By on June 21, 2018

2015 Honda Odyssey EX - Image: © Timothy Cain

We weren’t the typical minivan buyers. Yet with only one child (at the time), and desirous of full-size pickups, and frequent travellers of off-road paths not designed for an especially low-slung vehicle, we acquired a new 2015 Honda Odyssey EX in June 2015.

Three years and 37,000 miles later, after mountains of dog hair and many pounds of cracker crumbs and sand from a couple dozen beaches proved the merit of the OEM floor mats, our Odyssey’s odyssey is complete.

Do minivans still make sense in 2018? Do Odysseys hold up to the rigors of a young family’s life? And was it worth paying a premium for America’s favorite (retail) van?

All the Odysseys - Image: © Timothy Cain

Start by answering that last question. In Canada, the 2015 Honda Odyssey EX was a $37,195 van when new. Three years later, the Odyssey held strong with 67 percent of its original value. Our annual insurance costs were roughly $900. The van averaged 24 miles per gallon, better than the 20 mpg results on Fuelly but not surprising given the small percentage of time the van spent in urban settings. Our first service was free; we then spent around $650 on routine maintenance. The original Michelin Primacys called it quits after 15,000 miles. We replaced those and also added a set of Yokohama IceGuards that we’ve retained.

The kicker, of course, is that resale value. While the 2015 Odyssey EX – which sits above the LX and SE but below all leather-clad Odysseys – is now a $25,000 pre-owned van, there are similarly equipped 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan Crews with substantially less mileage listed for less than $17,000.

To be fair, the Odyssey’s resale value is built on a reputation for pristine Honda reliability that wasn’t entirely fulfilled in the real world. Front struts failed early. There was also work done to front brakes under warranty, corroded wheels replaced under warranty, and a failed integrated sunshade replaced under warranty.

On the flip side, the Odyssey runs, sounds, looks, feels (inside and out), handles, steers, and brakes like a new van. Indeed, it brakes better than it did originally.2015 Honda Odyssey 2004 Mazda Miata - Image © Timothy Cain

As for the question of minivan sensibility in an SUV era, there was never any doubt in our minds that life with a large three-row crossover would have been complicated during this period in our lives. With a third row that was called upon weekly, at least, the ample cargo volume was truly a vital component. If you haven’t seen the number of Tonka tractors a 3-year-old boy can put in a wagon that must go to the beach, then you may not recognize the limitations of the nearly nonexistent cargo space behind the third row of most non-Suburban SUVs.

We tried to buy a roof rack when we acquired the Odyssey three years ago, since we already had a Thule rooftop carrier. The sales manager pleaded with us to save our money, saying, “You will not need it.”

He was right. We didn’t.2015 Honda Odyssey downtown Charlottetown - Image: © Timothy CainFlexibility is the name of the minivan game, so we frequently challenged the Odyssey to become a pickup truck, a rapid bladder transport vehicle for the I-need-to-pee toddler who should most definitely have gone before we left Grammie’s house, and a cross-province mile muncher with eight aboard.

There is no other vehicle that could even dream of accomplishing all of these divergent tasks: a Toyota Highlander can’t swallow this much stuff, a GMC Yukon XL can’t be hustled down a rural road this swiftly, and a Ford F-150 can’t carry this many people.

It’s also worth noting that the few vehicles that can come close to exhibiting the minivan’s well-roundedness do so at higher price points. Minivans aren’t for everybody all the time everywhere – I commute in a Miata, after all, and I spent much of the winter in a Nissan Armada.

But how do you argue with the minivan’s sheer functionality?

[Images: Timothy Cain/TTAC]

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48 Comments on “End-of-term Report: 37,000 Miles and Three Years in a 2015 Honda Odyssey EX...”


  • avatar
    7402

    Minivans are the most versatile and utilitarian vehicles on the road today. No arguing.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Honda
    Kryptonite for deprecation.

    Good for you.

