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Honda Odyssey vs. Toyota Sienna



  • Hello,

    I have read almost all of the messages on this forum and thought I would throw my opinion on Sienna vs Odyssey.

    I had a 2000 Sienna XLE that gave perfect service until it was traded last week for a Honda Odyssey. We spent absolutely nothing on unscheduled mantenance. My only complaint with the Sienna was the small size, wide turning radius, and the somewhat vague steering/suspension feel (my other car is a '98 BMW M3, so I am probably biased by that).

    We decided we needed a larger van. With three kids and a large dog, the Sienna was frustrating due to the lack of cargo space. We only had 2 kids and no dog when we got the Sienna, so it was adaquate. Even though I wanted a Honda back then, the wife liked the Sienna better becuase it was smaller, and big enough. We were also not keen on getting the first year model of any car. So, we got the 2000 Sienna.

    Since everyone we knew that had Chrysler minivans had some sort of major problem, we ruled them out. That left Toyota and Honda.

    We were biased toward Toyota becuase of the reliability of our old Sienna, and the fact that relatives that had Toyotas all reported absolutly no problems during long service.

    We had a 2005 rental Sienna when our Sienna was in the body shop (rear ended), and we liked it.We considered used 2005 Siennas, but the lack of stability control and side curtain airbags in vans that we could find forced us to consider a new one.

    The Toyota dealer used sales was quite reasonable, and came up with quite reasonable prices and trade-ins. The vans just did not have the features we wanted. We shifted to the new department, and took a test drive, and liked the Sienna. I noticed that the 2005 had the same vague, isolated road feel as my old Sienna, but I realize it's a mini van, not a sports car. I also noticed a hesitation when accelerating from a slow speed that seemed to be transmission related. The room and interior features were fine. We decided to get quotes. If the price was right we would have bought it. Unfortunaly, for some reason the salesman could not give a price, but said he would call us that evening. The Totyota option packages made my head spin, but I knew what I wanted. The salesman never called back. Maybe I wanted an unavailabe configuration package (RES, leather, stability control).

    After the lack of response at Toyota, we thought we would go try a Honda just for peace-of-mind, and then return to Toyota and see what we could do. So with our title, and checkbook in hand we visited the Honda dealer. The plan was to go to the Toyota dealer next. I was really ready to get a van, and was almost sure I was getting a Toyota, but I had to drive a Honda first.

    The first thing I noticed about the Honda was the steering and suspension. The steering was heavier, and seemd to have better on-center feel. Also, when turning, the Honda seemed better planted to the road. To me, the difference was night and day. It was not a subtle difference at all. I realize that with reagard to objective measurements, there may be little or no difference, but the driving sensation of the Honda was far better for me. No matter what some feel about the BMW compariason, the steering, and firmer suspension do make for a much more like a BMW than the Sienna. No, the Honda handles nothing like my M3, but the on-center connected feel of the steering was quite suprising. I have never driven a Honda of any type, so this may be typical for Honda. Every Toyota I have driven seems more isolated than I like.

    My wife noticed the different road feel, and actually liked the interor of the Honda better, and noticed the difference in steering. See noted that the tighter turning radius, along with the steering sensation, and stiffer ride made the Honda seem smaller than our old Sienna.

    Since both the new Sienna and Odyssey were way beyond our old Sienna in all areas, and the fact that we would be happy with either one, we were stumped. We knew Toyotas were generally trouble free. We liked the simple options of the Honda better than the confusion of Toyota options. We liked the Honda RES configuration better. The Toyota 8th seat seemed better, but the captians chairs were smaller than the Honda. Both my wife and I are 5'8 and found that all seating positions (except 8th) in both vans were fine.

    Both vans are great, but the driving sensation of the Honda, broke the tie for me.

    We bought the Honda without returning to the Toyota dealer across the street.

    After driving the Honda for the week, my wife commented that the Honda feels much more stable than our old Sienna.

