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Honda Odyssey vs. Toyota Sienna



  • Thank you all for the insightful comments about these two models of minivan.
    I have a couple of questions regarding their maintenance cost comparison, especially after their ages reach some milestones (I would like all to list those notorious milestones for various issues and painful experience):
    1) Can someone comment on the Timing Chain vs Timing Belt pros and cons?
    2) Saw discussions about transmission issues for old Odysseys, will 2009 version have similar issue and how does it compare to Sienna's transmission?
    3) Power sliding doors or tailgate is a very convenient feature, but how is the reliability and maintenance cost?
    Besides the luxuriance, drivability, performance, features, I think these maintenance factors may also impact my long term consideration in choosing sienna or odyssey...
  • bobber1bobber1 Posts: 217
    Engines with timing belts tend to be quieter, but you do need to change the timing belt whereas you never will have to with the chains. I think you're supposed to change the Odyssey's timing belt at 90,000 mile intervals. The Toyotas have timing chains.

    99-04 Odyssey had a lot of transmission problems. From what I've been able to gather it was a basic design flaw. 05's and newer have a new design and problems seem to be much less. 09 Odyssey will actually have a Ridgeline transmission which is supposed to be "heavier duty" than the pre 07's. Toyota's transmissions have been relatively trouble free.

    I think Toyota had some problems with their power doors, but have got them worked out now. I haven't heard of many problems on the Honda. However the more complex the machines get, the more potential trouble you're asking for.

    They're both great vans. I have an 07 Honda Odyssey EX and have had zero problems with it. Love the van. :)
  • yatesjoyatesjo Posts: 186
    Timing chain vs belt: The chain is a lot less maintenance and more reliable. Belts MUST be replaced every 60K miles or they will break and take the engine with them. Chains will go 100s kmiles, possible the life of the engine without replacement and when they do wear out they give warnings like slipping the timing instead of failing catastrophically and destroying the engine. The reason most modern engines go with belts is less noise and better fuel economy. Strangely, the Sienna with a chain is at least as efficient and quieter than the Ody with a belt.

    The Ody's transmission issues are probably a thing of the past. The Sienna transmission can hesitate under some circumstances (though my experience is very seldom) but when it hooks up, the engine makes up for the tranny.

    Power slide doors are one of those reasons we bought the extended warranty. More mechanical complexity = more possibility for expensive repairs but they are great to have while they work. Applies to power lift gates as well.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Your 2004 LE had 16" wheels with tall sidewall tires, while the Ody EX has 17" rims with performance tires. That's a pretty significant upgrade, one which is available in the Sienna XLE. Also, the Ody LX has 16" tires, just like the Sienna. So in the same price range you get apples-to-apples. You simply upgraded and paid more.

    The 2009 Odyssey LX, EX, and EX-L all use the same size all-season tire, not larger, high-performance ones:

    The 2009 Sienna comes with two options for tires, according to the website.:


    The Odyssey LX just comes with wheel-covers, while the EX/EX-L gives you alloys, and Touring trim gives you P235/60R17 tires and upsized alloys.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I stand corrected, though now that I look again my buying guide says the run-flats on the Limited are 17.5"? That's odd. :confuse:

    Any how, that's still a 20mm advantage in width for the Ody vs. the LE.

    The tires on my Sienna (Dunlops) are nothing to brag about, for certain I will upgrade to better tires when it's time to replace them. I may even to a Plus Zero to something like a 225/60 or 235/55 when the time comes.

    C&D compared them and even with the 16" tires on both they tied for lateral grip, FWIW.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Those run-flats are always odd-sized, it seems :confuse:. Was the same way for the Odyssey Touring w/run-flats, at least before the MMC.

    My info was from the manufacturer websites, let's hope its correct! :shades:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    My source is Consumer's Guide, so you win. :D

    Plus I'm looking at 2007s, which is when I cross-shopped them.

    Toyota recommends 35psi in the tires, which is the highest I've ever experienced. Out of curiosity, does anyone know what Honda specifies for tire pressure (non run-flats)?
  • winston7winston7 Posts: 11
    maybe you could give me an answer regarding some sound that I recently hear from the front passenger side portion of my sienna 05 whenever there is a strong wind that hits the car especially on the highway. If so it is fixable?
  • dudleyrdudleyr Posts: 3,469
    I wound up buying the Sienna over the Odyssey even though I thought the Odyssey drove better and had better passenger accommodations. This was back in 05.