  • avatar
    Lee in MD

    Thanks for validating my decision to buy a 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T for $31K out the door. Zero defects and zero maintenance beyond oil changes and tire rotations over the last 3 years and 25,000 miles. Never been back to the dealer for anything and the paint, wheels and leather are holding up fine so far. The OEM Michelins are also wearing reasonably well and I expect them to make it to around 35,000 miles before replacement.
    When I was shopping, I had a gut feeling that the $7-10K premium for a comparably equipped Honda or Toyota just wasn’t worth it, and your report seems to bear that out. The depreciation you reported sounds about right, but it’s macht nichts to me because I pay cash and typically keep my vehicles for about 10 years.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Same reason I purchased a T/C Touring in 04′. Sold it in 2010. Was a great rig for me, with ridiculous discount, 26k OTD or something like that the resale was reasonable for a 6 old high mileage van. The math on the Honda premium in most cases really doesn’t work unless you keep it 10 years +, which most just don’t do. I get that here on TTAC, they are the exception but reality does not bare this out.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Loving our 2016 R/T Grand Caravan. Ok, the “R/T” is a bit of a stretch, but I genuinely like driving it. And those fold-away seats are the reason we bought it. My adopted daughter took a shine to showing dogs, and carrying two (sometimes three) dogs, their gear for dog shows (you can’t even begin to imagine!) not to mention three people AND luggage for a weekend away is made possible by the cavernous interior the van provides. She may not be sexy or unique (the van…the van!), but more folks need to come off of the “soccer mom” stereotype when it comes to minivans.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      No reason to over pay for a Honda unless you can subsidize the price writing about it.

    • 0 avatar
      mtxjohn

      Lol 25,000 miles? 88,0000 miles on my Odyssey still running like brand new. Yours will need a new engine or trans by then. On no planet does Dodge resale higher than Honda. Not sure what these guys are smoking.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Good to see you back, Tim. How’s the new gig working out?

  • avatar
    gtem

    Inquiring minds want to know about the Armada you mentioned near the end of the article?

    I loved the 42k mile rental Pacifica I had to drive 8 hours across the Midwest a month or so ago. Awesome power from the pentastar and fantastic fuel economy to boot (self reported 29mpg). Ride and handling and overalll refinement beat the pants off the previous Grand Caravan, which itself was not horrible.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    A small nit-pick.

    To be honest, none of the issues you had would come under my definition of “reliability”, but rather quality in general. Did it start and move under its own power the entire time? Yes, sounds like it. Could it be counted on to go somewhere, anywhere, no matter if it’s 8 miles or 800 miles, in a moments notice? Yes. Therefore, I believe it was very reliable. You could count on it making any trip you asked of it without question. It did some quality issues, but these did not keep it from being used as intended.

    One last rhetorical question: did it have to be a Honda in order to accomplish what I asked about it above? No, no it did not. Any new vehicle should be able to accomplish such in the mileage you put on it, and beyond. If not, I’d label it “unreliable”.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      I can agree on some issues, and I didn’t read the extent of the issue, but I’d say safety issues can count against reliability. Front struts and brakes can shut your drive down early.

      Window shades and stuff like that I agree with completely though.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        Sure, brake and strut issues certainly can be bad enough to render a vehicle immobile. But that wasn’t the case here. The struts were a bit softer and noisier than they should be, and I’d guess that the brakes were pulsating.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      But the Honda tires are made from the same material as Jack B’s 16,000 mile Accord floor mats.

  • avatar
    lon888

    Complaining about failed shocks, wheels and sunshade that were replaced under warranty? Try 3 intake manifolds, a high pressure fuel pump, fuel injector, 4 air/oil separators, 4 sets of rear sway bar links and 3 batteries most of which failed out of warranty. Honda reliability IS pristine when compared to VW.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      That is kinda what I was referring to above. I believe we are spoiled by vehicles that run 150k with no major problems, or at least it clouds our judgement as to what is reliable and what isn’t. When your 1976 (new at the time) Granada or Aspen refused to start for the 5th time this month, or left you walking along side the interstate before the new car smell was gone, that is unreliable. Tarnished wheels and a broken sunshade are just inconvenient.

      The problems (especially the repeated problems) you had with your VW sound like actual reliability issues (at the very least, more so than the issues Tim had with the Honda), not just relatively minor quality glitches that can happen to any mass-produced product.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      Pristine also when compared to our ’04 Nissan Quest.

      Lowlights of our Nissan included reading lights falling out of the ceiling, peeling dashboard finish, door hinges needing annual replacement, transmission computer replacement, and about a dozen other issues. All within the first two years. We traded after four years, but as those vehicles aged they became known for even more serious (ie: powertrain) issues.

      Yeah, I’d say Honda is doing well.

    • 0 avatar
      Halftruth

      In all fairness, shocks and especially wheels should last at least to near 100k. It is still an inconvenience to arrange for another vehicle during the repair (if no loaner is offered). That takes away from the vehicles uptime, so that is mark against reliability in my eyes.

