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Honda Odyssey vs. Toyota Sienna



  • You can have a nice wide pattern with projectors. For years I had a very nice set of aftermarket projector fogs lamps on my car. Sharp, flat, and wide. Within the pattern the light was extremely even. Aimed against a wall you would see a flat white stripe.

    The "concentration" of light you perceive with projectors is from the sharp cutoff. Granted, for a lot of drivers it's disorienting to have a sudden blackness above the reach of their headlights. But this precisely why a well-designed projector HID will not glare oncoming traffic as badly as a reflector setup. You can aim your lights onto the road with less light straying up into drivers faces than with with reflectors. If the X5 is blinding people with their projectors, it's because they're aimed too high. Or the design of the projectors is not as good as they should be. With as much control as a projector lamp affords, there is no excuse for not being able to put the light on the road instead of drivers eyes.

    Your pictures show how much stray light is hitting those cars off in the distance at '0'. Perhaps you should stand where the teal Accord is at '0' and put your head at the level of the rearview mirror and gauge for yourself if you think the headlights are glaring or not. Yes, I know you didn't say you thought '0' wasn't too high, in fact you state yourself that it's comparable to high beams. It was someone else in this thread who stated that, and I'm just trying to keep from spamming the thread with multiple posts. ;)

    If you look at the back of the Sienna's headlamps, the drive for the headlamps is a mechanical screwshaft. There is nothing "automatic" about this system. Turn the dial, aim the lights to a preset angle. Electrically controlled? Yes. But in no way does a computer intervene and decide that the angle needs to *change* unless you are turning the dial yourself.

    With their higher intensity, HID's have a greater potential to become a hazard by blinding oncoming traffic. That's the purpose of automatic leveling. Not to determine if "you need to see further". You are courteous enough to dip your lights in traffic. But as I said, for every one of you, there are at least 5 people out there who are happy to just "set it and forget it". Lord knows there are plenty enough idiots around with halogens aimed too high.

    HID's are great. Don't get me wrong. I'm just disagreeing with the method which they're implimented in the Sienna. I would have loved to have them, as I felt that I, like you, would have been responsible enough to aim them properly for the situation. But not everyone does. I do give them credit though for at least using a dedicated reflector assembly rather than just sharing the same assembly from the lesser halogen-equipped models. That would have been even worse.
  • Part of that is the continuing evolution in headlamp design. Frankly, part of it is the fact that they can now have dual-spec headlamps in the US now, so we're getting some of the benefit of E-spec design because it's cheaper for manufacturers to give us better lights (i.e. one assembly for two cars) rather than give us a seperately-designed headlight.

    But yeah, the Bug-Eye trend means we're going away from the pinched "aero" designs. There were some *awful* headlights coming out in the 80's and 90's.
  • chiawchiaw Posts: 92
    1. Yes and know. I have owned quiet bit of cars with projector light. I will post a picture tonight on my MB and show why projector light will not work as well as reflective light in this case. It's not really sharp cutoff you are claiming. Rather the light are concernrated in two area. You should also notice that the cutoff on sienna's HID is quiet good from the low setting. On my W211 and my wife's W209. The head light projector beam has two distinct brighter spot in its pattern. On the sienna, you don't see that.

    2. This is what i am saying. The projector on the X5 due to height of the head light creates a blinding effect. If you give X5 height adjustment control, you are going to kill someone. I just like toyota's solution better. See further without killing people in front of you.

    3. Electronic control yes. There is no sensor to monitor the change in vehicle dynamic to adjust the light. But this is exactly the point. As i have stated earlier. With sensor type auto levelling design, the vehicle can't really tell what kind of driving condition you are in. It can't tell if you are driving 45 mph in rural road where you want to see further or 45 mph in main city street where you don't want to blind others. This allows driver the ability to choose what he/she sees best.

    4. That i agree with. A lot of people would simply turn it at high and forget about it. The only good thing is that with reflective housing it's not as blinding as projector.

    One thing that i would suggest toyota change would be a warning system on the dash stating the current angle setting of HID. Because I don't like to be aimed from behind as well. But compare my HID to other SUV with fixed HID, I much prefer my sienna HID. Knowing the fact that I will not blind other while maintain my safety.
  • ewtewt Posts: 127
    The Sienna doesn't have the nice razor sharp cutoff you get with a good set of e-code projector lights, but it's pretty good for a reflector light. They don't bleed a lot of light upwards either based on looking at them projected on a wall and my viewing of oncoming Limiteds with HIDs. They are much friendlier to oncoming traffic than many other HID equipped cars. My "load" usually consists of two little kids and a few bags of groceries, so the rear end isn't sagging. When I have had enough to make it sag, I've lowered the headlights, which is a very nice feature for Toyota to have included IMO.
  • ewtewt Posts: 127
    "Yes and know. I have owned quiet bit of cars with projector light. I will post a picture tonight on my MB and show why projector light will not work as well as reflective light in this case. It's not really sharp cutoff you are claiming. Rather the light are concernrated in two area"

