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EX versus EX-L trying to decide

oddyshopperoddyshopper Posts: 8
edited July 2014 in Honda
I'm trying to decide between the Odyssey EX and EX-L. I'll be commuting to work in the vehicle with an infant and a toddler. I won't be getting the honda Nav or RES.

I like that the EX-L has XM radio, a power liftgate, and a especially a rearview camera.

I'd be sold on the EX-L if it only had those features. However what is holding me back is is the VCM and Leather.:

Googling, some people say it is fine and others claim it makes the van feel sluggish on the highway as the 3 cylinders take a moment to re-engage. What's the edmunds forum concensus is VCM "good food" or should I "keep it simple" with the VCMless EX?

We've had one vehicle with leather, a 2002 Passat. After 7 years the leather is cracked and splitting in places. Part of it may be us, we are hard on interiors, BUT the cloth in our 1996 Saab looks great.

Quoting my passat service rep: "If you ask me sir, volkswagen needs to make a better quality product".

Googling, some say the honda leather is excellent, some say it's mediocre and others state the quality of the cloth fabric in the 2009 is not that great (it felt a little cheap on test drive). In any case, if we get the EX-L (based on our VW experience) we would probably get seat covers for the front and back, negating a lot of the advantages of leather.

If the leather and VCM scare me into an EX I'd still want to add a backup camera (or maybe the honda "sensor" that beeps) and an XM or sirius radio.

So after a lot of background here's my questions:
Has anyone successfully added an "aftermarket" rear backup camera, or purchased the honda sensor option? How did it work out?

Finally: which is best, going with honda or an aftermarket in-dash sirius/XM radio?



  • fillykonkfillykonk Posts: 17
    My wife and I recently purchased an EX-L with Res and Nav. I know those latter two issues don't concern you so I will comment on the ones that do.

    1) I have not noticed any issues with the VCM engaging/disengaging. In fact, if it weren't for the green "ECO" light on the dashboard one wouldn't know if it was on or off. What I have noticed is the increased mpg when it is driven with economy in mind. While most of our experience to this point has been in town, we are taking an 800 mile round tripper this weekend so I'm excited to see how it does on the open road. I wouldn't let it be a deal breaker. If you like the EXL, it is a benefit.

    2) We have been fonder of leather lately due to its easy clean-up factor, especially with spills and such. However, cloth/leather is a matter of preference. ANY leather interior should be periodically conditioned for it to remain supple. As you said, seat covers aren't a bad idea but would negate the advantages of leather. We do like the fact that the front seats are heated on the EX-L, taking away the early morning "bite" we sometimes get even here in Key West. You would also get a 4-way power passenger seat.

    3) I think that the extra features offered on the EX-L more than make up for the price differential. You wouldn't have to add on XM or a backup camera either. It even comes with a sunroof. However, it is your money, your life and your van. You have to decide if the extra features are worth it for you.
  • dsrtrat2dsrtrat2 Posts: 223
    With little ones in your family I like the back-up camera extra. The camera lets you see directly down from the rear bumper and back. I don't like the leather as I sweat when sitting on it here in the PHX summers.
    I had both VCM and nonVCM and I don't get much different MPG with my style and type of driving. One really can hardly tell when you are running on 3,4, or 6 cylinders. I do enjoy the XM radio as we are a ways out from some radio stations, and some of the talk shows aren't on locally.

    BTW I have seen back-up wireless cameras for under $100.00.
  • Thanks dsrtrat2 and fillykonk for the input.

    Regarding the power lift on the EX-L: Does that come in handy and if so how?

    Thanks again

    Still shopping for a ody oddyshopper...
  • brob68brob68 Posts: 6
    I've been driving an 08 EX for a year now. We had mostly the same questions about getting the EX or EX-L. We chose the EX cause we just don't like leather. If I sit in leather for any length of time i get all sweaty...yuk!
    As for the other options? The radio in my EX has a button for XM which would tell me that it is available, just not hooked up. You should ask the dealer about that.
    I love the power sliding doors on the Ody. so the kids can get in & out on their own but I can't think of a good reason for the power liftgate. If I have to load or unload something then i'll be standing there anyway.....I can just close it myself. The sunroof may be a nice feature, but I wanted a minivan, not a sports coupe.
    The back up camera is the only feature I wish I had, safety is always a idea but like the other post can always get one later.

    good luck!
  • We bought 2007 EXL. We have 3 kids age 6,8, and 9

    VCM - Technically there could be a drive feel difference but I suspect this is so small it is not a factory. There is no significant gas savings so this whole VCM is a non issue.

