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Honda Odyssey vs. Toyota Sienna



  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That's a lot of questions! :shades:

    Where do we start?

    Minivans in general have excellent visibility. They are upright, so most of the glass is vertical and tall, narrow pillars help even more. No styled D-pillars here, just nice big boxy windows all around.

    Coming out of a Mazda3 they will feel big, relatively speaking, of course. Smaller than a Mazda CX9, though, and with fewer blind spots.

    The side mirrors are also enormous, at least on my Sienna. That helps.

    They're tall, though, so visibility straight behind can be tough. I bought a fish-eye lens, or you could get proximity sensors that beep, or even better a backup cam which comes with Navi on both the Sienna and Odyssey.

    Lane changes and merging are a snap, no issues at all. Keep in mind these are shorter than a Taurus, for example. Backing up is your biggest concern, because the rear windows are high up.

    I find the standard headlights are fine on my Sienna, but you can get HIDs on both of these vans, if you get them loaded up.

    Skid plates - no. But then again, most crossovers wouldn't have those, either. You'd pretty much have to step up to a truck-based SUV to get that sort of thing. The Sienna has an inch or so more clearance, which may help. The AWD Sienna has even more.

    You may want to consider a compromise solution, like a tall wagon (Mazda5, Kia Rondo), or maybe a compact crossover with good visibility (Subaru Forester).

    Remove all the seats, though, and the power sliding doors would give low step-in access to half a dozen great danes in any minivan. Tie their harnesses to any of the seat anchors to keep them safe.

    Woof! ;)
  • Thank you so much for all the useful information!

    As the brilliant economist Thomas Sowell says, "There are no solutions; only trade-offs"

    In my research I have found that the Sienna has more "oomph" and better braking and headlights. However, the Odyssey gets somewhat better marks in safety tests. Oddly enough, neither of them do all that well in the complicated rear end collision tests that some group has devised. It's all based on the configuration of the head rests, etc., and not on any real-world test or outcomes, so I don't know how much stock to put in those ratings.

    I have test driven both vehicles now, and so far, I like how the Sienna handles better than I do the Odyssey. Funny, since many reviewers say the Odyssey is better on that score. Oh well, we all like different things.

    Skid plates (sometimes called underbody protection) are available on some vehicles, but not on these minivans. Perhaps it is not considered to be that important.

    Woof, to you, too. ;)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    complicated rear end collision tests that some group has devised

    You are correct, in fact the vehicle is not crashed - they basically use a sled to test the seats.

    And note that the Sienna has not actually been tested yet. The score is preliminary and based solely upon static measurements - the distance of the headrest to the dummy's head. It could do well or score poorly if they eventually do actually test it, who knows?

    like how the Sienna handles better than I do the Odyssey

    Take 2 aspirin and call me in the morning.

    Just kidding. :D

    You're definitely in the minority, but I will say I think the Sienna has a better ride and is generally more isolated from the road, which passengers may prefer if they want a quiet, soothing ride.

    The Ody provides more feedback - tire noise, road noise, most importantly - steering feel, which many drivers use as inputs to adjust their driving. The Sienna's steering has less feedback than my kids Nintendo Wii Wheel.

    Like lots of things - a trade off.
  • Hmm, perhaps I need to test drive a few more vehicles, because the Ody I drove felt very "floaty" and the steering seemed vague.

    I'm looking at the Ody, the Sienna, and perhaps the new Subaru Outback. I like driving the Mazda5, but it's a bit too small and very underpowered.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    CR just gave the Outback a good review. The 4 cylinder model was rated higher than the Venza V6.

    Honda will soon add a competitor to that segment - the Accord CrossTour.
  • OK I test drove a 2010 Sienna and a 2010 Odyessey today and I am torn between the two! I like the looks, interior, and features of the Odyssey better, but I thought the Toyota drove better (less wind noise and bumps felt)had more pep to the engine too! I am interested to hear other opinions to see if my findings are true or perhaps the type of road I was driving on skewed my test drive.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    The general consensus (I think both Sienna owners and Odyssey owners will agree) is that the Odyssey is more sporty, while the Sienna is more comfy.

