By on March 28, 2017

2015 Honda Odyssey EX PEI - Image: © Timothy Cain

I’m an idiot.

Thursday night, I filled up a car with gas. That was clearly in the background of my mind when on Friday, we loaded up our 2015 Honda Odyssey for a long-weekend trip to Prince Edward Island. Luggage, children, dog, stroller, front door locked, back door locked, side entrance locked, patio door locked, heat turned down, and finally, departure.

I hadn’t driven our Odyssey in a couple of weeks, having focused my attention on the Toyota Corolla iM and Hyundai Ioniq discussed on these pages already. Distracted by a thousand tasks, and presumably still conscious of a trip to the fuel pumps the night before (in the Ioniq, it turns out), I ignored the signs at the approach to the Cobequid Pass that warn of a lack of services for the next 27 miles.

We drove up the Cobequid Pass toward the tolls when I finally noticed we had no fuel. Estimated range? 0 km. Fuel gauge? Well below the Empty line.

Fortunately, from that point of realization until the Ultramar in Thomson Station 16 miles later, our 2015 Honda Odyssey travelled at a rate of 35 miles per gallon.

Thankfully, we made it to the Ultramar with around a half gallon to spare. We did not need to sit on the side of the Trans-Canada Highway in a freezing-too-cold van with little ones spooked by the tractor trailers speeding by as we waited for Honda Canada’s roadside assistance.

2015 Honda Odyssey EX - Image: © Timothy Cain

The gradual descent from the Cobequid Pass toll plaza to the gas station in Thomson Station deserves much of the credit. With a few steady declines, the Odyssey was able to coast along in Eco mode, a handful of cylinders shut down, counteracting the somewhat hefty load and sub-freezing temperatures.

But it’s the fact that a 35-mpg result offered so little surprise that’s most pleasing. We average 23 mpg in urban/suburban/rural driving, significantly better than the Odyssey’s 19-mpg EPA city rating. Yet the 27-mpg EPA highway rating is easily and frequently crushed. In fact, the highway drive preceding our minor thrill just last Friday produced a 27-mpg result despite the bitterly cold weather, winter tires, a full load, and the ascent toward the Cobequid Pass toll plaza.

The next-generation 2018 Honda Odyssey, Honda says, will be even more efficient. My desire for that van — a more attractive, more powerful, more flexible, more feature-laden Odyssey — is palpable.

Not that our experience with the current Odyssey has been completely trouble-free. We had long-running issues with sliding door noises. Then at 11,000 miles, the front struts failed. I got pulled over for speeding.

Perhaps that last one was not Honda’s fault.

Complaints regarding the sometimes rough six-speed automatic transmission have decreased with time, both as we become accustomed to its quirks and its quirks are worked out with mileage. We also grew accustomed to the odd infotainment system, and we did so quickly, but time has revealed the utter lack of speed with which it operates. The sunglasses holder is too small. There’s a recall we’re waiting to have cleared up for second-row seat mechanisms. Ride quality is certainly not up to Chrysler Pacifica standards. The sliding door track and the beltline mess with what could have been considered a clean exterior design.

But our Odyssey’s faults and foibles are entirely counteracted by three factors: the way it drives, the way it does its primary job, and the way it’s held its value.

With 248 horses, the Odyssey’s 3.5-liter V6 is down on power compared to competitors. But it’s such a happy revver that acceleration is encouraged, not frowned upon. Besides typically slow minivan steering, the Odyssey can cope in the corners at a rate of speed the V6 generates, shrugging off swift changes of direction with great composure.

Most minivan drivers won’t place nearly as much emphasis on the Odyssey’s dynamic repertoire as on its interior layout. Lacking Chrysler/Dodge’s Stow’N’Go, the Odyssey’s second row seats are more comfortable and provide greater legroom. It’s the third row that really impresses, however, as banishment to the way back is no punishment at all. We’ve frequently had adults undertake long journeys in the third row without complaint, and I’ve spent time in the rear of our Honda dealer’s shuttle, criss-crossing the city with no problem. This is a class-leading third row, and it truly separates minivans from crossovers.