    That's not the fault of projector technology, it's the fault of US headlight regulations. An e-code projector will have a nice, very even spread of light with a very sharp cutoff. Until recently the DOT mandated a headlight pattern that resulted in two hot spots, some other light scattered around and lots of light bleeding upwards to illuminate signs.
  • chiawchiaw Posts: 92
    that i did not know.
  • This question and answer came from the car chat today on USAToday with their car expert, James Healey. A-hem.

    Naugatuck, CT: It seems more & more difficult to drive at night without encountering super glaring headlights. Are there Federal standards or other laws that limit the lumination power of vehicle lights? If not, there should be! Thanks.

    James R. Healey: Those icy-white lights are HID -- high-intensity discharge headlights, often also know as xenon (ZEE-non) lights, for the gas inside the assembly that starts the reaction that glows so brightly.

    The reason they seem so blinding is that the light the deliver is in the blue end of the color spectrum and that's harsh on the eye. Normal headlights put out illumination toward the red end of the spectrum and that's easier on the eye.

    Perversely, even though they're blinding you, HIDs are not always providing much help to the driver. Tests have shown that some high-quality, conventional halogen lights light up the road better. And HIDs either illuminate something or don't; you see it or it's in the dark. There's none of the sort-of fuzzy illumination of objects just out of reach of the headlight beam, the way you get with halogens. That so-called sharp cutoff of the HID beams is supposed to help prevent the problem you cite, but isn't wholly satisfactory.

    The gov't lighting standards mainly deal with minimums, not maximums. But the feds (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at are considering whether HID and other potential light distractions (aftermarket driving lights mounted too high on that truck following you, for instance)need a special set of rules.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,551
    I don't need them after all!

    chiaw almost had me convinced not to drive at night since I don't have them!

    I do get tired of getting blinded by them.
  • dirkworkdirkwork Posts: 210
    After the release of the new Honda I read some of the posts here. Interesting. Seems like a neat van, I guess the variable displacement is still causing some concern. Funny how Honda has to do that to get fuel economy.

    Being a cheap SOB my personal choice was a used Oldsmobile GLS van. Don't laugh. Read. It was $11k used, has 3 rows of leather seats, rear AC/heat and rear sound system (DVD was later models but I can add it at a car stereo place if we need it). Also has power door, ABS, Traction control, full 8 way power seats, trip computer with on the fly MPG and compass, built in air compressor, 16 alum wheels, etc. The olds with good tires handles very well.

    Does it compare to a new Honda or Toyota? Well, not too badly. I average 23mpg commuting in stop and go traffic with AC on. On the highway I get 26-27 even at speed. Everyone is comfortable in large american sized seats. The "outdated" pushrod engine has tons of torque and can easily light up the tires from stop if you wanted to take off traction control. No, its not like a sports car, but for the purpose of the van it works well enough. I will take the fuel economy advantaage for power I would only use occasionally.

    I would like the new stow seats, and more power would be cool, maybe a DVD and nav system, but none of these things are worth having a $400 a month van payment!

    People get all excited about crash ratings but this is by far the safest vehicle I've ever owned (based on ratings as well as perception) as even this old '98 has side air bags.

    For utility, if you don't want to eat deprecation and be saddled with a large car note, check used GM vans, they have horrible reasale and you can get a deal on a used one.

  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    Oh no, a voice of common sense on this board.

    This will never do!

    OK you guys, back to the discussion of which van has the biggest NAV screen, which is of almighty importance.

    (My tongue is firmly planted in my check, for those who cannot discern satire)
  • chiawchiaw Posts: 92
    The problem with that is simply not the case. Base on the picture it's clear how why HID especially in this case brighten's view in front of driver.

    Picture don't lie. Only lack of knowledge by so called expert does.

    The problem with HID is not OEM issue. It's numerous idiots out there that went the aftermarket route that is blinding others and some SUV.

    I will go home today and post another picture to prove the so called expert from USA today are complete idiots. I have 2 W211 E class at home (a BI-Xeon E55 and a regluar Halogen E500). You will see a huge difference between the two on amount of coverage in front of driver.

    Here is the problem i have with so called expert. Just because one of the car they drive with lousy HID or not done correctly they jump to the damn conclusion.