      • 0 avatar
        SoCalMikester

        some people probably wouldnt even notice the struts and wheels unless they were paying attention; ie: if the strut was actually blown out and the wheels were delaminating badly.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Did it fail to start and move? No. Yes, it was inconvenient, but not unreliable. Sure, those things should last much longer, nobody is denying that, but in and of themselves, they did not leave him stranded or such as that. The van was reliably able to go anywhere he wanted.

        Quality issues, yes. Unreliable, no.

        • 0 avatar
          MrIcky

          Did it cause wierd or spooky handling? Did it increase stopping distance? If so, then no, it really wasn’t able to go reliably anywhere he wanted. Strut have a slight leak with no other ill effects? Then I agree.

          Just because it can start and move forward doesn’t mean it should.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        You know Tim or TTAC pat check pobied up for the new tires at 15,000 miles.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Man, you guys are giving me a renewed respect for my H-bodies.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Feeling better about the Mazda5. In 55,000 miles, it has needed 4 tires, new brake pads front and rear (it got new rotors as well, though they could probably have been reused), and a new gas cap.

    • 0 avatar
      johnds

      I think people forget that winter conditions probably don’t help wheel finish. In Minnesota they dump so much salt on the road, I am not surprised wheels could look terrible after 36k miles. We’ve come a long way because cars are not rusting like they used to 20 + years ago. It probably wasn’t uncommon in the 80s to have holes in the car at 36k miles because of salt.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Short life tires and failed struts? Such things piss me off.

    I once drove a company-leased 1997 Chevy Astro van. What pissed me off most about that wretched thing? Not the fact it left the factory sucking air through an ungasketed intake manifold port…not that it had an unsolvable driveline vibration at 55 mph, not that the fan knob fell off in my hand…no.

    What truly pissed me off was that the factory lightbulbs seemed to have a 12 month (or less) life. GM skimped on EFFING LIGHTBULBS!!!!!!

    That Honda skimped on tires and struts is anger inspiring.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Nice write up Tim. Difficult to fault anyone for wanting the practicality that a minivan offers.

    I will just go out on a limb and suggest that a similarly equipped Dodge Grand Caravan did not retail for $37,000 in 2015. No doubt that the Honda would come out ahead in most cases even when taking into account “actual” transaction prices. But the resale is probably not quite as stark a contrast as the MSRP would suggest.

    Appreciate you doing your job to keep the sliding door segment alive. The world would be left worse off if the only other option was a Yukon XL, Suburban and the like.

    • 0 avatar
      Lee in MD

      Not sure about Tim’s Odyssey equipment levels but my 2015 Grand Caravan R/T was the top trim that year and my off-the-lot example had every single option FCA could muster except the third row video monitor. I’m also not sure what science-fiction MSRP FCA was foisting at the time but my actual transaction price with tax, title and transfer was only $31K. I’d venture that was probably a pretty typical deal as I’m not really the hardball negotiator that I fancy myself to be.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Without TTAC pay stub Tim may better off with Caravan next time.

  • avatar
    lost1

    I now drive two minivans , a 2018 Dodge Grand Caravan for work and a 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Grand Touring Plus as my personal vehicle. The Caravan is good but it does not compare at all to the Pacifica in every metric you can gauge it by. I have been driving Dodge minivans as company vehicles for almost 30 years , a new one every 100,000 miles or around every 2 years or so and they have been very good vehicles. The 5th generation of the caravans of which I have had 4 of have only needed oil, filters and tires and two of them brakes.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Agree with above those are only niggling issues for an overall solid drivetrain.However I’d be really reluctant to get a newer Oddy with the newer 9(or 10?) speed.I think [email protected] long term Pilot needed a new tranny.

    I should say our 2012 Sienna AWD has twice as many miles and has needed only 1 door adjustment out of schedule.We cross shopped the Honda but I really didn’t agree with the styling, but ultimately the AWD was beneficial as our neighborhood is last on the plow route. Probably because the depot is less than 2 miles from our house (?).

  • avatar
    Lee in MD

    Another reason I couldn’t bring myself to go for the Oddy, besides the substantial price difference, is that I only buy black on black vehicles and something about the brightwork on a black Oddy makes it look like a futuristic hearse to me. Granted, my black on black DGC R/T looks like a murdered out UPS van but I’ll take that over a ride that creeps me out every time I open my darkened garage!