    Leather - I think this one comes down to long term cleansiness and personal choice of look. Sure you can keep a cloth car clean but with kids after 5 years how will one extract juice and whatever else gets soaked up. The leather is a wipe and gone solution. Leather if you can get the ivory looks great, grey not so look great. Personal choice here.

    XM - We are to cheap to pay for radio nor did we see the value in the extra channels so this one was not a deal maker for us.

    Backup Camera - This was new for us in our shopping adventure. We liked the idea on paper, but when we got it it was a bit of a disappointment for us. After 2 years just have not picked up the habit to wait for the screen, look at the screen, and use it. We just do the old fashion look behind and mirror thing. What I learned after the fact that may be more useful are back up sensors not camera. This is because the beep when there is an obstruction which is something I respond to more then a picture I have not found to use.

    I know you are not interested in the RES and NAV. We were not interested either as both at first glance appeared as two overpriced options. When we read more about these two features we decided to bite the bullet and get them. It is these two features that are worth every penny for us. The movies are key for trips with kids as they keep them entertained. Sure you can get a DVD portable unit but the RES integrated is so sweet. I did not know what NAV was all about. Then two months after we got our van we drove from IL to FL and the NAV guided us throught the whole way without a hitch. Sure mapquest can print great directions but the key with the NAV is if you miss a turn or change a plan the NAV will guide you all the way. Again you can buy a NAV for couple hundred but there is nothing like having it integrated in your car. You have a couple of kids so the van will be with you for a while and our vacations have shifted from airplanes to car trips so the van is a key tool for our home.

    If you go for the best you will never regret a decision.
  • fillykonkfillykonk Posts: 17
    We had a power liftgate on the 01 T&C we traded in and it was a definite option my wife wanted on the new one. She finds it easier to load groceries and such being able to press a button instead of putting bags down to open it by hand. It also is handy if you get something out of the back and don't close the gate for some reason as a button on the dash will close it for you. One disadvantage to the Ody's is that it seems as if all the doors have to be unlocked before the liftgate will work. On the T&C that was not the case. But it is still a convenience my wife is happy she has.
  • We decided on the EX-L. We keep our cars an average of 10 years so the difference in price did not seem like a big deal in the long run.

    Here's some of the things that swayed us to the EX-L. Note we could have been happy with the EX, most of these are all minor but overall the added up to enough to push us over the edge:

    My daughter thought the gray interior was dark, so it's nice to have the moon roof to lighten it up a bit.

    Backup Camera:
    "After 2 years just have not picked up the habit to wait for the screen, look at the screen, and use it."

    I have not tried a vehicle with NAV/RES but in the 2009 EX-L without NAV the rear view camera screen is in the rearview mirror and it turns on instantly when you put the car in reverse. It's hard not to see it as you swing your head around to look out back.

    The camera is fantastic and given it's a safety feature, I think it is a real shame that Honda does not make it available as an option on all vehicles including the LX.

    It's amazing how useful the rear view camera has been day to day. Coming from a small sedan, the larger minivan takes some getting used to. The backup camera is a great sanity check to make sure I'm all the way in the garage (it sees directly below the bumper and shows me when the odysseys' big but has crossed the garage threshold) and it's even useful to make sure I'm all the way in a parking space when I pull through. Over time those things will come naturaly but the backup camera has been a great training aid.

    Regarding not using the backup camera as a safety device. When I am parked in the garage and look out my rear view window, at night I see almost nothing (due to the tint). With the view from the camera it's as bright as day. In the day when I do have a good view the closest object I can see is the sidewalk on the opposite side of the road from my house. With the camera I see everything from the bumper. Amazing and I can't imagine every backing up without first looking at the camera in the mirror.

    Power Liftgate:
    Ok I could not see the point of this but it's grown on me. What I really like is how slowly it opens and closes (just like the side doors). It lessens the chance of accidently hitting/closing on a kid or something, especially since none of us are near it most of the time when it is swinging open/shut. A "nice to have" but I'm liking it more than I though I would.

    "One disadvantage to the Ody's is that it seems as if all the doors have to be unlocked before the liftgate will work."

    True. This messed me up my first time trying to put some groceries in the back. I had unlocked the front but did not know I had to hit the unlock button twice to unlock the back/liftgate. I kept on locking/unlocking the car trying to get the liftgate to open.

    However on the EX-L (probably the EX?) there is the option to tell the remote to unlock everything all at once when you hit the unlock button on the remote. I still have an issue that when I stop the car the rear doors/liftgate remain locked, but there may be a way to fix that too.

    Love it. Hate local radio. Already a subscriber before I got the van so this is a huge plus for us.

