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Honda Odyssey vs. Toyota Sienna



  • 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.
  • doggrandmadoggrandma IowaPosts: 144
    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.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Add a movie screen there, and trust me, they'll all fight for the 2nd row. :shades:
  • bobber1bobber1 Posts: 217
    I think the whole having 3 car seats in the middle row is over rated unless you have triplets or something. We have 3 kids and part of the reason we like the minivan is because you can spread them out! Unless your kids are 9 months apart, most times the oldest can go to the back row and buckle himself in with out your help.

    I remember when we were looking I honestly didn't remember the Toyota and Honda being that different in dimensions. Perhaps the Toyota is a touch wider, but I recall the leg room and head room being better in back of the Honda.

    If your goals is 3 car seats in the middle row(which is only going to last a short time anyway) go for the Toyota. I having to think for most families that's a nonissue. It was for ours...
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Just to clarify, it's not that the van is wider, it's that the seats themselves are set farther apart, to make room for a 20" seat in the middle. You can remove that seat and leave a huge 20" gap between the two kids if you want.

    I'll compare the 8 passenger Sienna to the 7 passenger Sienna - the whole stamping of the floor is different. The seat anchors are in different locations. None of the seats are interchangeable at all between the two models. That's why you can't get the captain's chairs with armrests on the 8 pass model no matter what. The good news is you can fold the middle seat down and it makes a great table/partition if you only have 2 kids.

    So the total width of the 3 seats combined is much greater, and you have room for 3 kids/boosters without squeezing.

    A long time ago I actually took a tape measure, but I don't recall the total width. I do seem to recall the seats were 22", 20", and 22" wide, but I'm not sure you can just add those 3 up and say total width is 64" because there are gaps.

    My office chair is less than 20" wide, and I spend 8-9 hours a day in it, so that's why I consider even the middle seat a full-sized adult seat, comfortable even for long distances.

    The Ody's 8th seat works in a pinch, but I would not want to sit there for hours at a time, and it's not nearly 20" wide, not even half that wide.

    The 7 passenger Sienna has an optional console that goes there instead. Again, the anchors in the floor are different, they actually match the ones for the center console in the front row. It's pretty cool - you can get two matching consoles for storage front and back. But no 8th seat at all, so we passed.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,599
    I'm not going to say and Odyssey is any "better" than a Sienna but if you think the Odyssey felt "floaty" and the steering seemed vague, I have to wonder if you have it confused with a Sienna?

    If you want soft and floaty (as some people do) you may perfer a toyota product to a Honda. If you want a car that handles like a dream you would definatly perfer a Honda!

    And a Subaru Outback is in a totally diffferent class of cars.
  • i must say that i have driven both the ody and sienna multiple times and i (personally) like the sienna better.

    when i was shopping and reading the honda ody sites i found people ranking the sienna saying the brakes were horrible and too soft, the ride was too boaty and other things but when i drove the sienna i totally disagreed with these opinions.

    but this is just me. i have a smaller sporty car that i drive when i really, really want to "feel the road" but in my day to day driving and moving of my family i love the way the sienna drives and feels while driving along many different roads.

    and let's be honest....we are not buying a sports car - we are buying a family mover. there has to be a little expectation that a van will not corner like a porsche on rails. that is not to say we cannot have a little sporting fun while driving and being realistic about the vans abilities.

    in the sienna i find the acceleration is fantastic, the road / wind noise is just not there, it snakes through traffic in quite a nimble fashion and when i throw out the anchors to bring it down from 65 to 20 the brakes feel very solid and competent.

    again, these are my feelings...make sure you test drive many times in different conditions and if money is at all a factor, i think you will find toyota has the edge on comparably equipped vans.... i did to the tune of over $2,000.00 in my favor w/ much better financing.

    last week i shared some time with a recently ex-car sales manager and asked why honda would not come down more to get my business. he told me that part of their model is "to just wait...sooner or later someone will come along and pay the price the DEALER wants rather that make a less margin deal."
  • Great info everyone - I appreciate the opinions.

    So it seems like most people agree that if the Sienna is $5K less (including interest savings on financing), that is the way I should go, even if we end up liking the Odyssey a bit better. I think it's practical. From everything I read, it just seems like they are very comparable, and when we test drove the Sienna, it did seem nice. We'll see when we test drive the Odyssey tomorrow.

    8 seats vs 7 seats - I'll definitely look into the 8th seat option and look at the configurations. I really don't see us putting all 3 in the 2nd row though. Then again, I never really thought of it until someone mentioned it. I just figured my oldest (almost 4) would go in the back once our 3rd baby comes along, and then my soon to be 2 year old would go in the middle with the baby. Until then, I'll put both in the 2nd row. I don't think our oldest would mind being in the 3rd row though.

