By on September 5, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey - Image: HondaIt’s all about product, they say.

Product, product, product.

When in doubt, add product.

New product, they say, will reinvigorate the American midsize sedan category. New product, one might have imagined, would provide an ample boost to America’s minivan segment.

Yet in August 2017, only the third month on the market for Honda’s fifth-gen 2018 Odyssey, overall minivan sales increased for just the second time in a year despite another sales decline from that very same new product, the Honda Odyssey.

2016 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT Blacktop Package - Image: FCAYes, it was an old product — the oldest minivan in the segment, in fact — that boosted U.S. minivan sales in August 2017. The boost, mind you, was modest. Total minivan volume was up by less than 1 percent, a modest 318-unit year-over-year improvement, because the Dodge Grand Caravan’s massive 62-percent August improvement — worth more than 6,500 extra sales — was counteracted by losses at Chrysler, Kia, and Honda, plus the demise of the Mazda 5 and Nissan Quest.

Dodge Grand Caravan sales rose to the highest August level since 2004 and the highest any-month level since December 2007. Dealers had been encouraged earlier this summer to stock up on Grand Caravans in advance of a four-month-long Grand Caravan production shutdown.

With plentiful Grand Caravans in stock, Dodge clearly decided to push volume onto consumers and daily rental agencies early on in the shutdown. (FCA’s total fleet volume was down 23 percent in August and accounted for one-fifth of total FCA volume.)

Minivan Aug. 2017 Aug. 2016 % Change 2017 YTD 2016 YTD % Change
Chrysler Pacifica 7,621 7,459 2.2% 75,507 26,400 186%
Chrysler Town & Country 17 1,811 -99.1% 545 56,945 -99.0%
Dodge Grand Caravan 17,109 10,572 61.8% 104,479 94,553 10.5%
Honda Odyssey 8,709 9,992 -12.8% 66,999 85,881 -22.0%
Kia Sedona 1,613 5,147 -68.7% 18,351 34,304 -46.5%
Mazda 5 16 -100.0% 9 362 -97.5%
Nissan Quest 2 327 -99.4% 4,935 9,846 -49.9%
Toyota Sienna 10,853 10,282 5.6% 78,111 90,241 -13.4%
Total 45,924 45,606 0.7% 348,936 398,532 -12.4%

But slowing the minivan category down once again in August was the new Honda Odyssey, availability of which remains limited. The Odyssey is assembled at the same Alabama plant as the Honda Pilot and Honda Ridgeline, a plant that’s still responsible for some Acura MDX production. Heading into August, Honda dealers had just a 30-day supply of Odysseys — the industry had a 69-day stock of new vehicles, according to Automotive News. lists barely more than 9,000 Odysseys in stock now, not nearly enough to meet a typical month of demand for the Odyssey, which averaged more than 10,300 monthly sales during the final three years of the old van.

The Toyota Sienna reported a 6-percent August sales increase, bolstering the Grand Caravan’s move to raise the segment’s volume. The Chrysler Pacifica also reported an improvement, though total Chrysler-brand minivan sales slid 18 percent in August, year-over-year.

Minivans accounted for 3.1 percent of U.S. new vehicle volume in August 2017, up one-tenth of a percentage point compared with a year ago. Through the first-two-thirds of 2017, minivan market share is down from 3.4 percent in 2016 to 3.0 percent. Now on track for nearly 485,000 sales in 2017, the minivan category is no longer — at least not at the moment — on track for its worst year since 2009.

Minivans are now on track to fall to the lowest level since 2010.

[Images: Honda & Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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18 Comments on “No Thanks to the New Honda Odyssey, U.S. Minivan Sales Increased In August 2017 for Just the Second Time in a Year...”

  • avatar

    “Quest, T&C, Mazda5, I’m pretty sure you know why I called you here together today. And before we begin, let me be clear that I will NOT tolerate any of this “I’m discontinued!” or “I’m a fridge!” or “America doesn’t want compact minivans” excuses from any of you. Now, I ‘ve brought a base model Grand Caravan in here from the Corporate Office to talk to you about how to improve your numbers.”

