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Honda Odyssey vs. Toyota Sienna



  • Hello Olavanman,
    Sorry about the delay of the reply...
    You know after around 3 weeks of driving the van I believe the Honda is the hands down winner in the driver-to-the-road feel category.

    Please remember though I am comparing a brand new Honda 2009 EX with a 2004 Toyota Sienna LE 8 seater. Things may have changed in the Toyota Sienna by this time but the body and interior looks the same...

    To further my opinion on between the vehicles:

    1) IMO the drive feel on the Sienna is good but Honda throttle response is outstanding compaired to the Sienna. Drive-by-wire as they market no hesitation when I step on the gas. Like I mentioned in my other post there is a unacceptable hesitation in the Sienna when you slow down for a right hand turn ( California stop ) and you step on the gas...nothing happens. Please do a test drive of the new Seinna and see if that is still an issue or if they also have their version of the Drive-By-wire...

    The bad side effect I noticed now is my gas consumption on the Honda... I drive too fast ...hahaha!

    2) The suspension is stiffer which I prefer on the Ody. I installed a UHAUL after market Class 3 hitch on the Ody and the bottom does not scrape driveway of yet...I don't purposely look for conflict!!!).

    IMO the 2004 Sienna suspension is dialled-in too soft so when you load it with Costco items like water and other heavy items the rear sags noticeably and when you make a turn ..' whoaaa... easy there Sienna get your [non-permissible content removed] back in line with the direction of the turn '. I installed $75 AirLift 1000 air bags on the rear springs so my Sienna behaves when fully laden.

    BTW: I only use the hitch for my Thule 4 bike carrier which I used prior on my Sienna. I don't plan to tow boats or anything past 4 bicycles.

    *** This is a big PLUS in comparing the 2 minivans

    The middle seat is larger and more functional on the Sienna for both adult and child use. Right now my second row middle seat is wrapped in a plastic and stored in my garage. I now use the van as a seven seater format and will only use the eight seat when grandma comes over to stay...

    What I would do to help people select the van for them if the van is meant as a *mass* people mover ( ie. full load)?

    (1) I would drive the new Toyota and check the issues of the lack of throttle response after slowing down for a stop and to initiate a right hand turn ( this is not a full stop). See if you're happy with the throttle response. Then put that as a plus...if you are Ok with it

    Fill the rear with weight that you would expect to have when you have 8 passengers and you just came from Costco and bought bulk items like water and see the sag at the rear. If you are OK with it the another Plus.. If not you can install $75 Airlift 1000's which isn't too hard to install.

    Now this is my opinion:
    ..If you are OK with the 2 points I mentioned above and your primary mission is to quickly convert form an 8 seater people mover to a covered cargo carrier without much fuss ...then go get the Toyota Seinna...

    Hope this post helps future van drivers...
  • I have driven a 2006 Odyssey EXL for approx. 3 1/2 years now (45,000 miles) and I am getting ready to purchase a new mini van.
    When I originally test drove the Sienna and the Odyssey I drove them back to back to compare the two vehicles. I liked them both. In fact at that time, I liked the feel of the Sienna slightly more.
    The main problem that I found with the Sienna at that time is that Toyota made it so difficult to purchase the vehicle with so many option packages.
    I am well above average intelligence with access to a ton of information.
    If I am lacking in anything it is patience with the way Toyota presented it's line-up back in 2006. I spent hours upon hours researching which options I wanted and when I finally found the said it was not available in my part of the country. I was not looking for anything elaborate or confusing. I knew what I wanted i.e., leather, sun roof etc.
    Finally I said F-- it. Enough is enough with this Toyota non-sense and I purchased the Odyssey. Really it was out of frustration more than anything else.
    Don't get me wrong, I loved the Odyssey also, it was just my initial impression of the Sienna that I liked better.
    With Honda, it is..this is what the EXL comes with...take or leave it. I like that because the EXL had everything I wanted and it really simplified the process.
    By the way, the Toyota dealership didn't help make it any easier.
    I purchased the Odyssey at the time and I must say, I LOVE IT !!
    The Odyssey EXL drives like a dream.
    There was only one thing that I did not like about the Odyssey (definitely not a deal breaker) and that was the center console between the driver and passenger seat. There is no storage in that section. It is just a folding tray and to me this is an issue. I like the Sienna center storage better.
    Again, not a deal breaker.
    I am now getting ready to purchase a new mini van and again, I test drove the Sienna and the Odyssey and the feel of the drive on the Odyssey is better (in my opinion) than the Sienna. I am not really crazy about the colors the Odyssey offers but not a huge issue for me. There is something about the fit and finish that I like about the Odyssey over the Sienna when I compared the two over the past few weeks.
    They are both very nice vehicles although I just love my Odyssey experience over the past 3 1/2 years. I have not had one problem.
    Toyota has made the option packages a little easier although it is still a little bit more of a pain in the butt to purchase than the Odyssey and definitely more difficult to comparison shop.