    Three main reasons were.

    1 Wife wanted a DVD player and it was an option on the LE Sienna. To get it on the Odyssey you needed an EX-L and then you had to add the DVD. Upshot was the Ody cost $2,500 more (yes it had a little more content, but stuff we didn't want/need) In this case Toyotas weird options worked out better for us.

    2 We were a little concerned about reliability as it was a first year model and the previous years were only average on CR.

    3 Nearest Honda Dealer was about 200 miles away.

    I did get an Accord though for myself for almost the opposite reasons.

    Toyotas goofy options meant I could not get a stick without a sunroof, which in turn meant I could not fit.

    The Accord has excellent reliability (dealer distance less of an issue) and the Camry was a first year model this time.

    I Enjoy both vehicles.
  • fillykonkfillykonk Posts: 17
    The 09 Ody specifies 34 pounds in each tire.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Similar, then. Thanks.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Much is talked about the confusing packages from Toyota, but with a little homework back in 2007 when I bought mine, you could get rough equivalents:

    I will use ~= to mean "roughly equal to"

    Back then, at least:

    Ody LX ~= CE pkg 2
    Ody EX ~= LE pkg 3
    Ody EX-L ~= XLE pkg 6
    Ody EXL-RES ~= XLE pkg 7
    Ody EXL-RES-Navi ~= XLE pkg 8

    and so on.

    Those are the models I considered, at least. I'm sure Touring ~= some variation of the Limited, etc.

    If anything you actually have more combinations from Toyota, even if it's not exactly what you wanted.

    But I could complain about the Ody - why was VCM only featured on the expensive models? Fuel savings for rich people who don't need the savings? The exact opposite would make more sense, IMHO.

    Where's AWD? (Sienna forces you in to run-flats I did not want, not to mention the 7 passenger model only, so problem for both)

    Why do I have to get leather to get Navi or RES?

    Why does the trip computer only come on the big bucks Touring? I love the avg mpg readout on my el-cheapo Sienna LE.

    I think for economies of scale reasons it makes sense for Honda to make packages simple, but it's hard to get exactly what you want. Even when Toyota doesn't, it's still hard.
  • Sienna vs. Odyssey seems to be the big debate when it comes to vans - what about a newcomer like the VW Routan? How does it compare in value to the Big 2?
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    The Routan is a mildly reworked Dodge Grand Caravan, just an FYI.
  • loncrayloncray Posts: 301
    But I could complain about the Ody - why was VCM only featured on the expensive models? Fuel savings for rich people who don't need the savings? The exact opposite would make more sense, IMHO.

    Because the technology costs money. The VCM engine is more expensive than the non-VCM engine, so it goes into the more expensive van. This technology isn't designed to save poor people on their fuel costs, it's designed to make money for Honda by saving the buyers of the more expensive minivans money on THEIR fuel costs.
  • We recently went through this drill and choose the Odyssey over the Sienna.


    Sienna fails rear impact tests on the insurance industries rear impact geometry/dynamic tests.

    Currently when you look at all the tests the Odyssey is in the top 1% of all vehicles and the safest mini van. Check out for a nice look at all the data sources for safety.

    Also, Honda, with $3K+ plus dealer incentives was way-more affordable. Way under invoice. CARMAX was actually trying to get us to pay more for a 2008 Odyssey with 6K models then we where getting quoted for on th e 2009 Odyssey new. The toyota dealer did not seem as motiviated....
  • yatesjoyatesjo Posts: 186
    I bought a Toyota last year and found that Toyota had the better incentives and their dealers were willing to negociate a lot more. I had a similar experience with the used van market too- late model used vans were being offered for the same or more than new vans.

    I was blown away when I made an offer on a used van based on a reasonable discount from what new car side of the same dealer offered and was dismissed like I was low balling... he actually wanted more than the offer I had on a new van after all the incentives were included!!! I told him he needed to talk to his friends on the other side of the dealership and he responded that they didn't have any problem selling their used vans. I can only guess that there are some people so convinced that they must be getting it cheaper used they never find out what the new ones cost.

    Human psychology can be a funny thing.
  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,602
    They stand to make more when a sap comes in with a trade in and gets reamed. You wanted a cash price -- bad for their bottom line.
  • speterson1,

    I was sitting in an 09 Odyssey EXL tonight with the sales person and we were talking about the center console/tray.
    In reference to the center console, I think Honday could create a hybrid of sorts where they could add some sort of top to the tray that either slid open or ilifted upward. If it was not too deep, it would still be able to fold. Granted, everything inside would slide around when it was folded down although it would really be nice to have that extra storage.
    Also, they can get rid of the 4 cup holders on the center console tray at the same time.
    I mean, how many drinks can you have at one time? There is one cup holder in each door, two that pull out of the dash and four on the center tray.

