No Minivan Regrets: I've Been A Honda Odyssey Owner For One Year, And I Like It
365 days ago, we drove away from the Honda dealer in a brand-new 2015 Honda Odyssey EX.
While minivan ownership was never an aspiration of mine, neither was I ever of the mindset that minivan ownership made it obvious that I was a parent. I figure the first boy we brought home from the IWK Health Centre had already made that apparent enough; my wife’s womb swollen with another boy serves as further evidence.
Children, a 70-pound Boxer/Ibizan Hound mix, periodic child care responsibilities, an ever-present InStep bike trailer, frequent grandparent visits, and a home renovation that’s not quite two-thirds complete don’t mandate minivan ownership.
But minivan ownership sure does make life easier.
One year into this four-year Honda Odyssey experiment, there are no regrets.
We twice came close to pulling the trigger on a Toyota Sienna SE, but despite aggressive offers from our local Toyota dealer, we couldn’t settle. The Sienna, particularly after its MY2015 update, is an exceptional family hauler, but it feels like a gargantuan people carrier, which it is, when making its way down the road.
We weren’t open to the Kia Sedona (poor ride and handling balance, poor design aft of the first row), Nissan Quest (poor crash tests, not really available in Canada) or Mazda5 (no room for anything else with six humans aboard).
Three of my four siblings and one of my wife’s two siblings already owned Dodge Grand Caravans. We, like they, don’t enjoy driving Grand Caravans. Nevertheless, the Grand Caravan’s pricing scheme was too affordable to completely ignore. But because our neighbor had smashed his F-150 into our Kia Sorento causing an insurance claim essentially equal to the value of our vehicle, Chrysler dealers’ appraisals were so low that Grand Caravans became expensive. We were shopping around in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for different vehicles at dealers of all stripes and encountering varying degrees of poor offers on our trade, which had spent two months away being repaired, but we were still surprised when one Chrysler dealer wouldn’t even make an offer on our Sorento.
We also considered crew cab pickup trucks, but didn’t want to bring a wet dog in amongst the people. The Ford Flex was just too pricey. The Chevrolet Suburban, which we both want, was way too expensive new and still costly (and scarcely available) in pre-owned form. Honda Pilot pricing was essentially $5,000 CAD more than the equivalent Odyssey, we didn’t really want the old one, and we weren’t going to wait to get an unattractive new Pilot in its first model year. (The Honda Canada-supplied Pilot we eventually reviewed was, in fact, full of electronic gremlins.)
Fortunately, friends of ours who own Centennial Honda in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, made a fair offer on our trade, threw in a bundle of accessories, and sourced from the mainland the Obsidian Blue Odyssey we wanted. With outrageously strong residuals, the lease on an Odyssey EX, as opposed to lower trim levels with slightly poorer residuals and similar payments, brought our monthly expenditures down by a substantial margin.
In mostly urban driving, our 2015 Honda Odyssey achieves 23.5 miles per gallon, better than the 19 mpg city and 22 mpg combined ratings from the EPA. The onboard computer often reads 30.2 mpg on highway jaunts, better than the Odyssey’s 28 mpg EPA highway rating. We’re not driving aggressively, revving the 3.5-liter V6 to redline with Grammie and Grampie in the third row, but we don’t treat the Odyssey with kid gloves, either.
More power isn’t needed. A smoother-shifting six-speed automatic transmission would, however, make the most of the buttery smooth V6’s ample torque. Quicker steering, 52 extra horses, the Sienna SE’s 235/50R19s, a half-inch reduction in ride height, and all-wheel-drive availability would create a very desirable Odyssey Si that I would most definitely buy, or lease, tomorrow. Anybody getting in line behind me?
With only 9,000 miles rolled over on the Odyssey’s odometer in the last twelve months, our van has only been in for routine service once. That service, completed at Centennial Honda, was free. We have, however, visited Portland Street Honda because of squeaking, squawking, groaning, scrunching sliding doors. Only one visit, covered under warranty, was required to remedy the problem.
Aside from fuel, then, the only costs in terms of Odyssey upkeep related to tires: installing the winter tires and swapping them out this spring, immediately after which a puncture incurred a small charge that was actually covered by Portland Street Honda in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, because of accidental overcharging on a prior visit.
Oh, and one more thing. Before the winter took hold, I removed the Odyssey’s two front wiper blades in favour of Bosch Icons. Coastal living with salty roads demand good wipers, and the Bosch Icons are the best I’ve encountered. Easy to install, too.
The Odyssey’s noisy sliding door issues aren’t, or weren’t, our van’s only signs of imperfection. The sunglasses holder, which doubles as a conversation mirror, is way too small as both a sunglasses holder and as a conversation mirror. The armrests move with the seats and have only two positions: up or down. They’re at the wrong height for me, thus forcing my shoulder deep into my occipital lobe.
We’ve long since come to grips with the Odyssey’s dual-screen layout, an infotainment unit I’ve harshly critiqued in the past but now find perfectly usable. But it took a while, and it still doesn’t like remembering how we want our two iPhones to be paired for phone and audio use.
While the LATCH system is a stand-out in the industry as a whole, it’s a pain hooking up and unhooking the middle seatbelts in both rows.
Though the Odyssey is sufficiently attractive at the front and back, I’m no fan of the sliding door track or the third row window’s uneven horizon.
But these aren’t intrusive character flaws. Because of its outstanding fuel economy and lofty resale values, leasing a Honda Odyssey is a high-value proposition, at least for those whose annual mileage doesn’t serve as a limiting factor.
Given our circumstances, it’s hard to see us not continuing down the same path when we near the end of this van’s lease agreement. Our Honda Odyssey drives remarkably like an Accord, is built solidly, should prove capable of keeping my family safe if danger presents itself, fits anything and everything we throw at it, and doesn’t break the bank.
I’ll take three more years of the same, please.
[Image Source: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars]
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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