    Just have to look into AWD now (live just outside of Buffalo), but I might pass on that since it seems some people weren't crazy about it. We drive an Impala now and it drives fine in the snow - figure the FWD Sienna would be better.

    One other question - what are the odds Toyota extends the 1.9% financing or has another deal in December? Part of me wants to wait until end of year to see if there are any deals from Honda, but we are going on a 12 hour trip around Thanksgiving, so I might just pull the trigger within the next week. I think the financing deal is a good one and not sure how much better it will get. Thanks again...
  • dbtdbt Posts: 298
    I would not say that everyone says to take the $5k and run. If you have "regret" afterwards, and decide to trade later, you may lose more than $5k on a quick trade. So be cautious - this is your decision, and you have to live with it.

    Try the Sienna out for a longer time - rent one for a weekend. It's in the day-to-day that you find out whether you like it, not a quick test drive.

    Once your kid hits 5 or so, they can generally buckle themselves. They will enjoy the back row. I'm with thegraduate & bobber on this one - peace is easier kept with separation. Juice's kids are just much better behaved than mine ;) Course then again, I think he has his nanny in the middle (or is it the side?), most of the time, right? [i.e. when using 3 across in the middle row]

    On the 7 vs 8, one other consideration is: if you go out with another family / group, can you take them all in one vehicle? Sometimes, that 8th seat comes in real handy.

    On AWD, it depends. It is real helpful for me (I have a Pilot) in urban Minnesota - I'm always having to cross streets from a stop where extra traction is important. Many people though get along fine with a set of winter tires & rims. Most of the complaints on the AWD Sienna relate to the run-flats (with the exception of wwest's omnipresent complaints about the Sienna awd system). I had a Subaru before this, and really appreciate the AWD, but for others, FWD works fine.

    On incentives, the redesigned Sienna is coming very soon - it will be on display at the LA Auto Show around December 4. I would expect significant incentives on this generation as the release gets closer (some have said available in January, others say production starts January). However, Sienna's numbers for October were good - kept about the same as last year. Current wisdom on the availability of the redesign of the Odyssey is fall 2010. Ody has $1250 on 09s, but it did poorly this last month.
  • doggrandmadoggrandma IowaPosts: 144
    Re: the AWD. The reason people don't like the AWD is the run flat tires that come with it. There are many complaints about run flat tires (read the customer reviews on Edmunds). They say they are noisy and wear out quickly. Also, I don't think you get a spare when the model has the run flat tires.
  • dbtdbt Posts: 298
    The reason you don't get the spare is the AWD system takes up the place of the spare on the FWD system. The redesign may change this, but it also may not have AWD anymore also. Have to wait to see.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    if the Sienna is $5K less ...

    They say timing is everything, and right now the incentives make the Sienna the better value. At other times the Ody has been discounted more heavily.

    You asked about financing - it probably will be extended because we're going to see the new Sienna debut at the LA Auto Show and it should come out in January or February. That's why dealers are starting to clear out the outgoing model.

    OTOH, if you're one of those folks that has to have the latest, newest model, in mere months you'll see the new Sienna on the road and may feel some remorse. Why don't you wait to see the 2011 concept before you decide? If you hate it, easy choice. If you love it, maybe wait and sample one. Sounds like you're not in a hurry.

    dbt: when my 2nd kid was a baby, he went in the middle, with the front-and-center seat all the way forward. Now both kids are in boosters in the outer seats, and the nanny rides between them when she's with us.

    8 seats are great. We've taken road trips with 2 entire families, several times actually. Saves tons of gasoline! :shades:
  • OTOH, if you're one of those folks that has to have the latest, newest model, in mere months you'll see the new Sienna on the road and may feel some remorse.

    I'm not that guy. I would actually consider an 09 model if it was the right price and had what I needed.

    I know no one knows whether there will be more/different incentives in December(can't wait too long either - my little car is about to die), but I'm just trying to get a feel if you think Toyota would extend their financing or offer something better, and if Honda may do so in December. I mean, is that common to do at end of year or is each year different and it's just too unpredictable? If I knew that Toyota would extend their financing to end of year and Honda would still offer nothing through end of year, I'd just get a Toyota now. But if there is a good chance Honda all of a sudden offers a nice rebate or low financing in December, maybe I then look at the Odyssey more. Sales tax deduction is set to end Dec 31st too, and living in NY that will save me on my it really comes down to buying one in November or waiting it out til December. I'm leaning to just getting it now...
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I'm the same way.

    In March I bought a 2008 Miata (no typo, 2008 purchased in 3/2009) for a fantastic price. If I'd waited another month the price dropped even more.

    Indeed it is very unpredictable. I made the wrong call - 18 days later the rebate went from $2500 to $5000. But that is very rare. The economy had tanked, and Mazda had 2009s to sell and even 2010s on their way to dealers. So this was 2 model years back.