    If the new Honda is as reliable as our old Sienna, its great.
  • cpsdarrencpsdarren Posts: 265

    Sure, drivers are the untimately cause of most all crashes. Even so, there's no changing drivers in our society. For most people cars and driving are treated as a constitutional right rather than a priviledge. Mandatory safe driving classes or significantly increased enforcement? Not going to happen, even if the funds were available. It's far easier to make vehicles safer than to retrain/remove poor drivers. Plus, even the best drivers can have a lapse in judgement.
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    Congratulations on your purchase. Nice, detailed report of your experience. ;)
    We met responsive, pleasant salesmen at 2 Honda dealerships and the 1 Toyota dealership where we got our Sienna. The Honda dealerships, however, required a $ 500 NON-refundable deposit to get on the waiting list for a new 2006 Odyssey. Both :sick: Honda dealership smug, arrogant policy requiring a deposit made our choice of the Sienna quite easy and we felt bad for the Honda salesmen...but not enough to be jerked around by both Honda dealerships.
  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,344
    there's no changing drivers in our society.

    That's a defeatist and pessimestic attitude. Hopefully not everyone thinks like that. Increased enforcement & education worked and is working to keep drunk drivers off the road. Many states are adopting the "no cell phone while driving" well as mandatory seat belt laws.
    So, to throw in the towel will leave more dead and injured on our roads and highways.

    Mandatory safe driving classes?...wouldn't fly. Having "funds availabe" is just a matter on society putting it's priorities in order. How much has all the improved safty features reduced driver injury and death in accidents the past 2 decades? Check it out.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    No car is worth being belittled over, not even a Honda! I'm glad you found a good Toyota dealer. Here, we'd never deal with Tameron Honda again (arrogance out the wazoo!), but continue dealing with Serra Honda (prev. Neil Bonnett Honda) since 1990.
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    We would be driving a 2006 Odyssey EX (cloth) instead of a 2006 Sienna LE if either Honda dealership had treated us decently and the Toyota dealer had been rude and arrogant. We like both vehicles.
    The Ody EX costs a little bit more than the Sienna LE but does have the choice of seating 7 or 8 people in the same vehicle AND separately controlled temperature for the driver and front passenger and 2 power sliding doors but I like having the driver side door NON power as it can be opened and closed more quickly. My wife and I both like the Sienna complete overhead console with compass, outside temp, and trip computer.
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    one wonders why the insurance agencies don't push periodic refreshers (and offer associated discounted rates for same). maybe they want accidents to happen? think about that one.

    it doesn't cost much nor represent significant inconvenience to have periodic refreshers or additional defensive driving training.

    if they banned cellphone use alone, the resulting reduction in accidents (all severities) would be dramatic.

    when you are behind the wheel, you need to be actively engaged in the task of driving and not distracted by calls to/from the office, family, or friends.

    but we are drifting off topic.

    both vehicles offer the additional safety technologies of stability control and three row side curtains. the side curtains are a no-brainer for me. the stability control? for me personally, it isn't a necessity - but i'd rate it as a nice to have (providing it is reliable and doesn't add to cost of maintenance).

    i tend to be a late adopter of certain technologies. i advocate increased driver competency (defensive driving, high number of hours behind the wheel for teens) and reduced driver distraction (ban cell phones, and no passengers for teens).

    as far as cost, i expect manufacturers to offer up VSC for example with little to no increase in cost because it is built on ABS and Drive-By-Wire infrastructure already in the vehicles for other reasons.

    in the end, even though i'm a late adopter of certain technologies, i'd want a vehicle with VSC. i'm not always the one behind the wheel. (in case she's reading this: lemme make this clear - i'm not saying i'm a better driver than my wife). ;)
  • cpsdarrencpsdarren Posts: 265
    I prefer realistic, rather than pessimistic. I volunteer in the area of traffic safety. The reality is that funding has dwindled and our program is a shell of what it used to be, as are most other traffic safety programs in our area.

    If my remarks upset you, you are always welcome to help the cause. Local traffic safety programs can use all the support they can get, from time, donations or even when it comes to writing your congressperson for the national highway appropriations bill. This is almost always slashed in a budget compromise because most constituents and congress don't really care about the epidemic of highway fatalities until it strikes them personally.

    I do give congress credit for passing the transportation equity act last year, which the president signed in a nearby town. Optimistically, that will remain fully funded for its duration with enough support. Realistically, with the usual support it gets, it will be slashed in favor of some other budget crisis.