    The Odyssey drives like a scaled-up Accord; tight, accurate steering, slightly lower seating position, and less isolation from the road and noise. A good option if you really "like" to drive, but need a van.

    The Sienna is more Lexus-like; quieter, more softly sprung, but isn't nearly as carlike. The Odyssey drives like its smaller than it is.

    The Odyssey is your choice if you drive it every day (unless you crave power, which the Sienna offers more of without an economy penalty); the Sienna is likely to be the choice of your passengers, as its quieter and softer.

    Hope my opinion helps you a little!!

    Happy shopping!
  • Thanks for confirming what I thought. My wife is going to be driving it the most and she likes the Odyessy better, so I think it will be the winner! She wants a more "car like" drive and I agree 100% to your post... She could care less about the wind noise and the bumps anyway. She wants to be able to manuever it easily and I feel like the Odyessy will be the easiest to do that. The male in me wants the Lexus ride, but ease and functionality are most important to everyday driving!
    Thank You
  • So I read through the past 10 pages of this forum and tough to get some good info. Here's the situation I'm in. I need a car soon - my current car is just about had it. My wife wants a minivan - 2 kids, another one on the way. We both prefer the Odyssey (by a slight margin), mainly based on exterior looks and a couple nice interior features. However, the Sienna is about 2K cheaper for the models we like for both, plus Toyota is offering 1.9% financing currently while Honda has nothing, making it more like a $5K difference when you factor in interest. I almost feel stupid going for the Honda for that much more when I think they are that similar. Any thoughts, opinions? I appreciate it...I feel like I'm lost here...
  • i had the same experience as you... i could have gone either way but honda was about 2100.00 more and would not budge or offer any other incentive.

    i went with the le evp#2 and never looked back.

    i am very happy with the van and think it feels great when i "drive" it....... when i "push" it, i am in love with the power and response.

    i also feel the handling and ride are great for me and my family.

    good luck whatever your choice.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Happy wife, happy life. Let her choose. ;)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Wow, that's a toughie.

    I usually tell people to buy what you love.

    In this case, though, $5 grand is a whole heck of a lot of moolah. You've got 3 college funds to build.

    Get the Sienna but spend part of that $5 grand getting, uh, a TV for your bedroom. :D

    You will find plenty to like - the engine, the smooth, quiet ride, and if you're looking at LE models, I strongly suggest the 8 passenger model.

    Your wife will love-Love-LOVE the front-and-center seat for the baby. She'll reach him/her from the front seat. The other 2 kids right there in the 2nd row, and 99 cubic feet of cargo space in the dungeon.

    Driving your 3rd home from the hospital, I bet you'll agree that was the right call.

    Good luck with whichever van you end up with.
  • I, too, liked the way the Sienna handled better than the Odyssey I drove. However, if you look at all the safety info at various sites (; HLDI loss ratings; Insurance Institute site), you find that the Honda has better results. The thing that concerns me in particular is the poor rating on the Sienna for rear-end crashes. Although whiplash is not fatal, it can still cause years of pain and even disability.

    The Toyota salesman told me that the new Siennas all have active head restraints. I don't know if this will make a difference in the ratings for rear end collisions in the future.

    The Honda has better real world loss ratings (not by much), but both the Ody and the Sienna are above average. In the real world, it is almost always better to be in a large vehicle like a minivan or SUV than in a compact car. I can't even imagine what happens to those tiny smart cars in a wreck. No thanks!
  • Thanks very much for the info guys/gals - it's much appreciated.

    I'm going to the Honday dealer Sat. morning and following it up with the Toyota dealer and will make a choice next week. I'm just going to tell the Honda dealer my situation and see what they say. It would be hard for me to justify an extra $5K for something we slightly like better... Then again, we've only test driven the Sienna up until this point, so we'll see.

    Interesting point on the 8th seat. My wife said that with the 8th seat in the Sienna, you lose the 2nd row bucket seats that come with the 7 passenger and instead get the bench like seats (my wife likes the bucket seats). My point was who cares - we have young kids. I'll definitely look into that though. It sounds like either way I go I won't make a bad decision. I just wish the Honda had some sort of deal going on now. Ah well... Thanks again for your opinions. Any others are welcome! ;)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    the new Siennas all have active head restraints. I don't know if this will make a difference in the ratings for rear end collisions in the future

    You can bet on it.