    On the Sienna, my head light cut off point is further than halogen light. Even though halogen disperse effect allows the fuzzy image. A good HID project a range that is further making the point mute.

    On my W211 the bi-xeon in standard setting projects an area about 20% further than halogen light. In fact, the bi-xeon provide further range than so called fuzzy image on the cut off of regular halogen beams.

    If HID are so bad, it would not be a trend that automobile manufacturer is moving to. It has been used on aircraft for a long time.

    USA today? If i believe everything that so called expert says, we would still be driving a model T.

  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    Photos lie all the time. Besides the obvious photoshopping, it's easy to manipulate a scene just by the camera angle when you compose a shot. It's an old tradition.

    James Healey does engender strong opinions now and then :-)

    Steve, Host
  • chiawchiaw Posts: 92
    I would like for you to prove that angle of my shot were photo shopped.

    The picture was taken on a $200 el cheapo digital camera and was sitting on top of instrument panel on the Sienna. That's how the shot can be steady. My el cheapo toshiba digital camera does not focus well in dark since there was nothing in front of it to focus on (it was open space).

    It take about 10 to 15 minutes from time the picture that was taken at fremont automall construction site to my house in mission san jose.

    I was actually not happy with result of picture as there were too many ambient light getting inside the head light beam. Thus the picture would not be as dramatic as i would have hope.

    Also, I found it quite amusing since from the shot of my camera it's more than clear it comes from same angle same distance.

    I don't have the time sitting in front of my computer to photoshop picture to make a bogus story like typical journalist does to make his point (like Mr. Rather's report).

    Truth is simply truth. HID is better especially if its OEM factory form. Fuzzy halogen? Sorry this is laughable.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    That wasn't my point and I didn't intend to reference your photo in particular. But someone else could go to the same spot and take a similar photo from a higher or lower angle and wind up with different results from the shadows or whatever.

    My point is that you can't just accept any photo at face value without considering the involvement of the shooters position, etc. That was true before air brushing became common, much less digital manipulation.

    That's all I meant and sorry for making it sound like I thought you were faking the pics - I thought your photos were most helpful.

    Steve, Host
  • I've been agonizing for weeks after driving both of these by myself, but when I finally brought her into the loop, she didn't understand my dilemma at all... She picked the Odyssey hands down... not even close in her mind. We're comparing the Odyssey EX with the Sienna XL w/opt #5 making them about $100 apart. Here's what she said:

    1) She could feel the engine vibration through the gas pedal on the Sienna, but very smooth on the Odyssey.

    2) She could feel the Sienna shifting through the gears, but this was undectable on the Odyssey.

    3) Odyssey was much much quieter even with the second row windows down.

    4) Absolutely hated the black shiny plastic finish in the Sienna. (subjective)

    5) The Odyssey was much more responsive in steering capabilities.

    6) Third row seat was much easier to maneuver in the Odyssey as opposed to the Sienna. We actually had to force the seat down with another hand to get it to go all the way down. The Odyssey is truly one handed.

    These and really many more facts along with things like standard Tri-Zone air, 2 automatic doors, 6-CD changer, integrated sun screens, lazy susan really made it easy to decide. We liked the compass/EPA center, the vented 3rd row windows, and tire pressure monitor on the Sienna, but those small factor couldn't overcome the better feeling drive experience we had in the Odyssey.

    Comfort and quality wise, I still see the pair as indistinguishable and miles ahead of the domestics.

    I've got one dealer down to $27,500, about $1000 off MSRP. Still trying to go lower... we'll see.
  • jimb5jimb5 Posts: 1
    I was just at a Toyota dealer in NY and the saleswoman said that Lexus was working on a minivan.
  • Ok. I'll say it for the third time. HID's are better. However, it's the particular implimentation on the Sienna that I disagree with. Reflective headlamps better than projectors? [ewt] made an excellent point that a lot of projectors you see on the road are gimped by US DOT regulations. They are capable of providing an excellent headlight pattern, far better than our current generation's best reflectors can do. C'mon now. If reflectors were *superior*, why is Mercedes wasting our time with projectors? Why is BMW? Does Toyota have a line on a scientific fact that the Europeans haven't caught onto? Are we being cheated for our $150k and getting shoddy headlights?

    If your specific projector application is plagued with hot spots, that's a sorry testament to our regulations, and supportive of the statement "The Sienna's HID lights are better than [insert vehicle] Headlights." Not of a general blanket statement that "The Siennas lights are better than any projector HIDs"

    If the headlight pattern is aimed such that it reaches where the "brights" go, it doesn't matter if it's halogen, HID, or a big maglite. You are shining light into the eyes of opposing traffic, and making yourself a hazard. You say the light isn't "concentrated" there. That's exactly the problem. You may not have enough light to return back to your eyes to see a good view of the road, but you can bet you're sending enough light to create a night blindness problem for someone ahead of you. Set your lights at 0, go walk 50' ahead, and look at your car.