    In the end, I drive safely to keep my family safe. I buy a safe vehicle and properly restrain my family because I know that I can make a mistake, no matter how safely I try to drive. Plus, I realize there are always going to be dangerous drivers on the road. Crashworthiness and crash avoidance are both important.
  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,344
    Given the lack of funding and the apathetic view of many over highway safty...I can see why you are so "realistic".

    But, I still feel it is unwise to write that people and unsafe driving habits will never change. As it may very well have the opposite effect that you/we desire. Why go in to fight for something if you are fighting a losing battle?
  • cpsdarrencpsdarren Posts: 265
    Good question, I ask that myself sometimes. At least it does seem to be somewhat easier to get people to secure their children properly than it is to suggest they change their habits while driving.
  • fred222fred222 Posts: 200
    Sure, drivers are the untimately cause of most all crashes. Even so, there's no changing drivers in our society
    This is where mandatory insurance comes in. If you drive really really badly, you will be priced out of insurance so that you cannot drive. Now all the police need to do is enforce the insurance laws rigorously and the streets will be much safer.
  • cpsdarrencpsdarren Posts: 265
    So one would think. Until you see stories like this one that occurred in our county recently: - - 05-crash-killing-3-west-chicago-wreck-is-ruled-accident

    One would think that with a Ferrari and 24 citations over 9 years, insurance premiums would be crushing for a 27 year old male... Maybe he was rich or simply didn't have insurance despite the law requiring it in Illinois?
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Key word in that is "with a Ferrari." If a 27 year old has a Ferrari, he's obviously not average ecnomically relative to most 27 year old males. Or any other people, for that matter.
  • cpsdarrencpsdarren Posts: 265
    Lol. I knew a few people who bought exotic sports cars right after college even though they couldn't really afford them. I guess for some, status and speed are more important than eating...
  • 05ody05ody Posts: 103
    I know sometimes the power sliding doors can be slow and a real pain in the a$$ when your in a hurry, and although the power can be shut off I find they are heavy. But even with the power to the doors off, if you do not completlly shut the door, it shuts itself! haha really neat when I first seen that. I do wish we got a compass in our Odyssey though, that would of been a nice touch with the Temp gague. :(
  • davantdavant Posts: 294
    As a youth sports event gathered tonight I noticed I was seated next to four mom-type Ody owners; one EX, two EX-L, two Touring (including ours). It was like a coincidental meeting of some Ody-yuppie-club. Odd part is three were Sage Brush and two Slate Green. Anyway, the 10 minutes spent comparing ideas, features, knowledge (and lack of) was the most enriching I've ever had since I don't own any collectible vehicles. None of us are dissatisfied with our choices and all have at least 5 months of ownership. Here are some of THEIR many comments/observations as I've more than expressed my appreciation for the '06 O-T:
    Consensus was mileage was about 19 city, 22-24 highway. Nobody got the rated 28 highway MPG but we all come close to the 20 city. All but one of the owners, us included, never thought they'd own much less enjoy a minivan. One had already owned an earlier Ody and loved it. All could identify with the Ody as a 'minivan haters minivan'. Four of the five compared the Ody to competing models of minivans and SUV's ranging from domestics (T&C, Ford, Tahoe, Endeavor, Escalade), European (Volvo XC-90, M/B new wagon, BMW), Far Eastern genre (Sienna, Sedona, Mazda). All agreed the Ody clincher was it has the best handling and zip. Sedanlike was the word of the day. I asked what they did/didn't like about the Sienna as it's darn close is so many areas. The answer from three was it felt strained where the Ody just growls and goes. One lady who has to pull out into 60MPH plus traffic to leave home said the Ody was the only one that could get it done without feeling like it would blow up. Being the other Touring owner she also liked the peace of mind PAX tires. Three with NAVI use and like it. One wished they got a Touring, another wanted leather. While I enlightened them to many features I asked probing questions without injecting my own opinions, letting them spout off freely while taking mental notes. I could go on but don't want to bore the Sienna advocates further. I'm sure any gathering of similar vehicles would have about the same results. No offense to Toyota or other competitors but at least in our little corner of NW FL, the Ody wins as Best Available Road King (aka BARK). Who let the Ody's out?...WOOOF, WOOOF-WOOOF! <-- Please add two points for tying in the stupid joke post title to the ending.
  • vaskiervaskier Posts: 3
    Does anyone have experience with the Toyota Sienna Laser Cruise Contol? I am considering buying a Sienna Limited but was concerned that the cruise control may be over-automated. Can the laser feature be turned off so the cruise can be used in "normal mode"? Thanks for your help.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    Yes, it can be toggled between Laser and Normal mode. The Laser mode will not work in the rain and if the lens is dirty, and you will have to use the regular mode if you want.