    Every single current Honda model scored better than its predecessor, both cars and trucks, when this feature was added. No exceptions. Ody was Marginal as recently as 2007.

    One generation ago, all Hondas scored Poor or Marginal. Now they all score Good. Rigdgeline was the latest improved model, for 2009.

    This is good because it forces manufacturers to improve their headrests to match the competition.

    The bad things is that the headrests are closer and may feel a bit intrustive, so try it out. I liked my 98 Forester headrest better than our 09, but safety is probably more important than comfort.

    Avalon and Corolla went from Poor to good for model year 2009, as well.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I wouldn't call it a bench.

    You still get individual 3 bucket seats, only you lose the arm rests.

    So it goes from captain's chairs to bucket seats, basically.

    Keep in mind the kids will be in boosters and infant seats. You need as much width as you can get to fit 3 side-by-side. I simply got booster seats that had armrests (still using those) and cup holders.

    For sure take those seat with you. I doubt you can get 3 to fit in the Ody's 2nd row, and then the kids draw straws - loser sits by himself in the 3rd row. That's no fun.

    Also, with the middle seat all the way forward, they're staggered, so the baby is closer to mom. I'm not sure but I think in the Ody the seats move fore/aft together, so you can't really do that.

    Let me look for a's one, that middle seat slides several inches forward:


    This pic is HUGE but it really demonstrates what I'm talking about quite well, note how the middle seat is half a foot closer to mom:

    Overall width is greater, too. What they did was move the outboard seats farther out, to make room for a 20" wide middle seat. The outer seats are 22".

    3 kids will fit easily. I put 2 kids in boosters plus a nanny in the middle, and everyone is comfy. The back is so huge that way we can fit the kids' bicycles inside.

    The seating arrangement is the main reason I bought it. Unbeatable versatility for 5, at any price, period.
  • yatesjoyatesjo Posts: 186
    Active head restraints make a tremendous difference in rear impact ratings. The seat and headrest are everything to rear impact ratings- when they test they don't even have the seat in the vehicle, just a dummy in the seat on a sled. Active restrains are the equivalent of airbags for safety ratings- they can instantly turn a poor safety rating into 5 stars.
  • yatesjoyatesjo Posts: 186
    I have to back up ateixeira on the Sienna's 8th seat. The front and center middle seat makes access to the baby much easier- especially helpful with a newborn. The Sienna 8-passenger is also gives a few more seating configuration options when carrying kids around in car seats- be it more child seats or carrying up to 4 adults comfortably at the same time as the three children. Also the Sienna has 2 latch positions in the third row compared to the Odyssey's single third row latch position.

    You do give up captains chairs to get it, but if your van is mostly used to haul children you have to ask yourselves if they will even notice. I've ridden the middle bench when taking a break from driving long trips and found it fine and comfortable.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Put a grand in each kid's college fund. That's $3000.

    Get a 12" DVD screen like mine. Kids will love it. Mine came with 2 wireless headsets but just plug-in the 3rd when the baby is old enough. That was $900 installed.

    Spend the $1100 on a 46" TV for your bedroom, wall mount, LCD. That way you'll have something to do and won't end up like the Duggars:



    I think they had #18! :surprise:
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I doubt you can get 3 to fit in the Ody's 2nd row, and then the kids draw straws - loser sits by himself in the 3rd row. That's no fun.

    Depends on who you ask. I think I've mentioned here before, but will again for the sake of a new poster, my girlfriend has three little cousins, 3 years, 5 years, and 8 years. The 8 year old boy loves having the back row to himself for coloring, hot wheel driving, and no need for extra elbow room for playing on his little Nintendo DS. The girls (3&5) don't touch each other in their captains chairs/booster seats, so fights/quabbles don't happen readily. They have an older Navigator, but seating is the same setup as the Odyssey, but without the extra "PlusOne" seat the Honda offers for those moments when you need 8 passengers.

    Depends on the kids ages and temperaments I guess. :) Just wanted to add a differing idea here, something you might not have thought about. Atieixeira won't lead you astray, and frankly, neither van is a anything less than a good bet.
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