    Halogens aren't any better at this. But with higher lumens and a whiter light beam, HID's are more vulnerable to this problem than standard headlights are.

    This is *exactly* the problem with reflector headlamps(and by extention, the old DOT standards which specified a lot of stray light). You can put yourself in a situation where there's stray light going above your pattern, but you can't really tell because the cutoff isn't sharp. Projectors have stray light too. But they have a lot less, and the cutoff is more distinct so you have a better idea of how far you can aim the lights before you create a problem.

    Is the Sienna's cutoff sharp? No. Can you park the van 25 feet from a wall, and draw a sharp line at where your cutoff is? No. It's a soft transition from light to darkness. So now where do you aim the lights in order to prevent too much stray light going into the eyes of traffic? How much is too much? It's that uncertainty that is the problem.

    Point a slide projector at a wall. You know *exactly* where the light stops. No question. Aim a flashlight through a slide, and it's not so clear.

    Anyone *not* think the "Lexus Minivan" would just be the Sienna Ltd with a few extra goodies and moved over to the next lot? Other than a few cosmetic changes, it's already got the look for it.
  • chiawchiaw Posts: 92
    1. since i don't own a european head light. I can't tell for fact that projector are better.

    2. I actually on numerous occasion had my van follow me home. The sienna head light although that much wider disperse pattern really does not done as bad of damage on blinding effect on the car in front of it.

    The problem at least with all my projectors are due to the hot spot created by DOT regulation. Those are very blinding. The reflective disperse of sienna's head light is not as bad as being shot in the eye with one of the beams of projector hot spot.

    I will reserve my judgement on projector light in general than. But at least in this point of time our DOT controlled projector head lights are more blinding than my sienna head light.

    My statement is this. On SUV, the hot spot created by the projector is too much for any cars and oncoming traffic to handle. That's according EWT and my experience, we rarely has been flashed due to our sienna HID. But i got plenty of middle fingers with my other cars and my ex RX300.
  • chiawchiaw Posts: 92
    i apologize as well. I just took it wrong and thought is was reference to my photo.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    Thanks - have a great weekend. I'm staying home; it's too dark out in the evening to leave the house, LOL.

    Steve, Host
  • mcase2mcase2 Posts: 160
    Thats intriguing. I have always been amazed at how smooth running and vibration free my 04 Sienna engine has been. On several occasions people leaning against the car and speaking to me through the drivers window could not believe the engine was even running until I had them lean in and look at the Tach. But, hey the ody is a real nice car and I'm sue you'll enjoy it.
  • chiawchiaw Posts: 92
    This is very odd.

    Item 1,2 is probably that car issue. Because my sienna and pretty much the ones i have driven are actually very smooth.

    3. No, this is totally impossible. Odyssey is not quieter by any means. With 2nd row window down is even impossible unless you are not moving.

    4. Hmm. There are only two color of interior available and none of them are black. One its oak, the other is stone. Unless someone is color blind, the plastic on the dash (the upper darker area) is light gray. No way it's black. In fact, it sounds like your are describing the odyssey's black interior,

    6. Hmm, most likely specific van issue. My seat with one pull folds flat into the floor without any effort.

    XLE sienna comes with two automatic door plus power rear lift gate. Adv. Sienna.

    XLE pkg #5 comes with in dash 6 disc changer, integrated sun screen in all 3 row. Odyssey on the other hand only has two rows. Therefore adv. Sienna.

    One more thing is that Odyssey EX does not have true tri-zone air. But it's actually standard on the touring and Sienna XLE and above.

    Pricing is also very wrong.

    XLE with pkg 5 is $35165 but comes with leather and DVD. But EXL with DVD is $31895. That's not $100 apart. Even if toyota is selling at invoice and odyssey is selling at $1k off MSRP, there difference is still higher than $100.

    Unless you are comparing LE pkg #5. Which sticker at $28190, invoice is about $25185, you probably can buy it at $25500. The base EX is $28510, purchasing price is $27500. You actually has $2k difference on the two.

    A fair comparison would XLE pkg #3 which MSRP is $31,265. Invoice is $27784, you probably can get it at $28300. A $800 difference.
  • Does the Sienna have drive by wire? if not, then scotty0820's # 1 is true, and

    scotty0820's # 2 is a well known fact in all toyota. A lot worse when the Sienna is down shifting, and I'll describe it as horrible and dangerous.