2018 Honda Odyssey - Image: Honda

Perhaps of greater consequence, in light of the 2018 Honda Odyssey’s forthcoming arrival, is our current Odyssey’s worth. We’re not yet halfway through our lease and my Honda sales manager of choice is already touting the fact that our van, with such extraordinarily low mileage, is worth more than our buy-out. That truly separates our Odyssey from the Grand Caravan.

Do we swap sooner than expected, taking a risk on the first model year of an all-new vehicle? Or we do we continue to fill our van with dog hair, dried cranberries, salt, and sand for the foreseeable future?

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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45 Comments on “2015 Honda Odyssey EX Long-Term Test: 19,000 Miles And Counting...”


  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    Truly seems like a great idea to Maxima-tize the Odyssey’s styling. That floating roof alone is enough reason to keep what you have.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    Our 2010 Odyssey had the struts and CV joints fail at around the same mark.

    Ours ended being worth $4,500 more than the buy price and at the lease end we had 30k on it vs the 36k the residual price was based on. So I suspect you will always be ahead money wise.

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    I’d hold on to what you have, and wait at least another year to see if there are any teething problems with the New Odyssey.

  • avatar
    StuckInWI

    We just traded in a Sienna for an Odyssey. Clean, late-model, imported minivans are VERY strong on the resale market right now.

  • avatar
    tubacity

    Good to hear that you made it with high MPG. There is a trade off. In some Honda V6 with VCM, problems may include excessive oil burning, spark plug fouling, misfire, cylinder head damage, piston ring sticking, cylinder wall scoring, engine vibration, $1700 engine mount failure.
    Not all have these problems, but high oil burning may result in running out of engine oil if you don’t check it often.

    Maybe you are fortunate that this is a lease, although leases can cost more than purchases. Or a lease expiration can be just the excuse to rationalize the “I gotta gotta gotta get a new car” feeling. I already hear rumblings in your article.

    Maybe you will get rid of it before big problems become serious and a later owner buying at a buy here pay here lot will get stuck with expensive repairs on a so called reliable Honda.

    • 0 avatar
      pprj

      Yup. I would buy a Pilot tomorrow if I could turn off VCM.

    • 0 avatar
      Carrera

      I have a Pilot with VCM. It has 151,000 miles on it. It “eats” about 1 qt of synthetic oil every 10,000 miles when I do oil changes. Have used synthetic since new. I did the spark plugs at 120,000. Some were a little dirty. I used to get missfire codes all the time passed 60k miles. Finally Honda came with a TSB. Never get them now. Still very strong. Just like the transmission issues, people blow out of proportion the VCM problems.

    • 0 avatar
      lot9

      Yes, have lots of friends that drive newer Honda…and they are not as reliable as the older ones. This VCM issue is not going away anytime soon.
      Some of Honda tranny are a big problem, in the newer models. That is one reason they are trying to develop a newer tranny.

      Parts are not cheap on them, either. And they break as quickly and easily as the other Makes.

      As tween, Toyota and Honda, I would pick Toyota for dependability. You will get a peppy drive with Honda.

      Good Luck.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    So the Honda doesn’t have a low fuel light and beeper? Every car I’ve had built in the last 20 years has had at least a low fuel light and most tend to beep and flash that light when it comes on and if the vehicle has a message center say low fuel in there too. On mine it comes on at an estimated 50 miles to empty then 40, 35, 30, 25, 20, 17, 15, 12, 10, 7 and that is as far as I’ve gone. My son has ran it to 0 as he rolled up to the pump and filling it up took about 1 gal less than the advertised tank capacity.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      No beeps. Dim light. I was in an ignoring mode and when I looked down it was just to check the approach to the 30,000 km milestone for a picture. In my mind I’d just been to the gas station.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Most cars have 1-2 gallons in reserve even at zero range. So it going a few miles extra was not special.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          mike978 – I had a Safari van that sputtered to a stop on the side of the road the moment it got close to E. I was surprised because as you have said, they tend to be set to allow for some margin of error.
          My F150 starts counting down at 80 km to empty with a chime and a flashing fuel pump in the display. Out of curiosity, I ran it down to 9 km to E. I had 2 litres left in the tank. 134 litres was the fill.

