks or dog hairs. We now have our Odyssey right where we want it.

Alas, this too shall pass. The floor trays aren’t quickly removed, so the winter’s salt and grime, mixed in with some of Prince Edward Island’s red dirt, is accumulating swiftly. Hairs from the dog, who’s always kept behind the second row, are somehow attracting one another along the sills of the two front doors. We’re rapidly approaching the Odyssey’s first service, a free one at Centennial Honda during our next visit to the in-laws in PEI.

With a dirty, hairy interior and the first service complete, it’s official: our long-term Odyssey is no longer new.

We drove home from Summerside in our Odyssey EX at the end of last June, and continue to accumulate mileage slowly. As often as not, we drive a manufacturer-supplied press car if the dog doesn’t need to join us and the timing is convenient for a child seat swap. There’s a palpable sense of superior horsepower now, but we’ve yet to see the fuel economy figures improve. Not only was our summer driving more highway-centric, the temperatures were obviously milder and we were on all-season rather than winter tires.

Perhaps then, it’s notable that fuel mileage hasn’t noticeably worsened. We’re consistently seeing around 24 miles per gallon on the U.S. scale, just under 10L/100km for Canadians. ( MarkPorthouse.net’s calculator is great if you don’t want to do the math yourself.) The Odyssey’s combined EPA rating is 22 mpg. The bulk of our driving is in a suburban setting.

Chasing and overtaking my brother in his 1.4T Cruze away from the MacKay Bridge tolls late one Sunday night in January was a real joy, not just because the Odyssey is quicker than my older brother’s car – especially when accelerating from moderate speeds to a highway pace – but because I’m secure in the knowledge that he doesn’t find any joy in prodding his own minivan. He drives a Dodge Grand Caravan, a van with a best-in-class 3.6-liter 283-horsepower V6. Best-in-class refers, of course, to the horsepower rating, not the engine itself. Lacking refinement, burdened by an uncooperative six-speed automatic, a Grand Caravan commanded to accelerate with all its gusto is not the happiest Grand Caravan, and is owned therefore by an unhappy driver.

That’s not to say the Odyssey’s six-speed automatic has all the charm of an S2000’s manual. Somewhat recalcitrant when cold, the Odyssey’s automatic is periodically befuddled by uphill acceleration at highway speeds. Mileage continues to eradicate many of the transmission’s bad habits, but one wonders why minivan makers can’t install properly smooth and cooperative transmissions; the Sienna and Sedona units aren’t exactly paragons of performance, either.

Through nearly eight months, other complaints merit little attention. With frequent fresh blankets of snow, we’re prompted to reach for sunglasses more often these days than during the fall. This restores the belief that the Odyssey’s sunglasses holder, part of the conversation mirror that provides a great view of the driver but a very distant look at the rear, is among the worst in the automotive industry. Many are built with cheaper materials, but I don’t recall experiencing a sunglass holder so incapable of accepting a pair of sunglasses. Oh, the space inside is acceptable, but the aperture is slim.

All other complaints revolve not around the van but the means by which Honda packages Odysseys. In traditional Honda fashion, there are no options, just trim lines. In hindsight, there are a couple of items that would be very nice to add to an Odyssey EX, but both require a leap to the Odyssey EX-L RES. That’s a CAD $7,010 jump for a power tailgate and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The filth of winter is most apparent on the tailgate, and the tailgate’s grimy state is most obvious under the lip, beside the rearview camera, right where your clean hands must go to open the tailgate.

It’s not a big deal. I’m going to survive without a power tailgate. (I personally despise how slow so many vehicles complete this power-operated task, including the Mercedes-Benz GLC300 we’re driving this week. Take a knee while you wait.) But given the degree to which this has become an expected feature, it’s odd that Honda Canada won’t let you have a power tailgate in an LX, SE, EX, or EX RES. For a power tailgate, American Honda expects you to pay for a $36,950 Odyssey EX-L. It’s unavailable on the $30,300 LX, $33,450 EX, and $34,400 SE.

As for the leather-wrapped wheel, it’s again a feature without which I can cope. But virtually every press vehicle that comes our way is a top-spec model, so every time I get back into my own car, I’m missing out on the key touch point. After extensive time in something fairly miserable like the Honda HR-V, there’s a sense of relief knowing there’s a wildly superior option in our own driveway.

Except that the HR-V’s steering wheel is nice. And our Odyssey’s isn’t.