    I also saw the black shiny plastic in the Sienna and hate it.

    As for the #6, it's obvious that you never try the new ody.'s third row seat.

    XLE with pkg 5 at invoice and EXL RES at MSRP is pretty close, isn't it?
  • mcase2mcase2 Posts: 160
    Why all the ranting? People who actually drive the Sienna love them. If the lady found vibration in the car she test drove who could blame her for not buying it, but I drive one every day and mines does no down shifting and its engine is extremely smooth and quiet. By the way, there is shiny black TRIM. Not my favorite feature. For what I paid the fake burled walnut or whatever it is supposed to be would have been nice.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 24,911
    If you reread the post, they are comparing an EX with (I think) an LE. He typed XL but It looks like that was a typo, so discussion of XLEs, powere lift gates, etc. are moot.

    2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.4i Limited Tech (mine), 2013 Acura RDX AWD (wife's) and 2015 Jetta Sport (daughter's)

  • mcase2mcase2 Posts: 160
    Oh, by the way, the blanket statement "is a well known fact in all Toyotas and I'll describe it as horrible and dangerous" is really over the top. I have an 04 Corolla as well as Sienna and neither has any such problems with down shifting etc. Are you employed by Honda?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,551
    People are funny. People don't buy cars because of the most (in my opinion)trivial things. They hear, feel, smell things that are non existant to most people. Of course, you will feel it when a transmission shifts! You HAVE to feel the shifts!

    " horrible and dangerous" ?? Give me a break!

    And, yes, I sell Hondas!
  • hey all. It is so fun to not read this forum for a week and then come back to see what the hot issues are.

    1. HID's - Love them ! Simply put, I can see better with them. period. I had them on my Acura TL and am glad the 04 Sienna has them. - Might add aftermakert one's to my MDX.

    2. Tires - I have done plenty of research and have discovered some disturbing things. I have an 04 AWD (which I gotta have and do love). AWD comes with the run flat tires and no spare. I've discovered that a LOT of people have been stranded on vacations waiting for a replacement tire since the Toyota dealers don't seem to stock them. You can't really drive to far if the tire gets damaged. This is simply idiotic. Toyota has completely dropped the ball on this one. The wheel size is NOT a standard size, so you can't simply buy a cheap steel rim and tire to build your own spare. If you purchase a replacement RFT and rim at retail, it's gonna cost you like $700 to build a spare. Nice !. Being somewhat resourceful, I bout and OEM rim from for $225 and found a brand new B380 Run Flat on Ebay that I wound up getting for $49. So I feel lucky that I built a real full size spare for under $300. But Again, why should I have to do this? lame. I'll keep in in my garage most of the time, but when I make the 400 mile drive to Disneyland, or up to tahoe, I'll toss it in the back for peace of mind. How can you tell your 4 year old that Mickey will have to wait for 3 days while we're stuck in the central valley of California waiting for a tire. Bottom Line. Run Flat Tires are a joke. Even The local Bridgestone dealer stated that to me. PAX has the same darn issues.


    Out of curiosity, I test drove an ODY the other day. Hell of a Nice Van. Do I like it better than my Sienna? No. Do I like my Sienna Better? Well, I guess since I own one, i would have to say yes, but marginally. They are both Solid. The ODY was slightly noisier to me. But you never know what biases you have, maybe i was hearing things. Definitely more feel from the road, but this is really a preference thing. I like the Softer feel of our Sienna for a Van. If I want more road feel, I'll hop an a sedan or the SUV. AWD was still quite important to me, so that still tips things to the Sienna. But for all you people comparing, you really have to go drive them. They're both fantastic. Anyone saying one is better than the other hasn't really looked objectively. Go see which one suits YOUR needs better. And if you can get away from RFT's and PAX, do it. UGH.

  • heywood1heywood1 Posts: 850
    You are absolutely and totally wrong about AWD Siennas requiring special rims. They ARE indeed a standard size (17"). In fact, the rims can accomodate RFTs or non-RFTs. Your choice. Toyota puts the SAME EXACT 17" rims on the FWD Limited model as they do on all AWD models.

    Which begs the question: If you decided to 'build you own spare'--which is a reasonable thing to do--why would you bother to put on an RFT? I suppose for $49, you couldn't pass it up.
  • carzzzcarzzz Posts: 282
    6. Hmm, most likely specific van issue. My seat with one pull folds flat into the floor without any effort.

    The very first time i fold flat the 3rd row of both cars, I do find the Ody is easier and require less effort than sienna, cuz you have pull/lift up the seat in order to fold but for ody you just have to flip it down!
    it is just that you are really use to the way it fold and therefore it seems easy to you!
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