  • avatar
    Der_Kommissar

    We also own a 2015 EX oddy, and I say swap. The lack of refinement in the 2015 bugs me- it was clearly designed during the downturn for cost cutting. I think the interior on the prior gen is nicer. We also have not been able to hit your highway mileage. I can average 28 if I keep it under 75, but combined over 40k miles or so has been about 21.5 to 22. Also, I personally find the drivers seat to be horrible on long drives. I have to carry a pillow to put behind my back if I drive for more than 15 minutes (but I do have back problems). Lastly, I took it in for what was likely the strut issue at about 8k miles and the dealer played the “test drive with a tech” game who swore he could not hear the noise. I backed off rather than force them to take it apart and now we are well out of warranty. Maybe its just our local dealers, but more often than not, Honda service has tried hard to prevent doing warranty service on their cars.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      “Maybe its just our local dealers, but more often than not, Honda service has tried hard to prevent doing warranty service on their cars.” Honda will bring out one of their zone managers to tell you that their cars are perfect, any issues are owner-caused and that they can afford more lawyers than you can afford.

      • 0 avatar
        Der_Kommissar

        Exactly. I think some of their perceived quality is intimidation and reputation. Before this oddy, I gave up on the brand when my CR-V’s AC compressor imploded and they refused to help.

        • 0 avatar
          indi500fan

          Some things never change.
          My 82 Accord had a terrible whine in 5th gear that made the car very annoying on the highway.
          Honda wanted nothing to do with fixing it.
          (I will say I got a great trade-in price at the Chevy dealer)

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        @bullnuke: Agreed.

        My 05 Odyssey displayed numerous problems on Day 1, and by Day 30 I was demanding a replacement vehicle. The district manger was brought in to address my problems, and he was aghast when I told him I wished I had bought another Chrysler product instead. Hondas are perfect, you know.

        The local dealer service was inept in more ways than I can describe here, but they even damaged the vehicle once while it was in their shop.

        All I got out of it was a free warranty extension. Later I got a small lemon law settlement check (sliding doors broke 4x in the first year), and immediately traded the car at 28k miles.

        The issues with the car were very annoying, but it was the arrogant dealer and mfr which really put me off.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I say hold onto the current one. Just because the numbers are such that you could get out of the current car and profit…doesn’t mean that you’ll like its replacement. And because it *is* an Odyssey, I doubt the value will take too much of a dip due to the new one. I would wait a year and see what teething problems are on the new one.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Interesting. My buddy’s 2007 Buick Terrazza, which is likened to a pile of junk on this site, has suffered not one of the issues reported with these Odyssey vans and his is closing in on 108K miles. The only things he has replaced are one wheel bearing, a battery last year as the original was closing in on 9 years of age and the usual oil changes, tires, brakes and filters. He even saw 28.1 MPG on the trip computer which was verified by hand calculation on a couple of steady highway runs and usually gets 20-22 combined despite being an old 3900 pushrod design V6 with and equally old 4 speed automatic that still shifts flawlessly btw.

    Surprise! It even has a low fuel warning which is downright silly lacking on a 2015 minivan costing this much and with such over blown re-sale value.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      That’s correct, the Terraza IS a piece of crap.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      The Odyssey has a low fuel light, Mr. Cain says he ignored it.

      Our ’14 EXL van has 30k and never a problem with the sliding doors, brakes or anything else. Yes, ours was delivered with the front passenger doors misaligned which caused them to graze the fenders.Obviously this was upsetting, but Honda fixed it and quickly. Other than the recall for the second row and a misprint that caused them to send a new owners manual, it’s not been off the road for anything else.