  • avatar

    I’ve never seen anyone so obsessed with a minivan. Check the yellow pages, maybe there’s a hotline for that.

  • avatar

    Everyone knows that Porsche and Koenigsegg pay Honda to keep Odyessy volume artificially low.

  • avatar

    Maybe it’s because minivan owners are obsessed with haulability, roominess, and practicality – and all those neat little toys and trinkets (built in vacuum, etc.) aren’t really that important. And are especially not important if they’re going to drive the OTD price into the mid-30’s or higher.

    If you’ve got enough kids that you need a minivan, you’ve also got enough real expenses (food, clothing, shelter) that keeps your vehicular dreams modest. And my second-generation Kia Sedona, although far from the cutting edge of anything vehicular, sure does a needed job in day to day use. And is comfortable on long trips.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with your first paragraph, which is also why it’s hard to stomach mid-30s for a normally equipped mid-range Odyssey or Sienna. The vacuum doesn’t show up until about $45k.

      I hate to rip on vans because they serve their purpose pretty well, but I would never pay $45k for a van as it’s equipped today. They could do so much more with them. Honestly, the smartest money is on the Kia right now. Or if you want upscale, Pacifica.

      I feel like the Odyssey is a premium price for a mediocre product, which is the worst of both worlds for working families.

      • 0 avatar

        A new Grand Caravan or a used base Sienna or Odyssey are the best values in the minivan segment.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m watching how much Kia may have torpedoed their own sales by making the console and second row seats non-removable in the current third generation van. After all, pretty much everyone needs a big empty box once in a while.

        As much as I love our current Sedona, it’s replacement is either going to be a final year second generation, or a Caravan. Because we never use the second row seats.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          We still use the 2nd row seats in our 09 Sedona, and sometimes the third row seats.

          But mostly, it’s an awesome hauler and a comfortable ride. I’d never buy a minivan that can’t haul big stuff, like the 4×8 sheets I’ll be bringing home soon.

          I was trying to figure out what the heck happened to Sedona sales in Tim’s chart. Maybe it’s the internal configuration of the new model, but that should have already had an effect. I suspect it’s just strong competition from the FCA products.

        • 0 avatar

          ^ Yes, this. The Sedona is a big FWD crossover with sliding doors. Real vans (whether mini or full-size) allow you to walk to the back rows of seats and/or cargo area from the front row. They also let you somehow fold down or at least remove the seats for cargo duty.

  • avatar

    We get it. You love the Odyssey. Everyone should go buy an Odyssey. How could anyone buy any other minivan than an Odyssey? Be sure to get the top line Odyssey too, because the transmission is dreamy.

  • avatar

    More Honda Odyssey click bait .

  • avatar

    As much as I love Hondas, I don’t like the Ody…for the simple fact that it lacks legroom up front.

    I always steer people towards a Sienna.

  • avatar

    Ugly (rear half side view) seldom sells. Mind you, its predecessor was equally ugly there.

  • avatar

    A semi-reliable, cheap box on wheels, highly mfr funded appliance aka the Dodge Grand Caravan drove the number in reality…with a little help from the Pacifica and Sienna…still a drop in the bucket vs the small CUVs and pickups people actually want…I will not argue that a minivan is still the most practical vehicle on the planet, however…

  • avatar

    Looking at this article’s lead photo again, the first word that came to mind: Monstrosity. Yes, it’s “only” a minivan, but even so, when I consider buying any vehicle, I expect an assortment of adjectives to arise, but definitely not “monstrosity” (‘not a big fan of “polarizing,” either).

    • 0 avatar

      Got to your comment just as I was about to pen my criticism of that butt-ugly Odyssey. You almost saved me the trouble, but what the heck, let me double-down on what you said. A gargoylic monstrosity no matter how funny Cain thinks he is. Almost any professional non-Japanese stylist anywhere could have done a better job at lunch hour before getting back to serious work.

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