    I could not tell it was turning on/off on the test drive and so far I've seen no affect on power when I'm driving on the highway. I believe I read that after 2007 (or 2008?) they changed to VCM2, with 3/4/6 control versus 3/6 control so some of the detractors may have the older VCM system.

    We purchased an overpriced, probably useless cal-tech coating, that comes with a lifetime warranty against cracking/splitting/staining on the leather. Not sure if it will be worth anything in the long run (conventional wisdom is all coatings are a scam), but it made the WAF of the leather go way up.

    Thanks again for everyone's input. The LX/EX/EX-L are all great, the Odyssey drives and turns (almost) like a car but the flexibility and space is amazing on any model.
  • olavanmanolavanman Posts: 12
    Hello Angelchicago!!
    I know the new ODY's just come with three LATCH positions for installing car seats. With three kids, have you ever noticed that as a problem?

    The Sienna LE 8 seater comes with 5 LATCH, and this fact is holding up our decision making.
    We are on the fence just becuase of this!
    I really like all the features of the Ody EX-L, except the lack of multiple seating poistion LATCH connections. Any opinion i smuch appreciated!
  • Also consider the Odyssey latch it is only rated up to 40 lbs (I'm not sure where I read this), so depending on the size of your kids it may not be relevant for long. I went with the Odyssey and for my 35lb four year old use both the latch and the car seatbelt to secure her big carseat.

    One of our deciding factors against the Sienna is that it is rated "poor" in the insurance industries overall and dynamic impact tests. The test may not appliy to car seats, but I care about the adults in my car too:

    While latch is convenient it is not necessarily safer. (for some years at least one car seats latch was actually demonstrated less safe than using the seat belt). The main advantage of latch is that it's easier "to get it right", however if you read the manual installing via belt is not that much harder.

    So as I see it the Sienna has a strike against it regarding safety and the honda has a strike against it concerning convenience.

    Also regarding convenience: We removed the +1 seat in the honda and pushed the seats together putting the infant car seat on the seat moved towards the center. The position is ideal as it is close but just off-center enough that from the driver seat I can reach my hand back to check on my 4 month old. The sienna has that nicer +1 seat that slides forward but I like having my kids in the full size seats. They are massive and well built versus the middle seats which look like more of an afterthought. I'm not sure if the sienna can slide the full size seat towards the center?

    I'm not sure how many rear tethers the sienna has but I was hauling some stuff yesterday and when I was folding the seats was surprised to see rear teathers hidden under a flap. I think the odyssey has 5 rear teathers.
  • We spent good time investing in car seats in our kids earlier years when they were 5 and under. We had two Britax seats, think it was the roundabourt and Husky model. Althought the Britax seats come with latches we have not used them as by the time we got our Honda 2 of our 3 kids were using boosters which do not use latches. Our kids are now 6,8 and 9 so latches for us is a non issue as we do not use any of them. All our kids are on booster seats which use the seatbelt buckle.

    So I belive 5 of the 6 kid seats have latches. You will need to decide if you need 6 of the 6 seats to have latches.

    The Toyota was our second choice. We test drove the Toyota and Honda back to back and my wife clearly wanted the Honda after the test drive. She found the Honda to drive more car like where the Toyota steering was a bit loosy goosy and Toyota shocks were more plushy. The Honda made my wife feel more in control. Good luck.
  • Hi, My preference is to get just the basic EX-L model. I do not care too much for NAV or RES. But before I decide that, I need some help deciding on back up camera as the display is linked to NAV system. Bigger display of backup camera image is only available with NAV option. Otherwise it is much smaller display in the rear view mirror.

    I want to hear from folks who have had experience with either one of the models that is equipped with the NAV or without NAV. What are your experiences of user experience of back up camera. Are you happy with smaller image in Rear view mirror or is it much better with NAV display.

    What is your reasoning behind choosing one over the other.

    Thanks in advance
  • dsrtrat2dsrtrat2 Posts: 223
    I have the mirror display. If one will take a second or two to really look at the image you can see very clearly what is behind you, from right below the bumper and back. I would think the key to either system is concentrate on the image for those two seconds. Maybe study the full mirror image before putting the van into reverse to get a different perspective.
  • Dsrtrat2....Thanks for replying.
  • sarge_insarge_in Posts: 4
    I actually prefer the camera image on the rear-view mirror (which is what I have). The reason being that I am already looking into it when I am backing up, so I see the image right there. If it were on the NAV, I would have to look down at the screen AND also at the rear-view mirror to be doubly sure - relatively more work than the 1st option. And its clear enuff to let me know if I am gonna hit anything.