      The U bodies were so wonderful, that’s why there are so many still left on the road compared to older Hondas and Toyotas or even Chryslers. Even in Pittsburgh, where they were plentiful, most are gone.

  • avatar
    jhwool

    I have a 2012 Odyssey. Only problem has been warped front disc rotors. They have been turned once and will need to be replaced soon. I currently have 52,000 miles. It has been throughly abused by grand kids and dogs and has held up very well. It replaced a 2002 Odyssey which was still going strong at 150,000+ miles. I have three more payments and plan to keep it as long as possible. I have driven the new Pacifica, and it does ride and handle better. It feels very solid also which is a big change from the last model. Hard to bet on its long term reliability. Will stick with the Honda.

    • 0 avatar
      duncanator

      I too have a 2012 Odyssey and have also replaced the front rotors due to warping. The aftermarket replacements have been doing much better.
      In my 2012, we had to have a couple of pistons replaced. I guess it is known to be an issue by Honda and the tech had just done a replacement on another 2012 the week prior. This all happened at around 70k so I had them do the other maintenance items at that time.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        Our ’14 Oddy hasn’t had any brake rotor issues. Only now at 30k in terrain-challenged western PA have they started to show any warping or wear. A hard stop or spirited driving will bring on shudder. But our 06 Accord had the rotors turned twice and replaced once in the same mileage.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      We had a ’06 Ody. It was hard on front brakes and it absolutely ate front tires. If you put a new pair of tires on the front and didn’t rotate them I don’t think they’d have survived 12,000 miles. I’m a little surprised that Honda hasn’t improved the brakes.

      The Ody was replaced by an Explorer. It has 45,000 miles on its brakes and is still going strong, and is a lot easier on tires. We had to replace two of them because of foreign object damage so it’s hard to get a handle on how long a set would last, but I’m thinking a pair on the front of the vehicle would go more like 20,000 miles, probably about two thirds longer than would the Odyssey.

      Other than that it was a good van. There was an extended warranty coverage on problems with the power steering pump and the active engine mounts, and we paid for a new alternator and a ground cable, which is very reasonable over seven years.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Tim, I don’t know how many kids you have. But what about trading the van for an AWD Ridgeline?

    I not a van fan. I’ve been driving a few (Sienna, Quest and Sedona) on a regular basis over the past several months.

    To me they seem to be a last resort type of vehicle to drive.

    The Quest sucks. It would be interesting to see if the Odessy offers more excitement than a Prius.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      It’s not any more exciting to drive than is a Camry, but it is supremely practical if you have a family. For family use, vans rule and CUVs drool.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      I pointed out the Ridgeline to my wife and instantly she turned up her nose. She(we) like the flexibility provided by the minivan, especially when hauling kids and grandparents at the same time or on long trips.

      I don’t mind being in the minority that actually prefers a minivan to an SUV or truck for family duty. We don’t tow or off-road, snow is handled by Blizzaks on all four wheels. I wish there were more options, if Ford revived the Aerostar (had one) or VW brought a minivan here, they’d be on our list. The Metris from Mercedes takes big money to dress it up to our current Odyssey EXL and still no entertainment system, moonroof or disguising its utilitarian roots.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      There isn’t much out there as versatile as a minivan. They are pretty good in bad weather.
      A Ridgeline would not be good since they have a larger dog. Any small truck does not have much room for kids in car seats and a large dog. If one considers Canadian winters, putting the dog in the box would be inhumane even with a cap. Anyone with a family of four and large pets would view a small pickup as a last resort. A full sized crewcab pickup would be much better just for the interior room alone.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Lou,
        You are correct if you have a dog and a 6′ 4″ five year old.

        Not everyone lives in the redneck hills in the taiga of remote BC.

        Over 85% of the population are urbanites.

        If vans are as great as some claim, such as yourself, people would not be investing in SUVs and CUVs globally.

        Vans would rule.