    I am going with a 2009 Odyssey EXL needless to say.

    I would recommend the Odyssey to anyone comparing the two vans.

    I do not think you can go wrong with either one although after 3 1/2 years with the Odyssey...I love it and am buying another.

    I hope this helps others.
  • yatesjoyatesjo Posts: 186
    I reality there are only a few Sienna option groups available in your area. While the Ody's 4 standard trim levels make things very simple, they are also rather limiting in a way the Toyota's options are not. Talking to dealers and looking at the Toyota website will make it clear what option groups are actually available.

    When I was shopping last year, I decided on what options were essentials, and what options were nice but unnecessary, then compared the Ody trim level to the Sienna trim/options groups to get the needed features and account the values of nice but unnecessary options. For me the Sienna MSRP was a better price point than the Ody by something around $1000, add to that the Honda dealers could hardly be bothered with negotiating the price advantage of the Toyota was multiple $1000s. Toyota dealers weren't any princes to work with, but at least they wanted to sell a van- unlike the Honda guys.

    That was fine with us, since the Toyota was more comfortable and the control locations were very intuitive for us. We found the Honda dash jumbled and poorly organized but having already driven a Honda for a few years it may be more natural to you.
  • speterson1speterson1 Posts: 228
    Two excellent reviews by familyman and skiiii664, thanks guys.

    I wanted to chime in with one comment regarding the center console - I understand perfectly skiiii664's comments about liking the Sienna's console better because it has more storage, but on the other hand, my wife and I like the console on the Odyssey better because it can fold down out of the way and you can sneak right through to the second row seating if you need to do something with the kids or whatever.

    So yes, Odyssey center console doesn't have as much storage, but because of this can serve as a quick pass through to the second row seating.

    I also totally agree with the comments about Toyota's oprions packages being a nightmare. Honda's setup doesn't allow as much picking and choosing but they have sensible packages and it makes getting what you're looking for about 100 times easier at the dealership.
  • olavanmanolavanman Posts: 12
    Hello Familyman!!
    You are awesome !!

    We are planning on test driving both the Odyssey and the Sienna this weekend and we will keep your two points in mind.

    We are getting a "Van" in the first place to be a good people mover with kids and in-laws and parents.

    Quick question for you - have you ever put someone in the Odyssey 2nd row middle seat? Is it even worth considering as a "seat" ?

    Thanks again for the amazing post.
  • olavanmanolavanman Posts: 12
    Hi Skiiiii664!!
    Amazing post again! You guys are awesome in writing out all the details and your thoughts and opinions!

    With a toddler and an infant, I would really like to pick the Ody, since it comes with 8 seats and the power tailgate( important).
    If i need the power tailgate in the Sienna, there is no choice but to go with the XLE 7 Seater.

    Like I mentioned in my other post, we are going to test drive both this weekend and find out.

  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I know you didn't ask me, but I hope you won't mind me responding. I'm 6'5", 200lbs, 21 years old, and have sat in that middle position numerous times in my aunt's 2005 Odyssey. I wouldn't necessarily want to be there for hours on end, but to me, it was more comfortable than the middle position in a sedan, thanks to having plenty of hiproom compared with your average Accord. Perfectly fine for an hour-long drive, but maybe not for a six-hour drive, unless you're eleven years old. :) The seat itself is made well, with the same firm cusions that the captain's chairs have; it's not like sitting on a park bench or anything. The adjustable headrest is a nice touch.
  • olavanmanolavanman Posts: 12
    Hello Thegraduate!

    Absolutely, I do not mind at alll! :) :) you are awesome! Thanks a lot for jumping in!

    All this helps us all make a really well informed decision!

    This is what I like about this forum! People are honest and give great opinions!
    Cheers and have a great day!!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Glad to see you're still around, Michael.

    I guess I was asked for my VIN when I bought my 2007 Sienna, but not for a later purchase so that clarifies why. I stand corrected.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Excellent write-up, familyman, thanks for taking the time to do that.

    A couple of comments and counterpoints, though...

    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.

    So a lot of that is just better tires. Not to mention brand new tires. And a brand new vehicle has brand new shocks, struts, etc., also.

    Tires are the biggest factor by far, though.

    The other thins is the 04 Sienna had the 3.3l engine, and the 07+ models got what I consider the most significant upgrade - the 3.5l engine. Not only does it supply a lot more horsepower, but also it does so with zero loss in fuel efficiency.

    So you can have your cake and eat it, too.

    Good job pointing out the pros and cons of each model, though, especially the trip computer vs. dual climate control trade-off.

    Enjoy your new Ody. :shades:
  • 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: 3,426
    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.
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