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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4 of 101 comments
  • Gearhead77 Gearhead77 on Feb 20, 2016

    You need some Weathertech Floorliners, Mr. Cain. Damn expensive for floormats, but totally worth it keep winter muck contained. Our 2014 EX-L has 16k on it now. I like the van mostly, but I hate the way the 6spd operates. I live with many hills and I find it always doing something and it's not always smooth about it. And Hondas "grade logic" has always left much to be desired. If I'm pushing on the gas as I'm going down a hill, I need you to upshift Honda! The other thing is the lack of manual control for the transmission, except for the overdrive lock out button, which limits you to four gears. This is in stark contrast to our much cheaper Mazda 5, which is way down on power but has one of the best automatics I can remember driving. Quick and responsive, good grade logic and full manual control. Our Odyssey has been good, except for a delivery issue where the front doors were grazing the fenders. Nothing like taking your car with 30 miles on it back to the dealer because the drivers door has rubbed through the paint and made a terrible noise doing so. Some cheapness inside, such as the coin holder on the drivers side will not stay closed now. I find the touchscreen system very slow, but I know it was a quick response to the "myriad of buttons" complaint about the old IP. Road noise and suspension noise has always been a problem in Hondas. My 88 and 89 Acura Legends were OK, but I remember my folks had a 92 Integra (LS) and it was by far one of the noisiest vehicles I've ever driven. My 16 Cruze Limited (old car) is much quieter than our Odyssey and the Chevy doesn't have active noise cancellation! But the Chevys drivetrain is much more coarse, though comparing a 3.5 V6 to a 1.4T is not a great comparison. Fuel mileage for me in the hills of western PA is hovering around 14-16 on winter tires and more idling/short trips. No better than 16-18 in the warmer weather on all seasons. I've seen as much as 27 highway, but even a steady 80+ with 4 of us and stuff returned 23 mpg. I like the Odyssey, but I'm thinking Toyota for next time or maybe the new Chrysler. I like the redesign of the Sienna and I'm intrigued by the Chrysler.

    • See 1 previous
    • Gearhead77 Gearhead77 on Feb 20, 2016

      @RideHeight LOL! I should clarify: The Oddy, for example, will be holding a gear going downhill and about 3000 rpm. But yet I'm slowing down more than what I want, so I'll ease back into the gas which should make it upshift. But it takes a lot more pressure than it should and I end up going faster than I want, so I back off. Sometimes it shifts up, sometimes it still hangs in the lower gear. It's very jerky and it's not consistent either. It won't do it on the same hill the same way twice. My Mazda works intuitively, so did the CVT in my Altima and even my Cruze does well. Just not a fan of the transmission in the Odyssey. This is why I leased one and didn't buy it.