        I know in Australia the proportion of vans with fish symbols on the back is high. This is anecdotal.

  • avatar
    theonlydt

    27mpg (8.7l/100km) is pretty impressive for that highway run. I got 33mpg (7.1) in my Mazda5 coming back through the pass yesterday, but due to snow that was at 85kmh, pretty much the ideal speed for that car. 8.7 is what I typically get about 110-115kmh in the winter through the pass – getting that from a massive automatic minivan with v6 fully loaded is impressive.

    How’s the Oddy in the snow? On the pass I drive with buttocks clenched longing for AWD and better headlights.

  • avatar
    4drSedan

    Just rented a KIA Sedona minivan for a week in Colorado. I was fully expecting to be underwhelmed. I was impressed. This particular example had leather seats, power doors but not power lift gate (?), and even at a mile high, enough power to get out of its way. It didn’t feel bus-like at all and was actually pretty pleasant to drive. Having less than 3 kids, I personally wouldn’t commit and purchase / lease but I imagine the KIA would be less up front than the two imported ‘A’ listers. Of course depreciation is more of a thing.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Our ’14 EXL just turned 30k and the lease ends on the 3rd of May. In talking with the dealer we bought it from, it seems that the ’18 won’t be available until July at the earliest maybe. Unless we can work something out, you only have 30 days after you turn the vehicle to take advantage of extra damage allowance and waiving of the termination fee.

    While we like our van, we don’t like it enough to consider another of what is basically the same vehicle. And for a lot of the same reasons Mr. Cain has stated in his reviews. Slow touchscreen infotainment and laggard transmission being the main things. Other than being delivered with the front doors misaligned with the front fenders causing them to rub when opening, it’s been problem free. I realize that infotainment seems pedantic and it is on some level. But in this class, it’s the small touches that win the day.

    I’m fairly certain that a Toyota Sienna SE is in our future, since my wife doesn’t like the Kia or Chrysler. The Sienna in other forms is too soft for us. I said when we shopped in 2014 if I could take the general refinement of the Honda, the steering of the T&C with the Toyota’s better NVH, it would be the perfect van. The SE Sienna comes close to that.

    I think a lease is in order on the Toyota. It will end in 2020 and the newest version of the Sienna will be out and the upcoming ’18 Oddy will hopefully have it’s bugs sorted out.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      FWIW…

      The ’17 Sienna SE Premium is a go for us, we take delivery tomorrow. Pre-dawn Grey Mica. We drove an XLE and I just found it softer than the SE. Subtle but noticeable anyway. Plus, we like the slightly more aggressive,”sporty” and different style of the SE package.

      We drove a ’17 Honda Odyssey Touring because my wife does like our current van that much. Just couldn’t (didn’t) want to spend a lot more money for basically the same van we have, especially since the ’18 Oddy will be that much improved. We considered extending our current lease until the ’18 shows up, but I’d really rather not have first-year, first-run vehicle by anyone.

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    This month, I spent 10 days and 650 miles with a new Pacifica rental, using it for my normal, everyday commuting and errands, plus one major road trip. I fell in love. The clear outward visibility, easy ride, excellent U-Connect system, and awesome Stow-N-Go seating really impressed me. So much so, that I traded a 13-month old Audi A3 sedan for a new Pacifica Touring L-Plus. I wonder how I lived without a minivan all these years.

  • avatar
    brn

    Articles like this aren’t doing much for convincing me to buy an import.

  • avatar
    mikeg216

    I’d get a new one if you are money ahead, new one can’t be worse can it?

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Over the weekend a friend and I were comparing his new ’17 Odyssey EX-L RES to my ’11 touring. We both agreed that my older car’s “sea of buttons” dash is a hell of a lot easier to use than his dual screen mess, even when you’re parked. His takes several presses just to get to bluetooth audio, while I just hit a button. How is this progress?

    We have 120K on ours, and the original suspension is definitely showing its age. Can’t say I’ve ever seen more than 24 mpg though.

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