    Anyhow, I am ranting now.

    I will say that I put down a deposit today and I am picking up a dark red (more like burgandy) EXL tomorrow.

    I picked it up for $ 27,250 + 599 dealer fee + sales tax.

    I am pretty sure that I paid more for my 06.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Also, they can get rid of the 4 cup holders on the center console tray at the same time.
    I mean, how many drinks can you have at one time? There is one cup holder in each door, two that pull out of the dash and four on the center tray.

    Why get rid of them? Extra storage is always nice. My aunt keeps a bottle of lotion in one, her cell phone in another, and uses the two pull-out holders for actual drinks. She has an 05 EX and likes it a lot.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I'd buy the "technology costs money" argument for the first couple of years, but VCM came out in, what, 2004? Half a decade later and it hasn't trickled down?

    When you're comparing the base models, the Sienna CE/LE come out way ahead because you get the full 266hp plus better city mileage compared to the Ody LX.

    Plus, don't all Pilot and Ridgeline models get VCM? Why go cheap on the base Ody models?
  • lavrishevolavrishevo Posts: 312
    1: Timing chain is by far superior. Durability, reliability, and longevity. Loose a timing belt while driving can destroy an engine. Plus timing chain, at least on my Sedona, has no replacement interval. Not to mention the total rip off that Honda changes to replace the belt and overall maintenance.

    2: Hopefully not and probably not.

    3: You pretty much are guaranteed to have problems with power sliding doors / tailgate. These motors and electronics have life cycles that will go bad. It is convenience vs future repair cost.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The Ody has a timing belt? I thought it was a chain...what's the replacement interval?
  • lavrishevolavrishevo Posts: 312
    Ody's have belts, 90,000 is the replacement mileage.
  • I came off a 06 Honda EXL lease and was on the fence between another Honda and a Sienna. In the end I bought the Sienna XLE with leather, roof for $27,000 because (1) it was $1k below the Honda EXL, and (2) wanted something different. However, after driving it for a few weeks, I cant wait to see the new Odyssey in the fall. In the end, I think the Honda is a better choice - if your on the fence. Aside from having a much higher resale, here are differences I have noticed. Hopefully this will help you decide, if you are stuck like I was. I can only compare the EXL to the XLE

    1. EXL comes standard with a backup camera. Sienna you have to buy the NAV (which is a huge expense)

    2. Honda uses Michelin Energy tires (which i had and were great) Toyota does on the LE model but for some reason switches to lower cost Bridgestone Turranzas on the XLE. I cant say how they will perform in the winter/rain, but the Energy's were awesome.

    3. Honda has the variable cylinder management on the EXL. Toyota does not I got about 22 mpg all the time on the Honda. Sometimes 23-24. I just got back from a 2000 drive on the Sienna. highest was 23mpg on all highway. Lowest was around 19 combined. VCM is nice, but not a deal breaker.

    4 Engine was considerably quieter in the Odyssey than the Sienna. Which is unusual. My toyotas have always been quiet. But mine sounds like a truck. I remember driving my Honda to the dealer to turn it in and the engine was silent. Hardly ever heard it. If i remember correctly, the EXL has an engine noise suppessor.

    5. You loose the 8th seat in the Sienna. The XLE drops it. You get a center console that can move from the front to the middle section. I moved the center console to the 2nd row and just use the floor storage. It has worked out fine. But I miss having the 8th seat in the Odyssey

    6. Seats seem to be more padded/comfortable in the Honda. My butt hurts faster when sitting in the Sienna

    7. You will loose huge amounts of cool storage areas with the Sienna. Glove box is tiny. And the upper glove box is a joke. Who designed that. It flips up. So when i open it everything slides out. Honda's flip down, and was 2x the size. You also loose the pockets behind the passenger seat back. Not sure why Toyota did that. Its hard plastic. My kids used that area to put their stuff. You also loose the in floor storage that Honda has in the middle section. We used that on vacations to hold more items. The Honda has a slide out tray under the front passenger seat. Sienna does not. In fact the area below Sienna seats is almost closed off so you cant slide anything under them from the front.