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    Just got curious, I can get a GC SXT with blackout trim so I look hard gangsta for 25k.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    I saw a 114K mile Pilot with its valve covers off today. The front bank of valves was coked with dark oil and saturated with the same. The rear bank looked clean and dry. It was like two different engines. Theories as to why involve one bank having PCV or one bank having cylinder deactivation. Whatever the reason, it’s no wonder Honda’s dealer service facilities are drowning in engine rebuilds during Obama’s CAFE-driven death march of the ICE.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      Honda’s V6 has had PCV durability issues for 10+ years. They coke up their passages which is probably what caused the need to remove the valve covers in the first place. There was a TSB going back to our 2000 Odyssey to drill out an intake manifold passage and press a teflon sleeve in it to stop coking in the the PCV system. We traded the van rather than deal with that mess. Of course someone insisted on another Odyssey. Given the state of the GC/T&C in 2010 it wasn’t really a contest.

      • 0 avatar
        johnds

        Our Accords did have EGR ports that clogged but it went 253,000 miles and could have gone further had we not traded it. My dad’s 3.0 2003 Accord has 271,000 miles. He changes the oil on time, and we have not had an issue. I do have friends who forget to change their oil and go 10-15,000 miles between changes (All Makes with burnt dip sticks, and gunky looking valves). HOw do you know the pilot had regular oil changes or maintenance?

  • avatar
    HaveNissanWillTravel

    Our 190,000 mile ‘11 Quest, the first year of the last body style just beat up your Odyssey, well in terms of average miles driven anyway. We did replace the CVT at 160k in 2017 but it was still in such good shape that we kept it and still love it. Not knocking the Odyssey and the Quest is no longer available new, but the 3.5 V6 has good performance and is quiet and accelerates very well WITH the CVT.

    They also make an excellent low-mileage choice right now.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The only true failure on my 09 Sedona was the throttle position sensor back at 62k miles. Since it was bought used, the mfr wouldn’t cover it after 60k miles (which is still better than many new car warranties). The newly-designed part required an ECU reprogram, so I paid an independent garage to do the work.

    Other than that, at 115k miles it’s by far the best of the 4 minivans I’ve owned. Worst was the 05 Odyssey lemon.

    You can’t beat a minivan for all-around utility. Other cars have come and gone, but our minivan will be the last car I trade from my fleet.

  • avatar
    EX35

    Is Honda’s reputation for reliability deserved? My father’s 2005 Accord has been his most unreliable vehicle he’s owned. Constant issues involving vtech, ball joints, shocks, ignition system, cooling fan, batteries.

    My co-worker’s ’11 Oddy has also been a disaster wrt cooling system, A/C, and shocks. Plus, a high-speed shimmy that was never resolved by the dealer.

    • 0 avatar
      johnds

      our 2003 Accord V6 has 271,000 miles with the only issues being the A/C compressor, and we have a 2006 V6 Accord 155k miles and a 2007 2.4 manual 197k miles. None of the issues your dad’s car is having. I am guessing your car is a 2.4 because they have smaller batteries. I was told to always drive my 2.4 on the highway because city driving will not charge the small battery. My parts guy said they have to replace batteries on 2.4 and smaller engines because they do not charge if you only do city driving. Probably an issue in New York City, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      mtxjohn

      275000 miles on my 97 crv still running perfect. 204000 on my 2002 rsxs literally everything original. I never even had to replace a shock or a wheel bearing or anyting. 190000 thousand on my wife’s 2008 TL. 88 thousand on my current 2015 Odyssey… I just have to replace the gas cap for $40. Maybe you just had really bad luck on one model that’s 15 years old dude.

    • 0 avatar
      mtxjohn

      275000 miles on my 97 crv still running perfect. 204000 on my 2002 rsxs literally everything original. I never even had to replace a shock or a wheel bearing or anyting. 190000 thousand on my wife’s 2008 TL. 88 thousand on my current 2015 Odyssey… I just have to replace the gas cap for $40. Maybe you just had really bad luck on one model that’s 15 years old dude.

  • avatar
    mtxjohn

    What’s up with Michelin lately? I’ve got 88,000 miles on my 2015 Odyssey and still running the original Continental tires (tires have about 57,000 on them because the other miles were snow tires) 4/32 still. Weird. I bought my car for 6000 off sticker… The resale is absolutely incredible on these. I’ve literally spent more on fuel than the vehicle has depreciated.

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