    Plus, what if I had waited, but there were none left of the model I wanted? That did happen. I would have had to buy a more expensive GT model, though it would have ended up around the same price, with more content.

    I suggest this - keep a close eye on local inventory. If there is only a couple left, buy now before they sell out and you miss the opportunity. If dealers have plenty of them, wait. It's doubtful rebates will decrease when the 2011 redesign arrives, think about it. They'll only drop in price, or stay flat.

    So it's a risk of not getting the color/model you want, but prices are not likely to increase.

    Good luck. Take my advice at your own risk, remember I did not get it perfect, though I am still happy that I got the model/color I liked.
  • dbtdbt Posts: 298
    Juice's advice is very good. Inventory levels are a good thing to watch, but there's one other bit of information we simply cannot get to complete this, and that's production levels. If Toyota has cut production levels, but still have some inventory, they might reduce the incentive [this happened with the Ody this past summer - it was $3500 in June, and then cut back all the way (to $0) for early July, and then back up to $1250 for late July til now]. That happened though because Honda basically stopped making them, and inventories had been depleted.

    So, you take your risks. I think Juice has it right though - check to see how many of your particular option / color combination are around, and if a lot, wait a little. If not (and you've decided you are ok with taking Sienna and not Ody), go ahead.

    Enjoy it - you don't have to get the best possible deal to enjoy it. Just make sure you are happy with what you do.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Track both inventory and incentives.

    Problem is, if incentives drop, it's already too late. :(
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,599
    I have watched a lot of people outsmart themselves.

    They wait for incentives to get better and they suddenly go away without warning.

    The buyer still needs a car and ends up paying thousands of dollars more than they could have.

    Sometimes I'll warn a customer that I think the incentives will be ending. Sometimes they listen, other times they throw the dice and lose.

    I don't feel sorry for them when this happens. They simply outsmarted themselves.
  • berriberri Posts: 7,725
    we're going to see the new Sienna debut at the LA Auto Show

    Is this going to be basically just a facelift and tweaking, or will it be more comprehensive in nature? What changes?
  • Buy the Odyssey that has the most comfortable seating and best leg room for 6 passengers + the driver unless you want the most cargo space behind the 3rd row when all seats are occupied.

    The Sienna is the best choice for people who need the most cargo space in a minivan but is a poor choice if the driver and front passenger want separately controlled temperature that is standard on all Odyssey EX models but not available on the Sienna CE or LE.

    We still own and drive our 2006 Sienna LE that has not been as satisfactory for our needs as was our 2002 Chrysler T&C LX. The Sienna now has 31,720 actual miles on the odometer and is a fine minivan for people who have never owned an Odyssey (or a Chrysler).
  • delthekingdeltheking Posts: 1,152
    The Sienna is the best minivan out there, irrespective of what some folks tell. The Odyssey is also a very good choice,though. Basically depends on what you like in a van. :P
    1.If you want a smooth,comfortable,quiet,plush ride with a more powerful engine and a luxurious cabin in the XLE trim-The Sienna is your van.
    2.If you want a very taut,good agility,but lots of road and tire noise and a harsh ride especially on rough roads-Odyssey is your van . If you want a driver`s car then Odyssey is better. But it is very uncomfortable for rear passengers with the noise especially on long trips.And can get tiring.
    3. Also the cabin of the highest XLE trim in Sienna is outright luxurious-like the Lexus of minivans. Odyssey`s cabin is not as good.

    Buy a Certified preowned or a used van - you can save quite a bit of money. One advice I give is unanimous-Just dont buy any Chrysler/Dodge/Nissan vans .All are crap especially the Nissan Quest which is absolutely the worst van out there.-:shades:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    It's a full redesign.

    A 6 speed automatic is expected, but not certain. Info is very scarce right now.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    In the "2008 Minivans" thread, 2 years ago or so, he said it himself:

    I agree that the Odyssey is the MOST expensive and the Sienna has the MOST power at the lowest price

    That's a direct quote, straight from the horse's mouth. You can't spin that, no way no how. He even put it in CAPS, feeling the need to shout it.

    Sure an LE lacks dual climate control, but an XLE doesn't. The Ody EX costs a bunch more than a Sienna LE, or as you put it, it's "the MOST expensive". It's fair to expect "the lowest price[d]" Sienna to be missing a few items, no?

    If you think that's changed, just ask the guy who did the math and came out $5 grand ahead with the Toyota recently.

    Besides, of course there are trade-offs. I thoroughly enjoy my trip computer, on my Sienna LE Pkg 3, and the Ody EX lacked that and a tow prep package back in 07, even though it cost more (March 2007). Fair trade, if you ask me. It's impossible to match content exactly, because each model is packaged uniquely. Not only that, but also this changes year by year.

    Have you been following this thread at all? You walked right in to that one. :D
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