    8. 3rd row seats are difficult to fold down on the Toyota. I still have not figured it out. Honda is easy. No brainner. Even when i get it fold down in the toyota is not totally flat. Its 2" higher than the rest of the floor. Hard to explain.

    9. You get a lovely antenna mast on the XLE. LOL. Who in the heck has those anymore! Especially on higher end models. Toyota better drop that one! Honda did not have this on the EXL

    10. Slightly less foot room for the front two seats. I noticed why. The Sienna angles the sides, where the Honda doesnt. It gives you a few extra inches in the Honda.

    11. 3rd row has less leg room in the Sienna. I never noticed until I had it a week, Who sits in the back row before buying a car? Try it out if you use it. I have to move the 2nd row seats forward if an adult needs to sit in the 3rd row. In the Honda, I never had to do that.

    12. Sienna 2nd row seats flip up. This is really nice. Especially to clean under the seat. Honda does not have this feature

    13. As someone mentioned in an earlier posting, Toyota switches are not illuminated at night. At night I have to fumble around if rolling down the windows.

    14. Ride - I find the Sienna a little smoother.

    15. This is not by design, but if you have DVD players that strap onto the headrests, the Honda has plastic handles towards the top of the seat backs in the 2nd row. It works great to also hold up DVD players that are strapped to the headrests.

    16. You get a rear spoiler with the EXL. Sienna its a $500 option.

    Thats about all I have noticed between the two models. You wont go wrong with either model. But dollar for dollar, I think the Honda is a better buy in the long run.
    Hope this was useful.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I'll comment on a couple of those items..

    #4 - the new 3.5l V6 in the Sienna has a timing chain, which is a bit noisier than a belt, but doesn't need to be replaced, either.

    Overall noise levels are lower, so the engine may just stand out more to you.

    #7 - my Sienna LE has a slide out tray under the passenger seat also, you may want to double-check that one.

    Also, the space for the lazy susan in the Ody is used by the spare tire in the Sienna, but that's why the cargo area is about 4" wider (53" vs. about 49"), a useful advantage.

    # 8 - there is a video that shows you how to use the seats, they will fold flat once you figure them out. It's not hard, IMO. Plus remember you can get power folding seats in the Sienna and that's N/A on the Ody.

    #9 - I'm not sure about now but the JBL sound replaced the mast antennae with the one in the window. Oddly enough my LE came without the mast, they forgot to put it on, because most Siennas simply don't need them.

    Just my $0.02.
  • I have had two Odysseys so far and they are great for highway driving especially.e were turned off a lot by the 14+packages that Toyota Sienna wants to force you to choose. Some free advice, albeit too late to help you. If you want things like Navigation, DVD player. do what we did and buy aftermarket devices. E.g., garmin Nuvi 260W for $200 or Panasonic DVD player for about $500. Honda wants 2-3 times what we paid. I hate it when they make you have leather seats (we don't like leather) in order to get cruise control......what a joke! Conversely, it's my belief that vehicles as big as the vans are should be required to include a backup device. Instead they all like to tell you how many cup holders they have. Only a moron would make cup holders a deciding factor in their purchase.
  • olavanmanolavanman Posts: 12
    Hello Thegraduate!
    Have you or anyone out there struggled with the fact that the Odyssey comes with only 3 LATCH connections? 2 in the 2nd row and 1 in the 3rd row.
    We have two kids right now and when relatives come over, we are concerned this might be a problem.

    The Sienna LE 8 Seater has 5 LATCH connections, 3 in the 2nd row and 2 in the 3rd row.

    Any thoughts, opinions on this? any help would be much appreicated.

    Ola Van Man
  • olavanmanolavanman Posts: 12
    Hello Familyman!
    Having fun with the new Ody?

    Have you or anyone out there struggled with the fact that the Odyssey comes with only 3 LATCH connections? 2 in the 2nd row and 1 in the 3rd row.
    We have two kids right now and when relatives come over, we are concerned this might be a problem.

    The Sienna LE 8 Seater has 5 LATCH connections, 3 in the 2nd row and 2 in the 3rd row.

    Any thoughts, opinions on this? any help would be much appreicated.

    Ola Van Man
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I did that, too.

    We got a 12" DVD player from Circuit City before they closed, it was $900 installed, plus it came with 2 wireless headsets.

    Plus we got a Nuvi like you did, except ours is a Nuvi 200W. It was $200 at the time.

    I'm sure from a manufacturer the two combined would cost a good $3-4 grand!
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