    That said, if I ever put in an aftermarket unit with a screen, I will explore if I can duplicate the image in the screen as well just for kicks. If it was either-or situation, I would most definitely stay with the rear-view mirror image.
  • fillykonkfillykonk Posts: 17
    We have an 09 EX-L with RES/NAV. It's my wife's van and she drives it more than me, but I also have the NAV in my 08 Acura TL. In either vehicle, I find that the view on the NAV screen is so good I don't need to use the mirror itself. I still do at times but its more out of habit than anything. I don't see how the mirror camera could be as effective as you are dealing with a 2-inch square view vs. 8 inches with the NAV but I wouldn't let that stop you from getting the van of your choice.
  • Thanks for the reply. Useful information.
  • Thanks for the reply. Useful information.
  • I am going round and round. Slate Olive Green vs Polished Metal, Leather vs Cloth; DVD. I was hot for EX-L but then I got it back in to perspective that this is a mini van, do I need a sunroof? Is leather really easier to clean? Anyone else want to chime in?
  • alangpalangp Posts: 13
    I had the same situation. From my research, I came to know some reliability issue with VCM I-Vtec engine and transmission. My next door neighbor also to me that there is basically no saving on gas unless you are driving in flat metro area at reasonable speed.
    I checked the specifications of 2011 Pilot seems to me that honda began to use VCM i-VTEC engine and 5-speed automatic transmission with Heavy-Duty Automatic-Transmission-Fluid Cooler STANDARD on every Trim. I guess the new Odyssey (2011) probably will get the 6-speed automatic transmission with the same Cooler. This will solve some complaints about the current transmission. Of course, you do not have to worry if you just carry 2-3 kid and all the bikes on the current Odyssey for a long trip, in my opinion.

    Back to the topic, I have hard time to persuade my wife into EX just because she prefer Leather seats. They are easy to clean. And you take 2 small kids on the trips (short or long), eating and drinking, they will make a lot of mess (Ok, add you and your wife too).
    So We finally went with EXL. By the way, EX were all gone in our local dealer over this weekend. Now they only have LX and EXL (w RES or w/o).
    Simply put, if honda just add leather seat to EX and that's will be my first choice.
  • sarge_insarge_in Posts: 4
    Leather IS easier to clean. I would skip the DVD though, as I got my own custom audio system + NAV installed. Including parts (Kenwood DNX9140, high quality Focal speakers, subwoofer, amplifier) and labor, it cost me the same as Honda RES w/ NAV, but has much more features and flexibility.
  • kingfans1kingfans1 Posts: 137
    I think you should get a EX-L over EX.. I am guessing you only pay about $3000 more.... you get leather seat, heated seat, Passenger's Seat with Power Adjustment, Automatic Dimming Rearview Mirror , Acoustic Windshield, Leather-Wrapped Steering Wheel.. many more..

    So I think ex-l worth extra $3000.
  • Couldn't be happier with my decision. But kingfans1 - what is the acoustic windshield - I thought I knew everything about this van but this is the first I've read...intrigued!
  • kingfans1kingfans1 Posts: 137
    I am sorry I thout odyssey came with acoustic windshield. but it didn't.. its only came on the pilot ex-l and tourin model..

    acoustic windshield is double-pane glass, so outside clamor will be significantly lessened.

    I am happy to hear that you like your odyssey ex-l.
  • beirneadbeirnead Posts: 5
    Sarge - did you install those items yourself or did you have it professionally done. If so, where? Do you have any pictures? I'm deciding on a 2010 EXL, or EXL with RES & NAV right now. I'm trying to determine factory or aftermarket. Any info you could provide would be much appreciated!
  • sarge_insarge_in Posts: 4
    I got them installed at a local car audio place in SoCal (Irvine - Gold Star Audio). Dont have install pics, but you can check them out at their websites. I got Kenwood DNX9140, Focal 165KR speakers for front, Arc Audio KS 300.4 amp, Arc Audio ARC10 subwoofer (amp and sub installed in a custom enclosure in lazy susan area). Running iPod, as well as videos thru a USB drive. Camera pic shows in both rear-view mirror as well as the Kenwood unit. Sounds FAAR better than what Honda would give you even in its top package. The firmware is upgradeable, and so are the Garmin maps in it (Honda charges atrociously for map upgrades). You lose a few (very few) integration features that you will get with factory system, but this is much more flexible and custom. Having done this once, I would NEVER pay car-makers for an audio/video/NAV package.

    You can get parts from various online places like sonicelectronix, woofersetc and so on.
This discussion has been closed.