  • Dms123 Dms123 on Feb 23, 2016

    I own a 2015 Odyssey that was bought about a year ago. My wife and I, plus our 2 year old, are stationed in Oahu so it is not accumulating mileage too quickly, only about 5000 miles so far. We got a minivan since the grandparents live with us about 6 months out of every 12, and we wanted something that would have room for all 5 of us and still plenty of room in the back for baby and beach stuff. And easy to get in and out of for the elders :) This is our first minivan (have always owned sedans + one Miata way back when) and so far I have been very happy with it. I am not anywhere near the gearhead as others on this site, but I can give some feedback on things I have liked/not liked about it: The Good: 1-I really like how Honda does not do options, just trim levels, since it makes deciding on a package much simpler. Our other car is a 2004 Acura TSX and I remember liking the simplicity of that back then as well 2-Once we knew we wanted a minivan, the Odyssey was one of the only ones that seemed to have a requirement very important to me: the ability to have the child's car seat in the middle of the 2nd row, something not possible on any vehicle that does 2 captains chairs in the 2nd row. With only one child and no plans for more, I wanted him in the middle (where I have read/heard is safer than the side) and I was surprised how few minivans allowed for this. Even though the Toyota Sienna technically has an option for a middle seat in the 2nd row, it is "sunken" and very narrow, and the car seat did not fit in the narrow sunken space when I tested it out at the dealer (and it did not have safety latches for a car seat mount either, which we own and use). 3-Fit and finish seem to be very good, we have the EX-L option and it all seems well put together. Time will tell of course 4-Real hardware controls for climate control, rotary volume knob on stereo 5-Engine and transmission seem very peppy when in fast freeway traffic, going up hills on the island, etc. 6-Feels like driving a car, not a bulky truck or some SUVs. The not so good (these observations tend to be have to do with the infotainment side of things, since that's my background and hobby. I work as a product manager for pro audio equipment, and bad user interfaces drive me up the wall.) 1-the 2 screen setup is weird looking, annoying to use, and just confusing compared to a well designed single screen setup. 2-Navigation system makes you enter in data using a scroll wheel while the 2nd screen, a touch screen, sits there dong nothing, while you wish you could just type in the address on the other screen. Which I could do on my Acura TSX made 10 years earlier. So 10 years of progress went backwards in utility and make things harder, not easier 3-Lots of nav and stereo controls blocked out when driving, so person in passenger seat can't make adjustments even though safe for them to do so. Super frustrating and also not something that was present on my 10 year old Accra's nav system. 4-Audio system works horribly with USB thumb drives containing large music collection. I have a 64 gig thumb drive with tons of records from my music collection, all carefully tagged. When I use it in rental cars from American and Korean brands, plus other Japanese brands, all of them present all the music neatly grouped by album, artists, etc using the MP3 tags. Only in my 2015 Honda is all that data ignored, all the music files are just presented in a single huge list, and only the first 999 for that matter. Can't view more than 100 albums or so at an average of 10 songs per album (and can't select by album anyway). I own 2000 albums (all legally ripped from CDs I find cheap at flea markets and a 64 gig drive can hold a pretty large percentage of those at 320K MP3 files) People have done various workarounds by carefully organizing their music into special folders, but you shouldn't have to do that, that's what the tags are for. Going along with this, even if you do ignore the above and just shuffle the 999 songs you are allowed to have, the user interface design is terrible for using the large screen the song info is displayed on. Huge amounts of screen space at the top of the bottom sit empty and unused, while at the same time song titles are cut off because the display is trying to combine multiple lines of song data onto a single line of the screen. I never understand what engineers are thinking when they design stuff like that. 5-Change tray has an opening on the bottom by design, so when you close it a few pieces of change fly out the bottom onto the carpet. 6-No USB or other charging ports in 2nd row for passengers to charge their phone. There's one 2nd port in the way back by the tailgate, don't understand why put one there but not one in the 2nd row where people actually sit (it could go in the door) 7-Our mileage has been really bad so far, I had to check the logs but I want to say that we are getting only around 18mpg or so and never really any higher. I will admit that most of the driving has been in a lot of stop and go traffic, and on top of that always E10 fuel, and fuel from the military base gas station which I have heard does not get as good MPG as the outside stations. Still, I keep wondering if there could be something wrong with the car to get such bad MPG (or maybe I just have really bad driving technique, but I don't think so). So, probably a really random list of things to like and not like in a minivan, but hopefully helpful to some...... Thanks!

  • Kwik_Shift A manual bug eye WRX wagon (2001-03) would interest me more.
  • El scotto Ferrari develops a way to put a virtual car in real time traffic? Will it be multiple virtual players in a possible infinite number of real drivers in real time situations?This will be one of the greatest things ever or a niche video game.
  • El scotto It's said that many military regulations are written in blood. Every ship's wheel or aircraft joystick has a human hand on it at all times when a ship or aircraft are under power. Tanks, APC's and other ground vehicles probably operate under the same rules. Even with those regulations accidents still happen. There is no such thing as an unmanned autopilot, ever. Someone has to be on the stick at all times.I do not think MB understands what a sue-happy nation the USA is. The 1st leased MB in a wreck while this Type 3 "Semi-Autonomous" driving, or whatever it is called, will result in an automatic lawsuit. Expect a class action lawsuit after the 1st personal lawsuit is filed. Yes, new MB owners can afford and ever are lawyers.Mercedes Benz; "The best wrecks or nothing!" Oh and has anyone noticed that Toyota/Lexus and Honda/Acura, the gray suit with white shirt and striped tie, automobile companies have stayed away from any autonomous driving nonsense?
  • Merc190 Very streamlined but not distinctive enough for a Mercedes. And besides, the streetcar of the early 20th century seems a far more efficient and effective method of people moving in essentially an autonomous manner. A motor car is meant to be driven with proper attention to what's important in every situation. To design it otherwise is idiotic and contradictory.
  • Abqhudson Passenger seating in recent accords has been unacceptable with my 5’2” wife forced to look at the dash while sitting in the hole provided.