    In moderate traffic and dry weather, it can be quite nice. Too many curves can lead it to consider a vehicle in the next lane over (depending on the curve) in the same lane and can have issues, but otherwise generally works well.
  • happyharryhappyharry Posts: 22
    1) Does anyone know of next year's Sienna van may come with more powerful engine (at least to measure up to Odyssey's) and C/W full size spare tire for the AWD models? (Too many bad comments about those run-flats)

    2) Any chance Toyota may consider offering mini-vans again? Not everyone needs a maxi-van! :confuse:
  • ginamcdginamcd Posts: 2
    We're looking at the 8 passenger Sienna (LE) and Odyssey (EX). Do you have the link to your comparison at epinions?
  • cpsdarrencpsdarren Posts: 265
    Sadly, free information exchange via links is not allowed on these forums. It's in the 2006 Honda Odyssey category. There's only a handful of full reviews, so it should be pretty obvious. If not, check my profile for email.
  • ginamcdginamcd Posts: 2
    Found it! Thanks--it was very helpful.
  • ClairesClaires Chicago areaPosts: 1,191
    Links are allowed here -- you can't promote another online auto community, but we encourage you to share information that'll help other members. Link away :-)


    Need help getting around? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • cpsdarrencpsdarren Posts: 265
    Excellent. I'll keep this post bookmarked in case I ever get a warning for linking a non-auto community lol.
  • ClairesClaires Chicago areaPosts: 1,191
    Well... you can't promote anything that might make you money either -- like your business, your eBay ad, etc. :) But otherwise, feel free.


    Need help getting around? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • cpsdarrencpsdarren Posts: 265
    Ah- that would indeed rule out Epinions, then.
  • 3kids4me3kids4me Posts: 8
    Sooooo much of it comes down to personal preference in creature comforts, what options you want (Toyota has I think 17-18 option packages, and Honda has them all bundled into the different models).

    We bought an 06 Ody EX-L RES, and my brother and SIL just bought an 06 Sienna LE w/ DVD and upgraded sound system.

    My husband and I love our Ody, and my bro and his wife love their Sienna, BUT they both say they wish they had a sun roof and dual automatic doors (only their passenger side door is automatic, driver side is manual) I am not missing anything with my Ody. It's got it all!

    You should go to the Toyota dealer and grab a Sienna to test drive, have your wife go to Honda and grab an Ody, then meet up in an empty parking lot somewhere so you can do a literal side-by-side comparison and drive both immediately.
  • dc_driverdc_driver Posts: 712
    Thanks for the advice.. The verdict is in and we purchased an 06 Odyssey EX-L..

    We liked the Sienna, but the Odyssey had all the features we wanted at a better price. We also preferred the handling and performance of the Odyssey to that of the Sienna.

    For the record, we drove the Odyssey/Sienna/Town and Country/ and the 06 Kia Sedona back to back... The Odyssey was our favorite..
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Congratulations on your new wheels.

    I also prefer the handling of the Odyssey to that of the Dodge and drives about like an Accord, which is one of the best handling sedans in its price range.
  • davantdavant Posts: 294
    Even as a proud '06 Ody Touring owner I continue to compare the latest models in the hopes I'll find something I like better. I agree with statements that the Ody is Accord-like, maybe they should call it the Accordessy or the Accord-wagon? I recently drove a Toy'Sienna XLE Limited and although it was lovely, it remains van-like and the package goulash sickens me. I am impressed with certain gee-whiz features like the distance keeping cruise and Blue-tooth, MP3 compatability. I was excited to try a Sedona as it is supposedly the safest vehicle on the road this year IAW Unfortunately I feel it was an unsuccessful attempt to copy an Ody moreso than the Sienna. I commend the Koreans for raising their bar and having a great 'value'. Value to me though is more than a laundry list of one-upmanship features. It takes polish and finish, something this frequent test driver feels the Ody wins at over all others including the Kia and Toyota offerings. Maybe '07 will change the game?
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